Schools/teachers in K-12 often provide supply lists to incoming students and include items such as hand sanitizers and cleaning wipes. How does this impact initiatives from the custodial team?

Ames — We have collaborated with our Department of School Leadership to remove items from the supply list that aren’t instructional. Instead, the district has installed hand sanitizer dispensers around every school. Our focus is to encourage our students to wash their hands as much as possible.

Martinez — This was a big problem when we first switched over to “greener” or safer cleaning products. Teachers were always bringing in bleach wipes and alcohol-based hand sanitizer. This went against everything the cleaning team was teaching, training and communicating to our staff and administrators. With consistent communication and education, we started changing the culture. Now, the custodial staff supplies the teachers with safer cleaners and hand soap for their classrooms, and we were able to have bleach wipes and hand sanitizers removed from their supply lists.

Murphy — As long as the teachers bring in a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for any outside item, we really don’t have a problem with them bringing chemicals. When they don’t have an SDS, that’s where things can become a bit tense as teachers don’t truly understand why they are required. It really just depends on the individual and how they react to being told that they can't bring chemicals in without a SDS.

Dorm residents in colleges and universities bring a variety of cleaning products on move-in day. How does this impact your programs?

Bartolone — This does not affect us a great deal, unless the cleaning products would damage the furniture or fixtures. It is somewhat refreshing to have students who take pride in their surroundings.

Fewell — We do use green products, but what the students keep in their dorms does not impact how we clean our areas. We have no connection with the cleaning of the dorms, there is a cleaning crew on campus specifically for the dorms.  We clean academic buildings, food establishments and office buildings. The safety of the students are our first priority, so if we do learn of any chemical that may be harmful in any way to the students or the campus we report it right away.

Krause — We offer our own cleaning products to our residents with which to clean their rooms. We are also looking at ways to expand and improve in that area by teaching residents how to use our more sustainable products. We currently do not discourage residents from bringing cleaning items used to clean their own rooms since we don’t clean individual resident rooms during the year.  We do encourage through many avenues using sustainable products to clean.

VanMaldeghem — Although we have a green cleaning program in place at RIT, imported cleaning products by students do not impact our operation greatly. Some students may choose to use them to clean a shower or restroom facility prior to their personal use, but generally they are used to clean their dorm or apartment space. If the products are left behind, staff is trained to remove and discard those products in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.


Larry Ames
Director of Custodial Services
Virginia Beach City Public Schools
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Christopher Bartolone
Assistant Director for Facilities Services
Marquette University
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Virgie Fewell
Grigg Zone Supervisor of Building Environmental Services and Recycling
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Charlotte, North Carolina

Jodi Krause
Assistant Director Housekeeping
Residence Hall Facilities — University Housing
University of Wisconsin — Madison
Madison, Wisconsin

Ricky Martinez
Assistant Custodial Supervisor
Salt Lake City School District
Salt Lake City, Utah

Mycka Murphy
Custodial and IPM Coordinator
Certified Custodial Technician Trainer
Granite School District
West Valley City, Utah

Chuck VanMaldeghem
Building Services Supervisor
Facility Management Services
Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester, New York

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Adjusting To Staffing And Cleaning Challenges