Finding reliable, unbiased sources can be taxing for custodial departments charged with setting up green cleaning practices. To avoid false or misleading information, Gatlin recommends sticking to government organizations, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or a state’s health department, as well as independent, non-profit organizations like Green Seal or Healthy Schools Campaign.

Both Brewer and Woodard have had success following the “5 Steps to Green Cleaning in Schools,” which is available through the Healthy Green Schools & Colleges program. This comprehensive guide simplifies the process of setting up a new program or upgrading an existing one. Similarly, Green Seal offers a series of documents on its website outlining the steps needed to implement a program.

Additionally, Gatlin recommends facilities pursue third-party certification to ensure that they follow best practices and secure their reputation as a best-in-class cleaning service. “In the age of COVID, people want to know about the health and safety protocols in the building,” he says. “Being third-party certified reassures tenants or students in a school that everything is being done to provide not only effective cleaning, but safe cleaning.”

Likewise, sustainability experts encourage facilities to purchase cleaning products from third-party certifiers. Reputable certification programs include Green Seal, the EPA’s Safer Choice and Design for the Environment, as well as UL’s ECOLOGO.

Facilities can also work with their distributors to find products and practices that support sustainability efforts. “Distributors are a resource that won’t add cost to a facility, so take advantage of that,” says Bishop.

Indeed, implementing the right products and procedures is imperative — but the ongoing success of green initiatives requires thorough staff training, documentation and recordkeeping.

“Green cleaning is all about measured and documented performance of cleaning for health impacts in the building,” says Gatlin. “The idea we try to get across to people is that running a successful green cleaning program is probably more about how well the company is managed than it is about the products they buy.”

Kassandra Kania is a freelancer based in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is a frequent contributor to Facility Cleaning Decisions.

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Small Steps Ensure Successful Green Cleaning