Why clean green?
Simply put, “green” cleaning improves indoor air quality, reduces asthma-related illnesses and cuts absenteeism. It also lowers building operating costs. All of that before we even start considering the benefits to the environment of reducing the production, waste-water impact and disposal of toxic cleaning chemicals.
Green cleaning is also one of the easiest steps you can take to a green building.
Green cleaning means eliminating to the greatest extent possible, all cleaning agents containing hazardous ingredients, and replacing them with high quality, environmentally friendly, less toxic cleaning products. It’s more than just buying the right chemicals—it’s also about practices, like using entryway mat systems and microfiber cleaning cloths.
- Start by making one change. Example: Replace a glass cleaner with one that does not contain ammonia
- Use matting to prevent dirt from being carried into your home/office. Proper matting can trap up to 85% of the dirt normally carried into a building, reducing the need for cleaning of all kinds.
- Dust with microfiber cloths. Microfiber picks up dust without the need for spray-on chemicals. If you must use polish, apply to the cloth, not the surface.
- Encourage hand washing with soap and water. According to the CDC and research coming out of Johns Hopkins, regular soap is just as effective as antibacterial soap in getting hands clean. Triclosan, the main ingredient in antibacterial products, can create toxins when combined with tap water, and its use in offices and homes may also cause bacteria to become resistant to it so it no longer works where it is needed.
- Restrict use of antibacterial cleaning products to healthcare and food service environments. Please use with caution and read the labels. Some antibacterial products need “dwell” time to be effective.
- Be smart when reading labels, and do some research. Just because something is labeled NATURAL does not mean it’s good for you or the environment. All mushrooms are natural, but some are deadly. Green Seal (see below) is one good place to start.
Thank you to Maureen Fairlie of Snappy Solutions for her assistance on these tips and resources.
- Green Seal
This independent non- profit organization has a product certification program, with an extensive list of certified green cleaning products. Green Seal is the standard for products used in schools in New York State. Not all manufacturers with legitimate green products choose to become certified because of the fees associated with this program.
Identifying innovative technologies, practices and products that provide practical solutions to complex environmental and health-related problems. Cleaning Green is a major area of focus for them.
- US Green Building Council
Learn about how green cleaning relates to LEED-EB certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Existing Buildings), as well as resources on green building design and construction.