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Implementing Your Green Cleaning Program

As mentioned previously, a green cleaning program is much more than just eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals. It takes time to develop a complete green cleaning program and each building will have a slightly different approach. Switching to a new cleaning system can be overwhelming. Start with just one building and get your new procedures established before moving on to the next building.

By following the steps below you can get your green cleaning program running smoothly and efficiently:

  • Begin by developing a comprehensive cleaning plan.
    Determine how often floors should be swept, mopped, buffed, and refinished. Put together an estimated time schedule for carpet cleaning. Improving overall daily care of a building will reduce the need for added services (such as stripping, waxing floors or carpet cleaning) that call for the use of more chemicals. Next develop a list of chemicals and equipment that will be used at each building.
  • Place mats at every entry.
    As much as 80% of the dust and soil that comes into a building enters through the front door. Mats will collect and trap dirt and other debris so it is not tracked throughout the building. Mats should be vacuumed often – preferably in two directions (front to back and side to side) so that they can remain effective at trapping dust, dirt and other debris.
  • Thoroughly train your cleaning staff.
    Improperly trained cleaning personnel tend to overlook problem areas and often use too much of a cleaning chemical. Proper training on how to use equipment is also essential:
    • Backpack vacuums must be properly adjusted to fit the user in order to prevent injuries and so the vacuum operates efficiently.
    • Big pieces of equipment, such as hard floor care machines and carpet-cleaning machines can cause injuries to workers and/or be damaged if the operator does not know how to properly operate the machine.
    • The right training from the start can eliminate a multitude of mistakes.
  • Proper care of equipment.
    Vacuums should be emptied when they are one-half to two-thirds full so they operate more efficiently. Set aside 10
    To 15 minutes at the end of every day to check equipment. Make sure to clean vacuum filters, microfiber cloths, mops, buckets, and all power equipment.
  • Use microfiber cloths and mops.
    Microfibers capture and remove soils more efficiently than traditional mopping and dusting materials. They also limit cross-contamination when used properly.
Using the different colored microfiber cloths for different tasks means reducing the risk of cross contamination.
The different colors of microfiber cloths are designed for very specific tasks: green for dusting, blue for windows and mirrors, red for restroom toilets and urinals, and yellow for sinks and counter tops. As you do not use a yellow microfiber for dusting or a green microfiber for cleaning a restroom (as opposed to traditional cloths that are used for every cleaning task) you reduce the risk of cross contamination.

Hospitals and health care facilities can benefit from the use of microfiber mops. With a traditional mop and bucket, cleaning employees must change mops and mop water often to prevent the spread of infection between rooms. When using a microfiber mopping system, employees simply change the mop head between each room. This eliminates the cumbersome task of dumping and changing the mop water between rooms and the temptation by cleaning employees to use the same mop and water to clean several rooms.
In addition, microfibers out-perform traditional dusting materials like feather dusters that often just scatter or redistribute dust and dirt.

Carefully mix chemicals as per the product directions or use portion control systems. This means using the amount of water specified in the label directions and using cold water whenever possible. Consider using a portion control system so chemicals are mixed correctly each time. As a chemical dispensing unit is used, workers are not Pouring products from one container into another, so you are reducing the chance of spills. You get more consistent cleaning results as chemicals are always properly mixed. Using a portion control system also means less waste as you measure the correct amount of chemical for the container being used.
If you don't use a portion control system, use concentrated chemicals or pre-measured packets instead of ready-to-use formulas. Pre- measured packets can be emptied into a spray bottle and filled with water.

In setting up a green cleaning program, your goal should be to move from a more hazardous to a less hazardous disinfectant or sanitizer. There are now environmentally friendly disinfectants available, so take a look at the product you're currently using and consider making a change.
Many people believe that using a broad-spectrum product that works on everything is the best way to go. But due to the health risks and adverse environmental impacts, it is better to minimize the amount of disinfectants used in a building. There are several ways to do this:
  • Select the correct product. Make sure you are using a product that will kill the germs you are trying to kill. Using the wrong disinfectant wastes time and money and will not remove the germs.
  • Plan on how often to disinfect. Evaluate the building and determine if you need to disinfect daily, weekly or monthly. An ultraviolet light will reveal how quickly some germs reappear.
  • Make sure products are properly mixed. Overly concentrated products do not work any better, wastes product and can be harmful to the cleaning employee.
  • Make sure that products are used correctly. Disinfectants must come in contact with germs to kill them. To be effective surfaces must be clean and the disinfectant must be left in place the proper amount of time.
  • some products contain both a cleaner and disinfectant. Usually, these combined products only work well on surfaces that are relatively Clean. If a surface is dirty, clean the surface first and then apply a disinfectant.


Minimize chemical use.
Even if you are using environmentally preferable products limiting your chemical use is better for the environment, plus it saves you money on supplies.
  • Floor care (stripping, refinishing, carpet cleaning) should be performed on appearance and wear patterns rather than on set schedules.
  • Use strong toilet/urinal cleaners only when necessary. Use a milder solution for daily maintenance.
  • Remove carpet spots when first noticed. A fresh stain can often be removed with plain water and blotting. This may mean that building owners/occupants are trained to either clean spots themselves or to report spots as soon as they are noticed.
  • Allow sufficient dwell time for chemicals. Green chemicals may require two to ten minutes to dwell on surfaces to work effectively.