The National Work Group on Green Cleaning and Chemical Policy Reform in Schools, a group consisting of several education-related organizations and public health advocates, has compiled a Cleaning for Healthy Schools toolkit to help maintenance workers and custodians incorporate sustainability into their cleaning and upkeep of education facilities.
The group says its approach to cleaning "relies on preventing cleaning problems through the use of less toxic cleaning products, state-of-the-art cleaning practices, and advanced technology to clean buildings while protecting the health of workers and other building occupants."
The toolkit says that a Cleaning for Healthy Schools program should have three steps:
- Adopt best practices to prevent dirt from entering a facility, and use state-of-the-art cleaning methods. Recommendations include using walk-off mats at all entries; removing pets and food from classrooms; keeping recycling & dumpster areas clean and accessible; cleaning up immediately; vacuuming instead of dry mopping; and determining high-risk areas to clean thoroughly every day.
- Choose cleaning and other products that are considered green, especially those certified by independent third parties. These products will improve indoor environmental quality by reducing sources of pollution. Having cleaning products independently certified will help schools and universities fall victim to "greenwashing," in which manufacturers' claims of environmental benefits are marketing boasts not supported by the product's performance.
- Replace worn-out equipment with more environmentally friendly versions, such as high-filtration vacuum cleaners, or dilution stations that measure and dispense cleaning products in the proper amounts to minimize waste and potentially dangerous spillage.