What to Look for in a Green Cleaning Company
How to Evaluate a Green Cleaning Company
Many companies, which outsource their janitorial service, are not taking advantage of the benefits of green cleaning. Unlike many capital and resource intensive green initiatives, such as installing solar panels, green cleaning can be implemented quickly and easily. In addition, green cleaning can have a net positive impact on your bottom line by making employees more productive and healthy while reducing water and energy usage.
What should you know when evaluating a green cleaning company?
Not all green janitorial companies are created equal. You want to make sure the company you choose uses the tools and techniques necessary to effectively clean your facility. You also want to avoid firms that greenwash (pun intended) by painting a false picture of being environmentally friendly.
How? Discuss the following 10 questions with your prospective or existing janitorial service provider:
- Green cleaning is about cleaning for health. Ask your provider to define "clean." If appearances are the only element discussed, this is your first warning sign.
- Green cleaning is not just about using green cleaning chemicals or substances. Cleaning substances represent only a small percentage (5 percent on average) of the total effort required to clean your building. Ask your provider what tools its teams use to get the job done. They should be using microfiber mops, dual chamber buckets and microfiber cleaning cloths, just to name a few.
- Diseases can be spread by cross-contamination. This often happens when mops and cleaning cloths are used in restrooms and then re-used in other parts of your building. Ask how your service provider to describe what its teams do to avoid cross-contamination.
- Janitors are historically the fifth most injured workforce in the United States and your company could be liable for heavy fines if a janitor is injured while cleaning your building. Ask your cleaning firm what it specifically does to comply with OSHA regulations so your risk will be minimized, provided you maintain a safe environment for workers. OSHA requires a written Hazard Communication Plan, an inventory of all chemicals, a log of training and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), which detail the risks, precautions, and first aid associated with a chemical or substance. Furthermore, each janitor must be able to articulate his or her company's safety program, and the physical documents about emergency procedures must be accessible to the janitor within 10 minutes in the event of an accident.
- Many janitorial workers are prone to excessive use of water and electricity. Ask what sustainability practices are used to reduce the use of these natural resources, without compromising the cleanliness of the places the firm serves.
- Janitors who work in teams and specialize on focused roles are able to achieve a higher level of cleanliness with less time and effort. Find out if your provider uses area, zone or team cleaning methods.
- Consistency in tools and processes translates to a consistently clean building. Ask your provider if the same types of chemicals or substances, tools, equipment and processes are used for all clients. Inconsistencies can be a sign of challenges in quality control on a regular basis, and can pose greater problems when staffing shortages occur.
- Tools and equipment quickly lose their effectiveness as they are used during the shift. Ask how often vacuum filters are emptied, how often mopping solution is replaced and if these filter and solution changes are tracked and logged.
- Each chemical, solution or substance used dramatically increases the chance of improper mixing and improper application. This can result in injury to the janitor or damage to your building materials. Ask how many substances each janitor uses on a daily basis.
- Properly fitted backpack vacuums are ergonomically correct, remove more dust from the environment and enable the janitor work faster than traditional push vacuums. This equipment protects the cleaning worker and collects dust instead of redistributing in your environment. Ask your provider what type of vacuum the company uses.
If your current or prospective janitorial service provider is able to answer all of these questions clearly and confidently -- and you feel comfortable with their answers -- then you will likely reap the benefits of having a healthy indoor environment.
Russ Goldin is founder and president of Eat My Dust, Inc. (http://eatmydustjanitorial.com), a green commercial janitorial company that specializes in creating healthy indoor environments by utilizing a science-based approach to cleaning. Write to Russ at [email protected] to have your janitorial questions answered or suggest future topics.
Image by CraigPJ.