Buying Green - Sustainable Purchasing

Cleaning Products: Tools, Tips, and Resources

Cleaning Product Tools:

  • TURI (Toxics Use Reduction Institute) Cleaner Solution Database: This database can be searched to locate alternative cleaning products based on specific needs.

  • RPN (Responsible Purchasing Network): RPN is an international network of buyers dedicated to socially responsible and environmentally sustainable purchasing. This guide provides information and recommendations on responsible use and purchasing of office cleaning products.

  • Green Cleaning Pollution Prevention Calculator: This callculator quantifies the projected environmental benefits of purchasing and using "green" janitorial services and products. It is designed to forecast the environmental benefits of reducing chemical use. This tool also enables users to identify which green cleaning measures will have the greatest impact in reducing their use of hazardous chemicals and in preventing pollution.

  • EPA (Environmental Protection Agency): The EPA has developed an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) program to help the federal government “green” their cleaning products. Though EPP was developed to aid federal purchasers, the site can help green vendors, businesses large and small -- and consumers.  Click here to view information about “greening” your cleaning purchases.

  • SC3 (The Schools Chemical Cleanout Campaign): SC3 was developed by the EPA, aims to ensure that all schools are free from hazards associated with mismanaged chemicals. The site provides a list of tools and resources: SC3 Cleanout Campaign; SC3 Toolkit; and SC3 Protecting Students and Staff.

  • THe Pennsylvania Green Building Operations and Maintenance Manual: The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of General Services joined with Green Seal to develop the Pennsylvania Green Building Operations and Maintenance Manual. This manual was prepared with the expertise of General Services’ employees for the maintenance of state government buildings and grounds with a section dedicated to cleaning procedures.

  • Healthy Schools Network, Inc.: Healthy Schools Network, Inc. is a 501-c3 national environmental health organization that does research, information, education, coalition building, and advocacy to ensure that every child has a healthy learning environment that is clean and in good repair. Learn more about healthier cleaning practices and products in their Guide to Green Cleaning.

Cleaning Product Tips:

  • Before selecting a product make sure it is green certified by third party agencies like Greenguard and Green Seal.

  • Consider selecting products that use recycled packaging made from "postconsume" materials.
  • Look for "concentrated" products that use less packaging and water than those labeled "ready-to-use," which are composed of 90% water. Concentrated products also reduce carbon footprints by reducing the cost for transportation of chemicals.
  • Avoid using aerosol products.
  • Products that are environmentally preferable have the following qualities:
    • Non-toxic (no EDTA, NTA, phenol, biocides, butyls, harsh acids, bleach, petroleum distillates)
    • Low VOC levels (improve indoor air quality, reduce allergy and asthma triggers)
    • Readily biodegradable
    • Neutral pH

  • Do not mix chemicals by hand.  Use metered dilution equipment to prevent misuse of products and reduce exposure to concentrates.
  • Make sure to properly train staff on usage of chemicals and equipment. Approximately 90% of cleaning costs are labor related and driven up by misuse.

Cleaning Product Resources:

University resources

Other Resources








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