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Sustainability at Work

Providing free tools and expertise to achieve your goals

Phone: 503-823-7037

Email: sustainabilityatwork@portlandoregon.gov

Green Cleaning

Whether you clean your office yourself or use a contracted cleaning service, switching to green cleaning products can help your business decrease its environmental impact and create a healthier work space.

What Makes a Cleaning Product Green?

Use the following list to identify green cleaning products.

  • Green Seal Certified - Independent, third-party certification ensures the products live up to their green claims. Visit Green Seal's website to find certified products.
  • Concentrated – Ready-to-use cleaners are 90 percent water. Buying concentrated cleaners prevents packaging waste. Make sure the cleaning staff understands the product is concentrated and knows how to handle it safely.
  • Neutral in pH – Acidic and alkaline products can burn skin. Look for products with a neutral pH of 7.0.
  • Packaged in recycled and recyclable materials – Reduce waste by choosing smart packaging.
  • Works in cold water – Use cold water to save energy.
  • Non-toxic – Avoid products that have a danger, warning or caution label.
  • Derived from renewable resources – Petroleum-derived products are flammable and made from a non-renewable resource. Choose renewable alternatives, like citrus.
  • Free of chlorine bleach – Chlorine bleach and the wastewater from using chlorine bleach can react with other chemicals. Look for non-chlorine bleach.

Make the Change

Follow this step-by-step guide to make the switch to green cleaning products.

  • Get management’s support. Need help convincing someone? These short reports make the business case for switching to green cleaners: The Business Case For Green Cleaning (Today's Facility Manager), Green Cleaning: The Business Case (OneSource)
  • Engage the relevant players. Depending on your cleaning arrangements, this group may include the purchaser, cleaning staff, contractor, facilities’ manager and/or green team.
  • Take an inventory of your current cleaning products.
  • Prioritize the most hazardous products you’re using or the products you use most frequently.
  • Identify green replacements using the above criteria.
  • Make sure cleaning staff are comfortable with the new products and know how to use and store them safely.
  • Formalize your commitment to green cleaning with a policy. A sample policy is available.
  • Measure your success. The Office of the Federal Environmental Officer’s Green Cleaning Pollution Prevention Calculator measures your impact from switching to greener cleaners.
  • Identify long-term strategies to eliminate the need for hazardous cleaning products. For example, consider replacing carpet with concrete or linoleum flooring to reduce your need to shampoo. Hotels could switch to colorful sheets to eliminate the need to use bleach.

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