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Going Green with Cleaning


With a little more effort and minimal additional costs, churches can implement green cleaning practices. A core principle of green cleaning is to seek to use nontoxic chemicals or the least-toxic chemicals required to accomplish the task. Another key principle is selecting highly effective and efficient equipment.

Green Cleaning Chemicals
When selecting chemicals for green cleaning, we seek to avoid those that are toxic and potentially harmful to humans. We need to consider what happens if the chemicals make their way into water bodies.

Do they harm aquatic species? Do they end up in our drinking water? We want to seek products that are biodegradable rather than those that include chemicals that buildup in the environment. We prefer products that include no or very low levels of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds).

Given that most of us do not have the time or knowledge to precisely analyze the chemical compounds in cleaning products, we recommend that you use the information provided by third-party organizations.

For cleaning products, the organizations we depend on for independent testing are Green Seal, EcoLogo, the Carpet & Rug Institute, and the EPA's Design for the Environment Program.

For everyday cleaning tasks in most settings, the products certified by these organizations should be sufficient. For special cleaning tasks, you may need to gather your own information to inform product selection.

We hold that there are times when the wisest choice is to use raw products like vinegar or hydrogen peroxide rather than purchasing special chemical compounds.

Vacuums and Carpet Cleaning
Green cleaning practices include the use of high quality vacuums. Vacuums need to efficiently remove soil without removing carpet fibers. Dirt and dust particles need to be trapped in the vacuum rather than being released back into the air.

We recommend purchasing vacuums that have been evaluated by the Carpet and Rug Institute and earned their Green Label.

When cleaning carpets, you want to make sure that you are not using a product/equipment combination that attracts more dirt or damages carpet fibers. With carpet extractors, it is important that they effectively recover water from the carpet.

We recommend that you select carpet cleaning equipment that has earned a label from the Carpet and Rug Institute. We encourage consideration of cleaning equipment that uses exclusively tap water with no added chemicals.

Buffers and Burnishers
When purchasing buffers and burnishers, you should select equipment that captures fine particles with components like vacuums. Manufacturers use names like "dust control system" to denote this feature. For propane powered equipment, seek products with low emissions engines that meet EPA standards.

Noise Pollution
Very noisy equipment can be disturbing and can harm persons who operate the equipment. When comparing equipment request sound level information. For vacuums and electric buffers, you should seek equipment with sound levels of 70dba or less.

Entry Mats
A wise way to reduce the dirt, dust, and other contaminants from entering your building is to have long mats at all entrances. Mats that are at least 10 feet long at major entrances are ideal. It is important that mat fibers have a "high void volume" so that they effectively trap dirt.

Procedures should be implemented to make sure the mats are cleaned frequently. Extra time spent cleaning entry mats can result in reduced cleaning demands in interior spaces.

This information is courtesy of the Green Church Association, www.greenchurchassociation.org.









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