10 Tips for a Clean & Green Office

Recent government reports and non-profit studies have revealed that exposure to chemicals and toxins found in common cleaning products can cause reproductive problems, lung issues, and multiple forms of cancer. In fact, a recent EPA study concluded that toxic chemicals in common cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air. Additionally, in 2013, the American Association of Poison Control Centers listed cleaning substances as one of the top three most common reasons for exposure to poison in adults.

One of the most prolific places for exposure to concerning cleaning chemicals is the workplace. Are you longing for a clean and green office? Check out 10 green office cleaning tips below—offered up by OpenWorks, a leading commercial cleaning and integrated facility services company—and share them with your office’s manager. These tips can help all employers and cleaning professionals avoid dangerous cleaning products and create healthier work environments.

“Too few American workers realize the health risks they face at their office due to dangerous cleaning products and uninformed cleaning crews,” says OpenWorks founder Eric Roudi.  “At OpenWorks, we are dedicated to improving all workplaces we serve by using 100% green and environmentally sound cleaning strategies, including using the safest cleaning products on the market. We are sharing these ten tips to make sure all Americans have an opportunity to execute similarly healthy and green strategies at home and at work.”

10 Tips for a Clean & Green Office

1. Quick-Fix Means Danger: Avoid air fresheners and fabric protection sprays as they contain chemicals linked to endocrine system issues, like reproductive problems.

2. Treating Carpet is a No-No: Stay away from carpet floors if you are opening a new facility. However, if you do have carpet, avoid carpet cleaners and stain-resistant treatments that expose your office to chemicals.   Rely on a steam cleaner instead.

3. Beware of Old Furniture: In recent years, laws have been created to rid the furniture market of PBDE’s, which are fire retardants that break down into dangerous metabolites linked to cancer. Old furniture may be putting your office (and its workers) at risk.

4. Replace Cleaners with Clever DIY Tricks: For DIY projects,  there are many standard household items that can be used to clean surfaces and handle tough odors. These include, but are not limited to, lemon, cooking oil, vinegar and baking soda.

5. Carefully Inspect Cleaning Product Labels: Even though only 7% of cleaning products adequately disclose their list of ingredients, some do reveal dangerous chemicals on the bottle. Make sure to avoid cleaning products that contain dangerous chemicals like phthalates, formaldehyde, and “chemical surfacants.”

6. Make Air Quality a High Priority: A recent EPA study concluded that toxic chemicals in household cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air. Additionally, consistent exposure to other dangerous elements (like asbestos) has been linked to cancer and mesothelioma. Make sure your internal and/or external cleaning team has the resources to check HVAC/ventilation systems and control air quality.

7. Go Green with LEED-Certified Cleaners: It’s important to make sure that the cleaning crew who maintains your building is LEED certified. The US Green Building Council ensures LEED certified facility management teams are up to speed on best practices regarding green cleaning. Help the environment while keeping your staff healthy.

8. Don’t Skimp on Cleaning Technology: Commercial cleaning experts are investing considerable time, money, and resources to improve health and quality. Technological advancements, like sprayer nozzles that reduce chemical releases, are making a big difference. Invest in modernized cleaning equipment to take advantage.

9. Establish a Cleaning Policy with Employees: All of the changes you make as an employer will be compromised if your staff neglects to follow suit. Educate your employees on the damaging effects of cleaning products and create a policy that restricts and/or bans their use.

10. Hire a Proven Cleaning Company that Values Health and Open Relationships: Trust a commercial cleaning and facility maintenance company who uses only safe, environmentally sound products and understands green cleaning techniques. Make sure they work with you to understand the your specific needs.

Numbers You Need to Know: Common Cleaning Products

• Indoor air quality is a top five environmental risk to public health. *
• Toxic chemicals in household cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air. *
• 30% of cleaning products contain ingredients known to cause human health or environmental problems. **
• Cleaners are the third most common reason for exposure to poison in adults. ***
• 53% of cleaning products contain lung harming ingredients. ****
• Only 7% of cleaning products adequately disclose their list of ingredients. ****
• 22% of cleaning products contain chemicals known to cause asthma in otherwise healthy people. ****

* Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
** Green Schools Initiative
*** National Capital Poison Center
**** The Environmental Working Group