Sustainable Cleaning in Healthcare

Sustainable Cleaning in Healthcare
by Roger McFadden

[This article is excerpted from “Ask The Experts: How do I Implement a Green Cleaning Program in my Facility?” To view the article in its entirety, go to]

A traditional approach to green cleaning that works in other facilities may not be prudent in healthcare. Every cleaning operation should be scrutinized closely and align with internal infection prevention practices.

Integrating more sustainable cleaning products into hospitals’ operations is one of the most beneficial ways facility managers can protect employees, patients, and other occupants by providing an environment free from harmful toxins, residues and irritating odors, while at the same time being a steward of the planet.

Organizations wishing to adopt sustainable cleaning practices can use these strategies as a starting point to become more eco-efficient:


Make a list of what you need a product to do, so searching for a safer, sustainable product alternative can be narrowed based on your cleaning expectations and goals.

To help in this process, create a list of surfaces to be cleaned and soils to be removed. Once a potential product is identified, conduct non-biased performance tests to determine the efficacy of the product. Before making any changes, consult with infection prevention professionals. It is essential to align cleaning and disinfecting products and activities with infection prevention requirements.


Keep cleaning processes as simple as possible to improve efficiencies. It will help to make a list of daily or regular cleaning activities that must be completed. To identify the appropriate products or applications for a specific area or job, create a color-coded or numerical identification system. Also, managers can create wall charts for employees, displaying processes and instructions on how products should be used. And whenever possible, provide hands-on training.


Reduce costs associated with spills and messes by evaluating facility activities. To help floor cleanliness, for instance, install adequate entrance matting to catch soils before they enter the building. Select materials that can be reused. For example, there are excellent reusable cleaning tools designed for mopping, scrubbing, wiping, and washing. Floor scrubbing, stripping, and burnishing pads can be washed and reused. Wet mops, when used properly, can be used for extended periods. Refillable cleaning product containers are better than single-use ones.


Eliminate cleaning product redundancy and products that serve the same purpose. For instance, some facilities have discovered that one general-purpose cleaner can effectively replace three or four..


Energy conservation also comes into play while utilizing green cleaning processes. Cleaning processes should be conducted at ambient temperature. You can select cold water instead of hot when practical. Remember to turn out the lights in areas when they are not occupied and cleaning is complete. Additionally, purchasing decisions should incorporate data about what products and equipment use the least energy.

Roger McFadden is a vice president and senior scientist at Staples Facility Solutions. Staples Advantage is the business-to-business division of Staples works with companies of 20 or more employees to deliver customized programs and services


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