A facilities worker wrings out a flat mop in a yellow bucket.
Trade Talk

How to choose the best green cleaning products for your facility

Reducing your environmental footprint isn’t just good for the planet—it can also benefit your business in a number of ways. If you haven’t made the switch to sustainable cleaning systems yet, you’re missing out on cost savings, increased productivity and greater efficiency.

If uncertainty is holding you back, discover how your business could benefit and five tips to find the best green cleaning products for your facility.

Why use green cleaning products?

Whether a product is considered green or eco-friendly depends on a number of factors. They should use fewer or no hazardous chemicals, so they are less harmful to humans as well as have minimal impact on water and air quality. They may also be biodegradable, and packaging is often minimal, recycled and recyclable.

Choosing eco-friendly cleaning supplies can lower your facility’s environmental impact, as well as save money by reducing your total cost of ownership, or TCO. Plus, by stocking up on commercial green cleaning products, you’ll minimize waste coming into and out of your facility for you to dispose of. Your cleaning staff can also be more productive and efficient with high-quality solutions that are right for the job at hand.

Take a holistic approach to making the switch to green cleaning products. Consider both product efficiency and labor when examining your facility’s cleaning and maintenance program.

5 tips to choosing the best green cleaning products

To limit the waste your facility contributes to landfills and wastewater systems, as well as save money and labor, check out these five tips so you can choose the best green cleaning products for your facility.

1. Understand cleaning product labels.

Labels can be misleading—words like organic, all-natural or even green don’t necessarily mean the product is sustainable and up to heavy cleaning tasks. Instead of looking for eco-friendly wording, look for icons that certify the product is sustainable.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, manages a program called Safer Choice so consumers can check if a cleaning solution is certified. For disinfectants, look for the EPA’s Design for the Environment, or DfE, label. Green Seal and Ecologo are another two globally recognized certification organizations.

2. Have different types of cleaning supplies for different jobs.

Using ineffective cleaning solutions wastes inventory and operating costs. Before purchasing a green cleaning product, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What are you trying to clean?

  • Do you also need to disinfect and/or sanitize?

  • Can you and your staff use these products correctly?

When you take an inventory of all the different cleaners you use in your facility and find their green counterparts, you’ll likely find you can reduce the sheer number of products you need to have in stock. There are green cleaning products for scrubbing soap scum and mineral deposits, and others that are highly effective against viruses and bacteria and don’t need to be rinsed off afterward, saving labor time.

But limiting waste starts with making sure your maintenance staff has the right cleaning products and tools. For example, hydrogen peroxide-based cleaners often satisfy general purpose cleaning needs. They have good surfactant qualities and quickly break down in the waste stream. In certain concentrations, they also can have antibacterial properties.

At the same time, hydrogen peroxide must be handled properly. Using a solution that’s too highly concentrated can damage certain surfaces, which is why knowing dilution ratios is critical.

3. Know how to dilute cleaning products.

Your facility saves with industrial green cleaning products because you can trim the amount of different solutions you need as well as pay less for packaging and shipping resources. By diluting the concentrated cleaning chemicals to get the most out of every drop, you’ll save even more while also reducing the amount that goes into wastewater.

Green commercial cleaning supplies should come with dilution ratios on the label. The first number in the ratio is the amount of solution, and the second is the amount of water. Note that some countries put the larger number first, so check the label closely. So a cleaning product dilution ratio of 1:10 would be 1 part cleaning solution to 10 parts water. Parts could be capfuls, milliliters, ounces or something else.

To maximize product efficiency, calculate the ratios for each solution and for each task that needs to be completed. Make sure your crew knows how to properly dilute cleaning products and which ones to use for which jobs. And finally, make sure to clearly label the diluted products.

4. Calculate cost per use of commercial green cleaning products.

When it comes to purchasing bulk cleaning supplies, the cost per case is less important than the cost per use. With premium products, you can achieve the same cleaning and disinfecting results with less. And by using more effective alternatives, your crew can finish projects faster, saving on labor.

With your types of cleaning supplies and dilution ratios in mind, you can first calculate how much cleaning solution you get from each product. For example, if you have a gallon of solution (128 oz.) with a dilution ratio of 1:32, you’ll create 33 oz. of diluted cleaning solution for each ounce of concentrate, for a total of 4,224 oz. of solution per gallon.

Apply this number to the amount used for the different tasks your crew handles, and you’ll be able to find the cost per use of your green cleaning products. Your calculations should show that spending a little more upfront on high-quality cleaning supplies can save you in the long run.

5. Check recommended temperature of cleaning supplies.

Your facility’s cleaning products, green or otherwise, are most effective at the recommended water temperature. But if hot water isn’t necessary, heating water wastes energy and time at your facility.

For example, laundry detergent that works well in cool water can often be a smart choice for hotels and assisted living facilities.

On the other hand, cold water can’t penetrate the greasy soils on a commercial kitchen’s floor, and your crew would waste valuable time trying. Liquefying the grease with hot water will allow the cleaning agent to work properly.

Make the most of your eco-friendly cleaning supplies and resources by paying attention to water temperature.

Ferguson can help with green cleaning products

Ferguson has a vast inventory of janitorial products and MRO supplies, all backed by expert assistance from knowledgeable associates. Explore our facility maintenance supplies and solutions to see how we’ll help you get the job done better.