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9,000,000+ sq ft
Cleaning over
every day
12,000,000+ sq ft

The Definition of Green Cleaning

green clean earth on green moss

What is green cleaning?


An executive order in 2009 defined green cleaning as: “the use of those products and services that have a lesser or reduced impact on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose.” But the reality is that green cleaning is much more than that.

Green cleaning means reducing the harmful toxins that cleaning staff, customers, and employees are exposed to throughout the day.

Normal cleaning products contain endocrine disrupters, phosphorus, nitrogen, and volatile organic compounds. All of these chemicals harm wildlife, the environment, and the people that use them. These ingredients can cause skin and eye irritation to janitors and cleaning staff. Chemicals leaking into nearby water sources can cause nutrient overloads that damage the aquatic species living there.

Perhaps most harmful of all are volatile organic compounds. These compounds are released into the air from cleaning products. They can contribute to indoor air pollution and even environmental smog after leaving your office building.

To put all of this into perspective, experience to chemical exposure has 6% of janitors out sick with a job-related injury each year. There are 2.8 million working janitors who are potentially exposed.

The toxic chemicals used in most regular cleaning products can take a toll on the health of your workers, leading to avoidable illnesses that end up needlessly costing your company money.

So, what is green cleaning really?

Green cleaning means changing the way a cleaning service operates in everything from what cleaning products they use, to how the products are packaged, and even how they handle and dispose of cleaning materials.

A commercial cleaning company must go through rigorous training and keep meticulous records on cleaning products and equipment in order to earn the GS-42 certification. As the only cleaning service provider in Maryland to combine the GS-42 certification with a proprietary Performance Measurement Management program, the Wilburn Company is an expert on how to maintain excellent quality cleaning, customer satisfaction, and low environmental impact.

Part of green cleaning is using environmentally friendly cleaning equipment. For the Wilburn Company, this includes new water-saving carpet cleaning machines, and using microfiber rags, mops, and shampoo bonnets that keep more paper waste from heading into the trash.

Who decides the standard for green cleaning?

Green Seal is an organization founded in 1989 and is the nation’s foremost ecolabel, symbolizing transparency, integrity, and environmental leadership. The nonprofit organization certifies products and services that meet their environmental standards as based on scientific programs.

Green Seal offers the Green Seal-42 Certification. In order to become GS-42 certified, cleaning companies must reduce chemical and solid waste, optimize their cleaning processes, provide continuing education for staff, and also communicate clearly with clients and employees. The GS-42 certification aims to create a safer environment for cleaning staff and janitors while also creating a reverberating positive environmental impact in the cleaning industry.

What is green cleaning for janitorial staff?

Becoming an employee in the cleaning industry requires much more than just a bucket and a mop. Cleaning staff must continue their education with 24 hours of classes and testing yearly. Besides that, New hires must also take one 12-hour course before the end of their first year with a green cleaning service.

Green cleaning requires dedication and commitment from janitorial staff. They have to be passionate about continuing their education in green cleaning and maintaining best practices for low impact on the environment.

What is the cost of green cleaning?

Surprisingly, green cleaning is less expensive than traditional cleaning methods. Because of the goals of efficiency and minimal waste involved in green cleaning, companies that use green cleaning methods spend less on products, energy, and even decrease the depreciation of assets cleaned.

Besides that, there are hidden costs to traditional cleaning methods. Most surprisingly, there’s the cost of employee health considerations. Sick employees are less likely to be efficient, and employees that call out more often put more of a strain on the employees still at work. Issues such as employee health can seriously slow down company efficiency and lower employee morale.

So far, we’ve decided that green cleaning is more cost-effective, better for employee health, standardized and data-driven.

But what is green cleaning not?

Green cleaning is not lower quality cleaning. As a matter of fact, using products that make it harder to clean sufficiently means using more of the product and wasting resources—the exact opposite of the goal of green cleaning.

It also doesn’t mean using a green product here and there or implementing a single green cleaning procedure. Any environmental impact lowered through that one action is greatly minimized by the other harmful procedures used. True green cleaning sticks to stringent guidelines that play a huge part in everyday business processes.

What is the science behind green cleaning?

Before science-based green cleaning, all anyone knew was that strong chemicals killed germs. The smell of bleach meant that everything was clean. What they didn’t know was that that bleach smell also meant the presence of harmful chemicals and a risk to human health. Luckily, green cleaning has come far from these days.

Green cleaning is driven by data. This data helps the Wilburn Company differentiate between “I think this is green cleaning” and “I know for a fact that this is green cleaning.” This differentiation can make a world of difference in environmental impact.

Science decides what is listed as a toxic chemical and what is listed as a green chemical. This helps us decide what products to use in our cleaning procedures. The GS-42 Certification is largely science-based and uses data to drive the continuing education procedures that employees must follow.

The Wilburn Company is Passionate About Green Cleaning

We here at the Wilburn Company pride ourselves on our passion about green cleaning. We believe that green cleaning is the cleaning method of the future. It benefits our employees, the environment, and our clients.

If you’re looking for quality green cleaning services for your commercial building, the Wilburn Company is here to help. We clean over 9,000,000 square feet on a daily basis. If you want to add your square footage to the space maintained by our capable cleaning crews, give us a call today.

What is green cleaning? It could be the way your building is cleaned – and the way your business and people get healthier.