Use degreasers for cleaning jobs that are too tough for general purpose cleaners. Look for certified products (Green Seal GS-37) that are listed on the City's contract.
Info on this product category: Cleaner Degreasers
Why Go Green
- Have safer ingredients. Cleaning products often contain a variety of hazardous ingredients, including quaternary ammonium compounds, alkylphenol ethoxylates, 2-butoxyethanol, glycol ethers, and ethanolamine. These pose health hazards to workers and building occupants, as well as environmental hazards downstream.
- Reduce waste, by emphasizing recycled and/or recyclable packaging.
- Are sold as concentrates whenever possible, which means that shipping weight is 1/64 – 1/256 that of ready to use products - dramatically reducing fuel requirements for shipping.
- Use dilution systems to prevent exposure to concentrated products.
- Cost roughly equivalent to conventional cleaners.
Criteria for Cleaner Degreasers
Products certified under the Green Seal GS-37 ecolabel.
The Department of the Environment may conduct its own review of specific products that are not formally certified by Green Seal or Ecologo, to determine whether those products substantially meet the standards established for the various categories of certification, and on that basis allow the use of those products.
The Real Cost of Institutional Green Cleaning (2009). Report by SF Environment that includes a cost survey of conventional vs. green cleaning products. Costs were roughly equivalent for most product categories. Costs of ready-to-use products averaged 15 times higher than concentrates; aerosols averaged 27 times higher.
Guide for City Staff
- Are required to buy these cleaners (if needed):
Post the City department green cleaning checklist/poster.
- Try peroxide-based disinfectants. Disinfectants are only important for surfaces like doorknobs.
- Switch to microfiber mops and cloths, which can prevent injuries because there's no need for heavy mop buckets.
Install closed-loop dilution systems (if possible) to prevent employee exposure to hazardous concentrates.
Non-custodial City Staff:
- Try microfiber cloths, which can get rid of 99% of bacteria with plain water.
- Get discounted consumer general purpose cleaners, dish soaps, hand sanitizers.
- Make cleaners (air fresheners, oven cleaners, mold and mildew remover, wood furniture polish) with things like baking soda, castille soap, or lemon juice.
- See other safer consumer products at GoodGuide.
It's illegal to trash cleaners (and other chemicals, electronics, lighting, metal, paints). So do one of the following:
Guide for Small Businesses & Homes
- Try microfiber cloths, which attract dirt like magnets even without chemicals. You can clean surfaces like glass with water alone.
- Make your own cleaning products from common materials like baking soda, castille soap, or lemon juice.
- Compare consumer cleaning products on GoodGuide.
- Use disinfectants sparingly: Surfaces that you touch are the most important.
- Choose ready-to-use, peroxide- or citric acid-based disinfectants. Avoid disinfectants that list hypochlorites or quaternary ammonium compounds as ingredients (look for the words "ammonium chloride" in the ingredients).
- Small businesses can save money by switching to institutional-grade cleaning products. Ready-to-use products are 15 times more expensive than concentrates.
- Custodial companies that are SF Green Businesses should watch the custodial green cleaning training video series made by SF Environment.
Guide for Large Organizations
- Post the Custodial Green Cleaning Checklist/Poster and Tips (available in Spanish and Chinese).
- Watch custodial green cleaning training videos made by SF Environment.
- When creating contracts, paste specifications from the Criteria section above.
- Try microfiber mops and cloths, which can get rid of 99% of bacteria with plain water.
- Install closed-loop dilution systems to prevent employee exposure to hazardous concentrates.
- Legally and safely dispose of cleaners (and other chemicals, electronics, lighting, metal, paints) in the San Francisco Bay Area or rest of the U.S.