Safer Chemicals > Cleaning Products

Many common cleaning and maintenance products contain chemicals that are potentially harmful to human health and the environment. Consider consulting with your organization’s suppliers about less toxic alternatives to the cleaning products you currently buy. You may also wish to incorporate specifications for less toxic products in contracts and requests for proposals. Also consider reusable cleaning cloths and dilution centers. The sample letter and contract specifications below should serve as a useful guide. For listings of green cleaning contractors, visit Green America’s National Green Pages.

Product Specifications

Cleaning and maintenance products can contain a wide variety of compounds that can adversely impact the health of employees and facility occupants. Use the following resources to find out which cleaning products are right for your organization.

Green Seal Less-Toxic Products
Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia
Department of the Interior Request for Proposals for Janitorial Products

Vendors

For listings of preferable cleaning products, visit the Green Seal database. The EPA’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Database, which contains product specifications and contract language for a wide variety of additional products, is another useful resource.

Sample letter to current suppliers

Dear _______,

[Our Organization] has initiated an effort to improve our environmental performance in all aspects of our operations. We would like to meet with you to discuss these objectives in more detail. We would also like to discuss ways to cost-effectively switch to less toxic and harmful products within the next few years.

We would like to reduce as much as possible the harmful effects on the environment and public health that are associated with our operations, and we would like to speak with you about less harmful alternatives to the products that we are currently using.

Please call me at your earliest convenience so that we can we can organize a meeting to pursue this discussion.

Environmental Benefit

Purchasing less toxic products helps protect public health and the environment. Almost all commonly used cleaning and maintenance products contain hazardous chemicals that can cause serious health effects, including respiratory ailments, skin irritation, neurological disorders, and even cancer. In addition to the human effects, many of these products – or their byproducts – can harm aquatic life and other species.

Additional Resources

EPA Environmentally Preferable Purchasing
Green Seal Less-Toxic Products
Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia
Green Home Environmental Store
City of Santa Monica Less-Toxic Products Information
Green Cleaning Products Calculator
Department of the Interior Request for Proposals for Janitorial Products