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A Cleaner, Greener School

Solutions for a more sustainable cleaning program


According to a recent article in Education Week, a typical US student spends 8,884 hours over nine years to complete primary and lower secondary education, which is nearly 1,300 hours more than the average student in other countries.[1] With all that time being spent in an educational facility, it’s important for educators, administrators and facility managers to create and maintain a clean space where students and staff can focus on their studies. In addition to prioritizing overall aesthetics, many schools are “going green” in an effort to keep students safe and minimize the building’s overall impact on the environment. However, regardless of overall sustainability goals, a cleaning program is the first place to start when creating a cleaner, greener school.


In addition to prioritizing overall aesthetics, many schools are “going green” in an effort to keep students safe and minimize the building’s overall impact on the environment.


A Sustainable Clean

Identifying a more sustainable cleaning program for an educational facility may seem like a heavy lift, but with sustainability being a top priority in the industry, product manufacturers are eager to provide facility managers with solutions that support green efforts without sacrificing quality.



When determining what products to use, it’s important for management to remember that sustainable benefits can come in many different forms. Product features to keep top of mind include:

  • Reliable Efficiency. Increasing efficiency can support a school’s sustainability efforts. One way to increase efficiency is by using products that tackle more than one job at a time, ultimately eliminating the need for extra steps in the cleaning process. For example, there are floor pads on the market that eliminate the need for burnishing, as they are able to clean and shine at the same time. These pads also reduce the product usage and labor associated with burnishing—and, with busy hallways, lunchrooms and more, the faster the floor gets clean, the better.
  • Long-Lasting Durability. Selecting high-quality products that offer noticeable durability benefits and an extended product life when compared to traditional options will not only limit waste but also save time. Also, certain floor pads provide extreme durability, decreasing the number of pads that end up in the landfill. In addition to durability, products such as double-sided dusting sheets can limit overall product waste and help to get more out of less.
  • Product Makeup. The materials in the products make a difference. Opting for cleaning products made with recycled or sustainable materials can help support the environmental efforts of the school.
  • Trustworthy Accuracy. Using cleaning chemicals correctly and accurately helps to achieve the best, most effective clean, while also preserving product by only using the necessary amount. When it comes to cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing chemicals, accurate dilution is crucial. Over-diluted chemicals can be ineffective and lead to more frequent cleaning in order to achieve the best results. Chemicals that are under-diluted can lead to an excess of product being used and could potentially be harmful for students and staff. Fortunately, there are chemical dispensing systems that ensure optimal dilution to provide the most accurate and effective clean.


With the variety of products currently available to facility managers, ensuring that a cleaning program reflects the sustainability efforts of the school is now easier than ever. By auditing the current cleaning program to find opportunities to bring in products that support sustainability goals, an A+ facility becomes truly possible.


By Benjamin J. Oberle, Healthcare & Education Marketing Specialist, 3M Commercial Solutions Division


[1] Sparks, S. D. (2019, September 10). U.S. Students and Teachers Top Global Peers for Time Spent in School in OECD Study. Retrieved October 18, 2019, from