How to Find a Green Cleaning Service
8 key qualities that separate the eco-friendly from the eco-frauds.
Many cleaning services are jumping on the “green” bandwagon, and so should you! Hiring an environmentally friendly cleaning company to suss out the hotbeds of germs and bacteria in your house will mean a world of difference for the health of your family. Without the use of harsh chemicals, green cleaning methods remove harmful allergens from your living space, creating better overall air quality for your household.
Learn about 7 Benefits of Green Cleaning.
Most cleaning professionals say they're willing to use organic/green cleaning products, but how do you find a service that’s truly green and a good fit for your home? Here's a list of seven qualities to look for in a green cleaning service.
And if you're a housekeeper looking to expand your offerings, think about incorporating some of these tips.
1) It’s Certified
Some companies may claim to be "certified" for green cleaning. Find out what the certification process is, what's involved and if there is regular training or updates involved.
One certification to look out for is Green Seal’s GS-49 Standard. Implemented in 2009, this standard establishes criteria for professional green cleaning companies. (Specialty services, such as carpet cleaning, aren't included.) GS-49 spotlights healthy types of products, tools, processes and techniques. To obtain and maintain GS-49 certification, company owners and employees undergo eight hours of training on an annual basis.
2) It Isn’t "Greenwashing"
This refers to when a company falsely proclaims to be environmentally friendly. To find out if your prospective company is doing just that, inquire about its material safety data sheets (MSDS). Cleaning professionals are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to have MSDS information for all products they use in their services.
Mary Findley, sustainable living expert and author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Cleaning,” encourages homeowners to learn how to look at these sheets. “I've read the MSDS sheet for some Green Seal cleaners, and they contain toxins. A Green Seal certificate does not guarantee the cleaning agent is not toxic. You must read the MSDS sheet, and they are required to carry them.”
3) It Uses the Right Products
This is a surefire way to weed out the legitimate green companies from those that are simply eco-friendly. Don’t always trust claims such as “non-toxic,” “eco-safe,” and “environmentally friendly.” Always check the cleaning products ingredients. Avoid products that include phosphates and any furniture polishes or PVC products that include phthalates.
If you need help sussing out the best green cleaning products, visit Consumer Reports’ Eco-Label website. You can use their green report card function to research eco-labels.
4) It Won’t Use Air Fresheners or Other Harsh Fragrances
While pleasant in odor, these products often contain phthalates, carcinogens and allergens. Who wants to breathe in artificial smells and toxic chlorine? And if a company’s staffers are using air fresheners, they’re most likely just masking smells, instead of getting to the root of the problem.
Leslie Reichert, green cleaning coach and author of “The Joy of Green Cleaning,” suggests that house cleaners opt for enzyme-based solutions that use good bacteria to clean and deodorize your home, and use steam cleaners to clean tile floors and bathrooms.
5) It's Bonded and Insured
Though not exclusive to green cleaning companies, this gives you protection in the event that something goes awry. When a company has these protections, its insurance company is then responsible for covering financial losses in the case of an incident -- and not you!
6) It’s Committed to Being Green
You can determine this in the initial interview and by reviewing the company’s website. “Look for content that specifies their chemistry and describes their processes,” advises Marie Stegner, consumer health advocate for Maid Brigade. “If the service is truly green cleaning, they will be using green cleaning equipment and procedures, in addition to using chemistries that are generally regarded as non-toxic and meet criteria consistent with that specified in leading green certifications.”
7) It Uses the Proper Type of Vacuum
Look for a service using vacuums that are recognized by the American Lung Association as promoting good indoor air quality and the Carpet & Rug Institute’s Green Label Program, suggests Stegner. They remove common allergy and asthma triggers, in addition to dirt.
8) It Know the Right Answers
When you're hiring someone to provide care -- whether that's care for a child, an elderly relative, a pet or your home -- you hsould always do a thorough interview. Here are some questions to help you learn if the housekeeper really does care about eco-friendly cleaning:
- How long have you been in business?
- Have you been green the entire time?
- How do you train your employees in green cleaning?
- Can you give me a list of your cleaning products?
- What types of products do you avoid using?
- Do you have any certifications?
- What kinds of cleaning tools do you use?
- Responses should include microfiber mops/cleaning cloths, dual-chamber buckets and a H.E.P.A. vacuum.
If you find that your potential green cleaning service hits all seven of these marks, and you feel comfortable with the answers you receive during your interview, then you’re ready to reap the benefits of living in your newly green space. The next step: Sit back and relax, knowing that your home is clean and you're helping the planet and your health.
Kayla Mossien is a writer for prominent blogs and websites and is the former editor-in-chief of PARENTGUIDE News.