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School Custodian | Guardian Against Grime
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By: Jolie Baetzel Email Article
Word Count: 1487 Digg it | it | Google it | StumbleUpon it


The School Custodian


-†One who does great deeds but receives little or no recognition for them.

Think about it. The school custodian by virtue of everyday cleaning procedures and protocols is the guardian and protector of the health and well-being of the entire school building as well as all of the people in it. That's impressive. More than a simple structure, a school building is a densely populated, complex facility. In basic terms, it is a Petrie dish of germs and bacteria, the perfect formula for a critical mass event at any given moment. That is, unless proper cleaning protocols are in place and practiced appropriately. In essence, the school custodian is the front line guardian against grime and disease.

Cleaning Scheme of Things

By implementing a comprehensive cleaning and infection control plan, involving all staff, academic performance, attendance and indoor air quality can be improved. What a concept! The implementation of an ongoing cleaning schedule, targeting, sanitizing and disinfecting "high touch" areas in tandem with proper products and equipment is a game changer. With everyone involved, from teachers to students and beyond, a perfect solution for human and environmental health in schools can be achieved. But, it must be done right by using the right products at the right time in the right areas.

Cleaning & Chemicals

Not all cleaning products are created equal. Chemicals found in some cleaning products are more likely to trigger symptoms that impact health. This is especially true for children. Children are not miniature adults, their bodies are still developing and they are particularly sensitive to toxins. And because children are little whirling dervishes, sitting on the floor, putting objects in their mouths and touching everything in sight, their "normal" behavior makes them especially vulnerable to chemicals. They are exponentially exposed to germs, bacteria as well as chemicals because of their behavior. Some side effects include headaches, eye, nose, and throat irritation.

Minimizing these health risks can be as easy as identifying and being mindful of cleaning products that act as irritants based on chemical composition. And then by replacing them with products that utilize the EPA's "Safer Choice Standard" and by using products that have neutral pH levels with no known carcinogens, low or no fragrance, low or no volatile organic compounds, have energy and water savings benefits, and are biodegradable using less packaging.

The Right Stuff

In the past, finding cleaning products that were effective and safe for the environment and people was questionable and expensive, at best. Things have changed.†Reliable third-party certification organizations have evolved through the years which exist to take the guesswork out of product evaluation. Ecologo, Green Seal and Safer Choice are some examples of third-party organizations that help identify affordable cleaning products. These products must meet high standards and level of effectiveness for the health and safety of the end-user and the environment.

Green Clean Policy Makers

Schools across the nation that acknowledge the benefits of green cleaning solutions are advocates for system wide policies which incorporate green products as standard operating procedure requirements. The Healthy Schools Campaign is an independent nonprofit organization with the belief that every child deserves a healthy school. They are advocates for protecting the health of students and staff while minimizing the environmental impact of school cleaning. Sensible.

The Why

Each school day, nationwide, more than 60 million students and staff†attend school. This number represents 20 percent of the†American population. Here's the rub - half of them are being†exposed to polluted indoor air.

Students miss 14 million school days each†year because of asthma which is often exacerbated by poor†indoor air quality.

6% of school custodians are injured on the†job each year due to chemical exposures. Custodial staff is particularly susceptible to health problems from†frequent exposure to toxic cleaning chemicals.

If all U.S. schools used†energy-efficient cleaning equipment 23 million†tons of carbon emissions that†could be saved.

One school district in New York†saves $365,000†a year because of changing to a green cleaning†program.

In summary, a green cleaning program helps reduce harmful exposure to chemicals, green cleaning products and techniques can†reduce the risk of illness and injuries and over the long-term save money. When custodians are armed with the right tools, equipment, and products they become virtual miracle workers - keeping everyone healthy, clean and safe while positively impacting the bottom line. It doesn't get much better than that.

The Right Time

Because of the unique nature of the school campus, like rust, cleaning never sleeps. So it is important to prioritize and schedule peak deep cleaning times to coincide with school down time. Major cleaning projects should be planned when students are not in school with floor cleaning scheduled during school breaks. On the other hand, during flu season or during an illness outbreak, it is critical to ramp up efforts and increase cleaning frequency, especially in "high touch" areas.

"High Touch"

From the cafeteria to restrooms, gymnasium, library, desks, keyboards, door knobs and light switches, virtually every area of the school becomes a "high touch" area. With a school community-based awareness program, everyone within the school can participate in taking care by washing hands, wiping down desks and stacking desks and chairs to clear the way for custodians to make a clean sweep, as an example. It takes a village.

From the cafeteria to restrooms, gymnasium, library, desks, keyboards, door knobs and light switches, virtually every area of the school becomes a "high touch" area. With a school community-based awareness program, everyone within the school can participate in taking care by washing hands, wiping down desks and stacking desks and chairs to clear the way for custodians to make a clean sweep, as an example. It takes a village.

The Right Place

& the Cleaning, Sanitizing & Disinfecting Modality

And as every custodian knows, every place†is the right place. So, we all know that cleaning†removes dust, dirt, grime, and some germs from surfaces or objects. An absolute necessity, but cleaning does not kill germs. As you already know, high-touch points should be cleaned even more often than passive surfaces and objects. Certain tools and products like micro fiber mops and cloths, high-efficiency HEPA filtration vacuums, and steam cleaning machines maximize cleaning efforts and results. An ongoing cleaning program is integral in controlling the spread of infection in schools. However, cleaning in itself in a school setting is just not enough.


Sanitize. After cleaning with a dry surface, it's time to sanitize. Sanitizing reduces germs on surfaces to a safe level which decreases the risk of spreading infection. Use a good sanitizer that maintains a standard of excellence for use within schools. Ecologo certified and EPA approved†Envirox H2Orange2 117 Concentrate†is a good example of a sanitizer that is tough on germs but easy on people and the environment around them.


And for the final cleaning flair, every custodian worth their salt knows that disinfecting is the final magic touch for targeted use in high-risk areas or for high-risk incidents. These areas pose a much higher risk of transmitting infectious diseases. High-risk incidents include vomit, feces, blood, or other bodily fluids. Disinfection is the weapon of mass destruction in these scenarios.

Knowing how and when to properly clean, sanitize, and disinfect helps maintain a safe and healthy school environment. The school custodian does not have to be a lone wolf. If everyone pitches in, a unified force can and will defeat grime.

No More Unsung Heroes

Thank your custodian and the praises bestowed will come back to you three-fold in ways you may not anticipate. If you are interested in learning more about green cleaning solutions and extensive cleaning protocols for schools that have not been covered here, as the topic is as complex as it is important, contact us.

Sani-Chem Cleaning Supplies is run by people - not boards, stock holders or algorithms. Real people, with real experience†and knowledge†who are available to discuss whatever cleaning challenge you might have.

Remember, we are here to serve you and the community†(since 1976).

Sani-Chem Cleaning Supplies

Come by & visit us on our††"Cleaning Matters"†Community Discussion

"all rights reserved"

I am a writer and go to gal for creative cleaning supplies topics. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations from Syracuse University. I am currently writing blogs for all things clean:

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