Custodial Green Cleaning

Hazards in traditional cleaning

On average, custodians use nearly 28 gallons of chemicals per year. A fourth of these chemicals are hazardous. Custodians, janitors and housekeepers have the highest rates of work-related asthma and relatively high injury rates such as chemical burns, much of which are due to toxic chemicals found in cleaning products.

We have found that chemicals in the cleaning supplies include carcinogens, reproductive toxins, hormone disruptors, asthmagens, kidney toxins, asthma triggers and chemicals toxic to the central nervous system. Traditional cleaning increases environmental and health impacts, health care costs and liability and insurance cost for the company.

San Francisco’s Green Cleaning Program

SF Environment received a pollution prevention, source reduction grant from Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9, for conducting a green cleaning pilot program. Under this grant, SF Environment:

     1 Developed a Green Cleaning Curriculum
    2 Created a pilot program
    3 Created Green Business standards for custodial companies


Green Cleaning Curriculum

San Francisco’s multilingual green cleaning program covers the benefits of green cleaning, green cleaning products and procedures and proper disposal of waste and hazardous waste. The Green Cleaning training includes multilingual training videos (English, Spanish, Cantonese), a training manual, flashcards and factsheets on best green cleaning practices. Modules covered are: Dusting & Polishing, Floor Care – Cleaning, Floor Care – Resurfacing, Carpet Care, Kitchen/Food Areas and Restrooms. 

Green Cleaning Videos in 
EnglishCantonese and Spanish
Green Cleaning Flashcards in EnglishCantonese and Spanish
Green Cleaning Factsheets in
EnglishCantonese and Spanish
Green Cleaning Training Manual in English


An extensive green cleaning product list can be found at SF Approved, which helps San Francisco City Staff, San Francisco Green Businesses and other organizations choose environmentally preferable and green products. While greener products are important, it is equally important to follow safer cleaning practices. Studies have shown that nearly half of the benefits of using green cleaning products result from the process in which they are mixed and used, which speaks to the tremendous need for education and training.


Green Cleaning Pilot Program

As part of the pilot program, employees of 5 custodial companies were trained. A post pilot study showed that access to green cleaning products was very high at 97%. 97% of the custodians liked using green cleaning products and 80% thought they worked as well as traditional products.


Green Business Standards for Custodial Companies

SF Environment created a Green Business standards checklist for custodial companies wanting to go through the Green Business program. This checklist covers employee training, pollution prevention, purchasing and conservation practices. 

In San Francisco, the following 5 custodial companies are recognized green businesses:



Aim to Please

Japan Janitorial

Signature Cleaning

If you are a custodial/janitorial company interested in becoming a Green Business, please register and apply here.

If you are interested in learning more, contact us at (415)-355-3700


Additional Information for Custodial Green Cleaning

The San Francisco Green Business Program
San Francisco's Green Businesses meet high environmental standards and are recognized by the City for their achievements.
SF Approved List
San Francisco's own green products catalog for City departments. Includes green specifications, green products on City contracts, vendor information, and product reviews by City users.