Safe & Effective
Clean restrooms reflect positively on your employees, customers, and visitors. To reach this goal you need to use the right chemicals in the right way. Look for restroom cleaning products that:
Routine cleaning involves the following tasks:
Some products combine cleaning and disinfecting ingredients into one container. These combined products work well only on surfaces that are already relatively clean. For dirty surfaces it is important to clean first, and then apply a separate disinfectant. To work well, this disinfectant must remain in place for at least 10 minutes.
Fairly mild products are available for daily restroom cleaning. Such products are reasonably safe to use, and have little environmental impact. Check the suppliers directions, and mix the cleaning product with as much water as you can. A dilute product is usually safer to use than a concentrated one.
Deep restroom cleaning needs to be done weekly in most cases. However, a deep cleaning may also be required when you do a restroom for the first time, or when you encounter particularly dirty situations. High traffic restrooms may need a deep cleaning once a day, even if routine cleaning is done more frequently.
Most deep cleaning can be done with your regular chemicals, perhaps mixed with less water so that they are stronger. In addition, it may be necessary to spend more time removing soils with brushes and scrub pads.
However, some deep cleaning tasks require stronger chemical products to remove stubborn deposits or stains. Examples include:
Restroom Cleaning Ingredients
Manufacturers make several products for restroom cleaning. These products range from mild to strong, and have many different ingredients. Some of these cleaning products have acids and other chemicals that can harm you.
The following table lists chemical ingredients commonly found in strong restroom cleaners. Some are relatively safe if you wear gloves and goggles, while others you should not use. In addition, there are some chemicals that may be safe to a janitor wearing gloves and goggles, but that can harm the environment.
In addition, sewer districts prohibit discharges of some of these chemicals, such as paradichlorobenzene, phenol, and tetrachloroethylene, as well as acids or bases that are corrosive (having a pH less than 4-5 or greater than 11-12). Avoid products that make your sewer discharge illegal.
Where to get more information
Here are four ideas for obtaining more information about the health and safety risks of the cleaning products that you use:
This fact sheet was prepared for the Janitorial Products Pollution Prevention Project. Call (408) 441-1195 or (925) 283-8121 if you have any questions or comments. Acknowledgment is given to William R. Griffin for ideas provided by his many articles and books.
Janitorial Products Pollution Prevention Project - Sponsored by US EPA, State of California, Santa Clara County, the City of Richmond, and the Local Government Commission. Written by Thomas Barron, Carol Berg, and Linda Bookman. 6/99.