At Middlebury, Custodial Services is taking sustainability all the way down to the floor you walk on. They have found many green alternatives to the standard cleaning chemicals, and use other technologies such as microfiber cloths, central vacuum systems, and ozone machines. Custodial Services continue to look for new ways to reduce the reliance on harmful chemicals and replace them with high performing alternatives.
Middlebury now uses the Betco Green Earth product line for much of its cleaning needs. This includes a peroxide cleaner for daily bathroom cleaning, window cleaner for glass, and an all purpose cleaner for nearly everything else. For touch points (door hardware, faucet handles, dispenser handles, light switches), they still use a disinfectant to curb the spread of germs. For an abrasive cleaner they use A-Ben-A Qui, a non-toxic paste cleaner that works wonders! The use of bleach and comet has been greatly reduced, but it is still kept on hand for blood spills.
Microfiber cloths capture dirt and bacteria at a higher rate and require fewer cleaning chemicals compared to regular cleaning cloths. As custodial services manager Sylvia Manning noted, “Sometimes all it takes is a mist of water to remove fingerprints from windows and door, and normally you don't have to scrub as hard with microfiber”. Microfiber mops deposit less water on the floor which means floors dry faster, creating a safer walking surface.
Another green step Middlebury has taken is using central vac systems. Unlike conventional vacuums that blow the exhaust back into the room they are being used in, central vac systems are much healthier for users and building occupants because they vent the dust and dirt away from the living/working areas, central vacs also use cleanable filters and collect the dirt in drums, so no disposable vacuum bags are needed. Canister vacs are used in some areas, but central vacs have been installed in most of the large buildings and some of the mid-sized buildings on campus.
Custodial Services also use an environmentally friendly carpet cleaner (Carpet Complete by Envirox) and are currently researching greener floor strippers and finishes but have yet to find an acceptable system. They also do not use shampoo with each extraction on our carpets, instead, they spot treat stains and use a water rinse between chemical extractions.
Steam cleaning is used for some carpet and upholstery shampooing, cleaning some metals (chrome at the pool, door thresholds), and ceramic tile flooring. It saves time and use of chemicals.
For odor elimination, Middlebury uses ozone machines to remove odors from painting, cigarette smoke, and carpet installations, avoiding the need for chemical odor removers.
To learn more about the project that got green cleaning going at Midd, click here.