Green Apple Day of Service Project Now Benefits Nearly 311,000 Students

In honor of Green Apple Day of Service, The Ashkin Group, ISSA, the worldwide cleaning association, and the Healthy Schools Campaign have launched a Custodial Training Program.

The program is designed to instruct administrators and cleaning professionals on more effective and more environmentally preferable ways to clean educational facilities.  The key goals are to help improve student performance, as well as protect the health and safety of students, staff, and custodial workers.

Additionally, according to Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, “it emphasizes one of the key goals of the entire Green Apple Day of Service program and that  is sending a message to the world that where we learn matters.”

All of these goals are strongly supported by ISSA, the Healthy Schools Campaign, and the Ashkin Group.

“Custodial training is critical to providing high-performance cleaning and [for] the protection of health and well-being of students and custodians,” says Bill Balek, ISSA director of legislative and environmental services.

“ISSA is proud of the cleaning industry’s long-time commitment to education and [the] training of the cleaning service provider.  We know the more custodial workers we can train, the more children we can help, [advancing] our ‘one million kids’ goal.”

According to Stephen Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group and long recognized as “the father of Green Cleaning,” as of late August, nearly 800 school custodians in seven different U.S. schools have signed up for the program, which is listed on the Green Apple Day of Service website (

“These custodians are cleaning schools serving nearly 311,000 students,” adds Ashkin.  “This is a great start but we can’t stop here.  We are calling on the jansan industry and school administrators to bring that number up so we can protect the health of one million kids.”

The course syllabus is fairly extensive—a 12-hour training course—and was developed by the three participating organizations.  It covers a wide variety of topics, from an introduction to high-performance cleaning, cleaning chemistry, worker safety, floor and carpet care issues to best practices related to maintain cleaning tools and equipment.

“To pass the course, custodians must earn a score of 80 percent or higher,” says Ashkin.  “Our goal with the test is just to make sure everyone ‘gets this,’ and learn ways to make cleaning more effective, safer, and healthier for a million kids.”

Webinar: Healthy Buildings, Happy People: Green Cleaning Tips, Strategies and Frameworks

Wednesday, August 26th
10:00am PDT / 1:00pm EDT

At the 5th Annual Green Sports Alliance Summit in Chicago, the Green Sports Alliance released the Greener Cleaning Playbook: A guide to help sports venue operators develop a greener cleaning program.

A how-to guide including information on establishing a green cleaning policy, finding the best products and service providers, and a collection of case studies from leading venues, the Greener Cleaning Playbook is the first resource of its kind produced for sports venues.

On this webinar, we will provide an overview of the Greener Cleaning Playbook and how it may be used to achieve healthy indoor environments at sports venues. We will also examine approaches to healthy venues via LEED certification, ASHRAE standards and the WELL Building Standard certification.

To Register Click Here


  1. Steve Ashkin | Executive Director, Green Cleaning Network; Board Member, Green Sports Alliance: Welcoming remarks and presenter introductions.
  2. Bill Balek | Director of Legislative and Environmental Services, ISSA
  3. Ileana Aquino-Otero | Project Coordinator, Green Building Services, Inc.
  4. Phil Williams | Executive Director, Delos Living
  5. Discussion/Q&A


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Is This the Ultimate in Green Cleaning?

What would you think if someone suggested to you that an effective way to remove a stain on clothing was to clean the problem area with water and two crushed aspirins? How about using vinegar and baking soda to clean inside a toilet bowl? Would you be willing to make your own disinfecting wipes again using vinegar and baking soda? And how about if someone suggested you make your own window cleaner using a combination of white vinegar and water?

Your first thought might be that these are “home remedies” for cleaning but certainly not usable or recommended for facility managers, and for the most part you’d be right. They are all ways that many consumers are trying to clean their homes without the use of cleaning agents. But what would you think about some facility managers in a variety of facilities using cleaning techniques and procedures that don’t even include these home remedy ingredients? Instead they are using nothing but tap water.

Professionals in the cleaning industry are taking a closer look at what was initially referred to as “chemical-free” cleaning, but is now known as “engineered water.” Engineered water can be defined as the use of regular tap water that has been activated, ozonated, electrolyzed, heated, released under pressure, or treated in some way without the use of chemicals that turns it into an effective cleaning solution.


Some managers likely are already aware of one such cleaning process that does not use chemicals. Commercial-grade steam vapor (dry vapor) machines have been manufactured since the 1920s. “Commercial-grade” machines are developed for professional cleaning use and heat tap water to temperatures as high as 240 to 310 degrees (F). This is far hotter than consumer steam vapor machines. About 10 years ago, the University of Washington tested a steam vapor system to clean restrooms and reported hygienic improvements over other more traditional and chemical-using cleaning methods tested.1

However, what got engineered water in the cleaning headlines several years ago was when some major manufacturers of floorcare equipment introduced automatic scrubbers – machines used to clean large floor areas – that use activated, aqueous ozone, or electrolyzed water as a cleaning solution instead of traditional cleaning solutions.2 The reason for the headlines is simple: In most cases, these machines proved effective.

Two other forms of engineered-water cleaning that have proved their value are microfiber cloths and water to clean counters and fixtures and spray-and-vac cleaning systems, otherwise referred to as no-touch cleaning by ISSA, the worldwide cleaning association. While many if these cleaning systems and machines were originally developed to use chemicals, there are tests have found they work effectively even without the use of cleaning solutions.


The driving force behind engineered-water cleaning is that it is the most environmentally preferable form of cleaning. The goal of Green Cleaning is to reduce cleaning’s impact on the environment. With engineered water, there is essentially no impact on the environment.

Another benefit that facility managers will appreciate is the potential to reduce costs. While admittedly most of the cost of cleaning is labor, but depending on the size of the facility, chemicals certainly can become a cost factor. Using no chemicals minimizes these costs.

Other benefits include the following:

  • Safety for the cleaning worker is increased; studies have found that some of the most serious cleaning-related accidents occur when workers are mixing and using chemicals.
  • No mixing of chemicals is required not only promotes safety, it helps to protect indoor air quality.
  • No chemical residue is left on surfaces after cleaning; chemical residue left on surfaces can act like a magnet, collecting soils and contaminants.
  • Use of engineered water is much more sustainable; tap water does not need to be manufactured, packaged, or transported in trucks or by rail.
  • With some systems, cleaning tools such as clothes, mops, etc., can be soaked in engineered water, helping to clean these tools for future use and increase the lifespan of the products.

Stephen P. Ashkin is founder of the Green Cleaning Network, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating building owners and suppliers about Green Cleaning and president of The Ashkin Group a consulting firm specializing in Greening the cleaning industry. He is considered the “father of Green Cleaning” and has been inducted into the International Green Industry Hall of Fame (IGIHOF).


1 Rick Hoverson, “Steaming Clean,” American School and University, Oct. 1, 2006.

2 An electrical charge is passed through the tap water that turns it into a safe but effective cleaning agent.


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