Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is used in schools for pests such as weeds, rodents, and cockroaches. IPM principles can also be used for addressing microscopic pests such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses. When addressing microscopic pests, select the cleaning product based on the need, whether taking preventative measures to reduce pest-conducive conditions or eliminating microorganisms. For example, while soapy water is sufficient to disrupt an ant trail, use of a registered disinfectant is required on wrestling mats to prevent the spread of infectious skin diseases. Remember that disinfectants are registered pesticides and therefore the label must be followed to avoid health problems such as eye injuries, chemical burns, and respiratory illness as well as to achieve disinfection.
The following links provide information on cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting while minimizing hazards.
- “How to read a cleaning/disinfecting product label” from the Center for Environmental Research & Children’s Health, Green Cleaning Toolkit.
- Hazard communication from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. What custodians and teachers need to know about the cleaning and disinfecting products they use.
- Dangers of mixing bleach with cleaners from the Washington State Department of Health.
- Information on cleaning and disinfecting is in Appendix VIII (Guidelines for Handling Body Fluids in School) of the Infectious Disease Control Guide for School Staff, from Health Services at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
- Green Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting: A Curriculum for Early Care and Education from the EPA’s Healthy Child Care section is an all around guide including such topics as prevention, product selection, cleaning methods, and hazard communication.
- The difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing is explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and includes general information on the effective and safe use of cleaning and disinfecting products in school.
- Green Cleaning Toolkit from the Center for Environmental Research & Children’s Health – includes training curriculum, posters, and fact sheets that cover many areas of cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting in schools.
- The Quick + Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools from Green Clean Schools, Healthy Schools Campaign, is a resource for planning and implementing a green cleaning program for schools.
- Cleaning for Healthy Schools Toolkit offers several modules for training custodians, parents, and school administrators.
- Informed Green Solutions: references on cleaning and disinfecting.
- Specific information on Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is available from Washington State’s Department of Health. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department MRSA website includes toolkits for addressing MRSA in childcares, schools, clinics, offices, and shelters.
- Hantavirus is spread by rodents in their saliva, urine, and droppings. Use IPM to prevent rodent infestations and clean up droppings and urine following guidelines from the Washington State Department of Health.
- Design for the Environment
EPA’s Design for the Environment program helps consumers, businesses, and institutional buyers identify cleaning and other products that perform well, are cost-effective, and are safer for the environment.
- Toxic Free Tips for Household Cleaners
A two-page handout on purchasing, using, disposing, of cleaners plus household cleaning recipes is available at Washington’s Department of Ecology.
- Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Fact Sheet for All Purpose Cleaning Products
Available at Washington’s Department of Ecology, Green Purchasing website.
- Products vetted by the City of San Francisco to meet San Francisco’s health and environmental regulations can be found at SF Approved.
- Disinfectants registered in Washington for use at schools can be found on WSU’s Pesticide Information Center Online by conducting an advanced search for [Pesticide Type = DISINFECTANT] plus [Crop = SCHOOL INDOOR].
- Safer Products and Practices for Disinfecting and Sanitizing Surfaces
A comprehensive report from the City and County of San Francisco that covers health and environmental risks, efficacy claims, dwell times, and surface compatibilities of various active ingredients in cleaning and disinfecting products.
- The Green Cleaning Guide (American Association of School Administrators)
Discusses green products regarding certification, cost, and the impact of these products on asthma.
- Characteristics of Selected Disinfectants (Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University)
Describes the characteristics of several active ingredients in disinfectants.
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