Green Cleaning in Schools:
Developments in State Policy
Cleaning products are important for maintaining a sanitary environment in schools. However, chemicals in cleaning products may be hazardous to the environment and to the health of students, maintenance workers, and other school staff. "Green cleaning” reduces environmental and health risks by selecting alternative, environmentally-sensitive products, by applying these products properly, and by implementing maintenance practices that minimize exposure to cleaning products. Over the past several years, many school districts have begun to adopt green cleaning programs and practices.
State Laws. Increased press coverage, outreach, and advocacy on green cleaning practices have piqued the interest of state legislatures.
This policy brief describes policies from ten states and the District of Columbia that have been
adopted in recent years with the goal of advancing green cleaning practices in schools and reducing exposure to chemicals.
These policies vary considerably. Most laws require schools to use green cleaning products, but differ in how they establish criteria for meeting this requirement. Laws in New York and Illinois, for example, direct the state to adopt guidelines and specifications that schools must use in purchasing green cleaning products. In Connecticut and Iowa, schools must use products that meet third-party certification standards and/or are approved by the state. Maryland law, in contrast, leaves it to each school district to adopt its own specifications for purchasing green cleaning products. And two state laws (Maine and Missouri) do not mandate green cleaning, but rather direct the state to develop voluntary green cleaning guidelines that school districts may elect to use.
Last updated: April 2013
Watch for updates to this page as new policies are enacted.