In our increasingly eco-aware society, adopting sustainable practices has become essential, particularly in places like childcare centres where we shape the minds and habits of future generations.

In Australia, the push for greener practices in these early learning environments is growing, reflecting a broader national commitment to sustainability. For instance, initiatives like reducing waste, using biodegradable products, and promoting recycling are increasingly adopted by childcare centres across the country. But how widespread are these practices, and what impact do they have on our children and the environment?

In this blog, we’ll cover the best sustainable cleaning practices for childcare centres. You’ll learn about natural cleaning products, effective cleaning techniques, and how to reduce waste.  By making the switch, you can protect children’s health and contribute to a cleaner planet.

Health Risks of Chemical Cleaning in Childcare Centres

The use of chemical cleaning agents in childcare centres poses significant health risks to children, staff, and visitors. Children, in particular, are more susceptible to the adverse effects of these chemicals due to their developing bodies and closer proximity to the ground, where residues often settle.

  1. Respiratory Issues

Many conventional cleaning products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can irritate the respiratory tract, leading to asthma or exacerbating existing respiratory conditions. A study by the American Lung Association highlights the link between exposure to VOCs and increased asthma symptoms among children.

  1. Skin and Eye Irritation

Harsh chemicals in cleaning agents can cause skin rashes and eye irritation. Sensitive skin is more common in young children, making them more vulnerable to dermatitis and other skin conditions from direct contact with these substances.

  1. Endocrine Disruption

Some cleaning products contain phthalates and other substances known to interfere with hormone function. The Endocrine Society has reported on the potential for these chemicals to disrupt endocrine function, affecting growth and development in children.

  1. Long-term Health Effects

Continuous exposure to toxic chemicals can have long-term health effects, including potential impacts on cognitive development and increased risk of certain cancers, as suggested by research from the Environmental Working Group.

Given these risks, it is imperative that childcare centres reassess their cleaning protocols and consider safer, sustainable alternatives that do not compromise the health of the children in their care.

Sustainable Cleaning Best Practices in Childcare Centres

In the effort to maintain a healthy and safe environment for children, childcare centres are increasingly turning towards sustainable cleaning practices. These methods not only minimise the health risks associated with chemical cleaners but also contribute to environmental conservation. Understanding commercial cleaning rates can also guide centres in budgeting for these sustainable practices efficiently. Below, we explore key best practices in sustainable cleaning within childcare settings:

  1. Use of Green Cleaning Products

Opt for cleaning agents that are certified eco-friendly. These products are free from harmful chemicals like phthalates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), reducing the risk of respiratory problems and skin irritation among children and staff. Example: Use a vinegar and water solution for window cleaning instead of ammonia-based products.

  1. Microfiber Cleaning Tools

Implement microfiber cloths and mops instead of traditional cleaning tools. Microfiber is more effective at trapping dirt and reduces the need for chemical cleaners, thereby limiting exposure to harmful substances, making it an excellent choice for childcare cleaning services.

  1. Proper Ventilation

Ensure that any cleaning, even with green products, is done in well-ventilated areas. This practice helps to dissipate any airborne particles or minimal VOCs present in eco-friendly products, maintaining indoor air quality.

  1. Natural Air Fresheners

Replace synthetic air fresheners with natural alternatives. Chemical air fresheners can emit a range of VOCs. Options like essential oil diffusers or simply opening windows to allow fresh air circulation can significantly improve indoor air quality without the health risks.

  1. Steam Cleaning

For deep cleaning, consider steam cleaning, which uses high-temperature steam to sanitise surfaces without the need for chemical disinfectants. This method is especially effective on floors, carpets, and fabric toys.

  1. Regular Training for Staff

Educate and train childcare centre staff on the importance of sustainable cleaning practices and the proper use of green products. Knowledgeable staff are more likely to adhere to best practices, ensuring a consistently safe environment for children.

  1. Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Adopt IPM strategies to manage pests with minimal use of chemicals. This approach focuses on prevention (through cleanliness and maintenance), monitoring, and controlling pests using the least toxic methods first, such as physical traps or natural deterrents.

  1. Sustainable Waste Management

Implement recycling and composting programs to manage waste more sustainably. Reducing waste at the source and diverting it away from landfills contributes to a healthier environment both inside and outside the childcare centre.

  1. Eco-Friendly Product Purchasing Policies

Develop policies for purchasing eco-friendly cleaning and maintenance products. This includes evaluating products based on their environmental impact, health risks, and effectiveness.

  1. Community Engagement and Education

Involve parents and the community in sustainable practices by sharing information and encouraging eco-friendly habits at home. This holistic approach reinforces the importance of sustainability and health beyond the childcare centre.

By adopting these sustainable cleaning best practices, childcare centres can create a safer, healthier environment for children and staff, while also playing a part in the broader movement towards environmental stewardship. These practices not only contribute to immediate health benefits but also instil a sense of responsibility and care for the planet in the next generation.

Green Cleaning Tips in Childcare Centres

Transitioning to green cleaning practices in childcare centres not only supports a healthier environment for children and staff but also plays a crucial role in promoting sustainability. Here are practical tips and strategies for incorporating green cleaning methods effectively:

  1. Choose Certified Eco-Friendly Products

Select cleaning products with environmental certifications such as Green Seal or EcoLogo. These products have been rigorously tested to ensure they meet strict environmental and health standards. 

Example: For everyday cleaning, opt for a multi-surface cleaner with a Green Seal certification.

  1. Implement Color-Coded Cleaning Cloths

Use colour-coded microfiber cloths to prevent cross-contamination between areas (e.g., kitchens, bathrooms, play areas). Microfiber is effective at capturing microbes and reduces the need for harsh chemicals.

  1. DIY Natural Cleaners

For simple cleaning tasks, homemade solutions can be effective and safe. 

Example: A mix of vinegar, water, and essential oil makes an excellent window cleaner or surface spray for non-food-contact surfaces.

  1. Focus on High-Touch Areas

Regularly clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces such as door handles, toys, and light switches using safe, non-toxic disinfectants. Ensure the product is suitable for the surface and situation according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

  1. Safe Storage of Cleaning Supplies

Store all cleaning products, including eco-friendly ones, out of reach of children. Clearly label homemade solutions and keep them in a secure location to ensure safety.

  1. Educate Staff and Families

Provide training for staff on the importance of green cleaning and how to use products effectively. Share information with families about the practices being implemented in the centre to promote a healthy environment.

  1. Regular Maintenance Schedules

Maintain a regular cleaning schedule that includes daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. Consistency is key to preventing the buildup of dirt and germs and reduces the need for heavy-duty cleaning products.

  1. Ventilation During Cleaning

Ensure areas are well-ventilated during and after cleaning to minimise exposure to any fumes and to improve air quality. Opening windows and using fans can help circulate fresh air.

  1. Adopt Green Pest Control

Use integrated pest management (IPM) strategies that focus on prevention, such as sealing cracks and keeping areas clean and dry, to reduce the need for chemical pest control methods.

  1. Invest in Sustainable Cleaning Equipment

Utilise equipment that reduces water and energy consumption, such as HEPA-filter vacuums that can capture fine particles without dispersing them into the air.

Quick Reference Table for Green Cleaning in Childcare Centres

AreaCleaning SolutionEquipmentFrequency
General SurfacesEco-friendly multi-surface cleanerMicrofiber cloths (colour-coded)Daily
WindowsVinegar, water, essential oil mixMicrofiber cloths, squeegeeAs needed
ToysMild soap and water solutionCloth, brushDaily and when visibly dirty
BathroomsGreen Seal certified bathroom cleanerMicrofiber cloths (specific colour)Multiple times a day
Kitchen AreasFood-safe eco-friendly cleanerSeparate microfiber clothsAfter each use
Childcare cleaning guide

Implementing these green cleaning tips in childcare centres can significantly contribute to creating a safer and healthier environment for children and staff. By making informed choices about cleaning practices and products, centres can also foster a culture of sustainability and care for the environment.

Professional Cleaning for Childcare Centres

While adopting sustainable cleaning practices is a significant step towards creating a healthier environment in childcare centres, the expertise of professional cleaning services can elevate these efforts to the next level. Commercial cleaners, specialised in eco-friendly cleaning, possess the knowledge, products, and equipment to ensure that childcare centres not only meet but exceed health and safety standards.

Partnering with Stinger Cleaning offers numerous benefits:

  • Expertise in Eco-Friendly Cleaning: Our team is well-versed in the latest sustainable cleaning practices and products, ensuring your childcare centre benefits from the most effective and environmentally responsible cleaning methods.
  • Customised Cleaning Plans: Understanding that each childcare centre is unique, we offer tailored cleaning plans that address specific needs, focusing on high-touch areas and ensuring a thorough clean with minimal environmental impact.
  • High-Quality Products and Equipment: Utilising advanced eco-friendly cleaning products and technologies, we ensure a deep clean that supports the health of both children and staff without compromising the environment.
  • Compliance and Peace of Mind: With regulations around childcare cleanliness being stringent, partnering with a professional service ensures compliance with all health and safety standards, offering peace of mind to staff and parents alike.

If you’re committed to providing a safe, healthy, and sustainable environment for the children in your care, consider the benefits of professional eco-friendly cleaning services with us.

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