Custodial staff goes green with

Caitlin Saniga

Kent State’s custodial staff has gone green.

They’ve traded in their traditional window cleaners and stain removers for more environmentally friendly cleaning products in the hopes of reducing health and environmental risks.

“Green cleaning is a no-brainer,” said John Walsh, custodial manager of Campus Environment and Operations. “I’m not a big environmentalist, but everything I read says this is the direction we need to go.”

For Walsh’s staff, the transition began in April, and now all academic buildings except the M.A.C. Center and Gym Annex are “green,” he said. These areas will also go green once the custodial staff uses up traditional cleaning products, which have already been paid for.

The department gets its products from Chemsafe International, a cleaning compounds research specialist in Bedford. The company uses scientists’ research to create effective green-cleaning products.

Day-shift custodial supervisor Cindy Gary said, for the most part, her staff has made the switch without any big problems.

“You still have the die-hards who were used to the strong chemicals that removed stains easily,” Gary said. “But everyone’s adjusting and finding their own ways to work with the products.”

One big difference between traditional and green cleaning is green cleaning requires cold water. The transition to using cold water is difficult for staff who are used to the traditional method of cleaning with hot water, Walsh said.

Another difference is green cleaning products need to be used in small quantities to work effectively.

“When it comes to green cleaning, more does not mean better,” Walsh said.

Residence Services custodians, who clean the bathrooms, halls and lounges in residence halls, have also started using Chemsafe products.

Jim Zentmeyer, associate director of Residence Services, said they began using green products about a year and a half ago in the Centennial courts. Within months, they placed Chemsafe product dispensers in all of the other residence halls.

Saundra Leasher, a Centennial Court B custodian who cleans about 58 bathrooms weekly, has used the Chemsafe products since March. She said she prefers the new cleaners because they can be used on most surfaces and don’t give her a headache like the old products did.

“When it comes down to employee safety, it’s always worth it,” Gary said.

That’s what green cleaning is about — using products that get the job done but don’t harm people or the environment.

“I’ve got a daughter who’s a senior at Kent (State) right now,” Walsh said. “I want my daughter to work in the cleanest working environment possible, and I can provide that with green cleaning. And I want for my daughter the same as I want for you.”

Contact buildings and grounds reporter Caitlin Saniga at [email protected].