UNH Green Cleaning

Through the use of greener products, more effective cleaners, and precise dispenser systems, UNH Housekeeping has decreased the amount of cleaning product used by approximately 50% in the past 15 years. They are also providing UNH faculty, staff and students with a healthier, less toxic environment. According to Green Seal®, a green cleaner is one that lessens its environmental impact at every stage of its life cycle, including packaging, and the ways in which it can be disposed after use (Green Seal, 1998). Product evaluations are conducted using a life-cycle approach to ensure that all significant environmental impacts of a product are considered, from raw materials extraction through manufacturing to use and disposal.

UNH Housekeeping is responsible for the internal cleaning of 75 out of the approximately 112 buildings on and off the UNH Durham campus, including academic and administrative buildings, residence halls, Health Services, the Field House and the Whittemore Center. New greener products and practices are constantly being tested to see whether they meet expected standards. New product and green cleaning training happens at various times of the year when a new product is introduced by the vendor, or when new information needs to be disseminated to keep everyone updated. The remaining 37 buildings of UNH are serviced by UNICCO. UNICCO has a similar green cleaning program which uses similar and different green products than used by UNH Housekeeping.


Green products and initiatives at UNH

Green cleaning products

  • Green Seal® certified neutral /all-purpose cleaners are used for all floor and wall scrubbing.
  • Green Seal® certified disinfectants, glass cleaners, carpet cleaners, and pre-spray and extraction shampoos are used throughout campus.
  • RTD® Dispensing Systems are proportioning systems that are used for better control and measurement of cleaning solutions and products. This reduces human and aquatic toxicity and smog production potential. High efficiency filtration vacuum cleaners are used which improve air quality, provide employee productivity, and improve the working environment.
  • Automatic Floor Scrubbers are used which pick up old water and do away with dirty water bucket mopping.
  • Flat mopping systems using microfiber cloths are used where effective. This reduces the amount of water and cleaning product used.
  • Linpol® Organic Floor Cleaner and Protectant is used in multiple buildings including the Whittemore Center.
  • Green Seal® and EcoLogo® certified foam hand cleaners in all UNICCO-serviced buildings. The foam soap is biodegradable and comes in easy to refill cartridges. UNH Housekeeping will be using Buckeye hand soap starting September 2009, with non-battery operated dispensers. Learn more... 
  • 2009 UNH Housekeeping Sustainable Product List (PDF)


Paper products

  • The SCA toilet paper and roll towels used in restrooms on campus are 100% recycled paper and EcoLogo certified.


Mechanical prevention and practices

  • Effective mat systems are in place in all buildings, which dramatically reduces the amount of soil and moisture that gets tracked into a building.
  • Discretionary use of disinfectants (considered toxic) are used only where necessary. Stripping of floors is only done on an “as needed” basis.
  • Marmoleum® flooring, which does not require stripping and floor finishes, is encouraged in new buildings. (Marmoleum is made with natural raw materials and installed with solvent free adhesives.)
  • Carpet cleaning accomplished with shampoo sprayed carpet (instead of soaking carpet with chemical cleaners) and then extracted with water cleaner.
  • Carpet care systems use a special "green" formulation that uses no hazardous chemicals, which means no residues or special handling. It also uses 30 times less water than some wet cleaning methods to exceed water conservation standards outlined by the US Green Building Council.
  • Purchase of a Clarke floor stripping machine that can strip large area hard floor surfaces of old finish with water only eliminating chemicals in waste stream.
  • Addition of several microfiber mopping systems.
  • Additional use of microfiber cloths.
  • Steam cleaner used at the Field House for the pool area, some carpets and air vents. Also available for other building special projects.
  • Reduction of use of disinfectant per recommendation of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), using only as necessary o inr touch areas.
  • Use of disinfectant with no-odor to help sensitivity issues of clients.


Energy savings

  • UNH Facilities maintains an inventory of XLERATOR® hand dryers, which are hygienic, use 80% less energy than standard hand dryers, and result in a 95% cost savings over paper towels. Even taking the energy used into consideration they are usually more economical than paper towels and more sanitary.
  • Electric hand dryers in restrooms are campus standard for new construction and renovation. UNH Housekeeping managers play an important role in reviewing Housekeeping finishes and standards in the design phase of new construction projects on campus.
  • Unfortunately, to retrofit restrooms whose buildings are not undergoing renovation is an expensive undertaking and cannot be accomplished all at one time. However, UNH is working to escalate retrofits from paper towels to hand dryers where feasible. New installation locations in existing buildings are determined by UNH Housekeeping managers. They take into consideration the volume of towels being used, the type of location, and the need for electrical work needed to retrofit the location so it can use the dryers.



  • Purchase of 3 system recycling systems for auditoriums and large classrooms to increase accessibility to recycle and avoid recyclable objects from general waste stream
  • Elimination of plastic bag use in paper recycling unit as it is small enough to wash if necessary.
  • Increase of recycling at Whittemore Center by recycling pizza boxes.
  • Increase of recycling at the Field House for special events with addition of more recycling receptacles.


Beyond green cleaning - UNH Housekeepers' extra effort

  • Recycling empty cleaning chemical bottles.
  • Recycling the toilet paper cores in paper recycling or leaving small rolls of toilet paper for student use (such as nose blowing, etc).
  • Using old chemicals (already purchased) instead of putting in waste stream.
  • Turning off lights in areas such as lounges, etc., when room is empty.
  • Not using chemicals if water only will take care of the problem.
  • “A little dab will do you” philosophy.
  • Using cleaning rags as necessary to reduce laundering.
  • Reusing the clean plastic bags that laundered rags come in.
  • Making sure equipment is working properly and able to do the job for you.
  • Closing open windows.
  • Reporting water leaks.
  • Not over-ordering supplies and having so many in closets that they spill out.
  • Acknowledging students who do something positive for sustainability such as recycling.
  • Donating unclaimed clothing items that have been found.
  • Carpooling to work. ("It can be fun!")
  • Using online instead of paper communications.