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Outlining What Custodians Need to Know - Process Cleaning for Healthy Facilities™
Healthy Facilities™

Outlining What Custodians Need to Know

By PC4HS Staff


To be safe and healthy, a school must be clean. Effective cleaning doesn’t happen without training and a thoughtful approach to implementing a program that’s right for the school and the people who use it.

Every janitor or cleaning crew member needs to understand how to clean for safer and healthier environments and that they’re part of a larger effort — shared by the principal, teachers, nurse, building operations and other staff members — to maintain a healthy indoor environment.


Cleaning for safer, healthier environments means that as much as possible, the cleaning crew works in a safe and healthy way to protect all occupants. To do this, custodians need to be educated and trained. Below are some important points training must cover.

Germs and Biologicals

  • How bacteria or viruses spread in a school via touchpoints that dictate cleaning priorities;
  • Methods and techniques of cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting, including following label directions and allowing germicidal agents enough dwell time (the time the surface is allowed to stay wet with the chemical) to be effective, but without wasting time;
  • Teaching staff how to avoid cross-contamination of surfaces using cleaning tools such as microfiber mops and cloths;
  • Why and where mold grows, how it can be unhealthy, how to prevent and remove it.

Airborne Pollutants

  • Why breathing indoor pollutants (particles and chemicals) can be harmful and how to avoid exposures.


  • The role chemicals play in cleaning and pest prevention;
  • How chemicals can affect human health, especially for cleaning and maintenance workers exposed daily, plus children and chemically sensitive persons;
  • The importance of being careful around chemicals: How to safely store, mix, label, and use them in harmony with OSHA and other health and safety guidelines.

Accidents and Spills

  • How to deal with an accident or spill by the cleaning crew;
  • How to deal with any spill by students or staff;
  • How to clean up an overflowing toilet, or feces or urine;
  • How to handle events and materials involving blood and other potentially infectious matter.

Waste Disposal

  • How to dispose of trash from classrooms and offices, kitchen waste, and chemical waste;
  • What to do with used cleaning cloths;
  • Where to locate waste storage bins and how to keep them hygienic and secure.

Safety and Environmental Regulation

  • Which health, safety, and environmental regulations are applicable;
  • How to read and interpret the chemical product label and Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for a cleaning product per OSHA rules.


  • How to stock a cleaning cart and sequence tasks to optimize productivity without sacrificing safety;
  • How to use equipment safely and ergonomically.

Record-keeping and Logs

  • Which records or logs need to be kept and why. For example, when a particular restroom was last cleaned, a particular carpet deep cleaned, a floor refinished, an item of equipment serviced, or a filter changed;
  • Which logs to post and where;
  • Which events or observations to report and to whom.

The above info is adapted from the book, Clean and Healthy Schools for Dummies by Dr. David Mudarri (used by permission). For information on getting a free copy of the book, Clean and Healthy Schools for Dummies, visit IEHA.org.