Responsible Purchasing Network

Cleaners: Specifications

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in preparing contracts with group purchasing. Learn more on the RPN Factsheet: Buy Green on Cooperative Contracts.

Contract specifications are perhaps the most important opportunity purchasers have to affect positive change. specify products with third-party certifications and third-party verified MSDS reports. Require suppliers to provide on-site training to insure quality performance.The specification samples below incorporate many of the best social and environmental criteria available.

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Model Specification

Harvard University, Specifications for Green Cleaning Products, 2008
Harvard’s Green Cleaning Program is a combined effort of Harvard Green Campus Initiative and Facilities Maintenance Operations (FMO) at Harvard University. This is a specification that pools from several governmental organizations that were the pioneers of the green cleaning movement such as Massachusetts, Seattle, Santa Monica, King County, WA, Minnesota and others. Requests for proposals should outline requirements for the following attributes:

  • Packaging and Recycled Content
  • Carcinogens and Reproductive Toxins
  • Combustibility
  • Labeling Requirements
  • Skin and Eye Irritation
  • Dilution Ratios and Dispensing Equipment
  • Fragrances
  • Eutrophication
  • Toxicity
  • Photochemical Smog
  • Aquatic Toxicity
  • Employee Training

More Specs 


Minnesota, Cleaning Supplies and Floor Care Products Contract, 2004
This Request for Proposal calls for the responder to provide cleaning supplies and floorcare products to the State of Minnesota. Section IV-A specifies Health and Environmental concerns for cleaning products. The products must not contain any ingredients that are carcinogens or that are known to cause reproductive toxicity. According to this RFP carcinogens are defined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the National Toxicology Program (NTP), US Environmental Protection Agency, or the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). Chemicals known to have reproductive toxicity are listed by the the State of California under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.

New Jersey RFP Environmentally Preferable Cleaning Products I, 2008
This Request for Proposals was issued on behalf of New Jersey State Agencies and their Cooperative Purchase Partners. The RFP covers all inclusive aspects of an environmentally preferable cleaning program. Specified standards include Green Seal GS-37 and GS-40 and EcoLogo or recognition from U.S Environmental Protection Agency Design for the Environment (DfE) Formulator Program. NJ also specifies performance standards such as ASTM D5343 “Standard Guide for Evaluating Cleaning Performance of Ceramic Tile Cleaning.”

Illinois Specifications for Green Janitorial Products 2007
This bid was made to establish a contract for janitorial cleaning products that comply with the State of Illinois’ Green Cleaning Schools Act. It specifies that products be certified or in compliance with Green Seal, EcoLogo or recognized by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency Design for the Environment (DfE) Formulator Program. This document covers all aspects of a cleaning product from packaging to training to environmental attributes. Packaging must be comprised of recycled-content and be recyclable or refillable. On-site training should be provided with each product purchase. Products should also come with a complete list of chemical ingredients on their third party certified Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).

Connecticut, Environmentally Preferable Cleaning Products RFP, 2004
This request for proposals was administered by the Department of Administrative Services to provide Environmentally Preferable Cleaners for all using State Agencies, political sub-divisions, municipalities, schools and non-profits. Products must have received Green Seal’s GS-37 certification. The product manufacturer, their distributor or a third party must offer training or training materials on the proper use of the product and dispensing equipment at no charge. On-site training is not required but is expressed as desirable. 

Pennsylvania, Cleaning Products Contract, 2004
This specifies the terms and conditions for a contract with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for cleaning custodial supplies. The RFP lists core category items in chart form specifying for either Green Seal, Ecologo or ASTM standard.


Hennepin County RFP, 2008
In order to minimize the health and environmental impacts of maintaining clean facilities, Hennepin County is requiring the use of environmentally preferable cleaning products and methods. Product areas include general-purpose cleaners, floor cleaners, bathroom cleaners, glass cleaners, carpet cleaners, disinfectants, and floor finishes and strippers. Cleaning chemicals must be certified through Green Seal GS-37 or EcoLogo or be recognized by the DfE (EPA’s Design for the Environment) Program. In order to prevent waste the county requires that all packaging be recyclable.

Alameda County, Cleaning Products RFQ, 2005
Alameda County, in attempts to comply with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental (LEED) Existing Building standards, submitted an RFP for thirteen categories of janitorial cleaners. These specifications provide the terms and conditions for the procurement of environmentally preferable cleaning products for the maintenance services of over one hundred and sixty-six County owned and
leased facilities.

San Francisco, Custodial Cleaners, 2005
The City and County of San Francisco has adopted a total of 18 mandatory specifications for the procurement of janitorial products. The first and seventh criteria areas govern issues of toxicity. The criteria specify an oral lethal dose that must not exceed 2000mg/kg, a dose that would make it toxic to human beings. Similarly, the RFP specifies an aquatic toxic level that will not harm aquatic life such as algae and fish.


Colorado State University Environmentally Preferable Purchasing, 2007
Colorado State University Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program specifies for products that take into consideration the long and short term costs associated with the full life cycle of the product. Cleaning products should be certified by either GreenSeal or Greenguard.


Practice GreenHealth Specification, 2008
Practice Green Health incorporates a green cleaning program by specifying for Green
Seal certified products.



Green Cleaning Network, Green Cleaning Products Addendum, 2007

The Green Cleaning Network has developed this addendum for existing janitorial contracts. The products referenced in this addendum are based on the current requirements of a number of leading environmental organizations and members of the Green Cleaning Network including the US Green Building Council’s LEED for Existing Buildings Rating System (LEED-EB), Healthy Schools Campaign’s Quick & Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools, and Hospitals for a Healthy Environment’s 10 Step Guide to Implement Green Cleaning in Healthcare.

Creative Commons License This work by the Responsible Purchasing Network is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.