Eco-Friendly Cleaning: Boosting Employee Wellness and Workplace Productivity


Eco-friendly cleaning in workplaces reduces health risks from harsh chemicals, improving employee wellness, reducing sick days, and enhancing productivity through better indoor air quality.

Female environmental hygienist cleaning a table in an office  (Adobe Stock 659254451 by Pixel-Shot)

Female environmental hygienist cleaning a table in an office

(Adobe Stock 659254451 by Pixel-Shot)

Over 75% of medical costs accrued in the workplace are primarily due to preventable conditions, according to Gallup research highlighting the impact of employee wellness. The number of sick days employees take, their job performance, burnout, and the likelihood of leaving an organization are all results of employee wellness that can translate to workplace productivity.

With the health and well-being of employees playing a major role in any business, proactively addressing the matter extends well beyond offering benefits such as mental health initiatives and flexible work schedules. A clean workspace, for example, can significantly impact wellness in more ways than one—especially when eco-friendly efforts are incorporated.

Harsh products present hazards

A clean workplace is crucial to employee health and wellness and a business’ productivity. While traditional cleaning products eliminate bacteria and germs, they don’t always create a healthier environment to work. According to the American Lung Association, many cleaning supplies (such as air fresheners, chlorine bleach, and aerosol spray products) can irritate the eyes or throat, cause headaches, or result in other health problems. “Some products release dangerous chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs).” VOCs (along with other chemicals that may be released while cleaning) contribute to health issues such as chronic respiratory problems like allergic reactions and headaches.

Additionally, The American Lung Association notes that studies also link exposure to chemicals from cleaning supplies to occupational asthma and other respiratory illnesses, further working to highlight the dangers involved. While an employee may be at risk by working in a freshly cleaned space (for example, certain products may be irritating if they leave behind a harsh odor), it’s imperative to keep in mind that an employee may wind up using such products themselves from time to time — such as when cleaning up a spill in the breakroom. Weekly Safety notes that working with cleaning chemicals can cause an array of symptoms, such as sore throat, coughing, headaches or dizziness, and burning eyes — to name a few.

For employees, symptoms can impact not only health and wellness but workplace productivity as well. Research that explored the impact of different headache types found that headaches, especially migraines, “significantly affect the work and work efficiency of headache sufferers by reducing their productivity.” Someone with a headache because of harsh cleaning products may need to clock out early or feel too unwell to perform at their best. In some cases, severe reactions—such as an allergic reaction to a cleaning substance—can result in more serious health problems, which could result in taking time off work.

Green cleaning for wellbeing

A clean environment is already associated with a healthy environment, especially regarding high-contact surfaces in commercial spaces like an office building. While traditional cleaning products do work to kill germs and bacteria effectively, greener solutions can minimize the health effects that often arise when traditional, harsh products are used. For example, because conventional products can contribute to indoor air pollution, a green cleaning routine can contribute to cleaner, healthier indoor air. Cleaner indoor air decreases the number of environmental triggers for conditions like allergies and asthma and improves cognition and productivity, too.

According to Medical News Today, green cleaning products should not contain hazardous chemicals and are likely to pose fewer health risks. “They are also, typically, much safer and more suitable for use around people with weakened immune systems or health conditions.” In addition to the health benefits, it’s noted that green cleaning products are also. Medical News Today also cites Clean Water Action, which notes several valuable aspects of a green cleaning product to look out for to achieve the right results. These include considerations such as whether or not the product is biodegradable, recyclable packaging, and natural fragrances, to name a few impactful elements.

The advantages of eco-friendly cleaning routines

A green cleaning routine is a powerful way to maintain a working environment conducive to employee health and wellness. Scheduling regular cleanings with a reputable commercial cleaning service that provides environmentally friendly options is a great way to do this. Environmentally friendly cleaning strategies are crucial for an effective clean that minimizes the environmental impact, with green commercial cleaning services implementing efforts that include recycling and using non-toxic products. For example, using nontoxic cleaning products will help reduce indoor air pollution created by most traditional chemical cleaners. In contrast, reusable microfiber rags, biodegradable trash bags, and other green tools can further minimize any adverse environmental effects of cleaning.

To further green cleaning efforts, several changes can be made for the long-term adoption of green practices in the workplace. One LinkedIn article suggests several worthy ideas when aiming to successfully revamp the environmental impact of the office, with conducting an environmental audit as one proactive suggestion. By taking inventory of existing practices within the workplace, you can better determine where changes need to be made. “Conduct an audit to determine the types of cleaning products used, the frequency with which they are cleaned, and the amount of waste generated,” the post suggests. Replacing cleaning products in the breakroom and bathroom with green options is a great start. At the same time, integrating practices such as recycling can maintain a green workplace by reducing waste.

Employee wellness plays a significant role in a team's productivity. While efforts such as implementing mental health initiatives and flexible schedules can help minimize burnout while focusing on worker wellness, a clean workplace can add to the benefits. By recognizing the value of routine and eco-friendly cleaning, employees can enjoy a healthy space that naturally promotes well-being.

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