An Overview of Routine Cleaning and Maintenance for a Healthy School Environment

One of the most straightforward ways to create a healthy school environment is to improve everyday maintenance to keep school facilities clean and running smoothly and safely.

This section addresses regular cleaning and pest management and helps schools assess and improve their operations and maintenance programs for their facilities.

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Why It's Important

  • School environments are healthier when they are kept clean and well maintained.
  • Unsanitary conditions attract insects and vermin, and irritants and allergens found in dust and dirt can have a negative impact on student health and performance in schools.
  • Indoor air pollutants and allergens related to poor cleaning practices contribute to increased respiratory and asthma symptoms among children and adults.
  • Regular and thorough cleaning and building maintenance can prevent pest problems, minimize irritants and allergens and create healthier learning and working environments for children and staff 

What You Can Do

  • A good operations and maintenance plan includes procedures for cleaning all parts of the school facility and maintaining the entire building infrastructure: the foundation, exterior and interior walls, windows and doors, and roofing.
  • Refer to and follow your state's relevant environmental health policies and emergency management protocols when conducting cleaning and maintenance activities.
  • Practice Effective Cleaning and Maintenance is a component of EPA's model school environmental health program that provides information to help schools create and maintain clean productive learning environments. 

EPA and Federal Partners

  • EPA’s Integrated Pest Management website provides information to reduce children’s risk from and exposure to pesticide. IPM uses commonsense strategies to reduce sources of food, water and shelter for pests in school buildings and grounds.
  • ENERGY STAR for K-12 School Districts describes EPA's partnership with schools across the country to provide technical support, guidance on financing options and recognition for schools wanting to use energy more efficiently. ENERGY STAR has coordinated with EPA's Indoor Air Quality program to address the overlap between energy efficiency upgrades and indoor environmental quality, and it has launched an energy performance rating tool in schools.
  • Green Power Partnership is a voluntary EPA program that can help organizations lower the transaction costs of buying green power, reduce their carbon footprint and communicate their leadership to key stakeholders. The website offers information on technical support, tools and resources.
  • Operating and Maintaining EnergySmart Schools: Web-Based Training by the U.S. Department of Energy introduces energy efficiency concepts, presents energy-saving strategies and helps building managers develop and implement a plan for energy efficiency in schools. The training includes a test and opportunity for certification.
  • Planning Guide for Maintaining School Facilities provides an introduction to school facility maintenance and includes chapters on facility audits, managing staff and contractors, evaluating maintenance efforts and more. The guide was written by the National Forum on Education Statistics and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics.

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National Organizations

  • School Facilities Management: Resource List by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities offers an annotated list of links, books and journal articles on the operations and management of school buildings and campus facilities.
  • School Cleaning and Maintenance Practices: Resource List by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities offers an annotated list of links, books and journal articles on custodial standards and procedures, equipment, safety and product directories for the cleaning and maintenance of schools and colleges.
  • The Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™) is an interdisciplinary effort to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices. SITES™ is led by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden.

Regional, State and Local Resources