Janitorial Products Logo How To Evaluate
Sample Products


We simplified our trials by limiting tests to the following 7 product types.

You might want to do the same at your facility. Start with a few products, and then work your way through the others after you have organized your test program and you have worked the bugs out of it.

  • General Purpose Cleaner
  • Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  • Bath and Tile Cleaner
  • Window / Glass Cleaner
  • Graffiti Remover
  • Metal Polish
  • Disinfectant
  • We contacted our list of suppliers and invited them to submit any safer and environmentally preferable products that they offer for the above cleaning functions. Specifically, they were asked to submit a product sample, product MSDS, product instruction sheet and a bottle label for each product.

    First, we reviewed product literature and eliminated products based on toxicology information. Our product screening questions are listed on another part of our web site.

    It is important to note that many suppliers have "green" products that will not meet our suggested standards. For example, one vendor submitted an entire line of products that did not pass this first step.

    Then we gave the products to professional cleaning crews to evaluate cleaning effectiveness. Three cleaning crews volunteered to assist us with our hands-on product evaluations:

  • City of San Josť Main Library crew (5 members)


  • City of San Josť Maintenance Yard crew (2 members); and


  • County of Santa Clara Hall of Justice crew (4 members).
  • The product evaluation form we used is available as a PDF file.

    The following are some additional lessons we learned whileconducting our product trials.

    Select the Right Test Crew - When selecting where to test new products it is important to chose a crew with consistent work attendance, with experienced senior employees, and with focused cleaning responsibilities. The San Jose City Main Library Crew was helpful because one of their regular job functions was to be the test crew for all new products for the City. The County Hall of Justice team was helpful because they had a well respected senior staff member.

    Establish Crew Buy-In and Involvement - Before testing any products, have a team meeting with the test crew and emphasize why you are testing alternative products. Our testing was successful in large part because each test crew knew that their upper management was looking for safer alternatives to current products. They also knew they were being asked to participate in a way that would directly influence the decision.

    The following are examples of questions you can ask to help find ways to effectively involve the crew in the test process. Some of these questions are simple, but their answers can provide you with a lot of valuable information. You can use our survey form, or make one of your own.

  • What products are you currently using? Answering this early on will help determine exactly what sample replacement products to offer for trial.


  • How much product are you using on average? Cleaning crews vary in the amount of product used, so you need to know how much product you need to give your test crew.
  • Example: Each member of the County of Santa Clara Hall of Justice cleaning crew uses a 32 oz bottle of glass cleaner each day, where it takes a month for the entire San Jose City Main Library crew to empty a 32 oz bottle of glass cleaner. This information will determine how much product to give the tester so they may conduct a fair evaluation. The County crew received a 32-oz bottle per product / per person while the 5-person City crew shared a 32-oz bottle.
  • What is your daily cleaning routine? Answering this question will be helpful in establishing when a change to the routine is needed to adopt a product.
  • Example: One crew member was understandably resistant to testing any products that would take more time for cleaning. She complained that she hardly had time to complete her current cleaning tasks.

    We verbally walked through her daily routine and discovered that she could spray the surface cleaner in the bathroom, spend 10 minutes emptying trash cans on her floor, and then return to wipe up the cleaner (rather than spraying and waiting idly while the product worked).
  • What are your toughest cleaning challenges? These are the people who will be using the products you change to, so their buy-in is essential. If you can find a safer product to tackle their toughest problem that buy in will be accelerated.
  • Example: One crew member complained about the oily residue left on metal from their current metal cleaner. His evaluation for one of the alternatives read "This is the best product I've ever used on stainless. It works super in the elevators." He was sure to share that experience with the rest of his crew and his buy-in was affirmed.

    Introduce Your Test Phase Timeline & Hold Regular Meetings - Share with the test crew your suggested timeline for the hands-on test phase. Include plans for reviewing their test evaluations and discussing problems/questions that arise.

    Our testing process included a weekly meeting where new products were given to the test crew and a discussion was held about the previous weeks' successes and failures. This discussion sometimes consisted of identifying barriers to the test process, and other times consisted of sharing mutual support of successful products.

    Establishing the timeline provides a necessary structure for you and the test crew to work within, and can reinforce the spirit of a team collaborating on a project.

    Give the Test Crew Products and Instructions - We determined that because our test phase involved numerous products for one cleaning function it was easier to test products according to cleaning function rather than according to vendor. For example, the cleaning crew first tested all glass cleaners, then all general purpose cleaners, etc.

    Along with the product samples themselves, the crews were given a copy of each product MSDS and instruction sheet for reference. In addition each member of the crew received an evaluation form to give feedback on each product tested. A sample evaluation form is on the following page.

    Do Hands-On Testing Yourself - Whenever possible, join the test crew for some of their cleaning. Nothing emphasizes the importance of the project more than getting in the dirt yourself and testing the products with them.