Clean Standard FAQ


Accessible by: anyone

1 How do I obtain a copy of The ISSA Clean Standard: K-12?

A complimentary copy of the Standard is available at www.issa.com/cleanstandard or by contacting ISSA at 800-225-4772.

2 What is the Clean Standard: K-12?

The ISSA Clean Standard: K-12 Schools establishes a framework to help schools objectively assess the effectiveness of the cleaning process at their facilities, thereby contributing to the quality of the indoor environment for the benefit of students and staff. Based on the philosophy of “Clean, Measure, Monitor” and an emphasis on high-performance cleaning, the Clean Standard: K-12 focuses on:

  • The desired levels of cleanliness that can reasonably be achieved;
  • Recommended monitoring and inspection procedures to measure the effectiveness of cleaning;
  • How to use the measurement and inspection results to assess and improve cleaning processes and products, ultimately resulting in a clean, healthy and safe learning environment.
3 How exactly does The ISSA Clean Standard: K-12 measure the effectiveness of cleaning?

The ISSA Clean Standard: K-12 contains both objective and subjective components. The Standard specifically provides “ranges of clean” based on ATP testing as well as sample audit forms. The inclusion of ATP limits adds a quantitative to the determination, while the audits assist with a traditional “sight, smell, and touch” perspective. The ultimate goal is to ensure that schools are in a condition that is clean, safe and healthy for students and staff.

4 To whom does The ISSA Clean Standard: K-12 apply?

The ISSA Clean Standard: K-12 specifically applies to schools, providing them with a key tool to measure and monitor the cleanliness of their facilities. That said, the Standard serves as a valuable sales and operations tool for distributors, manufacturers, other industry suppliers, and building service contractors. As we seek to “change the way the world views cleaning” and demonstrate the true value of clean, the Standard serves as a powerful resource that can assist in the sales process, help schools operate more efficiently and, ultimately, demonstrate that cleaning is properly treated as an investment in health, safety, the environment and the bottom line.

5 How does it interact with other industry standards?

The ISSA Clean Standard: K-12 complements existing industry standards. By setting forth a process and protocol for measurement and monitoring, the Standard naturally works in concert with other industry standards, including the Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) and CIMS-Green Building program, existing “green” product standards, and individual training criteria, to offer schools a comprehensive road map for effective management and operations and the delivery of healthy, clean indoor environments.

6 Does the Standard recommend products, procedures, and systems?

No. ISSA continues to cherish the diversity that is woven into the fabric of our industry. The Standard, therefore, is “non-prescriptive” and its goal is to act simply as a measurement and monitoring framework. While the Clean Standard: K-12 does provide ATP measurement ranges for three of the most popular ATP systems, the Standard should not be construed as endorsing any of the three referenced systems. Ultimately, each school retains the flexibility to choose how it can best meet the Standard’s requirements and are free to select manufacturers, distributors, products, and educational tools that best assist them in achieving compliance.

7 How is the Standard administered?

The Clean Standard: K-12 is administered by ISSA. ISSA, a not-for-profit association founded in 1923, prides itself on being the leading association for the cleaning industry worldwide. ISSA administration ensures that there is no commercial bias to any group.

8 How was the Standard developed?

The ISSA Clean Standard: K-12 was developed through a true consensus-based process. Experts, representing all sectors of the industry, including the facility management and school communities, were selected by the ISSA Board, staff, and alliance partners to participate on standarddevelopment and stakeholder Committees. The committees worked directly with ISSA and its partner, the Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI) to draft the Standard, which was subject to full peer review prior to official publication.

9 What was ISSA’s role in developing the Standard?

ISSA provided organizational oversight by leveraging its unique role in the industry. ISSA’s diverse membership is comprised of:

  • Manufacturers
  • Distributors
  • Manufacturer Representatives
  • Facility Service Providers
  • Industry Consultants
  • School Community Representatives

The shared interests of its membership base enabled ISSA to provide the necessary oversight. In addition, the many alliances that ISSA has developed with leading organizations in the cleaning industry and school communities lent valuable insight to ensure a balanced and comprehensive approach

10 I hear the Standard is based on “science” and comprehensive research? What does that mean and what was the process?

The ISSA Clean Standard: K-12 is specifically intended to provide scientific validation of cleaning effectiveness. That said, the development process by guided by independent and unbiased scientific research conducted by the CIRI “Science Advisory Panel”. The research included thousands of ATP measurements from high touch surfaces recognized as posing health risks in schools (i.e.: student desks, cafeteria tables, restroom sinks and stall doors). The ATP measurements were conducted in numerous schools across the United States to account for potential geographic or climatic variations

The details of the research are set forth in “ATP as a Marker for Surface Contamination of Biological Origin in Schools and as a Potential Approach to the Measurement of Cleaning Effectiveness,” as published in the June 2013 issue of Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene by Shaughnessy and Cole, et.al. Each school selected its own cleaning method which was then rigorously monitored for compliance by research personnel. Following cleaning, sampling procedures were conducted on the cleaned surface.

11 What does the Standard consist of?

The ISSA Clean Standard: K-12 is focused on achieving and maintaining an effective cleaning program through the use of a systematic approach and standardized guidelines centered on the following:

  1. Defining Current Cleaning Procedures
  2. Identification of High Touch Points
  3. Facility Audits
  4. ATP Testing Protocol
  5. ATP Measurement Evaluation
  6. Establishment and Implementation of Corrective Action
  7. Recordkeeping
  8. Technical Training
  9. ATP-Relative Light Unit Limits
  10. Alternative Methodologies
12 What are “Alternative Methodologies” as included in the Standard?

While the ISSA Clean Standard: K-12 is based on the use of ATP measurement, there are a number alternative methods that are capable of objectively validating the effectiveness of a school’s cleaning processes. These methods include direct practice observation, the use of fluorescent markers and others and are specifically referenced in the Standard.

13 Does complying with the Standard ensure that a facility is healthy?

While ATP meters have been validated as the preferred quantitative method of determining cleaning effectiveness, their use does have certain limitations. That said, achieving ATP measurement readings that fall in the “Effective Cleaning” category does not ensure that the facility is absolutely free of contamination or represents a completely healthy facility.

However, research has noted a reasonable correlation between ATP reduction and healthier indoor environments. Concurrent with ATP testing, the researchers tested surfaces for culturable bacteria using a different method – RODAC plates. The simultaneous testing demonstrated that a reduction in ATP was accompanied by a consistent reduction in bacteria. The researchers, therefore, were able to reasonably conclude that a reduction in ATP suggests both a cleaner and healthier surfaces.

14 How will The ISSA Clean Standard: K-12 benefit schools?

The ISSA Clean Standard: K-12 offers schools a valuable tool to ensure that their cleaning program is delivering a healthy, safe and productive indoor environment for students, staff and other building occupants. The Clean Standard: K-12 is a key resource in any school’s tool box; helping them justify cleaning budgets, ensure effective cleaning, and validate products, processes and systems.

Schools will use the Standard to:

  • Set a goal with regards to the cleanliness desired in school facilities
  • Validate the effectiveness of products, processes and systems
  • Ensure products and processes are being used effectively
  • Operate more efficiently and successfully
  • Alleviate parents’ concerns over the condition of schools
  • Answer the question“ Is the area being cleaned effectively or do we need to consider a
    different approach?”
  • Validate performance and quality
  • Justify budgets and increase cleaning frequencies
15 How will The ISSA Clean Standard: K-12 benefit distributors, manufacturers and other industry suppliers?

The ISSA Clean Standard: K-12 offers distributors, manufacturers, and other cleaning industry suppliers a valuable tool to effectively compete in the new marketplace. Successful companies recognize that today’s reality demands a new approach to selling – an approach based on consultative services; becoming the “go-to” resource for information and innovation; and differentiation. The Clean Standard: K-12 is a key resource in any salesperson’s tool box; helping them solidify relationships and position themselves as an indispensable business resource.

Distributors, manufacturers and other industry suppliers will use the Standard to:

  • Position themselves as a true partner and trusted business advisor
  • Assist by providing true management, operations and measurement expertise
  • Help customers understand “why we clean”
  • Help customers operate more efficiently
  • Provide value-added services beyond product and price
  • Help performs site-based assessments
  • Perform or assist in measurement and monitoring activities
  • Assist in the development of cleaning specifications and bid requirements
  • Conduct measurement and technical proficiency training
  • Compare and demonstrate the effectiveness of products, processes and systems
  • Gain decision maker access and help customers justify budgets and increased cleaning
16 Will education and training programs be developed in conjunction with the Standard?

ISSA anticipates that various industry participants and representatives will develop education and training programs to facilitate the implementation of the Clean Standard: K-12 in school facilities across the country, and to help industry partners understand how they can best use the program. ISSA encourages such development and expects to set up an approval and licensing process for such programs. ISSA will also conduct webinars and other programs to share information about the Standard and how it is best used in the marketplace.

17 Are there tools available?

The Standard includes two sample facility audit forms that can be customized and used to perform the required building audit. These forms will make it easier to determine the current cleanliness and overall condition of a facility, identify areas that need attention and otherwise, perform a comprehensive facility assessment and gap-analysis. ISSA also anticipates making available audit templates that can be used for recordkeeping purposes.

Further, to help all segments of the industry understand how they can use the Clean Standard: K-12 in the marketplace, a series of “How to Use” guides are available. There are individual guides for distributors, manufacturers and other industry suppliers; building service contractors; and schools.