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How process cleaning can promote efficiency

Strategy that started for consistent cleaning in schools has applications in other facilities
Friday, March 21, 2014
By Matt Morrison

While many property and facility managers look to cleaning products when trying to cut costs and ensure consistent cleaning in buildings, the answer may actually be in the cleaning method that custodial staff uses. Process cleaning, a strategy that uses structured processes to complete tasks in a specific order, may save custodial workers time by promoting consistency and efficiency.

Process cleaning was originally developed to clean schools. However, it can be used in a variety of facilities, including office buildings, and for a variety of cleaning tasks ranging from general daily cleaning to hygienic restroom cleaning and maintenance.

Developed by Rex Morrison, former housekeeping training co-ordinator for the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada, process cleaning requires that all custodial workers perform cleaning tasks in a specific order. This is the case whether custodians are working together as a team, or individually. The process starts as soon as they set foot in the area they are going to clean.

When the custodial worker enters a classroom, office, or even a particular floor of a building, he or she locks the door to help prevent interruptions and ensure additional security.

From here, the process is structured and includes the following steps:

  • Cleaning begins with the door. If there is glass to clean, that is the first thing done, followed by the door handles and other high-touch areas, such as light switches.
  • Desks and surfaces are dusted and sanitized as needed.
  • Trash is collected.
  • Vacuuming begins. Process cleaning recommends the use of backpack vacuum cleaners, because they typically help vacuum more area in a shorter amount of time and may have ergonomic benefits.
  • Deep or extra cleaning is the final step. This refers to cleaning areas that workers do not necessarily clean on a regular basis, such as high ledges or the bottoms of chairs and other furniture.

“Taking a systematic approach to cleaning helps improve cleaning effectiveness, eliminates wasted time, and minimizes or eliminates stops and starts,” Morrison says. He adds that the stops and starts that come with standard cleaning can cause workers to lose time, motivation and concentration. This, he says, can reduce custodial workers’ efficiency and affect the quality of their work.

Restroom cleaning can be the most time-consuming task in a facility. And when it comes to upkeep, this is the area that most occupant complaints are regarding. As a result, facility managers are often looking for strategies to speed up cleaning in restrooms, and make it consistently hygienic. To do so, a modified process cleaning approach may be the answer.

To adapt the process cleaning methodology for restrooms, Morrison used what worldwide cleaning association ISSA refers to as ‘spray-and-vac’, or no-touch cleaning systems.

With these systems, workers apply metered cleaning solution to all restroom surfaces and fixtures. After allowing a few minutes for the chemicals to dwell on surfaces, workers rinse these same areas with fresh water. With some systems, workers squeegee the remaining moisture, soils and contaminants into floor drains. However, if they have a machine with a built-in vacuum cleaner, the moisture and contaminants can be vacuumed.

According Process Cleaning for Healthy Schools, a non-profit that advocates for the strategy, switching to a process cleaning system can see building’s custodial worker go from cleaning 22,000 square feet in an eight-hour shift up to 27,000 square feet.

Long known as a slow but steady industry, professional cleaning is now rapidly changing. New systems and approaches to cleaning are beginning to have a profound impact on the health and well-being of facilities across the country.

Matt Morrison is communications manager for Kaivac, developers of the No-Touch Cleaning and OmniFlex cleaning systems.

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