Cleaning Industry Remains Positive as Economy Improves

cleaning-surveyCommercial Cleaning and the Economy

The recent economic recession affected more than the banks and brokers on Wall Street. Industries across the country,  including commercial cleaning, found themselves in sometimes dire straights. Surviving a recession calls for improved methods of operation, smart choices, and  creative problem solving.

As a whole, the commercial cleaning industry has weathered the storm and is poised to show a robust growth as the economy improves.

The Efficient Cleaning Economy

Desperate times call for desperate measures, says the old adage. When times got tough for the cleaning industry, commercial cleaners got more efficient. The 2013 Cleaning Industry Insights Survey highlights that increased efficiency in operations and reducing operating costs have contributed to the survival and improvement of the commercial cleaning industry in the United States.

The New Cleaning Economy

The comprehensive survey collected responses from upwards of 400 commercial cleaning professionals working in the food service, health care, and hospitality sectors of the industry. Since the flagship survey was performed in 2011, a focus on retaining business and customer satisfaction have remained as the leading areas of concern among commercial cleaning professionals. Efficiency improvements have played a large role not only in maintaining profitable, but in impressing customers.

  • Operating Costs. Survey respondents felt less pressure to reduce operating costs than they did in 2011. An improving economy has contributed to the ease on cost cutting, as well as successful cost cutting measures that have been implemented over the last two years. The survey revealed that fewer companies were making cutbacks in 2013 than in 2011. The exception to this is the health care industry. The pressure valve hasn’t been released on cleaning companies who work in hospitals and clinics. In fact, the health care sector feels increased pressure to cut costs, including office supplies and staff, to meet strict budget demands.
  • Customer Satisfaction. A perennial area for improvement, customer satisfaction remains an area of focus for commercial cleaners. The good news is that reduced operating costs, a focus on sustainable cleaning practices, and improvements in efficiency over the last two years have boosted customer satisfaction. Cleaning professionals that have kept a tight ship through the recession have improved their bottom line and improved their customer satisfaction. Definitely a win-win situation.
  • Products and Performance. Cleaning products, equipment and their level of performance remained the area of highest focus by cleaning professionals. Cleaning companies want commercial cleaning products and equipment that get the job done well and done right the first time. Improvements in sustainable products, practices, and equipment has helped cleaners meet these goals, which in turn improves their operating costs and customer satisfaction.
  • Focus on Efficiency. Survey respondents also revealed that commercial cleaners are more likely to focus on efficiency improvements and cost cutting measures than increasing the price of products and services to make ends meet.

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4 Cleaning Tips for the New School Year

back-to-school-cleaningBack to School Cleaning

The new school year is just days away, which means thousands of students, faculty and administrators will be returning to school buildings and facilities across the country. The primary goal of a school is to create a safe and effective learning environment. A key component to that environment is a properly cleaned and maintained facility.

Creating a Safe, Clean Learning Environment

Beginning the school year is an important and exciting time. New students are being acquainted with their surroundings, returning students are moving ahead on their academic path, and teachers and faculty are preparing for a year of class schedules, curriculum and learning. The environment they all return to needs to be clean, safe and welcoming to achieve

A well-cleaned, disinfected and prepared school environment is also critical for helping reduce and prevent the spread of infectious diseases and viruses. The health of students and faculty is dependent on clean learning environments that prevent infection and cross contamination.

New School Year Cleaning Tips

Before the front doors open at your school, cleaning staff can prepare for the academic season by:

  1. Deep Cleaning Restrooms and Locker Rooms. Restrooms and locker rooms are hotbed for bacteria and other microorganisms. Toilets, shower facilities, grout and tile, faucet handles and sinks are used frequently. If not properly disinfected, these surfaces can transfer infectious bacteria to students and faculty who use them. Bacteria in these environments can also cause unpleasant odors that reflect negatively on the school environment. Cleaning staff should focus on disinfecting grout lines, toilets and shower surfaces in particular to eliminate urine stains and other grime that odorous and infectious bacteria thrive on.
  2. Disinfecting High-Touch Surface Areas.  Viruses and infectious diseases can be easily transferred at high-touch surfaces. Door handles, desks, pencil sharpeners, hand rails and computer mouses are just a few of the highly used and touched surfaces in a school environment. Regular cleaning and disinfection of these surfaces can help reduce the spread of infection.
  3. Thoroughly Cleaning Food Preparation and Service Facilities. Infectious diseases can be rapidly spread in foodservice and food preparation facilities. Cafeterias, kitchens and dining facilities need to be kept clean and disinfected daily.
  4. Disinfect in Addition to Cleaning. Both cleaning and disinfecting are important activities that will keep your school a healthy place. It is important to go beyond cleaning and disinfect, as well. Whereas cleaning removes dirt, grime and stains, disinfection kills bacteria, eliminates viruses and other microorganisms that can spread disease.

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VCT Floor Care Tips

vct-flooringVinyl Composition Tile Care

Cleaning hard flooring surfaces is one of the most ubiquitous jobs in the commercial cleaning and janitorial industry. Professional cleaning staffs encounter them every day. Vinyl composition tile (VCT) is among the most common hard flooring materials. It’s durability and affordability make it a popular choice.

Resilient and long-lasting, it is a favorite choice for hallways, laundry facilities, bathrooms, kitchens, and other high traffic areas that get a lot of heavy use.

Cleaning VCT is a fairly straight forward task, but there are some things to keep in mind, especially when working with a newly installed VCT floor. The quality and longevity of the floor can depend on how it is treated and cleaned from the beginning.

Cleaning a New VCT Floor

A newly installed VCT floor needs time to settle. Glues used when laying the tile can take hours or days to fully cure and reach their maximum adhesiveness. Cleaning and heavy use of the floor should be postponed for several days, or up to a week. Waiting for the glue to fully cure will also assure that the floor is completely dry and hardened and can be cleaned and walked on without fear of altering the tile.

Cleaning Techniques

Cleaning and finishing VCT properly from the get go will assure their lasting durability and resilience. Proper cleaning techniques will also save time, money, and energy.

  • Scrubbing. After a VCT floor has fully cured, machine scrubbing is a thorough and effective way of removing dirt, grime and other build-ups or markings. Using a scrubbing machine may be the most effective way for removing the protective coating that the manufacturer may have applied to the tiles.
  • Cleaning Products. Manufacturer’s may recommend specific cleaning products. Your cleaning staff should use a good all-purpose cleaner that is effective, affordable and sustainable. If your cleaning service is incorporating sustainable practices, look for a green cleaning solution or concentrated chemical solution.
  • Sealing and Finishing. A sealing or finishing product will help fully protect the new floor. Apply as many coats as the manufacturer recommends, or as your client requests. Take into account how often the floor is used, what kind of elements it is subjected to (i.e. water, food, grease, outdoor debris, etc.), and your budget.
  • Buffing or Burnishing. Select a finish based on the burnishing or buffing technique you will use to complete the floor cleaning. 

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Humid Summer Creates Mold Threat

moldThe Threat of Mold

When temperatures skyrocket during the summer months, the price of your cooling bill may be your biggest concern. But don’t forget to factor in the threat of mold. High humidity combined with high temperatures creates a breeding ground for mold and mildew. They can grow extremely fast in ideal conditions and cause more than unsightly stains. Mold and mildew can create serious health risks and structural damage.

Conditions for Mold Growth

Mold grows in dark, warm and humid places. Large commercial buildings can be subject to undetected mold growth that has the potential to contaminate air, water and food sources.

  • Mold poses a threat when it has access to a food source and to water or a humid environment. As mold grows, it feeds off of the material it is attached to, and releases mold spores into the air.
  • Warm, humid conditions that allow mold to thrive are more likely to happen in the summer, when humid air and seasonally warm temperatures are prevalent.
  • The Centers for Disease Control reports that those who are sensitive to mold may experience adverse side effects, including nasal congestion, throat discomfort, breathing difficulty, or skin and eye irritation. In some cases, more serious effects, such as lung infections, have been reported.
  • Proper ventilation is a must for preventing and controlling the growth of mold. Additionally, regular and thorough cleaning of potential problem areas can keep mold at bay. Pay particularly close attention to bathrooms, kitchen and laundry facilities that are susceptible to moisture buildup. Washing and scrubbing areas with an all-purpose cleaner, and allowing them to dry with fans or other ventilation will help stop mold before it starts.
  • Unchecked mold growth can do more than damage a building. It can also create health risks for workers, cleaning staff and building residents.

 Cleaning to Remove and Prevent Mold

Mold grows on organic materials that it can feed off of. It doesn’t commonly grow on metal, stone or tile surfaces. If those surfaces are covered in grease, dirt, grime or other substances that mold can feed on, it may grow on those surfaces.

During the hot and humid summer months, building managers and cleaning staff management should work together to limit cleaning tasks that create moisture on the hottest days. Shampooing carpets and mopping floors should be done regularly, but may require the use of a dehumidifier or limited to days or hours with cooler temperatures.

Additional Information about Mold

Mold commonly grows on:

  • Wood
  • Carpet
  • Food
  • Paper
  • Insulation materials
  • Wallpaper
  • Some paint
  • Plasterboard
  • Fabrics and textiles
  • Leather
  • Furniture components

“Image Credit: flickr.com

11 Bathroom Deep Cleaning Tips

Cleaning restrooms and bathrooms might not top your list of favorite jobs, but with the right techniques and materials, you can make your bathroom the high standard for cleanliness. National Purity commercial cleaning products are designed to be effective and affordable. Follow these tips from our deep cleaning experts to get the most out of your bathroom cleaners.

Deep cleaning tips for bathrooms

  • Wipe down walls, wainscoting, decorations, light fixtures, shelves and vents.
  • Spray all mirrors and glass with a commercial glass cleaner and thoroughly wipe dry.
  • Check windows for streaking and rinse to remove old residue before using a window cleaner.
  • Use a disinfectant cleaner on tiled areas to remove grime, soap residue, and oils that build up on them. Dirt and soil cling to these sticky surfaces, so use a scrub brush or non-abrasive pad to effectively remove grime.
  • Clean grout with a commercial product and a grout scrubber, toothbrush or sponge to remove mold, mildew and soapy scum. Areas between tiles should be sealed with a commercial sealer to make them water and abrasion resistant.
  • Shower liners can be washed in the washing machine or alternately, scrub them thoroughly with warm, soapy water.
  • Attack difficult toilet bowl rings by scrubbing with an environmentally friendly or green commercial cleaner/disinfectant that dissolves hard-water stains. Toilets are magnets for germs, so make sure to disinfect all toilet surfaces, including the back, sides and underneath the seat.
  • Sinks, faucets, handles and soap dispensers should be cleaned well with a commercial disinfecting cleaner. A small scrub brush will allow you to reach all the crevices and channels on sinks where dirt, soil and grime can collect.
  • Clean wastebaskets by washing them out with warm, soapy water. You can also use liners to keep them extra clean and easy to maintain.
  • Work from the top down when cleaning. Soil and germs on walls, stalls, windows and sinks will fall toward the ground when cleaning.
  • Sweep and mop floors with a commercial cleaner to disinfect and eliminate dirt and grime that has fallen to the ground. Make sure drains and clean and unclogged before mopping.

Commercial disinfectants eradicate germs and and form the foundation of essential bathroom cleaning. For maximum effectiveness, allow the cleaning product to saturate a surface for several minutes. Scrub and wipe clean, then rinse the surface and allow it to dry. Use separate cleaning cloth for each application to eliminate cross contamination and the spread of germs and bacteria around the bathroom. Extended exposure to commercial cleaners can cause skin irritation, so remember to wear rubber gloves for adequate protection.

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Public Restroom Myths Debunked

restroom-sign

Most of us can agree that using a public restroom isn’t always a pleasant experience. But are they really as bacteria ridden as we’ve been lead believe?

Clean Link, an online cleaning resource, recently took the time to debunk some of the most common myths associated with public restrooms. Check them out below:

The Stall Farthest from the Door Is the Cleanest

False: Research studies have indicated that the stall closest to the door is actually the cleanest. Why? It’s used the least.

Poor Hand Hygiene Is Usually Related to A Lack of Hand Soap

True: This is actually true. Studies have shown that poor hand hygiene is often related to a number of restroom maintenance inadequacies. People are less likely to wash their hands in restrooms that appear dirty or unkempt; they’re also less likely to scrub up when hand soap or paper towels are unavailable.

The Dirtiest Touch-Spot In the Ladies Restroom Is the Floor

False: No doubt, the restroom floor is a germ hotspot, but the sanitary napkin bin ranks as the dirtiest touch-spot followed by the floor, the sinks and the underside of the toilet seat.

Women’s Restrooms Contain More Germs Than Men’s

True: Women often spend more time in the restroom than men; they’re also more likely to bring young children with them, which accounts for the increase in bacteria.

Toilet Seats Can Put Your Health at Risk

False: Though the idea of touching or sitting on a public toilet seat might make you cringe, they aren’t actually as dirty as you might think. In fact, most common viruses and bacteria die off incredibly fast — so fast that by the time they reach the toilet seat they’re already gone. Furthermore, most skin-to-skin germ transmission is only a concern if there is an open wound.

Just Because A Restroom Smells Clean Doesn’t Mean It’s Actually Clean

True: Odors aren’t necessarily linked to cleanliness. A fresh, clean scent says more about the brand of the cleaning product than it does about it’s cleaning power.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Infection Control: Tips for Preventing Cross-Contamination

cross contaminationIf you’re a cleaning professional in a hotel, office building, healthcare facility or any high traffic arena  — you need to take special precautions to help control the spread of infection. Below we’ve listed some quick and ways to make your facility less vulnerable to cross-contamination.

Choose the right products. Certain viruses can survive on surfaces for more than eight hour — so it’s important to have the right products on hand. Soaps, detergents and water can do a good job cleaning soiled surfaces, but disinfectant is necessary if you really want to prevent cross-contamination.

Start color-coding. Using a color-coding system for cleaning equipment, tools and information can help all custodial workers (even those with language barriers) identify when and how to use your facilities specialized products and equipment to prevent cross-contamination.

Focus on common touch points and hotspots. Door handles, faucets, keyboards and other high traffic areas around your facility. These areas are the most likely to harbor and spread harmful bacteria and germs.

Clean and disinfect regularly. Daily and weekly cleaning schedules are the best way to prevent the spread of harmful infections.

Encourage hand washing through signage. Regular hand washing is still the most effective way to prevent cross-contamination. Your facility should already have a hand washing protocol in-place for new employees. Adding signage to restrooms will encourage your staff to follow-up on their training.

Make sure your employees receive proper training. Cleaning is more than brooms, mops and buckets. To do the job right, your employees need specialized training and education. An educated staff that has access to necessary products and equipment is the best way to minimize the risk of infection at your facility.

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Four Cleaning Myths Debunked

cleaning-mythsNot all cleaning techniques are created equal. If you’re still making some of the mistakes below, it’s time to update your cleaning routine.

Cleaning and disinfecting are the same.

When it comes to facility management, cleaning and disinfecting are two very different tasks. Cleaning is used to remove dirt and grime at the surface level to prevent the spread of disease. The better job you do cleaning, the more effective the next step — disinfecting — will end being. Disinfecting goes deeper than regular cleaning by tackling microscopic organisms like viruses and bacteria.

You should always vacuum first.

Cleaning should always be performed top down. This means you should begin with dusting and end with vacuuming. As you’re cleaning, dust particles and other debris will collect and fall to the floor. They can easily be removed with a vacuum. If you choose to vacuum first, you’ll need to do it a second time to eliminate resettled dust and debris.

More is always better.

Though you might be tempted to add more and more cleaning solution to a particularly dirty cleaning job — more is not always better. In fact, more cleaning product can attract more dirt and grime. When you use too much cleaning product, a sticky cleaning residue can be left behind which can be incredibly hard to get rid of. In most cases the only thing you need more of is elbow grease.

Bleach is the number one cleaner.

As we’ve stated before, there are a number of reasons NOT to use bleach when you clean. For one thing, bleach isn’t a cleaner; it won’t actually remove dirt, grime or grease (though it does kill germs). Other problems with using bleach in your cleaning routine? It has a surprisingly short shelf-life (only 3-6 months) and it’s highly corrosive (so much so that it can destroy or damage metal or stainless steel).

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Women’s Handbags May Be Dirtier Than Average Public Toilet

purse-bacteriaWomen’s handbags are a lot dirtier than you might think.

In fact, a new study has revealed that a whopping one in five handbags contain more germs than the average public toilet.

Not only are these findings a little (okay, a lot) gross…they’re potentially dangerous. According to UK study researchers at the Initial Washroom Hygiene, women’s handbags actually contain enough bacteria to be considered a public health risk.

“Handbags come into regular contact with our hands and a variety of surfaces, so the risk of transferring different germs onto them is very high – especially as bags are rarely cleaned,” said Peter Barratt, technical manager at Initial Hygiene.

The Biggest Offenders

According to the results, leather handbags contain the highest levels of harmful bacteria. Their soft, spongy exterior creates the perfect environment for germs to breed.

Handbag interiors also contained high levels of bacteria. Hand cream, lipstick and mascara, in particular, were found to harbor the most bacteria.

Preventing the Spread of Harmful Bacteria

Minimizing the spread of harmful bacteria is easier than you think. If you carry a handbag, make sure to clean it regularly with disinfecting wipes. The same goes for interior objects that you use on a regular basis (especially your makeup).

Proper hand washing with foaming hand soap is also essential — especially after touching the inside or outside of your handbag.

“Once these germs get on the bags, they can easily be transferred via hands onto other surfaces. Regular hand sanitization is essential to prevent the presence of bacteria in the first place and thorough cleaning of bags is recommended to prevent the build-up of contamination,” Barratt said.

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Cleaning and Asthma: Tips for Minimizing Common Triggers

asthma triggersAsthma is a chronic respiratory disease affecting more than 25 million Americans. To minimize potential triggers in your facility, the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) has recommended the following cleaning strategies:

  • Don’t rely too heavily on disinfectants. Some facility managers are under the impression that disinfectants are a good way to minimize symptoms of asthma for employees and other building inhabitants. In most cases, however, simply disinfecting an area isn’t enough. Regular dustings, carpet cleanings and extractions are the best way to tackle asthma attacks through cleaning.
  • Empty vacuum cleaner bags often. Keeping dust mites at bay is key to reducing asthma symptoms. Ideally, vacuum bags should be emptied before they’re more than one-third full. Empty vacuum bags will ensure your staff is able to effectively eliminate dust mites and other debris that may contribute to upper respiratory problems.
  • Dust on a regular basis. As we stated above, too many dust mites can aggravate symptoms of asthma. Use microfiber cloths to eliminate dust mites on a daily basis.
  • Maintain HVAC systems. A/C and heating filters should be changed on a monthly basis to prevent dust from circulating through the building. Filter enhancers can be sprayed onto A/C and heating units to capture more debris and allergens.
  • Have carpets professionally cleaned. Deep carpet cleans should be performed at least once a year. Regular vacuuming should be performed on a daily basis using a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuum. HEPA filters prevent trapped particles from escaping back into the air.

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