An Introduction to Cleaning and Cleaning Specifications - Part I

When considering the introduction of staff training within your own organisation, it is important that you consider the job you are taking on. For instance, in order for cleaning operatives to properly identify the correct product to use on any given surface, they must have an understanding of why the product cleans, how the product can be applied, how the surface being cleaned can be affected and the standard that can be achieved. To be able to do this, knowledge of all of the various components that make up an efficient cleaning regime is imperative.

In Health & Safety, Training

When considering the introduction of staff training within your own organisation, it is important that you consider the job you are taking on. For instance, in order for cleaning operatives to properly identify the correct product to use on any given surface, they must have an understanding of why the product cleans, how the product can be applied, how the surface being cleaned can be affected and the standard that can be achieved. To be able to do this, knowledge of all of the various components that make up an efficient cleaning regime is imperative.

In this Blog, we will deal with some of the fundamental aspects of cleaning in order to help you understand the importance of each in the overall delivery of an efficient cleaning service and the production of cleaning specifications. This is the first in a 5 part series.

The Importance of Training

images Teacher 2The common perception of the cleaning industry, from those who know no better, is that it is simple, menial work that can be done with little or no thought by anyone. Those of us who have had any kind of input into the delivery of efficient, cost effective cleaning services know that this perception is totally unjustified.

In actual fact, the opposite is the case; your ability to provide high quality cleaning services at a competitive price will be greatly improved if there is appropriate investment in the most important resource at your operatives!

Making adequate provision for the development of a well trained workforce will have many added benefits. Examples of these would be:

1. Increased Morale
By investing in training and continuous development, cleaning operatives will inevitably feel more valued as a member of the workforce. This can lead to increases in staff morale, reductions in sickness levels and, perhaps most importantly, staff will become more productive.

2. Increased Cost-Effectiveness
In addition to the increases in efficiency and productivity, training will inevitably lead to cleaners being less wasteful when using cleaning chemicals. Indeed, as well as poor use of chemical cleaning products, staff could also be using inappropriate products, which can be costly and ineffective. This can be eradicated almost immediately.

Another area where costs will be reduced is through training staff to care for their cleaning equipment. Proper routine cleaning and maintenance of machinery and equipment will increase their useful working life, thus significantly reducing costs.
Also, the avoidance of potentially expensive personal injury compensation claims from employees can only be achieved through the provision of effective training.

3. A Safer Working Environment
If the proper emphasis is placed on all Health and Safety issues within the overall cleaning system, you can ensure that cleaning operatives make a valuable and measurable contribution in ensuring a safe working environment for all users of the building.

The main area of concern for cleaning operatives is to take steps to ensure that all staff are aware of the dangers associated with the use of potentially harmful cleaning chemicals and cleaning equipment, and it is essential they are properly trained in their safe use. A principle aim of any organisation should be to adopt a positive attitude towards health and safety throughout the workforce.

4. Increased Business Development Opportunities
Training in specialist procedures will lead to greater business development opportunities. Any company that places a greater emphasis on staff training and development will be in a much better position to adapt to the changing demands of its customer base.


Carpet SoilThe term soil is used to describe any item that is in a place where it shouldn't be. For the purposes of cleaning, the term is generally applied to grease and dirt. All of these different types of dirt found on surfaces will fall into one of the two following categories:

Organic Soil
This is soil that has its origins in living matter and would include such things as fats, vegetable oils, blood, protein, sugars and starches.

Inorganic Soil
Conversely, inorganic soil is derived from non-living matter and includes grit, limescale, rust and salts.

What is Cleaning

Dirty washrooms 11It may sound like a silly question, with a blindingly obvious answer...try and answer it!
The literal definition of cleaning is the removal of soil by applying energy. Let’s look at the various types of energy and how they are applied:

Chemical Energy
Chemicals, when applied to soil will dislodge it, break it down into smaller particles and hold it in suspension, making it far easier to remove.

Physical Energy
Almost, if not all cleaning tasks will involve the use of physical energy. For instance, if you are doing the washing up, the detergent will break down the grease on the plate following contact with it but in order to remove it completely, you will need to agitate the grease on the plate by using a cloth or pad. Physical energy required for particular cleaning tasks can be reduced when applied in conjunction with other forms of energy such as mechanical devices.

Heat Energy
Applying heat alone i.e. in the form of steam can be an effective way of removing soil, particularly grease. However, placing cleaning chemicals in hot water will greatly improve its effectiveness, the reason being that the action of the heat on the grease will soften it allowing the chemical to penetrate it and break it down quicker.

The Importance of Cleaning

Filthy WashroomIt goes without saying that the need to maintain high levels of cleanliness in all areas of life is extremely important. Although all individuals have different perceptions of what cleanliness actually means it is fair to say that most people recognise the basic reasons why cleaning is important. These are (in no particular order of importance):

1. Presenting a Good Impression
The standard of cleaning of any building is usually a good pointer toward the overall efficiency of an organisation. For most companies, creating a good impression to customers and visitors is extremely important, as this will contribute greatly to how the business is perceived.

Also, if you are responsible for the cleaning of any building, you will be judged solely on the standards you achieve. Quite simply, if the building is not clean, it reflects badly on the organisation as a whole and the cleaning staff in particular.

2. Improving Safety
There are numerous hazards that can be avoided in any building through the provision of an efficient cleaning system and general good housekeeping practices. The collection and disposal of litter and the maintenance of a clean and tidy workplace will go a long way toward reducing the risks of an accident occurring.

3. Controlling and Removing Dust
The creation of dust in any building is unavoidable; it can enter buildings through windows, ducts, on peoples’ bodies, clothing and shoes. If dust is allowed to build up it can present a number of hazards such as:
• People who have allergies or intolerance to dust being adversely affected.
• Increases the likelihood of fires.
• Creates ideal conditions for the attraction of pests.
• Increases the likelihood of the spread of bacteria and infection.

Efficient cleaning procedures are essential in ensuring that dust levels in any building are kept to an absolute minimum, thus reducing the associated risks.

4. Preventing Diseases and Infections
Harmful bacteria, germs and viruses are present in all buildings. Dealing with them effectively will significantly reduce the risks of people becoming ill following contact with contaminated surfaces.

An effective cleaning regime should incorporate procedures that will ensure any harmful bacteria are completely removed or reduced to levels that render the bacteria harmless. Particularly rigorous regimes must be developed in areas where bacteria are prevalent i.e. kitchens, baby changing areas and sanitary areas.

5. Preserving Internal Furnishings and Fittings
Continual soiling of soft furnishings and carpets will lead to deterioration in their appearance. If this soiling is not removed regularly and effectively and is allowed to accumulate, it becomes increasingly difficult to remove. If dirt is allowed to accumulate to a level where drastic measures are required to clean them, it will inevitably lead to the use of harsher chemicals and techniques which could, in themselves, lead to damage to the particular surface.

An effective cleaning system that deals with internal furnishings and fittings will ensure a longer useful life.

The Cleaning Regime

Disease Causing BateriaWhen formulating any cleaning regime, the main aim must always be to provide a high standard of cleanliness. Another main consideration is to ensure that all those involved in the delivery of the service are completely aware of their own particular responsibilities in achieving the standards required.

There are a number of ways of achieving this and all companies have their own ways of doing things. However, there are certain points that should be considered when compiling your own system, adherence to which will ensure that all of the relevant aspects have been fully appreciated.

These are:

  • • What areas are to be cleaned?
  • • Which items within those areas are to be cleaned?
  • • Who will be cleaning them?
  • • When can it be cleaned most effectively?
  • • What cleaning procedures are to be used?
  • • How much time is required?
  • • What materials and equipment are to be used?
  • • What safety precautions are required?
  • • What Personal Protective Equipment is to be used?
  • • Are there any risks involved?
  • • How will the standard of work be checked?
  • • Who will monitor the standards achieved?

As you can imagine, this is not a simple process, but it can be made easier by taking into account all of the considerations required to ensure you have all the angles covered. It is worth the effort to go through this kind of process if only to ensure that the processes adopted are thorough and will achieve the objectives required; far better to do that than to suddenly realise that the regime is totally ineffective due to lack of planning!

Look out for Part II of this Blog which deals with Monitoring Standards, Systemisation and Common Cleaning Terms

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