Green Cleaning: 5 Questions the Best Custodial Operations Ask

Asking these questions of your custodial staff each day will yield better cleaning performance and the best value for the budget.

The following five questions are from the best custodial operations. They seek to maximize the investment in cleaning and focus on eliminating time wasters. This is important because time/labor represents 70 to 80 percent of the cost of cleaning; products represent less than 10 percent.

Furthermore, the only requirement these tips call for is custodial managers to be “mindful;” no additional expertise, test equipment or outside help is needed. In other words, these tips are easy and free; all that is needed is a little time and thought.

  1. Is there a plan for the day?The best custodial operations have some type of written daily job assignments for each person. Special requests and tasks done on a weekly, monthly, quarterly basis or other non-routine tasks are integrated into a daily job assignment. Whether a building is large and requires dozens of cleaning personnel or is a small space requiring only a single person, planning helps eliminate inefficiencies. Be mindful of the daily assignments and make sure they truly reflect the work that needs to get done.
  2. Are cleaning people ready to go? The best cleaning organizations start the day ready to work. Planning, filling spray bottles, restocking supplies, reporting and other preparatory tasks are completed prior to the start of the day so time is not wasted. If custodians are standing around awaiting instructions, tools, supplies, or just gossiping, time and money is lost. Get off to an organized and efficient start.
  3. Are tools and supplies ready to go?The best custodial operations have all needed materials at the ready. It’s not custodians’ fault if their supplies and equipment aren’t ready at the start of the day. Rather, this is an indication of less than efficient planning and is easy to identify and fix. Ensure janitor carts, caddies, chemicals (properly diluted into spray bottles and properly labeled), paper products, plastic can liners, and other tools and materials are ready to go.
  4. Are storage areas for cleaning products and equipment organized?The best custodial operations organize storage areas to minimize delays in finding what is needed, especially when problem or emergency arises. Pay attention to how materials are stored so that heavy items can be handled safely and easily. Be mindful of the storage area itself and the products in it.
  5. Are cleaning equipment, buckets and other tools clean?The best custodial operations make sure all equipment is clean to prevent wasting time cleaning them before the start of the day and to reduce the spread of contamination throughout the building. Be mindful of mop buckets with murky water in them, vacuum cleaners with filtration bags that need emptying or replacing (regularly ask the cleaning person or supervisor to actually open the vacuum and show you the filter bag), and other dirty gear.

Although none of these questions are especially revelatory, they are designed to eliminate wasted time. Addressing these issues is similar to addressing dripping faucets or running toilets: It’s easy to do, and each drop really does add up. In the case of cleaning personnel, a time savings of just 15 minutes per day adds up to an additional 65 hours of cleaning per person per year.

Constantly asking these questions should help deliver the best value for the budget, plus the building will be greener, cleaner and more healthful.

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