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Green Cleaning: Continual Improvement

Green Cleaning: Continual Improvement

Conducting a cleaning audit: Part 2

Last month's column was the first of two designed to help schools and universities identify opportunities in a green cleaning program. That column covered what to look for when auditing supplies and equipment. This column will identify opportunities relating to the overall quality of the cleaning itself, as well as issues associated with training, procedures and other components:

  • General cleaning assessment

    A simple walkthrough of the building can assess the state of cleanliness and orderliness. Evaluate entryways, restrooms, offices, classrooms, cafeterias and food-preparation areas, laboratories, conference rooms, media centers, athletic facilities and health facilities. Note conditions and areas for improvement. Some “red flags” to note:

    • Visible soil, mold and dust. Pay attention to odors.

    • Insects and rodent droppings.

    • General disarray. Note offices, classrooms and work spaces where desks, credenzas, cabinets and floors are so cluttered that dusting and floor care cannot be conducted.

    • Note mismanagement of recycling and trash, such as wet trash in recycling bins or office paper in wet trash bins.

    • Dirty and smelly restrooms.

    • Look beyond “typical” cleaning issues. For example, note cardboard taped to diffusers, personal air filters or space heaters, collections of cleaning products brought from home, etc.

  • Cleaning procedures

    Observe how cleaning crews clean. How efficiently and effectively are they cleaning? Do they need training on the appropriate use of equipment? Are they emptying filter bags and capture tanks at the appropriate intervals? Are they mixing and using chemicals correctly? Are they disposing of waste products correctly? Are they using hot water when cold water would work? Are they protecting themselves from back and other injuries? Are they handling recyclables and waste appropriately? Some “red flags:”

    • The lack of written plans and written standard operating procedures.

    • The lack of specific daily job cards and work assignments.

  • Assessment of storage areas. A simple assessment can identify immediate storage problems, such as incompatible chemicals, electrical or other issues. Also note how the area itself is organized. Often, simply organizing a storage area can help manage inventories, reduce waste and reduce the time getting employees started. Some “red flags:”

    • Incompatible products, such as bleach and ammonia being stored together.

    • Leaking or damaged products.

    • Flammable products.

    • General disarray and clutter.

Numerous opportunities will arise from the audits. Highlight key opportunities, and once the green cleaning project begins, improvements can be made through the process of continual improvement.

Ashkin is executive director of the Green Cleaning Network, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit educational organization. 

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