I will always be grateful to Mrs. Vera Tippet, a director of housekeeping, for teaching me about the best practices to clean professionally. Her facility was squeaky clean. She focused on tasks such as consistently maintaining high-gloss tile floors and spot-free carpets. In addition, she also paid attention to details such as corners and baseboards.

Another mark of her professionalism was that she was a stickler for keeping her cleaning equipment and accessories spotless. Her floor tech always spent the last minutes of their shifts cleaning buckets, pads, mops, machines and anything else that needed attention. I want to share a few ideas I learned from her that you can pass along to your customers.

Mop buckets catch a lot of dirt. Most are manufactured of a polycarbonate material that is durable and chemical-resistant, but since 99 percent are bright yellow, soil is quite visible. However, cleaning them is easy if you know what to do.

First, spray the bucket with a good aerosol baseboard wax stripper. These products form either a gel or a thick, heavy foam that provides considerable dwell time allowing the stripper to work. Allow about 10 minutes, and then scrub with the center of a black strip pad or a stiff bristled brush, and rinse. You will be amazed at the transformation.

Single disc floor machines are the second most neglected equipment category. They are generally used to either spray buff or strip floors, so they collect a build-up of dried spray-buffing compound or finish stripper.

Aerosol wax stripper can also be used to clean this equipment by following the same procedures used on the buckets. Once the build-up is removed, wipe the machine with a damp cloth after each use — be sure to clean the power cord as well. You may coat the housing with a silicone-based furniture polish or protectant to prevent accumulations.

Wet mops can look and smell awful if not properly maintained. Mops should be thoroughly rinsed with clean, hot water then wrung out with a mop wringer, sprayed with a surface contact disinfectant deodorant and hung to dry if there is not a washer available. The disinfectant will retard bacteria growth and reduce chances of a soured smell.

White mops will eventually discolor so occasionally soak them in a 20 percent bleach solution for an hour or so, then rinse, wring and hang to dry.

Facilities that have a washing machine should wash mops in the machine using only one ounce of liquid detergent in a 50-pound load. There is detergent from the mopping solution already in the mop so not much additional detergent is required. Adding about three ounces of commercial bleach will kill germs and deodorize. Note, use a non-ionic laundry detergent when mopping with a quaternary ammonium chloride-based disinfectant to prevent mops from turning black.

Floor pads must also be cleaned and maintained. Black strip pads should be soaked in a stripper solution until the dirt is softened or loosened and then rinsed with water. This keeps the pads in service much longer and saves the customer money.

Spraybuff pads should not be washed. Remove the center circle from the pad and scrape away the excess. You may use a stiff bristled brush if you prefer. Never wash a spray buff pad or it will lose its rigidness. Dry burnish pads should also be cleaned in this manner.

Share these tips with your customers to help them save money and improve their professionalism. When you bring this and other helpful ideas to end users, you, too, will reflect the mark of a true professional.

Louie Davis Jr. is a 25-year veteran of the jan/san business, having worked on the manufacturing and distribution sides. He is currently a sales representative for Central Paper Co., in Birmingham, Ala.