A reader writes: "I am new at janitorial operations and am struggling with what should be a simple job. How do I wash the walls in a school to spec?"

Welcome to a great business. I know that you will continue to grow over time and will look back at these early challenges as part of paying your dues to become an SME (subject matter expert) in your chosen field. This project is simply a matter of measuring, workloading and scheduling. First of all, you need to determine approximately how many labor hours are necessary to accomplish this task in the safest, more efficient and effective manner. Please take the time to verify that the wall surfaces are washable or how much moisture you can use without damaging them. It appears you have a mix of enameled (paint) sheet rock surfaces, ceramic tile wall and painted concrete block.

The math is fairly straightforward. You need to measure the length of a wall times the height. Example: a ten foot high wall that is thirty feet long would be 10 x 30 = 300 square feet total surface. Once you have collected the measurements for all surfaces; you need to determine how long it takes to "wash" a wall by testing some areas and developing at least an average time standard. Although there are published time standards available, you should verify how long it will take a worker (or team) to perform this task.

Once you have at least a rough number, you can schedule workers according to access and allowing sufficient time for set up/take down. This is also the time to research which tools and systems will be most effective while staying in budget. Remember that the right tools used correctly can pay for themselves in labor savings.

I highly recommend you verify the acceptable outcomes for "washing" these walls so that your efforts are not in vain. Not all soils may be removed and there is always the possibility of damaging the paint or other surfaces.

Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.