A reader writes: “I am new to the cleaning business and hired to supervise a building. I am confused about all the chemicals I am supposed to use. Any help would be appreciated.”

Welcome to a great industry and I will do my best to respond to your question in this brief article. I hope that you will continue to ask questions and grow since there is much more to the cleaning business than simply emptying trash cans. You appear to have great people skills and a background in supervising staff so you are certainly on the right track.

You can learn the basics of custodial rather quickly if you have the right supports from your company. It is important that you get a grip on chemical knowledge since it can impact both performance and safety. Please note the following points to consider:

1. There are probably six or more different product brands that have accumulated over time due to various vendors trying to sell your predecessor their line of chemicals. You need to organize these chemicals by use (disinfectant, glass, stainless, stripper, all purpose, etc.) and use up what you have before adding more. This can be a great opportunity to test the products and determine on eventually going to one product line.

2. We noted at least four generic bottles with a permanent marker indicating glass cleaner, stripper or other? These bottles need to be safely emptied and disposed of since you do not know what brand they are and cannot affix secondary labels that are legal. This is very important.

3. Find your SDS (or old MSDS) book and match ALL the products you have to the correct information sheet. Read/review this information with your staff to make sure they know what they are using. This is a major reason to reduce and consolidate your current product line. If you cannot locate the SDS/MSDS information, get the products out of the building and let your company deal with it.

4. Identify a supportive vendor who will provide training in basic custodial processes and stick to them like glue. They can save you a lot of wasted effort.

Finally, give yourself some time to acquire knowledge and become more proficient in processes and knowledge.

Your comments and feedback are always appreciated. 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.