Cleaning, in its most basic definition, is the removal of soils off surfaces. It involves everything from the act of using a paper towel, cloth or microfiber pad up to a more technologically-advanced, hands-free restroom system to remove soils and germs. The chemicals used along with the tools accomplishes this removal and allows the matter removed to be trapped in water, solution or on a cloth or pad. That matter is then thrown away, dumped down a drain or cleaned in a machine to further remove it from the facility.
Cleaning is done repeatedly on an hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis, depending on the job and the accumulation of soil and germs. In a closet, garage or carpet, the removal may be on a less frequent basis. In a place like a restroom, main hallways, offices, classroom, kitchen areas or daily used spaces, cleaning should be done on an almost continual basis.

In the case of high traffic areas, such as a restroom, removal of soils and germs is preferable to killing them — due to the hazards associated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered sanitizers and disinfectants used to do the killing.
Many all-purpose, neutral floor, glass and other cleaning solutions used in facility cleaning are certified by organizations like Green Seal, UL ECOLOGO and EPA’s Safer Choice. These certifications are a good place to start when wanting to use less toxic products to remove soils and germs from restrooms.

Other options for removal of soils and germs are on-site generators of non-synthetic cleaners such as aqueous ozone or sodium hydroxide. This can be done with wall-mounted units or a hands-free restroom cleaner that produces its own aqueous ozone on demand.

Other technology options to consider for cleaning or removing soils in a restroom are those that keep the custodial worker safe and injury free. These injuries can be anything from effects of breathing or touching harsh cleaners, ergonomic issues due to bending, twisting and lifting, or slips, trips and falls.

To help relieve some of these issues, managers are encouraged to consider more ergonomic mopping systems and well-designed bucket options. These bucket systems will have two wells — one for dirty and one for clean water and solution — as well as ergonomic designs for easy emptying using bottom plugs and drains, ergonomic wringing handles and easy-move wheels.

Old fashioned mops gather the dirt and leave it where the mop hits the wall or stall. The new age of mops have brought options that deliver clean solution through a tube and a tank on the mop handle itself, and they remove soils with flat microfiber mop heads that can be color coded and changed frequently to increase floor cleanliness. 

These systems offer a superior clean, as well as use less chemical. They also help alleviate slips and falls, as well as ergonomic issues by leaving floors drier when mopping. Newer ergonomic buckets also provide the option for emptying contents without lifting. These are great tools to use during first and second shift when occupant traffic is high and power equipment is frowned upon due to size, cords or noise.

When equipment is appropriate, managers should consider hands-free restroom cleaning caddies. These systems can save on labor because they clean with mechanical, as well as chemical energy and remove biological soils without workers getting near or touching surfaces. These machines spray on cleaner, give the worker a wand to agitate the soils and a vacuum to take up the water — or squeegee to push down a drain. Microfiber pads and cloths can then be used to wipe chrome fixtures and mirrors.

A system like this will decrease cleaning time, decrease exposure to chemicals and biological soils, as well as perform the cleaning in a more ergonomic way. This allows for better soil and germ removal and less cross-contamination to other parts of the facility.

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