After determining the basic functions the cart must fulfill, it’s time to consider more specific carts and features. For example, look at the materials it’s made of, the wheels, the size and security features.

Materials: The majority of cleaning carts are constructed of hard, durable plastic, or a metal such as stainless steel or aluminum. Choosing between the two often comes down to personal preference. However most operations choose sleek, attractively designed carts made out of easy-to-clean materials.

Schneringer notes that there are applications where the cart needs a special coating, especially if it is made of plastic.

“If you’re in a clean environment or a health care facility, you don’t want the cart to become a rolling germ collector,” he explains. “In those cases, the carts should be stainless steel or a plastic with an anti-microbial coating. There is a concern with bacteria and germs getting stuck in porous nooks and crannies.”

If weight is an issue, there are carts available that offer a stainless steel frame with plastic compartments and drawers to keep the weight down.

Wheels: Before purchasing, custodial managers should consider the wheels available on the cart, not only for functionality but also for the amount of noise they produce and whether they will mark the floors.

Most carts use over-sized, non-marking caster wheels to provide an effortless ride with minimal noise. Front and back swivel casters improve a cart’s maneuverability, enabling workers to push the carts in any direction, and making it easy to park them in confined areas and small custodial closets.

“Some carts allow you to change the wheels and choose between different sizes and composites,” says Schneringer. “A black pneumatic wheel that looks like a small tire would work well outdoors or in bumpy areas, while quiet caster wheels would be a good choice for a hospital.”
Traudt cautions against selecting low-cost, aftermarket carts that may lack quality wheels.

“The wheels are very important,” he says. “Some aftermarket carts have small, less than 2-inch diameter wheels in the front, which reduces the cost, but won’t keep the cart from getting caught up on door stops or other obstructions.”

Size and Type of Cart: There is a universe of different size carts. And the size needed for any individual department really depends on the tasks being performed.

A facility can choose between a barrel-type cart, which is a large container on wheels that has the products hanging in a caddy, or a more traditional “housekeeping” cart that has several shelves and compartments and may have accessories clipped on. Choosing between the two often has to do with the environment and cleaning process, says Traudt.

“If cleaning a lot of restrooms, you want to have a larger cart that holds a mop and bucket, spray bottles and all of your consumable products,” he says. “But if it’s a smaller facility, you might want to choose a smaller barrel with caddies on both the inside and outside.”

The environment must also be considered before choosing a cart. If the cart will be used on multiple floors, its dimensions must allow for travel up and down the elevator.

And finally, the staff using the carts must be considered. Smaller workers will have difficulty seeing around taller carts, making them strenuous to push.

Security: Certain industries require lockable sections on their carts. Health care facilities mandate this, while many hotel cleaning operations seek it out to safely store high-theft items. Today’s cleaning carts feature locking options for everything from cloth compartments to trash boxes, laundry sections, chemical storage and more.

“Customers do select lockable sections to allow their staff to secure personal items, but mostly I see the lockable sections used for storing minibar items, shampoos or amenity soaps,” says Schneringer.

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