Cleaning Guide

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Hello and welcome to this cleaning guide from Grace Professional Cleaning Services! We are Richard and Terefe and between us we have 25 years experience of cleaning. During that time we have built up a reservoir of knowledge and in this guide we aim to share much of it with you.

This guide can be used by individuals, groups, organisations, contractors, contractees … or anyone else who may find it useful in any way! You can use it as a guide to cleaning yourself, an aide to running your own cleaning business or a checklist for what to look for in a cleaning contractor.

Here you will learn how to clean offices, communal areas, toilets, homes and computers. We’ll also give you lots of advice about cleaning chemicals and even dreaded health and safety… which doesn’t become so much of a joke if you’re running a cleaning company and are legally responsible while cleaning in another’s facility!

Speaking of legalities, while we offer this guide in good faith it is still governed by our terms and conditions, which explicitly state that “We are not liable for your use of any information or materials on this website. You use them entirely at your own risk.” It is also not intended as legal advice in any way.

So let’s dive in…


Contents

1. Myths about cleaning // 2. Personal safety // 3. Keeping others safe // 4. How to clean an office // 5. How to clean communal areas //

6. How to clean toilets // 7. How to clean a house/apartment // 8. Carpet cleaning – some advice // 9. Hard floor cleaning – our advice //

10. How to clean a computer // 11. Cleaning chemical safety and COSHH assessments // 12. Risk assessments // 13. Benefits of cleaning


Myths about cleaning

Before we give any advice about cleaning itself, let’s try and dispel some myths so we know what we’re getting into before we begin. Assumptions can be a dangerous thing, and there are several assumptions that seem to swirl around this area of life. Long experience however has taught us that these ideas are false, so please allow us to put forward what we believe is the truth.

• The whole concept of cleaning isn’t worthy of much respect

This is a hard, tiring job that often demands undesirable hours and the highest of standards all the time. A cleaner must maintain a good standard of fitness and endurance just to do the job.

Also, anyone willing to do a job as gross as, say, cleaning out shower grates surely deserves some respect!

• Cleaning is an unskilled job

On the contrary, a cleaner must constantly be using planning and time management skills to ensure a job gets completed on time. Cleaning machines take training, time and practice to master and a cleaner must be knowledgable about and follow all relevant health and safety laws and regulations.

• Cleaning can be done quickly

If only that were so! To clean something to a high standard can take a lot longer than you may expect! Don’t underestimate how long a job may take you – we’ve made that mistake before and paid financially for it! And if you’re thinking of hiring a cleaning company, please don’t have unrealistic expectations as to how quickly and cheaply they may be able to do a job for you… few cleaning companies could get away with ripping customers off given how intense competition is and how low profit margins are. If they say it will take X hours, it very probably will take X hours!

• Cleaning is boring

Something’s only boring if you yourself don’t enjoy it! It might not be recreation but there are people who – at least to a measure – enjoy cleaning! Successfully completing a job can also give you a sense of satisfaction when you see how fresh everything looks compared to when you started and through knowing that people will be able to enjoy working or relaxing in a clean area!


Personal safety

Here are some common sense guidelines to stay safe while cleaning:

• Ensure you use appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) for the task at hand.

This will likely be:

1. Gloves

Cleaning gloves

This could be either washing up gloves or disposable gloves. Washing up gloves are stronger, last longer and are much better for the environment.

TIPSome disposable gloves contain latex so check before using them if you have an allergy.
TIPWe have found that some disposable gloves split after less than an hour’s use so it’s wise to wear two pairs on the hand you are wiping things down with if you choose to wear them.

2. Face/dust masks (for certain chemicals)

Dust mask

TIPLook for face masks labelled as FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 as these comply with standards regarding respiratory protective devices.

A good guide to this can be found here

3. Goggles (for certain chemicals)

Goggles

4. Appropriate clothing or clothing protection

Although probably not something like this!

protective suit

• Ensure you don’t use ladders alone

Some cleaning jobs require ladders. We would never recommend using one alone. Always ensure someone else holds the bottom of the ladder for you while you climb up to do the job.

• Be aware of any pain

Although it can be tiring cleaning shouldn’t be painful so if anything causes you pain stop. You will need to re examine your technique if you are in any pain.

• Use cleaning chemicals safely

This is in a separate section below. Click here to go to it.


Keeping others safe

Cleaning generally doesn’t present a risk to others – indeed, through cleaning we remove risk by killing germs and creating an environment that is unattractive to vermin and bacteria!

wet floor signHowever, slips and trips can be a potential hazard. So before mopping, vacuuming or using another machine with a wire, place signs down so that people know work is taking place in that area. Only remove them when the floor is dry and/or you have finished with the equipment.

Also, ensure you store cleaning chemicals corretly. Acids and bases need to be stored separately to prevent cross-contamination if leakages occur. This can create dangerous chemical mixes.

On the subject of mixing chemicals, simply don’t, ever – no matter what reason you may feel you have to do so.

Finally, consider colour coding. Common sense says you shouldn’t cean, say, a toilet and a sink with the same cloth. If you are cleaning on your own you can ensure cloths aren’t mixed, but what if you have a team of people cleaning? Colour coding ensures certain cloths are only used in certain areas, although you have to be able to trust team members will stick to this if you instigate it. Only one team member ignoring this practice can completely thwart it.


How to clean an office

Laptop on a table

For obvious reasons, it’s best to clean an office when there are no workers present, which will generally mean early morning or late afternoon. However, there may be times when you have to clean when others are are there, which means you need to be especially careful when completing this task.

To save time gather everything you will need before starting. We recommend:

• Appropriate PPE

• Duster

• Polish

• Cloths

• Window spray

• Paper towels

• Vacuum cleaner

• Mop, bucket, water and chemical (if necessary)

• Wet floor signs

• Bin bags

Begin by dusting the top corners of the room with a long duster. If you need to use a ladder remember to get someone to hold it at the bottom for you.

Wipe around the outsides of all bookcases, cabinets etc.

Spray and wipe internal windows and other glass with window cleaner and paper towels. Cloths tend to smudge if you use them for this task.

Polish desks and wipe down all stationary etc. Ensure you don’t use chemical sprays that are unsuitable for wood/other tops.

TIPDon’t take risks and wipe down walls that are painted – you may chip the paint or cause smears to appear. If you’re working for someone else inform them of this before you begin.

Wipe the tops of computer monitors with a dry cloth. Monitor screens, keyboards and mice would generally be a separate job using specialist sprays and wipes and not be included during an office clean. Whatever you agree regarding the cleaning of these things though (if you are cleaning for someone else), especially ensure you don’t use polish or regular chemicals on them.

Wipe down skirting boards. Ensure you stay as comfortable as possible while doing this and don’t stretch to the point of it becoming painful.

TIPDon’t forget to wipe “edges and ledges” which gather dust and dirt but can be easily missed. This may include things like door frames.

Empty all bins.

Vacuum the carpets/mop hard floor areas. Check what is a suitable chemical to use on hard floors before you begin and take great care not to get chemical on carpets. Also remember to have signs out while you are cleaning and until floors have dried.


How to clean communal areas

Hotel lobby

As with cleaning an office, you will need the following equipment for this task:

• Appropriate PPE

• Duster

• Polish

• Cloths

• Window spray

• Paper towels

• Vacuum cleaner

• Mop, bucket, water and chemical (if necessary)

• Wet floor signs

• Bin bags

Cleaning a communal area is very similar to cleaning an office, although with people coming and going (unless you’re cleaning when no one is there) being aware of safety risks is possibly even more important here.

Like with offices, begin by dusting the top corners of the areas/corridors, using a ladder (and asking someone to hold it for you while you work on it) if necessary.

Spray down internal glass with glass cleaner and wipe over with paper towels.

Wipe down any windowsills.

Polish any furniture.

Remove any cushions from sofas/chairs and vacuum underneath.

TIPDon’t try and wipe any stains/marks off of furniture. Upholstery cleaning is a specialist area of cleaning and not one a general office/commercial cleaning company should or even could be expected to do.

Wipe down banisters, skirting boards and all ledges and edges.

TIPA duster or perhaps a dry cloth will likely be best for this job. Don’t use chemical or (with occasional exceptions) wet cloths on these surfaces.

Empty bins.

Mop any hard floor areas and vacuum carpets. Ensure signs are out for the duration of this work and until floors have dried.

TIPSome communal areas may require you to clean stairs. For obvious reasons, a canister vacuum cleaner (such as a Henry) is much easier to use for this task than an upright one. If you use a canister you should generally be able to stand at the bottom of the stairs and stretch to vacuum the bottom half of the steps, then take the vacuum cleaner to the top (use a lift if you would struggle to carry it safely) and stretch down to vacuum the top half of the steps. This will ensure you don’t need to try to balance a heavy vacuum on a narrow stair.

How to clean toilets

sinks

For this task you will need:

• Appropriate PPE

• Duster

• Cloths

• Window spray

• Paper towels

• Sinks/walls chemical

• Toilet chemical

• Toilet bleach

• Urinal chemical

• Deck scrub (if necessary)

• Limescale remover (if necessary)

• Sweeping brush and brush and pan

• Mop, bucket, water and chemical

• Wet floor signs

It is of course hugely important to use different cloths for different objects in a toilets area. A colour coding system may work but only if all employees follow it; otherwise an innocent employee may use a cloth meant for sinks not knowing that another person had used it on the toilets because they weren’t prepared to follow the rules. The solution is hiring honest and diligent staff!

As with other areas, don’t wipe down painted walls lest you remove the paint as well as the dirt. If you have been contracted to clean toilets it is best to explain this to your client before you begin.

Begin by dusting near the ceilings with a long duster.

Ensure all wall tiles are wiped down with a cloth and appropriate chemical. It may be helpful to use a deck scrub (with a light cloth) to reach behind toilets and urinals.

Wipe down hand dryers; including on the underside. Check if the chemical you use for sinks and tiles is suitable for whatever material the dryers are made out of. If it isn’t a damp cloth may be OK.

TIPThe wall areas underneath hand dryers can gather a lot of dirt and may be honestly missed so be sure to check these areas during a clean.

Put bleach around the bowls and leave to loosen soiling and kill germs. Then use a toilet brush to scrub the bowls clean.

Mix an appropriate chemical with water in a bottle (to the manufacturer’s ratios) and spray all over the toilets. Leave for a minute to let the antibacterial solution kill germs and wipe off with a cloth. Don’t forget to go round all parts of the toilet (and under the seats) and take care to ensure you don’t twist in awkward positions while doing so.

Mix a urinal solution with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions and pour down the urinals. Merely putting water down urinals isn’t enough.

Then spray down urinals (with appropriate chemical) and wipe over with a cloth. Don’t forget to check the piping around the urinals (and toilets) too.

Spray mirrors with mirror cleaning chemical and wipe off with paper towels.

Spray sinks with diluted chemical and wipe off with a cloth. Don’t forget to wipe around and under the sinks as well.

TIPLimescale can gather around tap heads so we advise bringing some limescale remover with you. This generally will have to be put on to the limescale and then left so it can go to work and eliminate it – you can’t just wipe all the limescale away.

Ensure all edges and ridges in the room are cleaned.

Empty the bin if there is one.

Sweep the floor and mop it. We recommend putting out wet floor signs before you begin this task in case anyone enters the toilets while you are cleaning to ensure they are warned about the floor being wet.


How to clean a house/apartment

Living and dining room

This part of the guide will be especially tailored to companies offering home cleaning and pre and end of tenancy cleaning services, although hopefully anyone wanting to clean their own home will find value in it too. Please know that while such cleaning potentially offers more work opportunities than office cleaning for businesses, it carries greater risks too.

People are generally more emotionally attached to their homes than they are to offices and will likely be more concerned that objects within won’t be damaged than in a professional environment. Great care must be taken by a cleaning contractor doing home cleaning to ensure nothing is broken during the clean and that furniture and possessions moved are put back as they were before.

Before taking on a home/pre/end of tenancy clean ensure you and the client are entirely clear about what you will and won’t clean and any other desired conditions, such as whether your customer must move any furniture before you arrive.

For this job you will need:

• Appropriate PPE

• Duster

• Cloths

• Window spray

• Paper towels

• Sinks/baths/showers/walls chemical

• Toilet chemical

• Toilet bleach

• Limescale remover (if necessary)

• Sweeping brush and brush and pan (if necessary)

• Mop, bucket, water and chemical

• Wet floor signs (if you are cleaning while the residents are present)

Before starting the clean you will need to decide whether you are going to clean room by room or job by job, such as all windows, then all furniture, then all carpets. We recommend room by room – that way you will not be moving about constantly.

Assuming you do this, clean each room from top to bottom, beginning with dusting the ceilings, then wiping down walls (if they are tiled – others are best left as you don’t want to damage paint or wallpaper), polishing furniture, dusting appliances, cleaning toilets/baths/sinks (if necessary), cleaning skirting boards (a duster or dry cloth is best) and finally hoovering and mopping floors.

TIPTake a bottle of mould remover with you as home bathrooms are breeding grounds for mould, especially around taps. Be careful though when using mould remover not to get it on other areas, especially carpets.
TIPLarge amounts of dust gather behind beds and other items of furniture, so we advise ensuring that those areas are dusted and vacuumed. Again, speak with the property owner about this before you agree to take on a job and agree who will move the furniture.

Carpet cleaning – some advice

You can buy products that get small stains off a carpet but if you are wanting a whole room cleaned you would need to use a specialist machine. These can be rented (search for hire carpet cleaning machine) but it may be far easier to hire in a company to do the job for you.

There are certain things we would advise you to consider if you do decide to contract out your carpet cleaning:

If there are stains on the carpet there is no guarantee you will be able to get them off – some stains can become permanent.

Carpet cleaning will also not fix burns – that is a carpet restoration job, not a cleaning one.

Carpet cleaning is a 24 hour+ job as the carpet has to be left to dry after it has been cleaned and before furniture can be moved back.

If you contract the job out, ensure you are clear with the contractor about who is expected to move furniture before you agree to hire them (ether verbally or in writing). Will they move it before they start the job, and will they return the next day to move it back? Or are you expected to do it?

Does the contractor have valid public liability insurance in case something goes wrong?

If you choose to do it yourself ensure you check whether carpet cleaning soap comes with the machine hire – if not you will need to purchase some. Cleaning a carpet with just water can get some dirt up but we do not advise it and would encourage you to use the correct chemical as well.

Using the corect chemical is very important as if you use the wrong chemical on a certain type of carpet it can shrink it. This is especially important on more valuable carpet types, such as wool.

Also, vacuum the carpet before using the machine.


Hard floor cleaning – our advice

For basic and daily cleaning, sweeping and mopping using appropriate chemical diluted in water should suffice (ensure any chemical you use is compatible with that particular surface – you wouldn’t want to damage a floor by using the wrong type). However, like carpet cleaning, you can hire machines to give a hard floor a deeper clean.

As with carpet cleaning machines they will require a detergent. Therefore, if you hire a floor cleaning machine ensure you check with the company you hire it from if this is included or not.

Again, if you choose to hire out a company to clean your hard floor we recommend that you check whether the contractor will move your furniture before and after doing the job or if you will be expected to do this.


How to clean a computer

Mac desktop computer

While there are more professional ways to do it, for most people and most organisations you can easily clean a computer with just three – or even two – things.

The optional thing would be a canister of air. If you are going to use this we suggest you do this first. You obviously don’t want to wipe clean the keyboard then proceed to blow out all the dust from underneath the keys; dirtying the area you have just cleaned.

As crazy as this may sound a professional company may use a special vacuum cleaner instead of canned air to clean a keyboard!

The other two things are screen wipes and general antibacterial wipes for the keyboard, mouse, CPU unit and the side and back areas of the screen.

You can’t just use any wipes to clean a computer screen – they have to be specialist screen wipes. Our recommendation is Fellowes Screen Cleaning Wipes. (Grace Professional Cleaning Services has no affiliation with any manufacturer and receives no money for these links – they are just an honest recommendation of products that have worked for us).

For general antibacterial wipes we recommend Serenity Multi Surface Antibacterial Wipes. We like these for three reasons. First, they simply work well. Second, they retain their moisture for months and months as long as they are left secured in their tub. And third, they contain a chemical which stays active on surfaces they are used on for 30 days and kills germs that come into contact with the surfaces during that time.

TIPYou may wish to clean the desk/table the computer sits on as well to ensure a completely clean workstation. Polish is probably best for this job if the desks are wooden (although do check to be sure). Otherwise find and use an appropriate chemical for the material the desk/table is made of.

Cleaning chemical safety and COSHH assessments

Bottles of cleaning chemicals are very common items but that doesn’t mean they are risk free.

As it says in the personal safety section above, using the appropriate PPE is essential and this becomes even more apparent when COSHH is considered.

COSHH stands for Control of Substances Hazardous To Health and if you’re a cleaning in the UK company you’ll need to complete a COSHH assessment for all of the cleaning chemicals you use. It may be a little extreme but someone cleaning their home could conceivably complete one as well if they wanted to.

COSHH is essentially about protecting people from the negative effects of cleaning chemicals.

Here is a brief guide to COSHH from the Health and Safety Executive:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg136.pdf

And here are two good guides to completing a COSHH assessment

http://blog.adswsupplies.com/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-coshh-risk-assessments

https://www.hsdirect.co.uk/free-info/coshh-assessment.html

For a cleaning company control measures will almost certainly include gloves, eye goggles and face masks.

Acidic and alkaline cleaning chemicals also need to be stored separately from each other to prevent leakages causing cross contamination.

Please click here for a sample COSHH assessment template.


Risk assessments

If you are working for someone else then legally (in the UK) you will have to complete a risk assessment before starting the job. If you employ less than five people it doesn’t need to be written down but if you employ five or more it does.

Any “competent person” can complete a risk assessment – it doesn’t have to be a consultant or someone with a certain qualification.

The purpose of a risk assessment is to check for hazards that may harm your staff, customers or members of the public (it isn’t just for people who work for you) and to show what steps you are taking to minimise that risk.

For example, you will almost certainly use electronic equipment to help you clean, such as a vacuum cleaner. Minimising risk for this would include ensuring that personal appliance testing is carried out yearly to ensure that your equipment is safe to use.

Risk assessments need to be updated as certain hazards or the people at risk from them change.

A good guide to completing risk assessments from the Health and Safety Executive can be found here.

Please click here to view or download a sample risk assessment template for a cleaning company.


Benefits of cleaning

Cleaning may have a reputation as being a hard, pointless and thankless task but there are benefits to both the cleaner and those who are impacted by their work. Here are some of them:

• Improves health

Can you image (or would you want to?) the disease that would fester in homes, workplaces, shops etc. if they were never cleaned? Cleaning with antibacterial products kills the bacteria which cause illness and even things like vaccuming and dusting eliminate dust and mites that can trigger ill health. The cleaning industry plays a significant role in reducing sickness and therefore eliminating the misery it inflicts on sufferers and their loved ones and the great expense to the taxpayer of treating them.

• Creates a more pleasant environment

You can sense when you walk into a room has just been thoroughly cleaned. They are just much nicer places to be than dirty rooms so a cleaner who does a good job helps put a smile on peoples’ faces!

• It’s a workout!

While we aren’t suggesting that cleaning should replace going to the gym it does keep you moving, exercises a variety of muscles and burns calories. How many? Take a look at this guide from dietician Juliette Kellow.

• Helps to keep you humble and grounded

There’s no room for pride or haughtiness when it comes to scrubbing out a disgusting toilet. Cleaning will burn away such bad attitudes.

• Develops a serious work ethic

There are no short cuts when it comes to cleaning. To do a good job you have to work hard and work for a long time. Developing a strong work ethic while cleaning means you will have it for other areas of your life too too and this is something that will win you respect and potentially put you in the frame for jobs, promotions, opportunities etc.

• You develop skills

As mentioned at the start of this guide, cleaning isn’t an unskilled job. You’ll develop skills and abilities while cleaning which could be attractive to employers in other industries if you wish to change careers later.

• It’s rewarding

Seeing a room or entire facility looking fresh after you’ve just cleaned it is satisfying. You know it’s a job well done!


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