How Certifications Help Guide Your Vacuum Selection

Has it been a while since you’ve had to replace a vacuum? Or, maybe you’re new to purchasing cleaning and sanitation equipment.

Whatever the case, it’s hard to differentiate all the choices available. While certifications in some niches can serve as moneymakers for the certifying organization more than anything else, they do help with your decision making when it comes to choosing the right vacuum.

With vacuums, the leading (and highly credible) organizations are LEED, the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), and the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA).

1. Highest Level of Certification: Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America

To be certified by the AAFA, a vacuum must have CRI’s highest level of certification (gold), and meet HEPA system standards. The AAFA also puts the vacuum through a series of rigorous tests that actually prove it reduces allergens and asthma causing irritants. The vacuum must also provide increased environmental control versus others, and must withstand routine cleaning.

If a vacuum comes AAFA certified, you can bet it’s as good as vacuums get. You can learn more about the AAFA’s certification, called the “Asthma & Allergy Friendly Certification” at their website.

2. CRI Seal of Approval

This certification, just mentioned in the previous point as part of the AAFA’s certification, comes in three levels: gold, silver, and bronze. Here’s what each level requires:

  • Gold: 55% of soil removed from carpets with less than 35 micrograms of dust emitted per cubic meter of air
  • Silver: 50%/must emit less than 100 mcg
  • Bronze: 40-49%/must emit less than 100 mcg

CRI offers a detailed explanation of its certification and exactly what it means at its website.

3. LEED Green Cleaning Certification

Also based on the CRI certification, a vacuum must have a CRI gold rating and emit less than 70 decibels of sound when operating to become LEED certified.

LEED has a much more cryptic website than most, but you get plenty of detail on their certification and what it’s all about here.

So now, you don’t have to worry about the quality of the vacuum you’re about to buy. These certifications help you understand which vacuums rock and will accomplish the purpose you hope for.

How Points-Based No-Fault Work Attendance Systems Backfire

No-fault work attendance policies have been gaining popularity among small employers and global corporations alike. The janitorial and cleaning professions, among many others have frequently use these systems. However, that popularity has waned in the past few years.

Absenteeism presents a challenge for many employers, and it can be difficult to figure out how to address it. For example, it’s difficult to judge the merit of the reason for missing work, which leads to inconsistent application of the policy. And you can understand how that would be upsetting to employees.

Though you may be well-intended when using a no-fault attendance policy, you can easily violate employees’ civil rights.

How Civil Rights Violations Happen

Life gets outside your employees’ control sometimes. The plumber comes too late to fix a leaky pipe. A child gets sick and they can’t find a babysitter. Or their car suddenly breaks down, and they have to have it towed in and repaired.

Those situations do not put you at risk for civil rights violations (or eventually, lawsuits).

However, problems happen when employees get penalized for not attending work for reasons protected by civil law. This can happen because of pregnancy, childbirth, or due to a disability (the most common reasons violations happen).

For example, in 2011, Verizon had to shell out $20 million after the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found the company did not make exceptions to its no-fault attendance policy for employees with disabilities.

How Do You Avoid Potentially Expensive, and Reputation-Damaging, Lawsuits?

The more employees you have, the more difficult it is to manage a “no-fault” attendance policy.

The trick is to have your supervisors and managers trained to understand civil rights law: what can they penalize employees for, and what can they not.

They then need to understand what questions to ask so they can document the proper reason for the missed absence.

Or, you could simply abandon the policy entirely, and simply focus on incentivizing positive behavior with rewards, rather than punishing undesirable behavior. Psychological studies have repeatedly proven the former always works more effectively when influencing human behavior.

Finally, you could also create a system for hiring employees who you can trust. Both of those are longer-term strategies, but they have a huge payoff.

Regardless, you’re at least aware of the issue and can identify the best solution for your company.

What Role Do Cleaning Pros Play in Healthcare Facilities’ Patient Care?

Truthfully, cleaning professional play whatever role you decide they should play.

However, before you make any decisions, you should understand their importance to your patients’ health.

It’s easy to look at cleaning professionals and think they don’t have as much education and therefore don’t have a big effect on your patients’ health.

But they actually play an important and underappreciated role.

Here’s some points to consider the critical nature of skilled cleaning pros and thoroughly documented sanitization processes at your healthcare facility:

1. Cleaning Pros Save Lives Because HAIs Kill More Patients than Car Crashes or Breast Cancer

Somewhere around 75,000 – 100,000 people die each year because of preventable affections they acquire at healthcare facilities. In particular, that involves hospitals.

The data gets collected from more than 3,000 hospitals who report such infections to the CDC. To ensure data quality, the CDC also weeds out cases where patients may have had infections prior to admission.

In other words, that means the 75,000 – 100,000 deaths are a conservative number.

Does your healthcare facility have tested, documented processes known to minimize HAIs? Do you measure the effectiveness of the sanitation products you use? And do you have cleaning pros who understand this and take their jobs seriously?

Other factors play a role (including handwashing). But, cleaning pros clearly have a huge role in preventing the spread of HAIs.

2. Patient Satisfaction is Strongly Related to Cleaning Pros’ Tasks

During a patients’ stay, whether just for an hour or for several weeks, environmental factors frequently play a large overall role in patient satisfaction.

Cleanliness readily apparent to the senses, lighting, noise level, temperature, aesthetic beauty, working equipment, and the comfort of furniture all affect your patients’ experience.

All these smaller things add up, resulting in the patients’ overall satisfaction level. And it’s important to monitor and fine-tune each one for the best care possible.

3. Your Facilities Manager Affects Clinical Staff Moreso Than Anyone Else

Your team may not have a direct impact on staff. But your indirect impact certainly makes a difference to nurses and doctors.

Properly maintained equipment helps staff feel comfortable they can deliver the best level of service to patients. Having supplies at the ready keeps staff calm and relaxed, knowing they can always do their job. An efficient building and room layout makes providing the service easy.

Simple fixes like securing handrails can mean the difference between staying healthy – and falling, breaking a bone, and either a longer, costlier stay or possibly the death of the patient.

Does your facilities team, cleaning team, or janitorial team, however you think of them, save lives simply by doing their jobs?

Yes. And their work and how it affects your patients is something worth studying and continually improving.

Ick! Hand Driers Turn Out to Be Not-So-Sanitary After All

Hand driers seem sanitary on the surface, don’t they?

You wash your hands. You don’t even touch the driers. Their motion sensor picks up your movement and blows air on your hands until dry.

Your hands don’t even come into contact with the machine.

How could bacteria, viruses, and (yeesh!) fecal matter even come into contact with you?

Well, truth be told, University of Connecticut Researchers aren’t totally sure. But, they do know hand driers actually spread more bacteria, viruses, and fecal matter than paper towel dispensers you operate by hand.

The Surprising Results of the Study

In America, we place a pretty high importance on cleanliness and sanitation. So, it’s no shot when a university studies an aspect of it.

University of Connecticut and Quinnipiac University researchers had questions about hand driers.

So, to learn a little more, they placed petri dishes in 36 bathrooms in University of Connecticut health and science buildings.

When off, the dishes revealed one bacterial culture landing about every two minutes. But when researchers turned the hand driers on for just 30 seconds, they found 18 – 60 bacteria cultures on the petri dishes.

On the extreme end, one dish had 254 cultures on it in under a minute!

Now, top this off with the airflow from hand driers pushing all the disease-causing agents right out the bathroom door and into the rest of the building.

Quite nasty when you think about it.

You can read the study details here.

So What Do You Do With This?

This isn’t the only study that has implicated hand driers in the spread of bacteria, viruses, and fecal matter. Others have found similar results.

It’s still early, but it’s hard to see how any research could find something radically different.

So at a minimum, you should at least revisit your sanitation protocols for hand driers. And you should strongly consider replacing them with motion-sensor-activated paper towel dispensers.

Yeah, that results in unexpected costs. But, eventually, this research will become common knowledge and shape the way consumers think.

Just the sight of a hand-drier will remind them of the disgusting spread of bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing agents. And they’ll think negatively of your company as a result.

Act soon, when this remains below the awareness of most Americans, and you’ll mitigate any harm to your company.

It’s a strange and unexpected thing, but at least you know about it and can take action.

How to Dispose of Your Excess Inventory

Even the janitorial industry needs to do its own spring cleaning. When you find yourself with excess inventory you simply can’t put to use, what do you do with it?

Do you sell it to a liquidator? Do you try to resell it online at one of the many marketplaces?

As you know, this takes hard work, and you really get back just a small return for your effort. In business terms, it doesn’t make much sense.

Have you ever considered an alternative idea, like donating your excess inventory to your favorite local non-profit?

Yes, you get a tax deduction for that. But think of the many other additional benefits also:

1. Improve Your Local Reputation

What’s your company without a good reputation? You can raise awareness that you’re the kind of company who cares about everyone in the area.

This can get you good, personal public relations. It may not lead to additional clients right away, but you might have a few who come in later on.

2. Win Greater Employee Engagement

Employees, and especially Millennials, like to work with companies who show more interest than only in the bottom line. Since they like your company more, they serve you and your customers better.

That strengthens your position in the marketplace. It also reduces turnover if you show you have a serious long-term commitment to this.

3. Save Your Company Time

Whatever method you use to eliminate your excess inventory currently takes more hard work than simply donating to charity. “Gifts-in-kind” nonprofits actually administer this process for dozens of clients so it’s easy for them to eliminate mass amounts of excess stock.

4. Reap A Little-Known Tax Reward

IRS tax code 170(e) (3) actually allows you to deduct up to twice the cost of your inventory if you’re a C-corporation and you donate to charity. If your product costs $15, and stores sell it for $30, you can add back in half the difference between your product’s cost and the retail price.

The difference in this case is $7.50. So, add that to your product cost of $15.00 to get a $22.50 deduction.

5. Benefit from Helping Those in Need

This is what it’s all about, isn’t it?

What seems to you like no big deal could actually be a huge thing for an organization or person in need. Some nonprofits have to decide if they can turn the air conditioning on. Or, they may constantly turn the heat down during the winter. You don’t know what a box or two of cleaning supplies really means to them.

If they in turn donate goods directly to people, those people may be grateful because they live in a messy house and don’t have any money to buy even basic necessities.

So while you and your company may not struggle with the basics, there’s actually a great chance someone else does.

And you feel great and they feel awesome too because you’ve helped them meet their needs.

So, whether you’re a C-Corporation or not, consider donating your excess cleaning stock to nonprofits. There’s so many wins to be had!

The Differences Between Buffing and Burnishing

When cleaning pros talk about buffing and burnishing, they often mean the same thing. That’s what makes these two processes so confusing if you’re not already familiar with both.

In both processes, you do use a floor machine to remove the top layer of wax. So at a high level, you may actually say both processes are the same.

But when you dig down into the details of each, they do have some key differences. Those include:

1. The Speed of the Machine

Burnishing works at a much faster speed than buffing. The former’s increased speed can be used to actually give your floor a wet look, which goes over quite well with visitors unfamiliar with the process.

In the past, burnishing could get so aggressive it would actually leave a powdery residue on your floor. Cleaning pros today know how to account for that so it doesn’t happen.

To give your floor the wet look, burnishers also have far more complex engines that operate at higher speeds than buffers.

2. Both Machines Operate Differently

Buffers aren’t as heavy and challenging to operate as burnishers. A floor buffer simply looks like a vacuum with a larger body and wide handlebars.

Burnishers’ heavier weight helps them provide that wet look for your floor.

While buffers operate in a rotary fashion, going in circles from side to side, burnishers work in a straight line.

3. Buffing Doesn’t Offer as Impressive of a Final Look

Skeptical about the amazing final look you can get from a burnisher? Rent one out once and compare its work to that of a buffer.

While buffers do give you a clean glossy look, burnishers sometimes totally blow customers away. It probably depends on how easy you are to impress. But in general, most people will find a burnished look on their floor far more attractive.

4. Save Time and Money with Burnishing

You’d think that because you get a more desirable result with burnishing, that it would require a greater time and money investment. Strangely enough, it’s actually the opposite.

Burnishing takes not just a little, but way less time to do than buffing. That saves you time. And it also saves you money because you can use that labor time saved to do other work.

So if you haven’t understood burnishing, now you have a working knowledge of why it could make sense for you. Keep it in mind the next time you have to restore the look of one of your floors.

4 Myths and Misunderstandings about Mops

Believe it or not, mops can be just as responsible for spreading bacteria as they are for removing it.

That is, only if you continue to act in ways that fit with these mopping myths:

1. Myth #1: Mops Don’t Spread Soil

Mops can spread soil. Several studies have found this true over the past several decades.

To prevent this from happening, you must make sure your mop head remains wet (not just damp). You also need to inspect it for the amount of soil it currently holds.

If your mop head remains too loaded with soil, simply change out to a new one.

2. Myth #2: Soaking Your Mop Overnight Kills Most of the Germs and Bacteria Holds

This one depends on how you do the decontamination. To do it properly, you should first shake out or vacuum the dust off your mop head. Then wash it in the washer, and be sure to use a netted bag if your mop requires one.

You don’t need to use bleach when washing your mop head. Simply use a gentle detergent and hot water. Then hang the mop up to dry overnight.

3. Using More Disinfectant in Your Cleaning Solution Improves Your Mop’s Germ-Killing Power

Using more disinfectant than recommended actually reduces the disinfecting potency of your mop.

This happens as a result of “quat binding.” That term’s short for “quaternary ammonium chloride,” the active ingredient in many cleaning disinfectants. “Quat” has positively charged ions that naturally attract to the negatively charged ions in the fabric of your mop.

So, whenever you mix a cleaning solution, mix to the ratios recommended by the manufacturer.

4. Mopping Floors Improves Your Shoulder Muscles

The truth is you only experience more pain and discomfort as a result of the repetitive motion. This happens throughout your shoulders and back.

If you want to spare yourself from that pain, use autoscrubbers or go to the gym and exercise those muscle areas regularly.

Advocate for your employer to provide a monthly reimbursement for a gym membership if you need to!

Did any of these mopping myths surprise you?

Now you know the truth behind them so you truly do the best work every time you mop your customers’ floors.

Top 3 Trends Expected to Affect the Cleaning Industry in 2018

What’s moving the cleaning industry forward in 2018?

Don’t waste any time and find out:

1. Technology Will Be Used to Streamline and Optimize Processes

To stay competitive in 2018, you’ll have to adapt to the abundance of apps and software available.

Every cleaning company or team will look slightly different.

However, you may use apps to make online payment possible. Or, you may add your customers to an app that allows them to communicate with your team and get job updates. You might also use software to keep your own cleaning team apprised of the job’s status. Customers would also like estimates available online.

Look for ways you can offer more convenient service for your customers and streamline your own operations.

2. Increased Expectations for Employees

Historically, you may have thought of the cleaning industry as one with high turnover. You may believe not many people join the profession with the idea of creating a career.

You can certainly treat your cleaning team in whatever way you see most fitting. However, because of the increasing complexity of the profession and how much you need to learn to succeed, you can easily turn the job into a career.

Employees are beginning to expect that now. But, you’ll have to offer increased wages and benefits to reflect that.

3. The Pressure to Keep Service Levels High And Costs Low Remains

This trend certainly won’t go away this year. And it might be the reason why so many cleaning teams continue to integrate technology where possible to improve operational efficiency.

It continues to happen even though cleaning is shifting from a nice-to-have to a need-to-have.

If you think about it, it fits nicely with the previous trend of turning cleaning into a career.

You’ll only be able to create high levels of service and keep prices low with skilled and experienced staff.

Is your company or cleaning team positioned to include these trends in your operations?

If so, you can expect to have a successful year!

How Do You Remain a Top-Notch Cleaning Pro?

There’s no doubt that being a cleaning professional in modern society takes far more knowledge, skill, and desire than before. Back in the day, if you could make a room look clean, you did your job. Now you have intense downward pressure from management to get the same amount cleaned in less time. And you have upward pressure from customers, who want nothing less than a perfectly sanitized space.

Although many get started in cleaning just to make ends meet for now, they end up sticking with the profession for years because they realize the intense professionalism it takes to succeed.

So, with that in mind, how do you keep your skills sharp so you don’t fall behind the curve?

Here’s what:

1. Find What Truly Motivates You about Cleaning

It’s difficult to keep your motivation in cleaning, or in any profession, if it just amounts to a paycheck and something to do. True motivation comes from focusing on deeper, underlying desires.

For example, you may enjoy seeing how elated customers get when they see the job you’ve done. You enjoy being of service to others and helping them get what they want.

Or, you may love the sophisticated science and challenge of sanitizing large facilities. Or, you might like showing your management the business results you deliver, like reduced employee sicknesses and absences due to your team’s work.

You’ll have to discover what truly drives you. And it may change over time as you get deeper into the profession.

2. Improve At Least One Little Step Each Day

Nothing gets more boring in life than doing the same old thing each day, getting basically the same ol’ results.

Regardless of your position on the cleaning team, focus on what you can do better daily.

How can you do your job faster, without sacrificing work quality? What new product could you try that sanitizes, and reduces the chances of sickness? What simple extra can you toss in to make your customer happier?

Many cleaning pros get stuck in the same old routine. If you focus on small innovations daily, you’ll easily find yourself near the top of the pack.

That makes your job, or business, more secure.

Staying at your best isn’t easy. It takes hard work and constantly pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. But, you’ll love your work and getting up ready to start each new day if you maintain that focus.

Understanding Active And Passive Odor Control

Restroom odors can be a huge business killer if customers come into your store. If you run an office with employees only, then you get complaints and reduced work performance.

With the traffic your restroom gets, it can be difficult to control the unpleasant odors that come out as a result.

So, let’s talk about some of the common issues with passive and active odor control. But first, let’s define each:

  1. Active odor control involves using battery-operated dispensers with fans or propellants that push the odor-eater into the air
  2. Passive systems simply rely on natural air movement to do the hard work

1. Active Aerosol-Based Dispensers

Because these dispensers rely on a propellant to deliver their scent, they should be placed in a central area, about 10 feet from the floor. They need to be placed high on the wall because their scent will hang in the air for about 12 minutes or so, and the higher placement allows the scented particles the most time to do their work. Otherwise, they fall to the floor, and part of their life goes to waste.

You also don’t want them to spray someone in the face. And they should be situated so they don’t spray all over the floor, discoloring it or causing it to be a slipping hazard.

2. Passive Dispensers

The molecules diffused into the air from a passive dispenser are actually lighter than air and hang around in the air much longer. But, the trade-off is they don’t provide as large of an area of coverage or as potent of a scent as aerosol.

Because they rely on air movement to disburse their scent, passive dispensers should be situated near opening and closing doors. That draft will distribute their scent. Typically, this suits them best for smaller restrooms.

You May Need to Combine Active and Passive Odor Control

Some restrooms may be too large for even an active dispenser to accommodate. That’s where passive dispensers can silently come to the rescue.

You simply have to plan out odor control based jointly on science and your own preference.