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Who Cleans the Cleaning Equipment?

March 11, 2008
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Keep your equipment looking sharp


The other night I was in a facility and happened to notice the floor-maintenance technicians preparing for the night’s work. I knew they were floor-maintenance technicians because of the equipment they were pulling out of the storage area.

This in itself is not unusual; I am often in buildings and see technicians preparing for work. What really caught my eye was how presentable the technicians and their equipment were. I thought it was new equipment at first, but upon further observation, realized that it was rather old equipment kept in immaculate condition.

As I continued to observe, I noticed that it wasn’t just the equipment; the tools and materials were in the same condition. As I walked past the closet, I was compelled to look inside to see if what remained was consistent with what I’d just seen. It was, and then some. This was by far the most organized storage area I had seen in a long time. Everything had its place and – shock of shocks – everything was in its place. All in all, it spoke volumes of the character of those two technicians and whoever their leader was.

Keeping equipment, tools and materials clean and presentable need not be a daunting task. In fact, the approach to equipment maintenance is the same as the approach to floor maintenance; if little things are done all the time, the larger, more time-consuming tasks will not have to be performed as often.

Take for instance buckets/receptacles and wringers/screens used in the application of floor seal and/or finish. The wringer/screen is used to remove excess seal/finish from the mop/applicator. Over time a film begins to adhere to the bucket/receptacle and wringer/screen and builds up, in some situations this can be excessive. It happens to everyone and, if not kept in check, becomes unsightly and a challenge to remove.

Of course the obvious solution to this problem is to rinse the equipment after each use, but that is not always what happens. To remove the excess seal/finish, submerge the equipment in a solution of stripping chemical and water to soften and emulsify the old seal/finish. Once in a pliable state, the old seal/finish can be easily removed with a pressure washer or standard garden hose and nozzle.

This same technique can be used to extend the life of pads. Spray buffing, scrubbing and stripping pads will get finish build up in the mesh of the fibers. Many technicians throw them away because they consider them clogged and useless. A simple solution to this costly mistake is to cut a plastic 55-gallon drum in half and fill the lower half with a mixture of stripping chemical and water. Place the pads in the solution to soak and, when pliable, clean them with pressure washer or garden hose and nozzle.

The rotary floor machine and the wet vacuum are large items, used extensively and quite visible. These are billboards for your company, and when they get soiled they get ugly. Usually the cords get dragged through contaminated solution and do not get wiped down, turning them into a gray ugly mess. The housing and shroud of the rotary floor machine will get old finish build-up on it as well as the wheels, body and floor squeegee of the wet vacuum. It may start out simple neglect, but compounded over a period of time it turns into an equipment cleaning challenge. When equipment becomes excessively soiled, it can take massive hours to get it looking good again.

Then there are the little things, such as dust mop and wet mop handles and heads. Although these are not quite as noticeable as the bigger items, they still catch an eye or two. Dust mop handles blackened from use and heads that are way beyond the laundry date do not put the company in a good light. When the mop head is black and the bucket can be smelled before it is seen, a favorable image this does not create. Maintaining the tools and materials is a daily/routine function that should never be overlooked. These items should be rinsed thoroughly after each use to ensure soiling is kept to a minimum.

Hand tools such as putty knives, razor scrapers, edging tools and hand pads should not be neglected either; keep them clean and wiped down as well. These small items, as well as personal protective equipment, can be stored neatly in a clean toolbox or duffle bag for convenience. Finally, it is important to keep the towels that are used to wipe everything down with clean. Laundering and folding the towels will keep them looking good all the time. Two nylon laundry bags are all that is necessary to keep the towels in order; one for clean towels and one for soiled ones.

The condition of equipment, tools and materials is really a reflection of the technician using them. Keeping the cleaning equipment clean almost always equates into a perception of a high-quality company. To keep equipment looking its best, wipe it down frequently and keep an eye on it; you never know who might be watching.

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