The economic downturn has affected many building service contractors (BSCs). Although few are reporting that they have lost customers specifically because of the economy, many indicate they have been pressured to find ways to reduce their monthly service charges. This means many BSCs are being forced to look for even more ways to improve worker productivity.
Improving worker productivity is a special challenge when it comes to restroom cleaning. Restrooms are the 'complaint centers' of most facilities. Improperly cleaned restrooms can also be breeding grounds for contamination, potentially causing serious health concerns. And with concerns mounting daily about disease outbreaks, no BSC wants to take any shortcuts when it comes to restroom maintenance.
However, except for a relatively few new technologies, restroom cleaning is performed today—with mops, buckets, sprayers, and cleaning cloths—much the same way it was 50 years ago when labor costs were low and cleaning workers were not expected to be as productive.
Fortunately, there are options and technologies now available that can help expedite restroom cleaning times and improve the overall health and effectiveness of a restroom cleaning program. These systems can help BSCs and facility managers improve worker productivity, especially now, during this difficult economic time.
Study and Analyze
According to Peter Sheldon, Vice President of Operations for Coverall, a leading janitorial franchise, BSCs must evaluate and re-evaluate the tools they are using in restrooms because these products can make a major difference in how quickly and effectively restrooms are cleaned. 'Many cleaning professionals develop restroom cleaning procedures and use certain tools and products for years without inquiring what new methods or products may be available,' he says. 'This is an unfortunate and often a costly mistake.'
Instead, he recommends BSCs read about new tools and technologies in trade publications, discuss new products with their jansan distributors, and attend tradeshows and conferences. 'This is how our industry professionals get their ongoing education,' he says, 'something [that] professionals in every industry need to do.'
For instance, Sheldon suggests cleaning professionals find out about new restroom cleaning chemicals that are designed to multitask—clean and disinfect counter surfaces and fixtures as well as mirrors, glass, and metal areas. 'This is actually a small item, but it saves steps, means fewer chemicals and sprayers must be carried on the [janitorial] cart, and, according to our time studies, can be surprisingly effective at cutting cleaning times.'
Along with multitasking cleaning chemicals, Sheldon recommends the use of electrostatic dust cloths and dusters. These systems, which are also marketed to the consumer, have an electrostatic charge that attracts and traps dust. Users often use them for high and low dusting, especially in hard-to-reach areas. The big benefit of these cloths is that they collect dust rather than just spreading it to other surfaces, making cleaning more effective. Without the electrostatic charge, spreading dust around typically results in the need to reclean.
Floors and More
BSCs can find some of the most significant time savers in the types of mops they use to clean restroom floors. Again according to in-house studies conducted by Coverall, using microfiber flat-mop technology is not only more effective at removing soils and contaminants, based on ATP rapid monitoring* and other testing systems, 'it is as much as 54 percent faster than using conventional string mops,' says Sheldon.
However, the technology that Sheldon says has proved to be the fastest when it comes to restroom cleaning is what ISSA refers to as spray-and-vac cleaning systems. This cleaning method applies pressurized water/metered cleaning solution to surfaces. The machine then rinses the same areas, followed by vacuum suctioning to remove excess liquids and contaminants.
According to Sheldon, ISSA reports this system is three times faster than conventional cleaning methods; however, his own studies indicate it can be four and even five times faster. 'There are even more ways to cut restroom cleaning times,' he adds. 'It's unfortunate that it takes a serious recession for us to learn about these technologies, but in the long run, cleaning professionals and our industry will be better for it.'
*Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a molecule found in all living cells. Swabbing an area and then placing the swab in an ATP rapid monitoring device can detect if this molecule is present in about 15 seconds or less. Its presence, if levels are high enough, is often an indication that harmful bacteria and other contaminants are present.