Warehouse Store: Cleaning Challenges from Inside the Big Box
A warehouse store is more than just a super-sized version of other retail establishments. Big box stores are undeniably large, typically 90,000 to 200,000 square feet in size. But their incredible variety in products and services is what really sets them apart.
A typical one-stop-shopping warehouse sells everything from electronics and housewares to furniture and clothing. Its grocery department may feature dry goods, fresh meats, and produce, along with a thriving bakery, deli, and cafe. Some even include a pharmacy and similar health care offerings, while others sell and install tires as well. All of this, coupled with bargain pricing, brings in constant foot traffic (and lots of dirt).
Warehouses often have concrete floors for durability and cleanability, but store owners may also mix it up with other materials like tile, laminate, or epoxy resin to enhance their interiors and better distinguish each department. Of course, these factors can add challenges to your cleaning process; here are the most important tasks to address.
Keeping Concrete Floors Clean
Concrete flooring has plenty of advantages: It's durable, fire-resistant, and can improve your energy efficiency. It's also water resistant and relatively easy to maintain, making it a great choice for any warehouse store's floor. Still, daily maintenance is necessary to keep this surface in good condition. Your first step is to place floor mats at every entrance to trap dirt before it leaks further into the building. Any spills should be cleaned up as soon as possible, in addition to the regular daily cleaning that prevents customers (and staff) from getting hurt.
Some business-owners use autoscrubbers for this task. Although this technology is effective, it has its drawbacks. Autoscrubbers are expensive, and employees need to be trained to learn how to use them. An autovac is just as effective but is more affordable and less complicated to operate.
Paying Attention to Food Service Areas
Everyone loves the food offerings pocketed in the front of big box stores, as well as the free samples at the corner of select aisles. But selling and serving so much food means you need to clean those sections of floor thoroughly and often. Kitchens can generate hard-to-clean grease spots, and keeping these areas safe from bacteria to avoid contamination is paramount. While a traditional broom, vacuum, and mop combination may make the floor look nice, this combination doesn't actually work to remove the dirt that's hardened or hidden in the grout. Warehouse store managers will do well by using an integrated, comprehensive solution instead. These machines are much more effective at removing bacteria than mops and are just as easy to use.
Sample areas should be kept especially clean, as shoppers walk past them more frequently. Workers should pick up any spills as they happen, and serving areas can be cleaned with a microfiber towel.
Tackling the Restrooms
The big box retail experience is better known for value than luxury. That ethos extends to the restrooms. But, as utilitarian as they are, these spaces still need to look inviting so that long-term customers are willing to stick around. That means spot-cleaning customer touch points such as sink handles and soap dispensers throughout the day. Deeper cleaning, preferably with a system that removes soil rather than pushing it around, should take place every night.
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Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.