General tips and tricks for domestic and commercial cleaning. Whether you're wanting quick pointers for yourself, or more in depth information to help you manage cleaners, there's relevant posts to help.
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Most businesses and organisations nowadays have some form of office use that will inevitably get messy and need cleaning. Even, say, a tradesman where the majority of their work is out with the tools, will include some administration invoice work at a desk back home.
So whether you need to include such office areas yourself in a regular clean, or you're involved in organising outsourced cleaners for larger office areas at your business, here is the low down of what you need to remember.
The exact detail will of course change for whatever type or size of office area you're dealing with, but the principles are the same, and with this daddy of checklists to go through you can easily then take out what isn't applicable to you.
And right at the end we'll explain how you can immediately download this final office cleaning checklist in order to then begin rolling out.
The Traffic Light Style
We have actually laid out the essentials in 3 traffic-light stages to help place everything in context.
The first 'red' light stage is stopping to make sure you get things set up correctly right at the beginning, including all the compliance checks you really need to make, particularly in a business office context.
The second 'orange' light stage is getting the practical things ready to roll, whether that's the correct cleaning equipment and substances, or PPE with say aprons and gloves.
The last 'green' light stage is when you’re ready to get going, and a final cleaning schedule which basically lists all the individual cleaning tasks you need to carry out and when. As you then go through the cleaning taking into account the earlier red and orange stages, you can log progress and issues that you come across.
The Red Set-Up Stage
So as you begin to set-up the right cleaning schedule for your office area, here are the main compliance pointers to bear in mind.
You can check out more details on these here, with these helping as a checklist for your own internal cleaning arrangements or auditing those being completed by an external cleaning company.
1. Insurance Cover
Making sure the right insurance cover is in place for the cleaning company, or any cleaning activity being correctly included within any current business policy. Public liability is the main one, but you may also need others like employer’s, contents, and even buildings and vehicles.
2. COSHH Health & Safety Policy
A policy needs to be in place taking account of how the cleaning activities are being completed within your unique business context, which considers the obligations under COSHH legislation.
3. Risk Assessment
A unique risk assessment for these cleaning activities, including related issues like Coshh and individual cleaners.
4. Data Sheets and Safe Stock
For all your cleaning substances, make sure you have these correctly documented with a Data Sheet and then safely stored away in separate locked cupboards and areas where required, particularly riskier substances like bleach for toilet areas.
5. Guides & Training
Make sure a basic guide is provided for how the cleaning is being carried out, with initial and updated training routines and records.
6. Signs & Notices
These are both permanent for, say, cleaning cupboards, and any temporary ones like flip-signs on wet toilet and kitchen floors.
Within offices you may also require additional letters and signs for workers, for example when they need to place items away for a deeper clean, and any updates on general housekeeping.
7. Cleaning Schedule
This is your main bread-and-butter list of what actual cleaning duties are needed and when, outlined below in the green section. These will need to be signed off each time by the cleaners, and any issues or accidents documented on them and any additional records.
8. Accidents & RIDDOR
Be prepared at all levels for accidents, from basic first aid and emergency clean-up kits, to recording incidents in an accident book and reporting serious accidents and deaths through RIDDOR obligations.
9. Building Policies
The unique details about the building being cleaned will need to be known, including building guides and policies, fire evacuation policies, and access and security arrangements.
10. Personnel Policies
Information on the welfare and management of individual cleaners will be required, for example lone worker arrangements for being alone and outside working hours to initial policies on equal opportunities and basis of employment, to any unique arrangements for circumstances such as disabilities.
11. Data Protection
In addition to the protection of data being for the individual cleaners, the policy for the office business also needs to be appreciated, for example what information can be viewed, thrown away, or shredded by the cleaner.
It sounds obvious, but an on-site folder with all the essential information for easy access in addition to whatever digital and files copies you have elsewhere.
The Orange Preparation Stage
Okay, when looking at what you need to prepare for, this often boils down to practical things like the correct cleaning equipment and substances, and PPE in order to be kitted-out and ready to roll.
Here are the main ones to consider:
1. Cloths & Dusters
The three popular types are general microfibre cloths for surfaces with and without water and cleaning spray, disposable ones like j-cloths for areas like toilets which will then be thrown away, and dusters for polishing and that special touch-up.
In addition to general all-purpose ones for tough office areas, look at specialist ones like window cleaner for glass and mirrors, and special kitchen and toilet ones.
This mainly includes mopping, and any tougher bleach on non-bleach liquids to dilute with hot water for, say, toilet areas. Also ongoing consumables like washing up liquid, and hand washes.
4. Carry Tray
A handy tray, or even a form of basic bucket to keep all your items together, not only helps you to easily move items around the office but keep them all together and safe from being lost and tampered with.
5. Mop and Bucket
Including basic ones which you see with domestic properties, as well as larger and corporate ones for larger office areas and floors.
Both long-handled brooms for basic sweeping of hard-floors, or smaller ones with a dustpan for any broken items and areas like cupboards and shelves.
7. Vacuum Cleaner
A bread-and-butter one to make the most of keeping carpet or other floor areas clean. These usually need to be more durable and corporate than domestic ones to cope with the more regular and substantial use.
Not only do they help protect clothes and provide handy pockets for holding items like cloths, but they help provide immediate branding of who is doing the cleaning.
Whether disposable or ones to then be cleaned, check if different ones are needed for different tasks, for example toilet areas compared to usual office areas.
10. Head Protection
This may be simple hair ties, hats, or even glasses to help ensure everything is safe and sound.
The Green Doing Stage
As we now come to the main cleaning schedule, this basically lists each individual cleaning task and when it should be completed.
This might range from a regular daily basis, to a more occasional, say, monthly basis for that extra-mile deeper clean.
These not only help provide a guide and reminder of what to cover and when, but a record of what was actually completed, by the cleaner signing and noting what was accomplished in addition to any issues and comments noted.
So here's a basic list of items and frequencies to consider:
* Vacuum the floor and behind doors
* Mop hard floors, using disinfectant
* Empty bins and place in new liners
* Clean glass and window areas with appropriate glass-cleaner and occasional squeeges
* Damp-wipe hard surfaces with mild disinfectant
* Wipe brass/metal handles, light switches, and door frames
* Remove and clean mugs and cups (hand or dishwasher)
* Additional wall marks and scuffs
* Sanitise and clean toilets and basins
* Refill soap dispensers
* Polish or better wipe surfaces like board room tables and solid wood floors
* Remove old food and clean/disinfect fridges
* Check stocks of food and drink e.g. tea, coffee
* Vacuum down and clean chairs
* Clean and dust vents and blinds
* Dust high-level ceiling from the top to the bottom
* Confidential shredding of documents where permissible
* Coffee machines and kettles de-scale
* Organise magazines and newspapers
* Dust skirting boards, picture rails, and window sills
* Vacuum and brush mats and re-position
* Wipe the sides and top of any partitions, for example between workstation cubicles and toilet areas
* Refill toilet rolls, towels, hand towels and dish cloths
* Clear white and notice boards
* Sofas and cushions cleaned and positioned
* Water plants and flowers
* Lifts and stain checked and cleaned
* Hand driers carefully cleaned
* Tidy and organize chairs and tables
* Clear workstations – including keyboards/monitors, coffee mats
* Deep clean carpets
* Wipe and clean equipment like telephones and photocopiers
* Clean and organize drawers and files/paper
* Check and install air fragrance
* Microwaves and cooking equipment cleaned
* Deeper disinfectant clean of bins
* Female hygiene within toilet areas checked
* Window cleaning
* Ceiling lights checked and cleaned
* Storage areas cleaned e.g. filing cabinets, book shelves
Completing the Right Office Cleaning Checklist and Schedule
So whatever stage you're at with getting your office areas cleaned, whether by yourselves or others mucking in, or you're an office manager arranging through workers and an outsourced cleaning company, these three traffic-light stages help get to the bottom of what’s needed.
After first addressing what needs setting up the red stop-stage, including compliance-boxes being ticked, you can then look at what’s needed for the cleaning to happen at the orange waiting-stage.
You're then ready for the final green office-cleaning schedule which lists exactly what is required and when, and recording any feedback and issues from this.
You can access this whole office cleaning checklist here which summarises this three-stage process. This helps summarise all this in one place, and do contact us if you would like help forming a unique office cleaning schedule and checklist for your own business.
It’s been a pleasure working alongside a local charity who have needed help with cleaning their new property. Cost is of course always a challenge, and so they have relied heavily upon volunteers from the charity itself, all mucking in with things, and even working alongside the local Job Centre and providing work experience for those seeking employment.
In addition, it helps bring hope and focus to those who need it, and a great sense of common purpose and engagement for people. Something that is so refreshing to see, and important to encourage more of.
Cleaning is a great way to channel this, as it’s something that people at all levels can be involved with to some degree, and where tangible benefits and results can be seen by everyone. Of course, there’s more to it when providing a good service, but that’s where we have helped work with a local charity to come up with compliant systems and practical procedures to help make this happen for them.
Here then are 4 helpful principles that have helped to accomplish this, all beginning with the letter ‘I’:
A form of induction training is of course essential anyway, often on-the-job and showing newcomers how things are safely and correctly implemented. This is particularly important though for volunteers, and not necessarily because they will have greater difficulty in completing the task, but simply to clarify how things are correctly accomplished.
We have often found that they’re actually more enthusiastic than paid workers, which is great to see and encourage, although the down side can be that they assume things and because they are in volunteering role they can default back to their own personal methods of cleaning.
Once a clear procedure is provided to channel this energy, then great things can be accomplished.
It’s important to inspect and check how they are doing and the results of the cleaning. As with induction training, this isn’t meant to be watching over their shoulders and assuming a poor performance, but to genuinely help and assist them accomplish things.
The whole process and experience is probably new to them, and by gently guiding them through this, with regular and proactive monitoring and feedback, you can soon bring them up to speed nicely.
As regular cleaners, we all know the importance of the right items, whether PPE and clothing, substances and cleaning fluids, or actual cleaning equipment. This needs to be suitably provided, checked, and assessed with records like Data Sheets.
The individual volunteers need to know that only these items should be used, unless there are any personal items like hair ties that they will need to provide themselves. We have seen genuinely helpful volunteer cleaners simply bring in their own cleaning substance from home and not realise that only permitted ones provided for by the organisation will suffice.
Including volunteers with other volunteers and regular workers is essential, to not only ensure things are going well but also to ensure a good sense of togetherness. There will need to be a person in charge who is probably not a volunteer themselves, and may well need to provide greater input simply by the fact that volunteers are needing genuine help and guidance.
Sometimes it can work the other way though, and we have seen instances where certain individuals simply do not get along, or become less effective together, and in actual fact you may need people to work alone for a while in order to bring out the best in them, all subject of course to suitable Lone Worker procedures.
The Mutual Benefit of Helping Volunteers
We have always said that cleaning should be a pleasure and not a chore, and an important part of that is working with others to achieve that. Whether it’s children to begin learning principles of work and reward, or friends and colleagues to muck-in with cleaning shared areas, it all helps to not only get the cleaning job done quickly and easily, but develop great relationships and reach personal goals.
Every effort is needed to encourage this, and whatever teething issues you come across, then carefully work through these in order to make sure it’s accomplished.
When it comes to cleaning activities being ‘health and safety compliant’ this can be a confusing goal to reach. For those in a business context they can be a little more familiar with this, and things like ‘COSHH’ being in place, but even then it just seems so complicated and cumbersome.
The principle makes sense and making sure that cleaning is done nice and safely, with no issues like tripping over buckets or the wrong substance being consumed. The consequences can be horrendous and often easily preventable.
You can go overkill with paperwork though and endless tick boxes. If these don’t match reality and what’s actually happening then you’ve missed the point.
So here are 7 stages to get this right; deliberately designed to be as simple and usable as possible, whilst still applying basic safety principles, and providing helpful templates and downloads where applicable.
These will help in whatever circumstances you’re in, not just purely business but others like at home where you have a mix of people helping out and you genuinely want a few things in place to ensure that friends and family are safe. Or in the volunteering sector which relies upon others mucking in, and some helpful guidance to make sure this is implemented correctly.
Unfortunately of course there has to be some form of disclaimer here, with your own circumstances dictating any unique changes and application of these. But with these 7 pointers and some common sense you’ll soon get a long way.
So here goes, the 7 core stages to make sure you cleaning is safe and compliant.
1. Insurance Cover
The main type of insurance you’ll need is public liability to cover any accidents and claims by others, typical for most external cleaners you’re instructing. For cleaners though there may also be employers’ liability, contents, buildings, and even vehicle insurance to clarify and arrange.
Even if you don’t believe new insurance policies are required, check that any current policies are sufficient to cover any related cleaning activities, and if there are any conditions to this.
2. COSHH and Health & Safety Policy
This is the mama of cleaning information, the main policy designed to provide an overview of how you shall safely carry out cleaning activities.
Most businesses will need a Health & Safety Policy anyway, and cleaning can form part and parcel of this with a ‘COSHH’ element as well. This COSHH refers to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and is more an obligation to consider various aspects with potentially dangerous substances at hand.
There are standard Health & Safety and COSHH policies available online or through suppliers, but the essential thing to note is that these need going through section by section and making sure that they apply to your situation. So adding extra parts where needed, or even removing those not applicable.
So as an example, clarify what the actual procedure is for accidents and emergencies, including any emergency clean-up kit and accident form and First Aid kit. Ideally RIDDOR needs referring to as well as to how any serious accidents are then separately reported.
Also don’t forget the actual premise you’re cleaning, and any day-to-day guides such as how to access the property and Fire Evacuation Procedures. If you’re dealing with food preparation areas like a commercial kitchen for example, then there may be additional cleaning requirements under the Food Hygiene Policy.
And even more importantly are the people involved, so noting any disabilities and an effective Lone Worker policy for those cleaners potentially being on their own during cleaning duties.
When you have all these COSHH and general Health &Safety issues clarified, you can then bottom out a final policy.
3. Data Sheets
In short, these are a summary of each individual cleaning substance that you’re using as an easy reference as to how to correctly apply, whether general issues like where to store and how to use, or in an emergency when there is say a spillage and accident.
Whilst this includes obvious substances like bleach and cleaning spray, it may also need to involve less obvious ones such as hand wash liquid and washing-up liquid.
The more popular substances tend to have standard manufacturer ones that you can locate from them or online, however it is still important to form your own summary to include additional more hands-on information as well as the technical manufacturer’s specification.
4. Risk Assessment
It’s a classic, and always will be it seems. This looks at your actual situation both at the building being cleaned and the processes and cleaners you have, and basically spots what could go wrong.
You can glean points from other standard cleaning risk assessments, and general issues in your above COSHH and H&S policy, making unique for different cleaning activities.
But make sure these match reality, and you’ve chatted through what these actually mean with people. You’d be surprised how easy this is to do once you get going, as this all boils down to common sense and in today’s more health-and-safety conscious world people do tend to recognise these.
So with a list of potential risks and resultant hazards and action points to hand, chat through with people and agree what the actual course of action needs to be.
Then monitor going forward, making sure any action points are carried out.
This is intuitive really, to show someone what needs doing and train them up.
The majority happens anyway and on-the-job, however the challenge is to then document this and any issues arising from it. It’s helpful to have a checklist of the issues that need addressing, and to remember those important issues such as where the fire escapes are in the building, and the procedure for using PPE.
Also, note when any refresher and further training is needed in the future, even if just a general chit-chat with everyone together and touch-base on things which is then recorded.
Kind of along the same lines as well, it can be important to have clear instructions and guides as to how to carry out simple cleaning duties safely, maybe in a general manual and/or posted on the cleaning cupboard wall.
6. Notices & Signs
These are simple ways to communicate to people what’s happening and any dangers to be aware of.
Examples include permanent ones such as for the cleaning cupboard and issuing any notices to warn users of the building to be aware (even standard letters and flyers can be useful).
Also, any temporary ones used during cleaning, for example the yellow flip signs you often see on freshly-mopped floors to warn people.
7. Schedules and Summaries
The icing on the compliance cake is a final schedule of things, ideally as short and simple as possible but still having the important issues being noted.
So ideally a list of each cleaning task in a schedule or checklist which has a tick-box of, say, days of the week, or weekly and monthly time frequencies for cleaners to tick once completed.
Also, a note of other important factors to log, for example any issues or accidents, and if any further cleaning stock and PPE items are required.
Getting All Compliant
Therefore, when bottoming-out how you need to get compliant with your cleaning, these 7 pointers will give you basics. They cover the spectrum right from basic insurance and policy covers, to how the cleaning is actually completed on site with signage.
The templates and downloads above are a good starting point to then begin agreeing and documenting for your own particular situation, or there will be others available from the internet or reputable sources.
The key then is how things are applied, and that you’re genuinely thinking through each point for your own cleaning situation and documented accordingly. The most comprehensive paperwork in the world will mean nothing if it clearly has just been copied from somewhere and not applied to your own situation.
But don’t panic, it’s not as daunting as you may think. Start with these basics, chat through with others including any Health and Safety representative, and then roll out your final paperwork
2. The End
3. A Load of Rubbish
4. Cleaning Products and Equipment
5. The Extra Mile
6. The Heavy Mob
7. The Outside Areas
8. Who Has What
9. The Final Bling Factor
Easily Cleaning Up the Aftermath of Student Life
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