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What Are You Carting Around?

March 07, 2012
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A custodial cart is an important part of any facility maintenance team.

In this one piece of equipment, the custodian can keep and organize almost every tool that they will need throughout their routine.

Because these carts are used daily — and, if utilized correctly, almost every minute of every day — it''s very easy for them to fall into disrepair.

What sort of message does that send to building users and occupants?

Chances are the message is that you don''t care enough about your tools and, therefore, you don''t really care how well you clean or maintain the facility.

This is not what you want users and occupants to walk away from your facility thinking.

While many facilities may be plagued with budgetary problems, there are simple solutions that can be employed to ensure that custodians and maintenance personnel are able to have everything they need when and where they need it, all while boosting the image of the facility as a whole.

Easy Fixes

If you''re looking for an easy way to improve productivity and the way the maintenance staff is perceived, there are simple ways in which to do so.

"Upgrading the cart itself will instantly add value and capability to the maintenance department," says Tony Strother, the global product manager for Rubbermaid Commercial Products LLC.

According to Mark Klawitter, building care application specialist for Diversey Inc., adaptability is a growing issue, as customers need to maximize their housekeeping budgets.

"You can improve your ability to update or upgrade an existing cart if you choose one that has modular components to begin with," notes Klawitter. "Modularity allows you to design the cart to meet your current demands and then add or change components based on future needs/budget."

Often, the first things that break down on a cart and lend an air of disrepair are the wheels and casters.

Broken or wobbly wheels and casters can make the cart difficult to maneuver which, in turn, makes the cart become less ergonomically desirable.

According to Strother, it is important to look for carts that "offer more features for productivity, tool organization and ergonomic compatibility."

Carts with handles that are adjustable to the height of the user will ensure less stress on the parts of the body that will be engaged when pushing, pulling or otherwise maneuvering the cart.

Like other types of cleaning equipment, manufacturers are increasingly taking ergonomics into account when designing custodial carts.


While many custodians prefer to have a cart that they take ownership of and call their own, there may be times when someone must borrow another custodian''s cart.

It is because of instances like this that having a cart that is easily standardized will help promote and maintain a level of productivity that is going to benefit workers and building occupants alike.

A cart should be standardized to the type of cleaning that the facility employs most frequently.

The order in which cleaning tasks are to be performed should influence how the cart is organized; the tools and accessories that will be used most frequently finding a home high up on the cart, while delegating the lower regions of the car for things that will be needed less frequently.

By designating the upper regions of the cart for those things that you know you will be reaching for frequently, you reduce the need for constant bending, something that can help keep custodians in a better physical condition, reducing wear and tear on the back and other joints.

A Place For Everything

The product you choose for your facility should have ample space.

Because repeated use often breeds a sense of ownership, the custodian who uses the same cart day after day will want it to contain the things they will need and want in order to make their shift more productive and more comfortable.

A cart should have plenty of space for items of a more personal nature, such as snacks, drinks or other items that will help the user get through any length of shift without needing to make multiple trips away from the area in which they are working.

According to Klawitter, there are certain essentials that every custodial cart should have, including:

  • Adaptability: Carts are expected to meet many needs
  • Sufficient storage space: To reduce unnecessary trips to the supply closet
  • Convenient tool storage: To maximize work efficiency
  • Durability: To hold up to round-the-clock use
  • Easy maneuverability: This typically means having a push handle and 360-degree swivel casters
  • Easy to clean: A dirty cart reflects poorly on the facility and housekeeping staff
  • Locking capability: For safe and secure storage of items like cleaning chemicals and to help protect against the potential theft of valuable, reusable items.

Today''s custodial carts can be looked at as new cars with all the amenities.

Providing "upgrades" for the cart will ensure that it is helping and not hindering productivity.

"Look at what the cart actually offers," says Strother. "Not all carts are created equally. Ultimately, you''re looking for the best solution for the type of segment cleaning you are performing."

It is just as important to be sure that your cart is not becoming overloaded with things that aren''t necessary.

Have different capacity carts for the different types of cleaning you will be performing.

Trying to turn an existing cart in to something it isn''t will result in issues and problems down the road.

The custodial cart should always address three things: Safety, maneuverability and productivity.

If all three are addressed, your cart is doing its job.

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