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Hard Floor Care

The three Ps of perfect floor care

September 19, 2010
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In a floor care program, there are three “Ps” that must be in place for you to be successful.

When you think of a “floor care program,” what comes to mind?

A hard floor program, a carpet program, a restroom floor program, a patient care floor program, a gym floor program, I suppose we could name several others based on your facility.

In the housekeeping business, I believe there are three kinds of cleaning: Keep up, catch up, and disaster.

And, all of these must have the three “Ps” to complete the job perfectly.

No, perfectly is not one of the “Ps.”

In this article, we will cover “catch up” and “keep up.”

Before we go any further, price is not one of the “Ps” either.

So let’s continue.

The first “P” is procedure.

Select the procedure that will complete your floor care task in the most efficient and effective manner.

In a hard floor program, that could include procedures from stripping the floor to dust mopping and any number of procedures in between.

Stripping is a “catch up” procedure as is deep scrubbing.

A “keep up” procedure could include dust mopping, damp/wet mopping, spray buffing, burnishing, and light scrubbing and recoating.

Remember, the better you keep up, the less you will have to catch up and catching up is costly in terms of time and money.

The question is what procedures do you use to catch up and keep up?

Now, the second “P” comes in to play and that is product.

You should match the product to the procedure to be effective and efficient.

Let’s review some thoughts on these products.

If you are going to strip a floor, you should use a heavy-duty stripping solution — measured properly — and an aggressive floor pad.

If you are going to deep scrub, it may require a different product and a different dilution ratio and a less aggressive pad.

If you are going to light scrub before recoating, it will require a milder cleaner, possibly a neutral cleaner and a much less aggressive pad.

So, pick your procedure and then match your products to that procedure for the best results.

When you do “keep up” cleaning on hard floors, the same is true.

Pick the procedure that will give you the desired results.

If you are going to use a burnishing procedure in your hard floor program, you need to be sure that the product you have applied to the floor will respond to the burnishing procedures.

Again, procedure before product.

Your choice of product should be based on the most efficient and effective “keep up” procedure because you will do a lot more keeping up than catching up.

The same is true for other “keep up” procedures such as dust mopping.

What size dust mop should be used, based on size and congestion of the area?

What type of mop, a flat mop with a microfiber head or a traditional dust mop? Treated or untreated?

Wet mopping requires the same decisions to be made.

Will you use the traditional string mop and bucket and wringer or a flat mop system?

Here again, based on what type and size the space is to be cleaned, mopping requires you to think about procedure before product.

Are you mopping large open areas or a small congested area, hallways versus restrooms or classrooms or patient rooms?

The size and type of mopping system are important factors in the case of large open areas.

I recommend a procedure I call “machine wet mopping.”

Use a large, battery-powered walk-behind or ride-on scrubber.

Put on non-abrasive (in most cases, white) pads on the machine and use a properly diluted neutral cleaner.

First dust mop the floor, then scrub and pick up in one pass.

In this case, the procedure is “machine wet mopping,” the products are white pads and neutral cleaner.

In smaller areas, you can use the same procedure using a small electric autoscrubber.

If you clean restrooms, patient rooms, locker rooms, etc., then you may use a disinfectant cleaner instead of a neutral cleaner.

In the case of carpeted floors, the same is true — procedure before product.

Let’s start with dry cleaning.

We will call it “keep up” cleaning.

In low traffic areas, the procedure should be quick and easy.

Three or four times out of the five-day week.

Procedure is quick and easy, requiring a lobby pan and porter broom or a no-motor carpet sweeper.

When vacuuming is needed in congested areas: Procedure, then vacuum.

In more open and heavily soiled areas: Procedure, then product, one or two motor upright vacuums or backpack, as examples.

The last, but certainly not the least, “P” is people.

People on your staff.

People properly trained in the procedures that you use and your use of products that go with those procedures.

Do not assume that your staff knows how to implement any new procedure.

Please do hands-on training and have everyone involved participate and actually do the work.

Your people should also be in on evaluating the procedures and products that work best in your situation.

Remember, circumstances alter cases.

What works in one facility or one area of your building may not work in another area.

It is important to isolate in order to evaluate.

Before you choose a procedure or a product, isolate an area and have some of your people evaluate the various procedures and products.

Ask for their opinion, do some time studies and review the results before you make a decision.

Parting comments
The three “Ps”: Procedure, product and people.

We are pleased to share them with you.

Price should only be a factor only after all the other “Ps” have been chosen.

Therefore, procedure before product and performance before price.

Pick the procedure that will accomplish your job in the most efficient and effective manner in the “catch up” mode as well as the “keep up” mode.

Then pick the product(s) that will allow you to use your chosen procedures.

Do not let price influence your decision at this point.

If you buy on price alone, it could cost you a lot of additional money in wasted time and additional product usage.

Remember, it is not the price of the product that costs you money, it is the time that is required to use that product that can become expensive.

Maurice Dixon is president of Dixon and Associates, which conducts facility cleaning audits to help improve costs and quality and customized custodial training seminars for your custodial staff. Visit or call toll-free 1-877- 379-3566.

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