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Training / Equipment/Tools / Maintenance
January 2014 Feature 2

Finding Freedom In Cleaning

How to achieve flexibility through both process and product.

January 06, 2014
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America is a land of freedom, but the wise among us understand that true freedom does not come from “letting go” as much as it comes from “taking hold” and applying proper discipline, productive regimens and effective systems to our lives.

In this way, for example, we can be free of enslavement to bad habits — cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, etc. — and free to pursue life, liberty and, yes, happiness.

Freedom And Discipline

Enlightened cleaning operations have embraced effective application through well-structured work, the right tools, careful metrics and trained, skilled, disciplined and focused workers.

Enslavement to misguided ideas such as “cleaning is for untaught workers” and “here are your keys — training” is ending because cleaning is now known to be a measurable science, one with a rigor and accountability best expressed through ISSA’s Clean Standard and IEHA’s Integrated Cleaning and Measurement (ICM) programs.

In these disciplined regimens, training is foundational, persistent and ongoing to help workers succeed and free them from bad habits.

Importantly, we should be hiring and training workers to clean for health.

According to facilities pioneer Larry Shideler, who taught the cleaning industry the practical meaning of Cleaning for Health in the context of team or specialist processes more than a decade ago: “Training employees in Cleaning for Health empowers them to help produce cleaner, healthier facilities at less cost, professionalizes the industry and creates a powerful channel for solution rather than price-commodity driven sales.”

While Shideler has retired from the cleaning industry, his words still apply.

The logic is simple: Since cleaning is labor, empower your labor with the right goals, tools and processes — make them environmental problem solvers — and you will thus energize your cleaning and save money in the process.

Liberating Regimen, Environmental Discipline

Using the right process — and products or technologies that define or enable the process — is liberating.

Whether utilizing day cleaning, specialist cleaning, Process Cleaning for Healthy Schools/Facilities or another system, form follows function to produce cleaner, healthier indoor environments through a systematic soil capture or removal process.

Moreover, cleaning is an applied environmental discipline — and for those who love it, an art form — that enables proactively caring for people in facilities and homes using well-defined methods with outcomes that impact, protect and enhance human health.

Defining Technologies

While the right process is number one, tools that enable processes are a close second.

Here are a few examples.

Classroom desktop cleaning using pole-mounted, moistened microfiber pads and/or applied microfiber pad and squeegee cleaning, enables cleaning desktops daily — and quickly.

Providing better soil removal and sanitation than a spray-and-wipe method without the overuse of disinfectant reduces exposure to toxics, organic soils and elevated pathogen counts.

Powered spray and vacuum systems remove more soil from restrooms in less time than manual approaches.

One trainer teaches that restroom “spray-and-vac” enables cleaning 50 percent faster and 80 percent more effectively.

Backpack vacuums allow cleaning areas in much less time than before.

Productivity enhancements using corded backpacks and lightweight aluminum wands versus heavy, legacy uprights are approximately 200 percent, according to ISSA’s 540 Cleaning Times.

Workers wearing backpacks also tend to focus more on their task, with higher CFM and “lift” units enabling greater soil removal than older systems.

Further, cordless backpack systems benefit from lighter and more robust battery technologies, improving productivity further, eliminating cord management and reducing trip hazards and sound levels.

There is a slight performance trade-off with batteries as opposed to corded-AC models.

Battery-powered vacuums can streamline the cleaning of obstructed areas such as classrooms or occupied areas in day cleaning.

High-traffic lobbies and stairwells in high-rise buildings can be cleaned effectively, unobtrusively and safely using cordless backpacks.

Areas like elevators that lack electrical outlets are no problem with these systems.

Finally, cord repairs and related electrical hazards from worn or exposed wiring are eliminated.

Systems Govern

It is a well-known business axiom first expressed by Dr. W. Edwards Deming, that “people do not fail, systems do.”

Freedom in cleaning comes from adopting the right system: One that standardizes the work, streamlines the processes, uses ergonomic tools, protects workers from injury and strain and trains workers for health and success.


Rex Morrison is president of the non-profit Process Cleaning for Healthy Schools (PC4HS) Consortium Inc., and he pioneered PC4HS in 100 schools in Nevada. Morrison helps school districts implement the PC4HS program to save money and jobs while enhancing the health of the indoor environment. Morrison is also a CIMS ISSA Certification Expert (ICE) ready to provide training and consulting services to cleaning organizations preparing to be certified to the Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS).

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