For both K-12 schools and universities, it appears that summer breaks aren't what they used to be.
For many decades, students and school employees could plan on approximately three months a year with no classes.
But, with split scheduling, year-round scheduling and expanded holiday breaks, an extended period of time with no students is rare.
Now efficient completion of project cleaning is more important than ever before for cleaning professionals.
In no area is this type of deep cleaning and repair more important than in restrooms.
Used and abused daily by staff and students alike, these rooms frequently require the lion's share of employee work hours.
Below are three areas of concern and upkeep tips for these most troublesome of rooms.
Even during a short break from students, there may be enough time to consider the functionality of fixtures, dispensers and receptacles.
One definite safety consideration in the education market should be lessening cross-contamination risks whenever possible.
Dan Storto, president for World Dryer, says hands-free faucets, soap dispensers, hand dryers and toilets can reduce cross-contamination concerns.
That said, this may require the replacement of existing equipment.
Fixtures or devices equipped with motion sensors have an added benefit of offering energy-efficiency and the ability to reduce costs by only turning on when someone is using them, according to Storto.
Overflowing trash receptacles not only provide the potential for bacterial growth, they also give the appearance of an untidy, unclean restroom.
For many facilities, automatic hand dryers can help a restroom appear cleaner, and they can reduce the need for maintenance, Storto notes.
Finally, soap dispensers can contribute to a negative perception of restroom cleanliness and possibly discourage students and staff from washing their hands.
"Faced with a mess, many users will avoid the use of soap all together," Storto reveals.
Here, consider using foam dispensers which drop soap drip-free into the hand from an automatic dispenser rather than liquid dispensers, Storto says.
Over time, dirt builds up in restroom grout lines, liquids soak into these grout lines and both create unsightly and sometimes smelly situations, according to Bill McGarvey, director of training & sustainability for the Philip Rosenau Company and a Cleaning Management Institute certified trainer.
The first cleaning step is figuring out what causes the grout discoloration.
If soil is creeping up wall grout lines, managers should first check the nearest custodian’s mop bucket, McGarvey says.
Aside from a mop buckets, managers should try to figure out what soil has discolored the grout and where it comes from.
To remove the discoloration, McGarvey states an appropriate cleaning agent should be used to loosen the soil with agitation from a brush or a pressure washer using 1,000 PSI or less.
Once the soil has been loosened, recovery should be accomplished with a good-quality wet vacuum; using a mop on the dirty solution will start the soiling process again.
Once grout is clean, or when it is new, it should be sealed with an impregnating sealer, McGarvey recommends.
This seals the grout making it less porous, and this makes it harder for soil to develop a stronghold on the grout surface.
“The process is to thoroughly clean and rinse the grout, allow it to dry, then apply the sealer with a pump sprayer, paint roller or lamb’s wool applicator,” McGarvey says. “Allow the product to sit for a minimum of five to 10 minutes, then squeegee away any excess product.”
After roughly 30 minutes, a second application may be applied, and approximately one hour after completion, the floor can be opened to foot traffic.
Actual wet cleaning should not resume on the floor for 48 hours.
If offensive odors have become an issue during the school year, there are ways to address them by deep cleaning.
During frequent use, restrooms accumulate grime, debris and odor-causing bacteria because of their function.
Dane Dickson, the R&D director for The Clorox Company, suggests eliminating restroom odors by breaking them down at their source.
First, he recommends choosing cleaning products that include stable active ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide.
These options fights urine odors and stains effectively whether they are used before or after other cleaning products.
Dane says cleaners should always refer to the product label and follow manufacturer’s instructions for use and contact time, especially when using disinfectants.
There is a length of time a disinfectant needs to remain wet on the surface to properly kill pathogens, and different products have different contact times for killing certain pathogens.