Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online
Cart Before The Horse 1

Cleaning For Health – The Hiring And Training Solution

May 1, 2013

We should be hiring and training workers to Clean for Health. That is where the (squeegee) rubber hits the (cleaning surface) road, since cleaning is labor – a physical, applied human resource.

Human Resource Development

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 Larry 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.

How is this done? There are three steps:

  1. Hire well;
  2. Train well; and
  3. Clean well.

Hire well

Hire “environmental specialists” not janitors. This takes longer, but it’s worth it. Notice how the sample help-wanted ads below are designed to attract two different sorts of applicants:

Help Wanted -  Environmental Specialist to Clean for Health

Clean for health and appearance will followProgressive facilities department seeks motivated person to learn to Clean for Health not appearance. Salary commensurate with willingness to learn and ability to perform the work using modern labor-saving tools and technologies to improve public health. Opportunities for advancement for the right person. Benefits provided. References required.

Help Wanted –Night Shift Janitor

Cleaning department seeks part-time employee for night janitor position. Custodial experience preferred but not necessary. References needed. Background check performed.

Which ad would you rather respond to? The first one implies the job comes with “education” and meaningful training, plus a dose of dignity, since the facilities department is hiring an “environmental specialist” not a “janitor.”

The second ad seeks a warm body that is not currently wanted by law enforcement agencies.

In many cases, the second ad is putting the cart before the horse – doing things backwards.

That is, hiring the wrong people, then expecting them to do the right job. Consider the meaning of the idiom:

“’Putting the cart before the horse’ metaphorically means going about a project in a haphazard fashion, setting up steps out of order and working in a confused manner. Figuratively, ‘putting the cart before the horse’ is a bit like trying to learn the letters ‘X, Y and Z’ before one has mastered ‘A, B and C’ -

Why hire to Clean for Health (CFH)? Evidence is mounting that this has a big pay-off.

  • According the report, Estimates Of Improved Productivity And Health From Better Indoor Environments published in Indoor Air, Volume 7, pages 158-172:  “existing technologies and procedures can improve indoor environments in a manner that significantly increases health and productivity…For the U.S., we estimate potential annual savings and productivity gains of $6 to $19 billion from reduced respiratory disease; $1 to $4 billion from reduced allergies and asthma, $10 to $20 billion from reduced sick building syndrome symptoms, and $12 to $125 billion from direct improvements in worker performance.”
  • According to ASHRAE: “Maintenance cutbacks can lead to IAQ problems (ALA 1997; Siebel et al. 1996). The costs of the associated health effects, discomfort and loss of productivity may be far greater than the presumed savings from the avoided maintenance (Fisk and Rosenfeld 1997).”
  • According to report authors Fisk and Rosenfeld:  “…calculations indicate that the potential financial benefits of improving indoor environments exceed costs by a factor of 8 to 17.”

Train Well

Assuming you have now attracted and hired the right people, it is vital to train them well. You need not go it alone, as some very special equipment providers, including the sponsor of this article ( will not sell you their equipment unless you allow them to train your workers.  Jump on this opportunity, as it is like getting “free money” and a gratis CFH training program.

Clean Well

The final step is to clean well and prove it.  Integrated Cleaning and Measurement™ (ICM) programs such as those espoused by IEHA, offer help in measuring the before-and-after-cleaning levels of micro-contaminants or pollutants in buildings. When it comes to Cleaning for Health, the little things are the big things. Showing reductions of ATP, pathogens, dust and particles can help take your Cleaning for Health program to new levels of accountability — and benefits.

For more information, also visit


This special online series and its articles are sponsored by Advanced Vapor Technologies, LLC.  


Allen Rathey of InstructionLink/JanTrain Inc.

Allen Rathey is president of InstructionLink/JanTrain Inc. of Boise, Idaho. Rathey promotes healthy indoor environments and frequently writes and speaks on healthy cleaning and facility topics.