3 Tips for Cleaning Open-Architecture Ceilings

Methods to improve efficiency and safety of this cleaning task

open-architecture ceiling cleaning

One of the most overlooked areas of retail spaces, warehouses, hotels, casinos, or hospitals—just to name a few facilities—is the open-architecture ceiling.

Dirt, dust, and grime easily accumulate in this hard-to-reach area, and removing it can be a challenge for custodial staff. In our experience with open-ceiling cleaning and dusting, we have seen several custodians using cleaning methods that are both inefficient and potentially unsafe.

We recommend three methods to improve the efficiency and safety of this cleaning task.

1. Switch to vacuums

The biggest mistake we see professionals make during a high-ceiling cleaning job is using a brush instead of a vacuum, which allows dust to fall to the floor. Falling dust is both a safety and efficiency problem.

By necessity, cleaners perform some  high cleaning jobs during business hours, and using a brush can cause disturbed dust to fall on customers or employees and their work areas. Dusting with a brush also adds the extra step of cleaning the floor and any furniture that has become soiled.

By using a vacuum, with an extension if needed, cleaning staff quickly isolate the dust and grime before it falls on people or surfaces below.

2. Invest in lift equipment

Telling a potential client that you can’t reach an area that needs cleaning will keep you from getting the contract. Unfortunately, many professionals label themselves as high-ceiling cleaners and then limit themselves on how high they can reach instead of finding solutions to tackle the job. 

If you’re looking to clean buildings with ceilings 20 feet or higher, we recommend you invest in or rent lift equipment. You will make up for the additional costs by qualifying for more difficult yet higher paying contracts and your clients will appreciate the results.

We experienced this gratitude first-hand when we cleaned the ceiling and window wall in a 45-foot hotel atrium. The hotel had lost its high marks from a travel rating agency due to cobwebs on the windows and ceiling. Renting a lift allowed us to be more creative about the way we cleaned the atrium and assist the client in regaining a positive rating.

Remember that using lift equipment comes with extra responsibly for worker safety. Make sure your employees are properly secured with a safety harness attached to the lift. Even if the type of lift you use does not require a safety harness per OSHA regulations, your customer’s own safety procedures may very well have such a requirement.

3. Clean during daylight

Preferably, complete high-ceiling cleaning during the day. Compared to artificial light, natural light exposes more the dirt and grime.

However, sometimes daylight cleaning is not feasible due to customer constraints. For such businesses, such as commercial offices, weekend cleanings are a viable solution. Other businesses, such as restaurants, may not open until 11:00 a.m., making early morning cleaning a possibility.

If daytime is still not an option, use good-quality artificial lighting, such as LED lights on stands. We have found LED lights illuminate the work area better than halogen bulbs.

By following these three tips to reach greater heights with your cleaning, you will not only realize cleaning efficiency, you will gain more and happier clients.


Brad Pierce

Owner, OSA Specialized Cleaning

Brad Pierce is the owner of OSA Specialized Cleaning in Phoenix, Arizona, a company that specializes in open-architecture high dusting and food-service kitchen ceiling and wall cleaning.


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3 Tips for Cleaning Open-Architecture Ceilings
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