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The Right Kind of Clean

Choosing the best cleaning tool for the job saves time and money

Did you know there are three kinds of dirt in your store? Bob Robinson Jr., VP of Sales for the Hamilton, Ohio-based cleaning equipment manufacturer Kaivac Cleaning Systems, knows a lot about each of them, which is why he said facilities managers should choose the right kind of cleaning tool for the task at hand.

Loose dirt is the stuff that accumulates from everyday things like dust, foot traffic, opening doors and handling boxes. Stuck dirt is just that – a mess such as spilled soda that sticks to the floor. Embedded soil is the gross stuff that accumulates over time due to inadequate cleaning practices and can lead to the extensive cleaning projects that drain FM budgets.

Robinson said a daily cleaning program is essential for retail stores, but using cleaning equipment such as a floor scrubber based on a set schedule and not on need can lead to unnecessary floor damage.

“The auto-scrubber really isn’t made to remove loose dirt, so it will streak it or move it around, and it grinds away and scratches the floor finish. Then, it requires we burnish the floor, and all we were trying to do in the beginning was remove loose dirt,” Robinson said. “By using the proper tool for the soil that we’re trying to remove, we save a lot of money by not having to recoat floors.”

Here are two more tips for keeping stores clean:

Stop the mop. Robinson said Kaivac’s “Stop the Mop” marketing campaign aims to make FMs aware that mops were invented for two things – and cleaning your store isn’t one of them.

Mops originally were used to swab the decks of wooden ships and to spread tar on rooftops, Robinson said. By spreading saltwater across the deck, a ship’s crew could keep the wooden boards swollen and tightly pressed together instead of allowing gaps to form as wood dries out. That’s a really good idea when you’re trying to cross an ocean, but since your store hopefully isn’t taking on water, Robinson said you should relegate the mop to the ash heap of history – just don’t expect it to clean it up.

“Somehow, we decided that this great spreading tool was going to be a great soil-removal tool, and it’s not,” Robinson said. “Mops give germs a free ride around the building, they stay wet, they harbor bacteria, and they move soil around but don’t remove it. They don’t work, they’re gross, and no one likes to use them, so let’s stop it and use tools that focus on recovery and removal of soil.”

Robinson said spray-and-vacuum systems, which use a cleaning solution that briefly settles on the floor before being vacuumed up, are preferable because they actually collect the dirt.

Equip your employees and spread the responsibility. Store employees typically know they should clean up a spill in a busy aisle, but too often, store managers leave the cleaning to vendors instead of being more proactive, Robinson said. By providing employees with the proper cleaning tools, FMs can keep their stores sparkling from open to close.

“We rely on our contract cleaners, but most of the time, they clean at night, when no customers are in the store,” he said. “But what about when customers are there? The best practice is to use your staff to do light-duty cleaning functions because that’s when it matters most – when the customers are in the store – so give them simple and effective tools that they can use.”

By: Nick Fortuna

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