Easy Cleaning Guide | Easy Cleaners

easy cleaning guide logo design1.0 Introduction to the Easy Cleaning Guide

1.1 The Guide’s Purpose 

Welcome to our Easy Cleaning Guide, designed to provide a helpful overview to the whole cleaning process. Whether that’s a small household task, or complicated commercial contract, this is a one-stop resource to help steer you in the right direction.
 
We have deliberately not gone into endless detail on any one particular area, as the secret is making things nice and simple and firstly seeing all the issues you actually need to consider. We then have helpful links to blog posts on our own site or others with more information and guidance on individual areas that do crop up.
 
We are keeping this it as a piece here on our Easy Cleaners’ website as this is an evolving resource that we will always be adding additional and current updates to. You can therefore always find it at http://www.easycleanersbirmingham.co.uk/guide for the latest edition.
 
Contact us if you would like more help or any particular points to add, and please add comments and input at the end.

1.2 Why Do We Need Cleaning?

Why cleaning is important – often easily missed or assumed by people, meaning they soon lose focus and desire for good and longer-term cleaning. So here are 4 core reasons why it’s important, not an exhaustive list, but communicating the important aspects:

1. It Makes Things Hygienic

On many levels, we need cleaning to make things and areas habitable. In obvious areas like food preparation you need to ensure that all bacteria and germs are removed, and involving others aspects to cleaning such as disinfecting, cleansing, and sterilization. 
 
All areas need it as well, for example the family home, particularly with, say, young children around and tending to touch things and place objects in their mouth afterwards. 

2. It Makes Things Look Nice

It’s obvious, but it counts. Things will look a whole lot better, whether for your own benefit or when you’re trying to sell or let a property. It also goes beyond just look, but involves smelling a whole lot better and sometimes even feeling better. 

3. It Makes You Feel Better

Cleaning to relieve stress is actually more effective than you may think. Not only can you see definite achievable results from your actions, but the whole routine of manual work and even the smells of the substances can help you feel a whole lot better.  

4. It Involves Others 

On many levels it can help with others whether that’s friends and family benefiting from you cleaning for them, or even them becoming involved and a team-effort to clean the house. Even in the workplace, organized cleaning times and general tidy-ups can be an important team-building time, even through to community days and, say, cleaning up local parks and areas. 
 
On the other side, by involving external cleaning companies to do all this, you will save often valuable time and effort that you can invest in other important things. 

1.3 The Basic Process 

How cleaning is done and with different types of cleaning where to start, often comes across as confusing if you’re not used to it. It can almost seem an impossible task that appears to be too much hard work, and also confusing if you simply don’t know the best products and ways to do it. 
 
However its basics are actually really simple. It’s only when you get more complicated scenarios, or you want to improve how you do it, that things need to get more complicated. At the end of the day, its basically removing mess in whatever form from the area, which generations ago was easily done through simple things like water, cloths, and brushes. 
 
Our DRIFT acronym is an easy way to summarise 5 main aspects to this, with a helpful blog post and video here. This breaks down to:

D for Dusting

Wiping away dust that settles, not only in obvious places like on tables and surfaces which can be through a spray and cloth, but hidden areas like skirting boards and ceiling corners with a longer duster.  

R for Rubbish

Removing all kinds of rubbish, whether loose items around, and actual bins being emptied. 

I for Items

So more de-cluttering and simply placing things away and in their correct place, not only improving the appearance but making this then easier to find and store afterwards. 

F for Floors

Whether that’s a vacuum cleaner across a carpet, mopping hard surfaces, or sweeping outside areas, floors catch most of the mess that you naturally see as you walk around. 

T for Touch-ups

The little extras that make a difference, whether that’s further wiping of surfaces and areas, or a simple scented spray at the end.
 
 
 

1.4 When Not To Clean 

Believe it or not, there are times when cleaning is not a good thing for whatever reason. Often these are when people do ‘get it’ with cleaning and happily do it normally, but there are times when you just go too far. Some popular scenarios are:

1. Cleaning While Pregnant 

You have to be so careful of what would be normal cleaning duties, but when you are pregnant, take special care to not overdo it and overstretch yourself. Also, watch out for thinking it will actually benefit you more, for example cleaning to induce labor, and being frustrated by the accumulation of mess that you have a one-off stint at trying to clear. 

2. Cleaning When You’re Ill

Whether it’s a common cold or more serious illness or injury, be careful not to launch into cleaning when you begin feeling better to only find that your body says otherwise and you in actual fact do more harm than good. 

3. Cleaning Over and Beyond What’s Needed 

For whatever reason, you simply don’t need to do it and it’s not worth going that extra mile. If you’re naturally into cleaning you can go too far and almost become obsessive with it, or if you’re trying to over impress others when it’s just not actually required. 

4. Cleaning Instead of Others 

There may be times when others should do it, whether that’s an external cleaning company that haven’t done what you paid for them to do, or a family member or friend who is not pulling their socks up and helping. It can be tempting to quickly do it yourself, but it doesn’t address the underlying issue of other not doing it. 

1.5 Schedules & Checklists

It’s important to have a plan of action with cleaning, and in particular knowing when each item needs doing, and when they will be completed in the right order. This saves you forgetting and going off course, and can help you involve others in the process with clear achievable goals. 
 
There are lots of these you can find online for whatever purpose you need, an example here from Good Housekeeping with what’s typically needed in your home every year as broken down on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis. Some are also cleaning to do lists printable versions that you can adapt, with various templates and checklists you can then simply add to. 
 
Two words of caution though with such schedules. Firstly, make sure they make sense to you, for example only 3 items that you can actually understand and plan will work better for you than 23 of them that you plan just for the sake of it but never really appreciate and therefore follow through on. 
 
Secondly, give a little room for being spontaneous, particularly for those who naturally prefer this than strict time frames and lists, as it can help bring enjoyment and freshness to it rather than thinking yet another routine clean in the same way as always. 
 

2.0 Types of Cleaning       

2.1 An Overview 

The majority of mainstream types of cleaning tend to be categorized by the cleaning activity itself. So for example, a Floor Clean is focusing on the cleaning of floor areas, whereas a Builders Clean is for the general mess generated from building works. 
 
However these activities can also differentiate between different type of users, the two popular ones being for domestic residential, and the other more commercial, corporate. There of course other variations of these such as medical and hospital, pubs and the food industry, and care and nursing homes. 
 
The types below are the main activities you see, with the first two being these more general use ones which have a general selection of individual activities within them. 
 
So for Floor Cleans, this is not only a separate clean in itself, but it will of course be included as part of general Domestic Clean in a different sense (maybe vacuum clean carpets and mopping floors), compared to Commercial in another (maybe deeper mopping through machines) 

2.2 Domestic Clean  

Domestic cleaning is a popular clean of people’s homes, often every week or fortnight. It includes basic dusting of all surfaces and items, including hidden parts like ceilings and skirting boards, and then floor cleaning through the vacuum cleaner or mopping. 
 
Other aspects of it can include basic cleaning on the inside window surfaces, doors, cleaning curtains, and ornaments, and tidying away items and de-cluttering people’s homes. Also more housekeeping chores like changing bed sheets, ironing, laundry, and washing dishes.  

2.3 Commercial Clean 

Commercial cleaning is for business properties and commercial corporate activities, a popular one being offices where often daily visits are needed out of hours and very early in the morning or evening to keep on top of things (here are 9 tips for office cleaning on our blog).
 
This can include the main desk areas and careful dusting, wiping, and floor cleaning, in addition to ancillary areas such as the kitchen area and dishwashing, and any toilet areas. Care is needed with any workers still making phone calls and Data Protection issues regarding documents and data.
 
Within a hotel or restaurant business this will tend to include changing sheets, steam and stone cleaning kitchen equipment, mopping floors, and cleaning public areas.
 
Other types include retail properties and shops, more industrial and manufacturing areas, whether that’s the basic office areas or more specialized and in-depth production areas, and more unusual scenarios like schools, medical venues practices, hospitals, saloons, and spas. 
 

2.4 General Clean

General Clean is a popular phrase that people refer to, when in actual fact it really needs further details. However, the gist of it is basic cleaning duties such as tidy-up, vacuum cleaning or wiping floors, wiping and dusting services, and possibly ancillary things like dishwashing and de-cluttering. 
 
The application of this can vary between different uses and areas, so a ‘general clean’ for a small domestic flat will be different to a ‘general clean’ for a large block with communal areas. 

2.5 Mini Clean 

A 'Mini Clean' is a phrase we have come up with ourselves, mainly to encourage others to be involved with cleaning. 
 
It stemmed from working with a charity that had numerous volunteers, the idea being that after each activity each volunteer leader would carry out a very basic ‘mini clean’ themselves such as clearing away any mess, emptying bins, and a quick wipe of surfaces. 
 
A fuller clean would then be completed by others or themselves at other times, whereas this Mini Clean is to keep on top of things after an event or occasion. It’s based on individual circumstances a lot, therefore it might not be worth even vacuum cleaning the carpet unless there is a lot of mess, and simply picking-up any obvious items. 
 

2.6 Spring & Deep Clean

Often referred to as a Spring or Deep clean, and in actual fact very similar. The spring term comes from typically being at the start of a New Year and that sense of getting things ship-shape ready for the summer months. 
 
Basically, all existing cleaning tasks are completed more thoroughly, in addition to additional hidden ones. So kitchen and bathrooms surfaces for example will have a more thorough wipe to ensure all marks are removed, plus inside any cupboards and under furniture being thoroughly looked at. Also, areas such as behind radiators and bed mattress cleans which you might not necessarily immediately think of. 
 

2.7 Builders Clean

Builders Cleans are ideal for clearing up the mess after any building and DIY works, ideally at the vey end of the task - although will probably have to also be during - for larger projects, particularly after the end of a working day to ensure that everything is cleaned and the space still suable. 
 
One of the biggest problems is dust, and making sure this does not spread to other areas of the house; you need to give time for it to settle and fully clear, and keep floor surfaces protected as well by sheets and covers. 
 

2.8 Décor Clean 

Decor Clean focuses more on your decorations and fittings, either separately or part of any other cleaning activity. 
 
Example includes blinds and curtains around windows, and any ornaments and pictures. These are places that do in actual fact attract hidden dust and touch-marks more than what you realize. 
 
Sometimes you also need to carry out some basic repairs or redecorations of parts as well, or even further polishing and deep cleaning.

2.9 End of Tenancy Clean

An End of Tenancy Clean is when a tenant leaves a property they should theoretically leave it in tip-top condition ready for the next new occupier, although in reality it often isn’t. Even if it is to some degree, any new occupier will be expecting it to both look and smell freshly cleaned. 
 
Therefore tenants or landlords or managing agents can instruct these one-off intense cleans of the whole property, often on a tight time scale between lettings, and often needing reports on what was involved and any issues such a broken items spotted in order for the parties to agree who is responsible or these through the letting agreement.
 
 

2.10 Event & Party Clean

Another one-off clean after any party or event where there is a clear up needed, sometimes at unusual hours and very late or early morning to make sure the areas are ready as soon as possible. 
 
A lot of rubbish is typical therefore clarity is needed on what can be thrown away as opposed to kept, and what can be recycled or dealt with separately. 
 

2.11 Kitchen Clean

A focused clean just on kitchen areas, not only more thorough in all areas, but focusing on the higher-level hygiene requirements needed, for example food preparation places like worktops, and food-storage areas like larders and cupboards. 
 
There are also important pieces of equipment like fridges, freezers, microwaves, and coffee machines that need careful cleaning and sterilization. When cleaning inside of a refrigeration unit or other item you’ll have to be more thorough and ensure satisfactory hygiene standard. 
 
Also oven cleaning, which is mentioned below as a popular one-off form of specialist cleaning service.
 
Cleaning is important in a kitchen and this can vary between a straightforward domestic home to a commercial one, particularly in specialized areas like restaurants and places like car homes.
 
 

2.12 Bathroom Clean

Typically named bathroom clean, but actually more toilet areas, particularly in commercial property. 
 
Not only do they generally require more thorough cleans of items such as sinks and toilet areas, but greater care is needed to ensure that the bacteria and germs from these areas are controlled and do not get passed through to other areas of the property, particularly when cleaning toilet areas and mopping floors. 

2.13 Floor & Carpet Clean

Typical forms of floor cleaning as part of other cleaning activities is vacuum cleaning and mopping. Specific floor cleaning goes more in-depth, and can address specialized floor coverings like hardwood and stone. This will involve special substances, machines, and processes. 
 
As well as addressing general dirt and grime embedded in the floor covering, you can become involved in any special treatment to help preserve going forward.
 
Carpet cleaning is one specialist form due to the high number of carpets you find in domestic and commercial properties, and their ability to unfortunately hold dirt and stains. It’s best to have these routinely cleaned every 3 to 6 months to keep hygienic and looking fresh, and make sure colour is evenly restored and the right equipment is used.

2.14 Window Cleaning

Other than a quick wipe of the internal glass and window calls as part of other cleaning, window cleaners specialize in more specific window cleaning. The focus is the outside faces which are difficult to access, and any communal areas within larger properties, although they can of course still include all inside faces as well. 
 
Care needs to be taken with safe access, and making sure the right areas are explained, for example including frames as well as windows, and what to do when windows are left open or balconies get in the way. 
 
This window cleaner will also need correct insurance cover, and license in some scenarios, as well as correct Risk Assessments and safe procedures. 
 
Improved technology means that with most buildings you can be cleaning windows like a professional from a long pole rather than ladder access, and even just clean water and using pumps through long brushes. 
 
In terms of some tips on window cleaning:
 
•Make sure no streaks are left 
•Move from top to bottom
•Use a good squeegee or sponge with no perforations from wear and tear 
•A glass cleaner and clean dry cloth after can finish off 

2.15 Dry & Upholstery Clean

Something different from main cleaning, but worth a mention to clarify the distinction. Typically dry cleaning is for people’s clothes and involves them going to the dry cleaners, although this can be part of the regular cleaner’s duties to arrange and collect. 
 
Upholstery cleaning is more people’s furniture and fabrics, something that a regular cleaner may be able to arrange or carry out themselves. The right equipment will be needed, with careful selection of non or water-based substances, and ensuring no damage to the upholstery and removal of all stains. 

2.16  De-cluttering & Storage

An important aspect to not only make things look good, but keep things organized in order to easily use and find again in the future. To some degree this will need to happen anyway, and worth clarifying what can and can’t be done by the cleaner, for example to leave any paperwork or personal items on a desk at work or home. 
 
It can also be a one-off task, and a conscious effort to tidy up storage areas, particularly hidden ones like cupboards under stairs, garages and sheds, and even the loft. It can also inspire new ideas and ways to better organize when this is completed, as well as generating lots of additional rubbish to then remove. 

2.17 Medical Clean 

Specialist area for medical facilities that require the right experience. Quite rightly, there are more procedures and health & safety concerns to address and adhere to. 

2.18 Cars & Vehicles 

Typically done by people themselves or by car wash companies and people, this helps keep on top of dirt and mess that surprisingly mounts up, particularly with activities such as driving children, and a tradesman van. Areas such as windows and lights need particular attention to make sure they are clear for safe travel, and to address the effects of road grit in winter months. 
 
This can always be included as an additional service by your regular home or business cleaner, or easily rope in others like teenagers and those needing something to do. 
 
Here are blog posts on 10 tips for cleaning cars, as part 1 and then part 2.
 

3.0 Separate Cleaning Tasks

3.1 What This Includes

You tend to find more specific and sometimes unrelated cleaning tasks that don’t easily form regular cleaning types, but are still an important aspect. We have therefore noted the main ones here, and how they relate to other cleaning types.           

3.2 Shower Descale

The shower head which is the part that sprays water out, can get clogged up with lime scale, and is worth regularly cleaning at least every 3 months to not only be hygienic but enabling full spray. 
 
You basically need a bucket with warm water in and some de-scaler fluid or powder mixed in with it. You then unscrew the shower head and place in for a while to enable it to effect the lime scale. Afterwards, take out and rinse with clean water, and wipe off any residue left, to then end with drying and placing the shower head back on. 
 
There are other alternatives to de-scaler, such as vinegar with water, although check that materials such as brass showerheads do not stay in too long. 

3.3 Washroom Services

Specialist services often go through another supplier, more in larger and commercial buildings where there is a large volume of people using communal toilet facilities. Because of the issues of increased bacteria in these areas then there is a need to ensure higher hygiene standards. 
 
These typically provide soaps and hand care supplies, toilet paper, fragrances, hand driers and paper-towel dispensers, and sanitary aids. 
 
This can even include a nappy dispenser where you have parents needing to make nappy-changes with their babies, which are special dispensers that the soiled nappies can go in, rather than the usual bins which can be a health hazard and cause a stale odour.

3.4 Pest Control

It’s important that normal cleaning duties are good enough to prevent unwanted pests like mice and rats, or flies and ants, into any habitable areas. Sometimes though you need to go the extra mile when it comes to cleaning where rats and mice have been and involve a specialist pest control company to either deal reactively with any pests or remains, or proactively deter them as much as possible. 
 
This can also be for outside areas, such as bait-boxes designed to attract rodents with regular pest-control attendance afterwards to remove them. 

3.5 Glassware 

Particularly important where glass items will be more on show, whether that’s detailed ornaments, or drinking glasses on a dining table. When cleaning glassware you should not only take extra care to ensure no damage, but a greater quality of cleaning so that smears are wiped away as well as hygiene cleaning processes. 
 
Therefore you need to check whether a regular cleaner is able to accomplish this, or you need a specialist. 

3.6 Chimney Cleaning

This will involve a specialist chimney cleaner to help clear the hidden chimney where smoke goes up from an open fire in any room. It’s important to make sure that smoke can easily travel upwards and out of the building and not choke back into the room, and to prevent any additional fires. 
 
As well as agreeing the right basis and cost, clarify how much disturbance will be needed in the room, that any mess in the room will be cleaned as well, and clear results of what state the chimney was in to determine how often this needs doing in future. 

3.7 Ironing

A separate task which a lot of cleaners will also carry out as well for an additional charge, often based upon the number or weight of items ironed, or an hourly rate. As well as usual clothing like trousers, shirts, dresses and skirts, tops and t-shirts; it can be more laundry items like duvets, pillow cases, curtains, towels, and bed sheets.
 
Timing and location are important, so being clear on how quickly they will be completed, and whether yourself or the person doing the ironing does the dropping off and collection, or whether they offer a mobile service to your home. 
 
Also practically, a suitable carrier bag or covers for items like shirts, and availability of hangers. 

3.8 Housekeeping

As well as general cleaning duties for any home, this goes a step further and helps organise and manage general household affairs. So this might involve organizing shopping and other tradesmen, making sure clothes and items are prepared for people, and even small DIY jobs like light bulb changes. 
 
Regular cleaners do tend to cover this to some degree, but make sure they are more practically-minded, with good organising skills, and someone you can trust with your home or even business. 

3.9 Oven Cleaning  

Such a small item can take a large amount of attention to get really clean, using the right substances and processes to remove any embedded dirt and remnants both inside the oven, but also any top rings and ancillary items like microwaves. 
 
Yourself or a regular cleaner may be able to accomplish with suitable oven cleaner substance or equipment, or by instructing a specialist oven cleaner to come to your home and business and do more effectively and efficiently. 

3.10 Stain Removal

This forms part of any other cleaning activity really, although can also be a one-off service that you need to arrange. Regular cleaners may be able to include in their next activity if you wish, or a one-off attendance, or you may be able to locate specialist stain removal companies for more unusual stains or high-value items. 
 

4.0 Outside Areas

4.1 Definition

Any kind of outside area to a property, whether that’s a small yard or path at your home, a larger car park and landscaped areas with a business, or even external buildings such as sheds and garages; these all need some form of ‘cleaning’ as well. 
 
They tend to have specialist cleaning services that border on other tradesmen, so for example you may have a landscaper or gardener who regularly litter pick outside your office as part of their service, or a handyman who can regularly sweep paths and remove leaves in the autumn. 
 
More light and basic duties can be completed by a regular cleaner, but make sure these are clear, and that they are correctly equipped to not only do this but to then safely and hygienically switch back to internal areas. So for example, there will be hygiene and health & safety issues if they suddenly go from notable outside clearance works when the weather is bad, to then walk inside and begin finishing works in a kitchen area with food preparation. 

4.2 Roof and Gutters

Often overlooked, but all it takes is a blocked gutter or down pipe to cause damp and damage to the property. Cleaning gutters is important therefore to keep leaves and debris from lodging in there and stopping the free flow of water back through the downpipe. 
 
Regular clearance of these every 6 months is ideal before and after the winter season, either safety by yourself or by involving a trustworthy handyman or roofer. 
 
Be careful of getting too carried away with further advice from roofers, for example important slipped tiles or worn mortar areas needing urgent attention, or moss collecting and needing removal. 

4.3 Yards and Paths

General litter and debris removal is the focus with regular sweeping using a good, stiff-bristle brush. Make sure rubbish is safely collected and placed in a separate bin bag with the help of a dustpan and shovel, and any protective PPE like gloves and boots. 
 
Watch out for any unsafe or unhygienic items like used needles or pigeon droppings, which will need specialist processes and help. Also, any potential maintenance issues like wonky slabs, and measures such as placing grit down in colder periods. 
 
For some larger and communal areas, depending upon the equipment and cleaning chemicals used it may be necessary to obtain a permit from a local authority, as access may require restriction to prevent risk of toxic fumes.
 

4.4 Sheds & Garages

Any separate buildings will need their own attention, a lot boiling down to a good tidy-up and basic sweep and wipe of areas. Watch out for dust blowing everywhere, any unusual chemicals or items being identified, and suitable clothing and PPE. 

4.5 BBQs

These can easily be just placed aside after use and not correctly cleaned for next time. Therefore always first check if they are beyond redemption, with solid remnants and even rust on parts that simply require a whole new BBQ. 
 
Otherwise ensure the cooking utensils are correctly cleaned back in the kitchen as per other food items, and the main barbeque is emptied and cleared after it has cooled down, with the main cooking grill then requiring special attention. 

4.6 Grass & Planted Areas

Generally these are separate areas carried out by a gardener or landscaper, but there can be light duties that a cleaner can complete as part of general housekeeping duties. These can include watering plants, basic litter and leaf picking, and light duties such as mowing the grass and some weeding of bed of pots. 

5.0 Rubbish

5.1 The Issues

Needing to remove rubbish is inevitable and in actual fact has become more of an issue over the years because of the additional rubbish being generated by a more consumerist society, and the greater need to quite rightly improve the processes of doing this, whether that’s through health & safety issues, or correct recycling protocols. 
 
You therefore need a full reality check of just what rubbish is being generated, if people are leaving it in the right way and area, how this is moved to any communal collection facility, and that there are no spin-off issues such as rodents, complaining people from items being mistakenly thrown away, and unhappy companies not reaching any recycling targets. 

5.2 Recycle Waste

Nowadays, you need to first look at what can be recycled. Gauge what types of items are being generated, and what way they must be disposed of. So for example, an office occupier may only need a paper and card recycling facility and bin, whereas a household may generate other food and metal waste items needing numerous bins through the local authority. 
 
There are also ancillary items like electrical goods through the WEEE Regulations 2006 (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment), light bulbs and batteries, stationery and printer toners, clothes, confidential papers and shredding, and even bi-diesel from cooking oil. 
 
The other essential aspect is good communication, both how people use and place items in the right bins and containers, right through to ordering specialist services and additional bags or labels from specialist recycling companies which can be instructed at business properties. 

5.3 Additional Waste

There are obvious issues such as fly tipping and dumped items like mattresses and furniture and TVs is communal areas, but also any more grey areas like cardboard boxes from moving in and chunky items not physically able to fit in any other waste container. It must be clear who is responsible for these in any communal areas. 
 
The typical method is to take to a local authority refuse tip, or arrange for a special collection, being careful of where and when the items are stored for this. But there are other methods as well such as arranging a skip, or other specialist providers that can simply take items away and sift through recycle items, or focus more on specialist areas look metal items.  

5.4 General Waste

Other ‘general waste’ should be collected by the local authority or other suppliers with business premises, after carefully taking out recycle and additional items. 
 
Make sure it is correctly bagged up, placed in the right wheelie or other bin, taken out somewhere on collection day, and the actual bins themselves even washed and cleaned as a separate cleaning activity. 

5.5 Communal Areas 

We see this time and time again in communal areas, whether that’s an apartment block or, say, office block. Firstly you need the right facilities to cope with all requirements, catering for the specific type and volume of rubbish from each occupier. 
 
Secondly though, it needs correct communication to everyone, and preparation for when things do go wrong. A typical example is after Christmas when excess food and gift waste can be in apartment blocks with everyone being at home over the holidays, and unless this is quickly removed then the usual refuse collection service can simply refuse to collect even the normal waste if they cannot access the bins, and so begin a cycle of rapid accumulation. 
 

5.6 Compliance

This tends to be for more commercial operations, and includes the supplier having the correct Waste Transfer Note and Licenses in order to be correctly removing waste from site. Occupiers may also have obligations and target to meet, and require copies of these. 
 
Under general Health & Safety compliance, the actual hygiene issues related to waste not only need to be correct, but also the safe use of these by people, for example a cleaner needing to access an outside bin store area on a dark evening will need to consider Lone Worker issues and, say, adequate lighting and completing with others. 

6.0 Involving Others

6.1 Types of Involvement

One way to see this is through Internal and External involvement.
 
External involvement is when you instruct an outside company of cleaners to carry out a service for you, the principle being that they are being remunerated for carrying out a specific service that they are responsible for.
 
Internal involvement is more within connected people and links, for example your immediate family or co-workers getting stuck into cleaning as well as or instead of yourself. Also, with larger organizations like charities and volunteering groups you can tend to have a lot of people getting involved with the cleaning.

6.2 Selection Criteria

Whether an internal or external cleaner, simply make sure they can do the task. It sounds simple, and in actual fact it is, as any cleaning service will only be as good as the individual cleaner doing the task at hand. 
 
So have a small trial, establish clear goals and expectations, monitor and train carefully, and check that the way it is completed is acceptable just as much as the actual task at hand.

6.3 Cleaner Charges 

How cleaning companies charge is typically on an hourly basis, often between £10 and £13 per hour, and reflecting the work involved. You therefore need to ensure all the work is reflected in this, including any additional aspects like taking any refuse away, and even travel time involved. 
 
Check also what the cleaner can use themselves or needs to be provided by you, and whether they need to reflect purchase of special substances or equipment in their rate. Even though cleaners are mobile, you need to be clear what equipment and substances they can use and are responsible for. 
 
Alternative methods of charging include a one off charge for a certain task, or involvement of multiple people and helpers. 

6.4 Family & Friends 

Involving others can have many benefits to lots of people, although often an ideal that people struggle to see in reality. As well as obvious benefits like reduced costs and hassle from involving external cleaner, it can help develop good relationships and a sense of personal responsibility and fulfillment in their home or business. 
 
We have blogged before about involving kids in particular, but this can include extended family and friends as well to make fun and enjoyable. 

6.5 Volunteers

Our involvement with charities has enabled us to see direct benefits from other volunteers mucking in with cleaning, whether that’s a direct volunteer within the charity or community group, or even working with the JobCentre Plus scheme to involve those looking for work. 
 
Just like with family and friends, there can be so many other benefits in addition to just cost savings and time by this, once a suitable basis and rating system is set up. 

7.0 Compliance

7.1 The Basics

It’s good advice to still be safe and compliant in every circumstance, even your own family home, as people’s safety can genuinely be at risk. Whether that’s a trip over a vacuum cleaner cable, or mistakenly swallowing detergent, there can be horrible consequences.
 
However a direct liability tends to occur when you’re in a business context, such as when an external firm of cleaners are instructed, or a business’ employees carry out the tasks. This also includes less obvious business interests like voluntary groups, who still fall within definitions such as ‘employers’ under legislation. This can be by direct law and obligations for their activity, or more general legislation like the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
 
There is a specific requirement for correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in a work criteria under The Personal protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, with full details in a later section. 

7.2 COSHH Policy

This is a specific legal obligation under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (2002) which relates to cleaning activities, with the phrase ‘COSHH’ being an abbreviation of this (pronounced as ‘cosh’). Under this you need to asses the risks of hazardous substances with full Risk Assessment, plan for emergencies, plan to prevent or handle risks, train people, and actual time spent with such substances.
 
From this stems a ‘COSHH Policy’, which is a practical description of how a cleaner intends to carry out activities in line with these obligations. Whilst you can find generic templates to work with, you must demonstrate that this has been applied to your real-life situation.
 
One aspect of this is having clear procedures and an emergency spill kit to deal with any spillages and exposure on site. This can include plenty of absorbent mats, disposable bags, container for the bags, and materials to soak up spills.  
 

7.3 RIDDOR Procedure

There is an obligation under Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) to report any serious accidents and even deaths to an external authority, in addition to usual procedures of alerting emergency services, carrying out First Aid, and reporting any incidents in an Accident Book. 
 
This does not necessarily need to be straight away as the focus will be on genuine and quick medical attention, but as soon as practically possible afterwards this needs formal reporting via telephone call or written means, details available at  - www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/report.htm 
 
A clear procedure of the individuals responsible for this and how they are implemented then needs to be agreed.

7.4 Risk Assessments 

On the same lines as any other risk assessments, these needs to address the potential risks with any cleaning activity, who is potentially vulnerable to harm from them, the severity and likelihood of these happening, and then practical action points to help ideally avoid them or at least reduce the potential effect from them. 
 
This will need to include the above COSHH policies, and clear application of the issues involved in each situation and instruction.  
 
These should be completed by people actually involved in the cleaning, and then be regularly reviewed and updated in the future as necessary.

7.5 Data Sheets

These are basically a summary of specific cleaning products that are used as an easy quick reference point. As well as technical information often available from the manufacturer or supplier, whether through their own Data Sheets or updates, they also need to have practical instructions on how to correctly use in an emergency, for example how to treat an accident or burns, and how it can or can’t be mixed with other substances.
 
You then need to ensure only these products are used, rather than cleaners bringing their own items. Even a genuine attempt to locate a cheaper product with the same brand, can trigger a whole new set of requirements.

7.6 Notices & Signs

These range from standard warning signs on places like cupboards and equipment, to more temporary signs warning of actual cleaning in process, whether a poster on the wall or floor flip signs. 
 
Sometimes you also see a working rota of areas being regularly checked and cleaned in public places like motorway service stations and restaurants.
 
As well as focusing on the essential needs from risk assessments and policies, they always need to make sense and be understood by both cleaners and general users. This includes removing them when not applicable, so people don’t take for granted and actually become immune to them. 

7.7 Instructions and Guides

Really simple, but make sure it’s clear what to do and how to do it. Not only will this help newbie cleaners begin correctly, but be a reference for ongoing ones and any emergency call-in cleaners.
 
It will also probably need to be even easier and simpler than what you may at first think, particularly if you’re heavily involved in the cleaning process anyway. The best way to determine this is to ask someone independent to try and understand what they would need to do by simply looking at your guides and instruction.

7.8 Summaries

There needs to be a basic log of what cleaning is carried out, ideally a simple form but still including all the important information.
 
As well as general employment information such as hours and areas completed in order to validate charges and service, it forms an important Health & Safety record of how things were completed including reporting of any issues and accidents, and procedures under COSHH and the Risk Assessment. 

7.9 Training

Whilst this is instinctive and often naturally takes place with people showing new cleaners what to do, it’s important to firstly include all the right elements, and secondly record this in writing. This is for both induction training to begin with, but also regular reviews and refreshers.
 
All people need to be involved as well, right down from managers in larger organisations to individual cleaners and helpers.

7.10 Buildings & Fire

Make sure individuals know the important facts about a building and how they should safely use it, for example through a formal Building Guide or part of the initial induction.
 
Examples include knowing what areas to access, where to store stock and equipment, whether to notify anyone, toilet facilities, where to park a car, and safe use of facilities such as stairs and lifts.
 
Probably one of the most important issues is Fire Safety, so knowing what the procedures are for evacuating the building in an event of an emergency and where to congregate and who to notify. Also, safe operation of Fire Extinguishers, and making sure fire escape routes are always clear and there are no combustible materials.
 
In some circumstances the cleaner can also assist in other related duties such as carrying out weekly fire alarm bell tests and being able to check any error messages on the fire alarm panel.
 
 

7.11 Lone Worker 

As part of the main Health & Safety Risk Assessment you need to address issues linked with cleaners working alone, and have a separate Lone Worker Policy to help clarify how this operates. Although the focus is on the individual cleaner and their personal safety whilst carrying out their cleaning duties, this inevitably involves others, for example other co-workers, line managers, and individuals such as the elderly and young that are around.
 
The range of issues to consider are ways to reduce times when they are alone, regular phone calls and contact when they are alone, and ways to alert others by alarms and calls if there are issues. Also, procedures to reduce the risk for individual tasks, for example not taking rubbish bags along an alley way in darker winter hours.

7.12 Insurance 

There are a range of different types of policies to consider, the main ones listed below. It’s essential to make sure there is no cleaning without insurance and to cover the information supplied, and have procedures for processing any claim and supplying certificates of cover when requested.
 
· Public Liability
· Employers Liability  
· Contents
· Buildings
· Vehicle 

7.13 Health & Safety Policy 

This is a general policy that encompasses general procedures for how an organisation implements good health & safety practice. This is to benefit all internal employees and helpers, as well as clients and customers, and becomes more involved and needing written evidence for larger groups with over 5 employees.
 
It also applies to both the organisation carrying out the cleaning activity, and also the organisation benefiting from it. So a business called ABC may instruct a cleaning company called XYZ, therefore both require a Health & Safety policy that the other organisation can also see and adhere to. 

7.14 Security & Access

Make sure there are clear procedures for how cleaners should access areas, as often this is taken for granted and not correctly thought through. If they have autonomy to complete themselves, then make sure all access codes, and fobs/swipe cards, keys, and alarm codes are issued to them, including any emergency and cupboard areas they may need to access.
 
If they have less autonomy, then have a clear record of who they need to meet, or how they collect and then drop off, say, any keys and codes. Also, document that these are correctly managed under Data Protection and general Health & Safety duties.
 

7.15 Food Hygiene  

For areas of food and drink preparation, there are additional hygiene requirements to consider. Whilst this is more on the catering side, with aspects like Food Hygiene courses, this does of course include more specific cleaning requirements that either direct kitchen-users and food preparers or other cleaners need to adhere to.
 
Examples of the issues to consider are:
 
· Correct storage of food, for example by date.
· Keeping preparation areas like worktops, and utensils like knives, particularly clean.
· Additional cleaning and sterilisation where needed, for example coffee machines.
· Ensuring people keep a high standard of hygiene, for example regularly washing hands, and not carrying infections like colds. 
 

8.0 Products & Supplies

8.1 The Basics

Knowing what cleaning products you need can be confusing, whether that’s a basic spray with a damp cloth, or serious bleach for toilet areas. There is a huge range of products available, not to mention any particular compliance issues, and then the challenge of knowing whether they will suit your circumstances. 
 
As an overview, here are four basic stages to considering the right products:

1.Having Nothing at All

Even just a quick wipe with a duster or cloth can help quickly remove obvious items and mess, and a simple vacuum clean or sweep of floors can take place without needing any substances to help. Simple clearing rubbish, de-cluttering, and basic wiping can go a long way.

2.Using Just Water

The most natural of ingredients, but can work a treat, with the most basic form being a damp cloth. Only in some circumstances do you have to carefully consider if this is appropriate, for example if involving chemicals that may react wrong, or wiping, say, a rusty piece of metal.

3.Make Use of Normal Household Substances

These are available at your typical shop, and range from multi-purpose sprays and surface cleaners, to floor cleaners, to even more specialist items like oven and drain cleaners. 
 
They will suffice for most basic domestic and even commercial jobs, the best advice is to choose one particular brand and type and stick with it after getting familiar with any instructions, particularly with any unusual circumstances like allergies and small children around. 

4. Adapting For Unusual and Larger Scenarios

So if you’re geared up for commercial use, you will really need to find more appropriate and cost effective products, and in any special personal circumstances. At this stage it’s worth taking specialist advice and steer on the right ones. 

8.2 Storage

In terms of where cleaning equipment and materials should be stored, there are four basic rules of thumbs to storing these, with any specialist and more commercial activities of course needing further consideration. 
 
Firstly, keep them out of easy access, for example on a high shelf where no children or other vulnerable people can touch them. The more potentially dangerous products like bleach are, then the greater need for them to be higher up. 
 
Secondly, keep them in a dry and cool environment. Most storage areas will provide this, unless particularly near heating/cooling equipment, or lots of daylight. 
 
Thirdly, make sure they are kept in their original package with full details on, rather than pouring, say, a substance into an old bottle. This not only keeps all the substance’s information on, but makes it clear what it is so that no one will mistake it for any other product. Also, make sure any signs on the main storage cupboard door are also in place. 
 
Fourthly, keep the storage areas locked. Whether that’s a full walk-in locked cupboard with the key only being issued to authorised people, or a kitchen cupboard under the sink at least having safety catches on to stop small children reaching them. This stops anyone wandering in and deliberately or even accidently tampering with products. 

8.3 Where to Purchase

A lot can be from your local shop or by ordering online. They’re easy to locate, and often popular known types and brands with generally lots of detail and Data Sheets available, and often reasonably priced. 
 
If you’re needing larger quantities for, say, commercial use, it’s worth seeking more specialist providers and suppliers of just cleaning products, to not only receive the best rates and deals, but more specialised types as well.  

8.4 Non-Animal Tested 

 In terms of which cleaning products are not tested on animals, then these are products that have not involved animals in their testing process, and becoming more of an important aspect to consider for both actual cleaners and the end user. 
 
Although labels should state this, you need to then research actual products online to make sure they are accurate claims and read any reviews of them.

8.5 The Best Ones 

When you’re looking at which cleaning solutions, supplies, or products work best, the issue is knowing how to define the best ones, often boiling down to the best value for money in terms of cheapest price and most effective use. Although a certain product may be cheaper, you may need to use a higher quantity of the product which will outweigh the cost savings.
 
Popular online sources like Amazon and Ebay will sort results more by popularity and value, although check actual reviews and feedback. Also ask actual cleaners and users of products to make sure they are living up to their name.

8.6 Mixing Products

It’s essential to only mix products that are permitted and in the correct way, according to Data Sheets and instruction from them. You therefore firstly need to check which cleaning products should not be mixed. 
 
As an example, spray products like Zflora will need simple water to dilute them, however you need to ensure the correct ratio of these is established and then mixed together.

8.7 Chemical Inclusion

Information should be issued on a Data Sheet and labels as to what chemicals are included in a substance. This needs checking in terms of any precautionary steps like PPE being required, any reactions and allergies to particular skins and people, and the correct way to use and store them.  

8.8 Pets

In regards to what cleaning products are safe for pets like dogs for example, if you have exposure to pets and animals, then make sure there is no risk of the substances causing harm to them. This is both after they have been applied, but also during the process of using them.

8.9 Bleach

People tend to have a love-hate relationship with bleach, which is a concentrated form of substance for areas like toilets with notable bacteria and germs, therefore leaves people asking why cleaning with bleach is bad. On one side they are an effective way to deal with this, but on another they can pose issues when exposed to people, particularly in public or commercial areas. 
 
Generally then, they are only used in controlled conditions, or deliberately excluded and alternative non-bleach products used instead.

8.10 How to Use

Instructions will be on the side of the container, and you can generally find details from their website, including formal Data Sheets of information. 
 
As well a basic aspect like how much of the substance you use, and do you apply it straight onto the surface or a cloth, you need to check what other safe ways exist, for example using gloves and not combining with other products. 
 
Finally, know what to do after they have been used, how they are safely stored, and how to deal with old containers. 
 

9.0 Equipment

9.1 What to Look For

The secret is quality over quantity when it comes to cleaning equipment. You only in actual fact need a few items that can cover the majority of your cleaning activities, so long as they are suitable and reasonable quality. 
 
Therefore look at your bread-and-butter items that you will use very time, and get them right. You can then source some good quality ones that are reasonably priced, which doesn’t necessarily mean being the best brand. 
 
Also, for those one-off instances where you do need extra equipment see if it is easier to in actual fact hire or temporarily use them just for a time. 

9.2 Flip Signs

These are your typical yellow signs in a ‘V’ shape you often see on wet floors that have been mopped in areas like motorway stations and restaurants. They’re relatively cheap to purchase, and can be ‘flipped’ back into a flat shape to easily store. 
 
Two things to watch out for though are firstly that they are in the correct position to warn people but not get in their way and be a trip hazard, and secondly to make sure they are taken away when not needed, as people will take them more for granted and ignore them if they are always there even when the floor is dry.  

9.3 Cloths & Dusters 

Essential for wiping surfaces and areas, whether that’s a quick wipe or more substantial one to remove stains and grime. While dusters just focus on a quick wipe off dust with or without suitable spray, cloths are more for detailed wiping. 
 
In terms of where are cleaning cloths kept, these are often in convenient places to access but still with some form of security to stop, say, children accessing them, for example on high shelves in a locked cleaning cupboard. 
 
Two popular cloths are the disposable J-cloths, which can be simply thrown away afterwards, and microfiber cloths at the other end of the spectrum which can be washed time and time again for re-use in the future. 

9.4 Sprays

These are popular with a wide variety of types and brands being available, but most will do a similar function. So an all-purpose spray is helpful for kitchens and bathrooms as well as more specific kitchen and bathroom ones you come across. 
 
There are also separate glass cleaner sprays for windows and glazing, and separate deodorants and air fresheners for making things smell better.  In addition, there are also hand sanitisers as a form of ‘spray’ to wash hands between tasks as a cleaner, and for areas like sinks for users,
 
In addition to ready-made in their own bottle ready to go, you can make your own up by adding substances to water, say, in a clear spray. Make sure these are correctly mixed, labeled, and to hand though. 

9.5 Robots

Becoming more popular, where robotic devices can move along the floor to carry out basic cleaning. More of a novelty than serious cleaning, and obviously a notable price, but still worth considering for basic works. 
 
In terms of which cleaning robot is best and how cleaning robots work, you can find out good reviews online like the Which? one.

9.6 Buckets & Carry Trays

Carry trays are handy to carry items around, and buckets in a similar way can act as a carrier of items as well as their usual use of water and liquids. 
 
Specialist mop buckets can have additional sections to rinse a mop head out, and they must be carefully used so as not to be a trip hazard and should be easily moved. 

9.7 Mops

In conjunction with mop handles they can be used to wipe floor surfaces with suitable water and substances. Microfiber ones are becoming more popular which can be easily cleaned and re-used, and various designs in the actual mop or bucket can help with easy grip of the mop to rinse out the water after a few strokes of use. 
 
The way they are used is also important, in terms of how often the water is changed or how they are squeezed out, the type of mop and bucket used, and the substances used with them.
 

9.8 Brushes           

These range from long-handled ones for either internal or external floor surfaces, to more hand brushes with a pan for smaller areas. Also, even smaller scrubbing brushes and sponges can be used on stubborn stains and marks. 
 
Make sure they have the correct stiffness of bristles, and they are themselves kept clean as they will tend to attract a lot of dirt within them. 

9.9 Vacuum Cleaners

Popular for sucking up bits from a floor surface, and common on carpets, however also possible on hard floors and even hand-held ones for more upholstery areas. In addition, they can remove high-level cobwebs from say near the ceiling or behind hidden areas.
 
Two popular distinctions are upright and non-upright vacuum cleaner, along with varying motor powers and methods of holding and removing items in bags. You can also have a variety of head parts, for example a large head for usual carpet cleaning, a smaller brush for corners, and small funnel head for under furniture.

10.0 PPE 

10.1 The Basics

PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment and refers to any kinds of special clothing or items you have to wear or use to carry out a certain task. It’s a generic phrase used in non-cleaning scenarios as well such as property maintenance.
 
It’s important for cleaning because of the potential harm to people from cleaning substances such as bleach, or cleaning activities such as mopping floors. There is a duty to consider this form of protection in general compliance legislation, as well as general instinctive measures such as wearing gloves when dealing with bleach. 
 
Within a work context, which can include volunteering capacities as well, there is a specific requirement to consider PPE under The personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, which boils down to when there is a risk to workers, PPE must be used and maintained. 
 
Practically, look for ‘CE’ mark on any equipment you do purchase like gloves or hair nets, with verification that the PPE is fit for purpose and meets European Safety Standards.
 
This is to protect both the person doing the cleaning as well as people using the cleaned area, and generally becomes more involved the more potentially dangerous and commercial a clearing activity is. You also tend to use certain PPE items during regular cleaning tasks, but be open to consider others for one-off ones as well.

10.2 Aprons

As well as the obvious benefit of protecting people from spillages or marks, aprons and pinafores they can help store cleaning items like cloths and sprays in those which have handy pockets in them. They can range from basic ones below waist, to more commercial ones covering the whole person.
 
They can also be a certain colour and design, with any relevant logos and contact details for the cleaning firm using them, and you will need to consider where to safely store them and to have regular cleans themselves.

10.3 Gloves

These not only help protect hands from substances and harm, but can likewise help prevent germs and bacteria from people’s hands being directly transferred onto items being cleaned and used. Therefore cleaning without gloves should be very infrequent.
 
They are an important item to always use by default in most cleaning activities, although taking care to remove them in some scenarios and when you’re no longer cleaning, but also change for different cleaning activities, for example when you complete toilet areas and move to other tasks.
 
The most popular types are vinyl and latex, which can be powder coated to allow them to fit to the contours of the hand. Vinyl is helpful for smaller jobs but can cause irritations for those with allergies. Nitrile is another type which are more durable than say latex gloves but without the risk of allergies. 
 
Disposable ones are popular as they can be easily changed and then thrown away, although non-disposable ones are relevant for, say, more heavy-duty activities and where regular cleaning is undergone. In these situations, make sure they are kept safe and clean themselves, including washing them.
 
For tougher jobs, like steam-cleaning, you will need thick gloves to prevent burns and harm.

10.4 Hair Ties

For those with moulting or long hair this will mainly keep their from hair falling down and getting in the way of visibility when cleaning, but also help prevent any hair and dirt within them touching and affecting otherwise clean areas. Often the individual cleaner needs to accordingly wear their own appropriate to their personal preference and hygiene. 

10.5 Glasses

Goggles can be used to protect potential eye contact with substances, generally for more major cleaning activities rather than general light duties. In addition to obvious scenarios like sprays contacting eyes, they can help prevent any accidental spillages and splashes from when you move substances somewhere else.
 
Also ensure they are also clean themselves and don’t cause a visual hindrance if they get spray and substances on them.

10.6 Shoe Covers

These typically go over existing shoes and boots to protect them from spillages and cleaning, particularly involving potentially messy floor cleaning.
 
Check whether a whole new set of appropriate shoes or boots are in actual fact needed though rather than just covers over existing ones.

10.7 Going Green  

There is quite rightly a renewed interest in going green and being eco-friendly in various cleaning activities. This can take effect on many levels, with a lot of PPE and products having labels and information to help guide.
 
These firstly need checking to make sure they make sense and addresses genuine concerns, and secondly considering any consequences of using them. So for example, you may only want to use water without any cleaning substance to remove any need for pollutants, but be careful that you don’t end up notably using more water in the process, and throwing away any bottles/packing you do use in a non-recycle way.
 

11.0 Summary  

There is a lot of information in this Easy Cleaning Guide which is deliberately designed to give a broad overview of the whole cleaning process for every kind of use. This will therefore help steer you in the right direction as to the types and ways of cleaning that are best for you.
 
Also, you will have a clearer idea then of what else to look into, either from links and issues that we add to this over time, or your own research. So if you know that your floor cleaning now needs to involve certain PPE and compliance issues, then you can then look into these further.
 
We welcome any kind of general feedback on this, so please do contact us directly or leave comments below. We do genuinely want this to be a great resource for everyone cleaning, and are happy to take on board other appropriate ways and ideas to help do this.
 

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