5 Cleaning Steps that Solve Dirty Winter Floors

snow covered backyard where snow is tracked in and makes floors dirtyWhile the winter snow may make for some beautiful scenery outside, the snow and ice can wreak havoc on all types of home flooring. Even the most durable floors are susceptible to long-term damage from dirty footprints and snowy puddles, but there are steps you can take to keep floors clean through all the wintry weather that Mother Nature throws at us.

Start outside.

The logical first step is to keep all the snow, ice, and gravel before it reaches the floors. Clean sidewalks and driveways as thoroughly as possible. Use salt to thaw remaining ice and snow. Put down doormats outside all doors to catch the snow, ice, and salt. The latter can be one of the chief causes of damage and dirty floors.

Put down rugs.

Interior rugs are a great way to add interest to a room, but they are also a safeguard that protects floors from damage. Place rugs by all exterior doors and in high-traffic areas, such as hallways and foyers. If you have pets in the home, train them to stop on mats and rugs inside the doors (before they track it in). Clean off their paws with a towel or rag (and any other parts that are covered in snow and mud) to minimize the mess.

Regularly sweep away debris.

When dragged along the floor, gravel, salt, and ice can scratch the floor. Lessen your risk by regularly sweeping hard floors or vacuuming carpet to remove the debris (or include it on the list of tasks for your home cleaner, along with a dry mop). Be careful about cleaning tools that push the debris into the floor; this can also cause scratches on hard flooring.

Dry mop.

Salt and dirt can build up on hard floors, leaving a residue that can wear down the floor finish and wear down flooring. After removing debris with a good sweep (this prevents scratching), do a dry mop with a cleaner to remove any build-up. Choose the floor cleaner carefully; some cleaners may void the floor warranty, while others may not remove salt residue.

Schedule a floor deep cleaning.

All flooring, hard and carpeting, needs a regular deep clean. For carpet, a deep clean can remove allergens and revitalize carpet fibers. A tile cleaning removes stains from grout and makes tile look like new. Though deep cleaning is not complicated, it does take time. If you’d rather leave the job to the professionals, schedule a floor deep cleaning.

Hardwood floors need a deep clean to keep them from looking dingy, though the exact cleaner for a deep clean depends on the floor finish. Vinegar (diluted in water) has long been touted as the ultimate hardwood floor cleaner, but should only be used after consulting the manufacturer. If it is not recommended, don’t use it because vinegar can damage the floor finish. When deep cleaning hardwood floor, always be careful about not leaving puddles on the floor. Water left on the floor can permanently damage and stain the floor; use fans and dehumidifiers to control the humidity and prevent damage.

10 Cleaning Tips that Protect Office Floors from Snow

office space in a facility where they are analyzing outsourcing or in-house cleaningProtecting office floors from the ice, snow, and salt that comes with our freezing Midwestern winters is more than just an effort to keep your office presentable. Well-cared for office floors are an effort that also keeps office staff safe and lengthens the life of office floors.

The effort to protect office floors starts outside the door. Often, the culprit of dirty floors is neglected sidewalks and parking lots. Office staff and visitors track the grime in, creating a build-up that can be difficult (and more expensive) to remove.

For that reason and for staff safety, extra care should be taken to keep parking lots clear of snow and ice. Designate a staff member or service who is responsible for the task and ensure that the parking lot is cleaned prior to and whenever our snowy Wisconsin winter strikes.

Lobbies

  • Add rugs by all exterior doors to protect floors from salt and snow that is tracked in.
  • Replace rugs and mats as they get damaged and worn.
  • Vacuum and mop lobbies regularly to keep them clean and safe.

Carpets

Hard Floors

  • Use a light mop to remove melted snow and salt. (This is also an important safety measure.)
  • Mop floors regularly to remove salt, which can damage and wear down floors.
  • Schedule a regular floor stripping and waxing.
  • Don’t miss a deep cleaning, which can cost more if salt and dirt build-up.

How can I find a home cleaner?

home bathroom ready for spring cleaningA home cleaner can be the answer to all those times when you needed help cleaning the house or don’t have time for a deep cleaning. (And that’s not even counting all those times when you need to get ready for party guests or the in-laws visit.) Knowing when you need a home cleaner is easy. Finding and hiring a home cleaner can be more difficult.

The path to a good home cleaner is actually a series of steps that can take a family from in serious need of a cleaning to “oh, I’m so glad we have a home cleaner.”

Decide between a service or individual

There are two main kinds of home cleaners: cleaning services and individuals. Both home cleaning options come with pros and cons.

Cleaning services are available to clean as often and when is needed, whereas individual cleaners can usually come on a schedule that works for them. Both options should come with insurance (be very careful about hiring cleaners that don’t) in case of damage to items or property. Another advantage of a cleaning service is that they usually employ many cleaners, meaning that a cleaner is available in case another cannot make it.

The difference in price between the two depends on the individual or the cleaning service. Before contacting a home cleaner, make a list of cleaning tasks that need to be done and decide on how often the tasks need to be done (i.e. weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.) Once the list is finalized, contact the cleaner for a free quote.

Ask for recommendations

One of the best and easiest ways to find a home cleaner is to ask friends and family for recommendations. Be leery of recommendations that aren’t based on personal experience. Often, people recommend their friend, family member, or a friend of a friend without knowing if they do a good job.

Research your options

Don’t be afraid to do as much research as possible about your potential home cleaners. Ask cleaning services and individuals for references. Check social media and review sites for positive and negative feedback.

Conduct a thorough interview

Before hiring a cleaner or scheduling a cleaning, always interview prospective cleaners. Ask these questions over the phone or in-person:

  • “How long have you been in business? Can you provide references from past clients?”
  • “Can you provide proof of insurance? What is the process for reporting if anything is damaged?”
  • “Do you do background checks on your cleaners?”
  • “Do I need to provide any cleaning supplies?”
  • “How do I contact you to schedule a home cleaning?”
  • “Do I need to be home? Is there a process for giving you access if I am not home?”
  • “Do I need to secure my pet while the home cleaner is here?”
  • “What is the cost of your cleaning services? Is it an hourly or set amount? Are there any additional fees?”
  • “Are there any cleaning services you cannot perform?”
  • “Who should I contact if there are any issues? How should I contact them?”
  • “Do you provide a contract with all the terms and conditions on paper?”

Why are office floors stripped and waxed?

stripped and waxed building floorsDaily foot traffic can do a number on office floors, especially when debris, snow, and ice are tracked in by customers and employees. Rugs, regular mopping, and vacuuming can remove the debris, but floor maintenance is only a battle to keep floors safe and in peak condition.

What is floor stripping and waxing?

A floor finish protects the floor from the wear and tear of daily foot traffic. Floor stripping is the process of removing the finish. After stripping, floors are waxed to protect the floor and extend the life of the floor.

How often should floors be stripped and waxed?

The schedule for floor stripping and waxing depends on the amount and frequency of foot traffic. In a busy company, floor stripping and waxing should be scheduled monthly. When an interruption of company business and productivity is a concern, contact a commercial cleaner that can perform the floor stripping and waxing during off-hours (such as overnight or after business hours). For companies with light foot traffic, floor stripping and waxing can be done every 5-6 months.

Why should floors be stripped and waxed?

Floor stripping and waxing is a necessary part of building maintenance with several benefits:

  • Adds shine. Floor stripping and waxing gives floors a sheen, which plays an important role in creating a favorable first impression with customers and employees.
  • Extends floor life. A regularly scheduled floor waxing minimizes damage to floors, keeps floors in excellent condition, and extends the life of flooring. This important deep cleaning task lessens the need for and cost of new flooring.

When it’s time for a floor stripping and waxing, contact a local commercial cleaning service to find out options and get a quote. When trying to minimize disruptions to employee productivity and client visits, ask about scheduling the floor strip and wax for an evening, weekend, or overnight.

12 Floor Cleaning Tricks for Every Kind of Floor

living room with floors cleaned with floor cleaning tricksFloor cleaning may not be the most complicated home cleaning chore, but it can leave lasting stains and damage long after done. Of course, the easiest and most efficient way to get a clean floor is to hire the professionals; the biggest benefit of this home cleaning trick is that you can take all the credit for your sparkling clean floors.

To make the floor deep cleaning easier (and hopefully involving less elbow grease), use these floor maintenance tips:

  • Sweep or vacuum regularly.
  • If using a vacuum cleaner, purchase a vacuum that won’t void the warranty and won’t damage floors.
  • Place mats by all doors to keep debris from being tracked in.
  • When letting pets in, clean off their paws.
  • Teach kids to wipe their feet off after being outside.
  • Leave all shoes by the door.

If you’re still interested in rolling up your sleeves, use these big floor cleaning tips and tricks to get every floor in your home clean and sparkling.

Carpet

  • When cleaning a spot, avoid hard scrubbing (it can damage carpet fibers).
  • Make sure you are using a cleaner that doesn’t damage the flooring. (Test the cleaner on an area that is hidden.)
  • Don’t leave puddles when carpet cleaning.
  • Frequently change water during carpet cleaning.

Laminate & Wood Floors

  • Completely sweep or vacuum before a deep clean to prevent scratching from debris.
  • Use a fan to dry laminate and wood floors without leaving puddles.

Tile

  • Don’t use a sponge mop, which can dig the dirt into the flooring.
  • When mopping, change water frequently so you are using clean water.
  • Be careful about choosing soap for flooring cleaning; it can leave a residue.

Luxury Vinyl

  • Sweep or vacuum before cleaning.
  • Use a non-abrasive cleaner to avoid damage (make sure you use an approved cleaner to avoid voiding the warranty).
  • Grab the gentlest scrubber for a deep clean.

Costly Holiday Shut Down Cleaning Mistakes to Avoid

commercial floors that need to be cleaned in a factoryThe holidays are an empty time at most businesses. The usual buzzing office and production floor make holiday shut-downs prime for facility cleaning and maintenance.

While daily operations may be minimal, the holiday shut-down should be optimized for efficient execution of the preventative maintenance and deep cleaning tasks that can’t be completed during busy periods. Many tasks should be planned and carried out efficiently in a short period time to maximize funds and time; making costly holiday shut down mistakes can slow efforts and get in the way of accomplishing both goals.

Avoiding outsourcing

When trying to stick to a budget, it can be tempting to handle all holiday shut-down maintenance and cleaning in-house. However, spreading staff thin over the holidays can be a major expense; this is especially when factoring in overtime and holiday pay (if the company offers the latter).

Utilizing vendors for certain tasks can also be an efficient use of funds because tasks can be done simultaneously. This ensures that less funds are spent on staffing and that the scheduled tasks are completed quickly and proficiently. Determine what tasks should be done in-house versus outsourced; contact vendors for quotes to do a cost analysis of each holiday shut-down maintenance and cleaning task.

Not having a plan

A carefully scheduled effort is imperative for adequate preparation. Parts can be ordered for maintenance tasks. Vendor schedules can be coordinated so that many tasks are completed in different areas or so that one task is finalized before the next comes in.

A holiday shut-down schedule can also be helpful when selecting vendors. For example, if remodeling office space is on the list, it can be advantageous to hire one vendor for the remodeling and deep cleaning that follows. Draft a schedule and contact the vendors for quotes accordingly.

Not scheduling floor cleaning

A floor cleaning should be an obligatory task on every holiday shut-down maintenance and cleaning list. In addition to maintaining a professional facility impression, an empty facility guarantees an easier floor cleaning. Beyond that, a deep commercial floors cleaning can remove deep-ground debris and salt from carpet fibers and grout. This build-up can cause facility floors to get slippery, increasing the risk for slips, falls, and other common workplace injuries.

The build-up of grime is not only a risk to employees and visitors; it is also a costly mistake. Facility floors that are not regularly cleaned can cost more to strip and clean. Schedule floor cleaning so that areas are cleaned when maintenance is not planned in that area (and visa versa).

Ignoring a restroom sanitization

A thoroughly cleaned and disinfected restroom is necessary for employee health and productivity (especially during cold and flu season), as well as creating a favorable impression with guests and clients. Regular restroom cleaning can be done during regular office hours; a deep clean is infinitely easier when staffing is low.

During a holiday shut-down, a meticulous restroom sanitation should be scheduled (use this complete restroom sanitation checklist). When staffing is needed for other holiday shut-down maintenance and cleaning tasks, or for a more efficient use of time, contact a commercial cleaning service and schedule accordingly.

Holiday Home Cleaning: 22 Tips that Get You Started (and Done!)

living room cleaned and decorated for the holidaysThe holidays are (almost) here! It’s time to get ready for the family Thanksgiving, Christmas, and holiday celebrations. Holiday cooking, preparing guest rooms, mopping, washing counters…it’s all part of holiday preparations. While we can’t help with the holiday cooking, we can give you cleaning tips that help you clean your home efficiently and completely so you can move on to enjoying the holiday parties.

Pre-Holiday Cleaning Tips

  1. Make a list of cleaning tasks (or use this holiday cleaning checklist) for an efficient and quick holiday clean. Designate the tasks so the holiday cleaning is a team effort.
  2. Start cleaning at the top of the room (i.e. ceiling fans, tops of furniture and appliances, etc.) and work to the floor.
  3. Put down rugs by all the doors to prevent tracking in water and dirt.
  4. On dirty floors, test floor cleaners on areas of flooring that is not visible, so the cleaner does not damage or discolor flooring.
  5. Vacuum and sweep before deep cleaning floors (or hire a cleaning service to tackle the floor cleaning while you’re gone).
  6. Carry cleaning supplies from room to room for faster cleaning.
  7. Clean windows on a grey day so the cleaner doesn’t dry and leave streaks.
  8. To remove pet hair from furniture, use a lint brush to remove stray hairs from cushions and chairs.
  9. Remove all the garbage bags throughout the home at once for an efficient clean (and better-smelling home).
  10. Hire professionals for rooms that need a deep clean, such as the kitchen or bathroom.
  11. Make trash clean-up easier; put out separate containers for trash and recyclables.
  12. Launder all linens and curtains early to ensure they are ready for the holidays (and holiday guests).
  13. Put out extra towels and toilet paper last (after all the cleaning is done) so your home is ready for guests.
  14. Don’t forget to clean walks and driveways so guests are not injured from ice and snow.
  15. Strategically place towels, wash cloths, and cleaning supplies near gathering rooms for easy and fast clean-up (of spills and other accidents).

After Holiday Clean-Up Tips

  1. Wipe down tables and counters as soon as the party is done to eliminate stains and hard-to-clean spills that dry on the surface.
  2. Immediately soak dishes that are dirty to make the dish washing easier or wash dishes after the meal is done.
  3. Sweep and clean as soon as the holiday gathering is done to reduce the chance for scratches and stains on floors.
  4. Hire a floor cleaner to deep clean floors after guests are gone (schedule the appointment before the holidays so it is done as soon as possible).
  5. Don’t wait to clean guest rooms after they leave.
  6. Pre-treat stains on table linens so they are not permanently stained.
  7. Make it easy. Hire a professional home cleaner to completely clean your home as soon as the holidays are over.

Company Shut Down Maintenance: How to Maximize Plant Down Time

warehouse floor after cleaning ready for winterCompany shut downs are a part of business operations. Plant down time is also an opportunity for necessary maintenance and deep cleaning that can’t occur during regularly scheduled hours. As a commercial property landlord or maintenance manager, a facility shut down is a time that should be optimized. Every second of company shut down should be utilized efficiently to ensure that all preventative maintenance and deep cleaning is completed before employees arrive.

Preventative maintenance and deep cleaning tasks should be a top priority; both options play a key part in preventing equipment break-downs, improving productivity, minimizing employee illness and injuries, and meeting customer deadlines. Machine and IT preventative maintenance ensures that all equipment is lubricated and maintained to prevent breakdowns that cost money and time. Deep cleanings of common areas, such as kitchens and restrooms, ensures that employees and visitors are in a healthy environment and minimizes interruptions to employee productivity.

The optimal time for company shut-downs is around holidays when the facility is empty, such as over the winter holiday or in the summer when employee vacations are planned. Scheduling for the facility shut down should occur months in advance to ensure efficient use of time and prompt service delivery by staff and vendors.

The following maintenance and cleaning tasks should be completed during facility down time:

A full analysis of company shut down maintenance and repairs are vital for the efficient user of time and funds. Make a complete list of maintenance and cleaning tasks; analyze each task to ensure efficient scheduling and task assignment. For some tasks, it can be more cost-effective to use maintenance and cleaning staff who are more familiar with the facility. In other cases, outsourcing the task to a maintenance and cleaning vendor with appropriate expertise and scheduling flexibility is a more efficient use of budgetary funds. Evaluate each task on the list, contact vendors for a quote, and schedule each staff member or vendor accordingly.

What is the cost of a home cleaning?

sink full of dishes at home in need of a home cleanerThere are a variety of factors that go into the average cost of a home clean. We’ve cleaned homes across southeastern Wisconsin; every homeowner has a different cleaning list for their home cleaner. To complete that list, the extent of the deep clean varies as well; obviously, it takes longer to clean a large kitchen over a smaller, more compact room.

The best way to answer the question is work through a multi-step process. The first step is to decide what cleaning tasks need to be done in the home. A home cleaner can do any of the following tasks: laundry, floor cleaning, bathroom and kitchen deep cleans, carpet cleanings, seasonal cleaning (i.e. spring cleaning, washing windows), or a full-home deep clean. Make a list of cleaning tasks, document the estimated square footage of the room or home, and the frequency of the home cleaning (i.e. weekly, monthly, annually, etc.) This information is going to be needed when contacting a local home cleaning service.

The next step in determining the cost of home cleaning is to determine whether to hire an individual home cleaner or home cleaning service. There are pros and cons to each home cleaning option.

  • An individual home cleaner tends to cost less, but doesn’t always have the flexibility to meet the needs of a thriving home. A home cleaning service should be able to meet the set schedule, as well as any “emergency” cleanings that need to be completed (i.e. before a party or the holidays, after a mess, etc.)
  • When an individual home cleaner has an emergency, there are no back-ups. A home cleaning service has a team of flexible and experienced home cleaners available at request, and to cover scheduled cleanings when a cleaner is sick or another issue arises.
  • Not all individual cleaners carry insurance that can be invaluable to a homeowner in case of an issue while cleaning; home cleaning services typically do (this should be one of many questions asked when hiring a home cleaner).

The last step is contacting home cleaners and asking them a series of questions. These questions can be asked in-person or via message. Make sure you are clear on all prices; some home cleaners charge hourly while others charge per square foot. To ensure a satisfactory performance and experience, make your expectations clear and keep an open line of communication with the home cleaner or cleaning service.

Facility Managers: 6 Fall Building Deep Cleaning ‘Musts’

commercial building that needs summer building maintenanceFor facility managers, fall is more than a time of changing leaf colors and dropping temperatures. The fall season is the ideal time to check items off the fall cleaning checklist and prepare company buildings for the freezing temperatures to come.

Flooring Cleaning

The upcoming season dictates a full facility floor deep clean and advanced planning. Plan a fall facility floor cleaning for common company down times or contact a commercial cleaning service that can deep clean floors during off-hours. Schedule floor cleaning for times when office staff are gone (such as weekends) or factory shut-downs when the floor is empty. A regular floor stripping and deep cleaning protects facility floors from long-term damage. Regular floor deep cleanings also can save money in other ways, as well; if floors are not deep cleaned, incidences of workplace injuries can increase and the next floor clean can cost more because of excessive build-up.

Duct Cleaning

Duct cleaning is an essential facility deep cleaning task, both for the health of the HVAC system and for employees. A comprehensive duct cleaning can improve system efficiency and overall employee air quality. Specifically, allergy sufferers are sure to thank facility managers; duct cleaning removes many common allergens, such as dust, mold, and mildew, and improve indoor air quality.

Restroom Sanitation

Regular restroom sanitation prevents the spread of illness and infections (i.e. cold viruses, stomach flu, influenza, hepatitis, etc.) which can reduce employee productivity and increase the amount of employee sick days (these other tips can keep employees healthy as well). Since winter is typically the time of year when illnesses spread, a complete restroom sanitation is a critical preventative measure.

Office Common Areas

Printers, conference rooms, kitchens, and other common areas can become a hotbed for germs and dust. Before windows are shut, and employees are trapped inside, do a general deep cleaning of office common areas.

Exterior Cleaning

A facility exterior cleaning is an important part of building maintenance; gutter cleaning, for example, can prevent ice dams and other issues throughout the winter. Other items on the exterior cleaning checklist should include parking lot maintenance, tree and bush trimming and clean-up, building pressure washing, window washing, and concrete washing. Allocate staff for exterior cleaning tasks that can be handled in-house, and outsource other exterior cleaning tasks to companies that can meet the seasonal deadline.

Rug Laundering

Rugs and mats are your first facility’s line of defense against tracked-in gravel and water. Strategically place rugs by all doors and in high traffic areas, such as hallways, restrooms, and break rooms. Track your employees’ activity to ensure that all high traffic areas are covered and the flooring does not wear down (and needs to be prematurely replaced). Have all rugs laundered regularly and promptly so they are ready to be replaced before more gravel—and even snow—is tracked in.