Washroom maintenance is an important part of a building or facility’s overall cleaning program. Washroom conditions have a direct and immediate impact on a company’s image with employees, customers, and the public. Few will generate complaints faster than a washroom that is poorly maintained or out of supplies. An appropriate service schedule may include hourly spot cleaning.
When We Clean Washrooms
The best time to service a washroom is when it is not in use. This is not always possible. Many washrooms require service throughout the day and other facilities such as factories and airports are open around the clock. In locations where no other facilities are available nearby, shutting down the washroom for extended periods may be impractical. In such locations an attendant of the appropriate gender may avoid closing the facility. Or a very brief shutdown for spot cleaning may be acceptable with heavy cleaning being done during the slowest use period, which is usually late at night or shortly after break or lunch times when most users are back at work.
Chemicals, Supplies and Equipment
- Standard Chemicals
- Abrasive Powder–Do Not Use! Will damage surfaces by scratching and remove the shine, making cleaning more difficult in the future. Use liquid cleanser instead.
- Bleach–Do not use! Hazardous to workers, and will damage surfaces. More effective and safer products are available. Use a disinfectant detergent instead.
- Disinfectant Detergent–Used for general purpose cleaning and to sanitize fixtures, counters, floors & other surfaces. Apply with a rag, sponge, or spray. Do not rinse, allow to air dry.
- Glass Cleaner–Used on mirrors, glass and stainless steel.
- Stainless Steel Polish–Used to clean and polish stainless steel and chrome surfaces and dispensers.
- Liquid Cleanser–A non-abrasive liquid used to remove stains and soil from fixtures without damaging the surface.
- Bowl Cleaner–An acid based chemical used to remove stains, water marks, and mineral deposits from inside of toilet bowls and urinals. Should not be used on seats, chrome, stainless, or floors as it will cause damage or injury.
- Deodorizer–A fragrant liquid, jell, or block used to create the impression of cleanliness or to cover an offensive odor. Green apple, orange or lemon are popular fragrances that are sprayed after cleaning to leave a clean fresh smell in the air.
- Standard Disposable Supplies:
- Paper towels, toilet tissue, sanitary products
- Hand soap, seat covers, paper cups
- Standard Cleaning Supplies:
- Plastic liners (clear and red)
- Rags or wipers, sponges, rubber gloves
- White and Green scrubbing pads
- Bowl swab & caddie, safety glasses
- Standard Cleaning Equipment:
- Housekeeping or trash cart
- Mop, pail and wringer
- Wet floor signs and barrier tape
- Putty knife and razor blade scraper
- Lambs wool duster
- Broom or dust mop, dust pan
- Dispenser keys & inspection mirror
When working in a location with multiple washrooms serviced by one person, the most efficient approach is to keep all your supplies and equipment on a housekeeping cart that has a trash bag for waste pick up. Using the cart will keep everything needed close at hand, saving you time and energy walking back and forth to a supply closet. Do not store supplies in the washroom unless they can be secured against pilferage. Restock the cart at the end of each shift or as needed through out the day.
How to Clean Washrooms
- Prepare the cart and proceed to the assigned area. Check to make sure everything you need is on the cart before leaving the supply closet and know which washroom you should clean first and approximately how long it should take.
- Announce arrival, prop door open. Knock loudly on the door and Say “Housekeeping, Hello, is anybody in here?” Use a door stop, your mop pail, cart or a sign to block entry if appropriate.
- Remove trash, check dispensers, and dust. Remove and tie off liners that are full, or push trash down with something other than your hand or foot. Check dispensers and dust partition tops and other eye level surfaces as you proceed around the room. Leave open those dispensers that need refilling.
- Apply disinfectant to fixtures, partitions and counters. Use a bucket & rag or a spray tank or bottle.
- Clean and restock paper and soap dispensers. Full, operational, no visible soil. Chrome and stainless: shiny with no streaks. Towel protruding. Do not over fill. Test.
- Sweep, vacuum, or dust mop the floor. No lint, soil, paper or debris visible.
- Clean urinals, toilets, sinks, counters and mirrors. Fixtures & counters: disinfected, no soil, streaks, water marks, hair or spots visible, seats up. Chrome and stainless: shiny, no water marks, streaks or soil. Mirrors: spotless, no streaks, splatters, watermarks or adhesive visible.
- Clean walls, vents, partitions, light switches, entrance and exit doors, knobs, frames and thresholds. No visible soil, graffiti or splatters. All surfaces clean and dust free.
- Clean trash cans, and replace liners. Can, top and surrounding walls clean, and spot free. Liner with enough space to accept trash till next service. Don’t dump unless full; push down if possible. Do not put hands or feet in trash cans.
- Wet mop the floor, flush floor drain and put up wet signs. Disinfected, clean and odor free. No visible soil, hair, paper, lint, etc. Wet signs in place by entry doors.
- Inspect your work, turn off light and close door. You will inspect your work before leaving and correct if needed. Equipment and supplies removed. Lights out, door closed.
- Proceed to next assignment area. Clean equipment; dump and rinse pail and mop. Restock cart. Return to proper storage or proceed to next assignment area.
Tips to Cut Costs and Improve Quality
- Remove graffiti immediately. Use lacquer thinner if it’s paint or felt marker, otherwise paint over it.
- Schedule periodic duties quarterly, twice, or once yearly based on the needs of the area. This includes such duties as floor stripping or scrubbing, complete washing of walls, lights, vents and ceilings.
- When cleaning a washroom, combine tasks so you are able to accomplish all your duties in two or three passes through the room. Think the process through from start to finish and you will find ways to reduce the number of trips and the time it takes.
- Eliminate all unnecessary chemicals, such as bowl cleaner.
- Use jumbo roll toilet tissue and towels. Better yet, install electric air hand dryers and eliminate paper towel purchases and disposal.
- Assign the appropriate person to clean washrooms; some individuals are suited for the work, like it, and do a great job. Others hate it and never will get the hang of it or do an acceptable job. Don’t try to force a round peg into a square hole; there is no benefit, need, or reason to do it.
- If gum or cigarette butts are problem, use urinal screens.
- To prevent damage to the floor under urinals in the men’s room, place carpeted walk off mats in this location and have them serviced by a linen rental company every week or two. This will save the floor and prevent odors.
- Limit, avoid, or eliminate the use of floor finish in washrooms; use a sealer if needed.
If the washroom gets heavy use and is a problem to maintain, schedule hourly service and install a sign off card on the back of the door to verify that the work is done as scheduled.
Establish a regular supervisory inspection schedule for all washrooms. This will help assure that quality control standards are maintained.
- Implement a four phase service schedule in high usage areas. Phase 1: Complete cleaning once a week. Phase 2: Light cleaning on a daily basis. Phase 3: spot cleaning throughout the highest usage periods. Phase 4: Inspect the area throughout the day to assure quality is maintained.
Establish written cleaning procedures for washrooms and provide ongoing training to all workers assigned to these areas. This should include the use of demonstrations, videos, and supervised hands-on practice.
- Establish a light and heavy cleaning schedule, four days light cleaning, one day per week heavy cleaning.
- Use the cleaning staff to replace burnt out lights.
- Cleaning the inside of toilet bowls and urinals with a swab is not adequate. Use a green scrub pad, liquid cleanser, and a gloved hand to obtain acceptable results. Pay special attention to the flush ring area. Use an inspection mirror to check your work. Do not use a green pad on any other surface. White pads can be used on all surfaces if light pressure is used.
- Spray as many surfaces as possible, and wipe clean with a window squeegee. If more agitation is needed, such as in the splatter area on partitions, use a window cleaners strip washer. Apply the cleaning solution with a spray bottle, pressure tank or foam gun. Hose clean the floor to a drain or use a wet vacuum to remove the soil and solution.
- When cleaning and polishing stainless steel, wipe with the grain of the metal, never across it.
- Use methods that pick up, package and dispose of soil instead of redistributing it. Avoid the use of brooms, dust mops, dry rags, and dusters that tend to cause soil to become airborne. Use a vacuum with an HEPA filter instead.
- Keep in mind that contract cleaners when bidding washroom service often calculate the time required based on two to three minutes per fixture. This includes time for servicing dispensers and daily floor care.
- Washrooms are made to be cleaned. They are one of the few areas in most modern buildings where any thought is given to cleaning during the design process. Cleaning the washroom needn’t be especially time consuming or difficult when approached in an organized and professional manner and supported by proper management controls and supervision.