It’s the middle of summer. The students are taking a hard-earned break away from their studies and now is the time for deep cleaning. Areas that were in service for nine months can now be cleaned and disinfected from top to bottom; ensuring that another crop of students will begin their studies in a safe and healthy environment. The size and scope of summer project cleaning is immense, and that’s why a good summer project cleaning and maintenance plan can be your road map to success. However, a study performed by Texas A&M revealed that nearly 28% of the 72 Texas schools they surveyed had never updated their cleaning and maintenance plan; and 33% of those schools surveyed were unaware of an existing plan. Does your school or university fall into one of these statistics? If so, we’re here to help. In this blog, we’ll discuss how to create a new summer project cleaning plan so you can keep your school or university on the frontlines of clean.
Step One: Collect Feedback
Before you begin the important task of creating your summer project cleaning plan, it’s always a good idea to solicit feedback from all facility stakeholders – parents, students, staff, cleaners, etc. – of what clean looks like to them. Opinions and stories from building occupants that frequently use certain areas may reveal areas that require improvement. The survey can be easily accomplished online, through a mailing, or even in-person. No matter how the data is collected, it will serve as an invaluable resource to create new standards and areas of improvement for your summer project cleaning.
Collect feedback before you implement a summer project cleaning plan.
Step Two: Do the Research
Don’t let those trade mags pile up on your desk throughout the year. Take the time to review them regularly. “Know more today than you did yesterday” is a great axiom for any industry to embrace. Since, summer deep cleaning is likely the biggest challenge your team will face during a year, set aside ample time for this step. Look for products and processes that not only help with labor costs, but also improve the lives of your team and stakeholders. Are there areas where investing in innovation can reduce risk of injury? Are there products that are as effective as your current methods but are better for the environment? Staying engaged and informed by following trusted sources in the industry can help to illuminate new trends and technologies leading to big improvements in your summer deep cleaning processes and planning.
Step Three: Ask the Hard Questions
You’ve asked for feedback and you’ve done the research. Now take some time to sit back and ask yourself some audacious questions. Example: Since most schools and universities tackle high dusting and high cleaning on ladders or lifts, you might ask, “What would it take to keep my team off of ladders this summer?” Questions like these have led to incredible innovations in the cleaning industry. So, don’t miss an opportunity to reflect on current processes, products, and equipment to see if there are ways that you can improve. Some additional critical questions might include:
- How can we improve safety this summer?
- How can we improve efficiencies?
- How can we improve upon the physical requirements of our cleaning staff? Are there more ergonomic ways to achieve the same results?
Ask questions about your current process and find places to improve.
Step Four: Establish Zones and Tasks
In this critical step, pull out your facility floor plan and begin breaking it up into zones. Then create task lists for each zone. Since the goal of summer project cleaning is to return the facility to as close to pristine as possible, it’s very important to be very thorough with this step. We recommend a focused walkthrough of each zone. Using the two-step cleaning and top-to-bottom cleaning methods as a guidepost may help to reveal areas that need the most attention. Some of the more common zones and tasks for school or university summer project cleaning include:
- Entryways and hallways – walls and ceilings, lighting fixtures and covers, baseboards, horizontal surfaces, windows, screens, vents, grates, rugs, carpets, drinking fountains, etc.
- Common areas – furniture, ceilings, walls, baseboards, vending machines, fridges, kitchenettes, etc.
- Restrooms – walls and ceilings, all product dispensers, drains, windows, screens, partitions and doors, etc.
- Classrooms – walls, vents, windows and screens, computers, monitors, keyboards, desks, tables, maps, corkboards, doors, all dispensers, pencil sharpeners, etc.
- Cafeterias – tables, chairs, counters, walls and ceilings, doors, cabinets, kitchen, etc.
- Dormitories – walls and ceilings, common areas (see above), restrooms (see above), bed frames, closets, desks, windows, doors, etc.
- Gymnasiums and workout rooms – seating, lockers, weights and machines, wrestling mats, vents, walls and ceilings, etc.
- Maintenance rooms and closets – walls and ceilings, desks, lockers, lighting fixtures, etc.
Hallways and drinking fountains are common zones.
Once you’ve established your zones and tasks, create very detailed task lists and zone maps for each zone. Your staff can use them to methodically check off assigned tasks and shade in areas as they are completed. Providing clear communication and expectations to your cleaning and maintenance staff prior to summer project cleaning can help to maintain your team’s morale and motivation during the demanding summer schedule.
Step Five: Supplies and Resources
Now that you have identified your zones and tasks, get to work taking an inventory of the equipment, products, and labor you will need to accomplish your plan. Remember those hard questions you asked earlier? Now is the time to address them. Look critically at your equipment and assess whether a capital investment in new cleaning innovations can help save you time and money while keeping your staff healthy and up to the challenge. For example: Since full-time custodians are injured on the job up to two times as much as the private sector, are there cleaning products that are safer for your staff use and are they as effective? (PathoSans technology can create safer and effective green cleaning solutions with water, salt and a little electricity – learn more here.)
Taking the time to follow these five steps when creating your plan may yield enormous dividends in the precious commodities of time and money. The cleaning industry is speedily moving forward into the future to make the lives of building occupants and cleaners better. The more you strive to keep your school or university on the frontlines of clean, the more positive your contribution will be to the success of the institution and to all of its stakeholders.