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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
7.1 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
9.1 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
10.1 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.