Does Good Cleaning Take Longer?

Clients and janitorial companies alike strive for the best possible clean each night.  The challenge in achieving this ultimately falls on the shoulders of the people doing the cleaning.  There is a saying in the cleaning business called “trash and dash” which basically refers to cleaners that move through a facility at the speed of light, pretty much just dumping trash, spot vacuuming and giving the bathrooms a quick once over with a good smelling cleaning solution.  A more savvy trash-and-dasher will polish the stainless steel and clean the glass that meets the eye when entering the bathroom and take care of the most obvious smudges on glass throughout a facility.  Everything looks bright and smells clean right?  Well, not when you look more closely.  The carpets will have allot of soil build up especially along the edges and in the corners and most horizontal surfaces will have a thick accumulation of dust.  Toilets and sinks will not be properly disinfected and hard surface flooring will be filthy.  And you can forget about ever getting a vacuum under desks and furniture where food and insects will abound.

An obvious question at this point is why do cleaners trash-and-dash?  For some it is just a bad habit.  Regardless of how much they are paid to clean a facility, they cannot help themselves- they will trash-and-dash into persona non grata status and then go onto the next facility.  For others, it is the fact that they are underpaid, which usually results from an underbid cleaning contract.  Some commercial cleaning companies will do and say anything to get your business.  They will give you extensive cleaning schedules that in no way are commensurate with the price they are charging.  I once saw a cleaning schedule that allocated 6 hours per night to clean a large medical clinic.  On the cleaning schedule was a line item which required the crew to clean and disinfect the inside and outside of all trash cans, of which there were over 100 in the facility!  This alone would take at least three hours a night leaving only 3 hours to clean the rest of the clinic!  An impossible task for even the most experienced cleaner.

However, I believe that the most common cause of the trash-and-dash syndrome is the fact that most cleaners believe that good cleaning just takes too long.  Like most humans, cleaners will gravitate towards what is fast and easy.  This osmosis has the effect of creating huge voids in the overall cleanliness of a facility.  You might have great looking entrance doors but horrible looking floors, or great looking stainless steel but rings at the edge of the water line in your toilet bowls.  The hardest thing as a manager of a commercial cleaning crew is to get cleaners to understand that the cumulative affect of good cleaning is less time and less strain.  It is the idea of investing in the cleanliness of a facility for the long term.  Overtime, good cleaning compresses cleaning times while bad cleaning has the opposite affect.  Bad cleaning lingers and grows in a facility until a gargantuan deep clean takes place.  And to add insult to injury, this usually comes as an additional expense to the client after months of putting up with inadequate janitorial services.  The bottom line is that it is necessary too insist on consistently good cleaning in order to have a consistently clean facility.  Equally important is to understand that over-promise-under-perform cleaning contracts are not viable and that they will more than likely result in bad cleaning and a bevy of trashing-and-dashing.