Office Cleaning Tips - Give Yourself A Break

Cleanliness is next to   Godliness - and Holy or Holistic wholesomeness is an attribute we should be looking for, especially if you've been eating at your desk and rely on the evening cleaner to pick up the pieces for you. Holy-Days and ritual washing came into being as it was seen that the more a people kept clean, the less they succumbed to various afflictions.


There are no definitive legal colour codes for cleaning equipment, but it is generally accepted that  Red is exclusive to toilets; Blue for canteens & maybe Yellow for sink areas and Green for medical, first aid, flooring & general areas . For many provincial premises that's too many buckets & mops so it's accepted that only red and another colour are usually found. Never use red outside of the toilet. Not even if it's a brand new clean red cloth, and your last and only cloth.
Essential equipment in most workplaces, banks especially, are Cameras - you will be seen, and run the risk of dismissal. There are the cameras you can see and for public awareness, typically in the customer area. Then there are the security ones against for employees that look like grills, or maybe motion sensors. In financial houses these are in the toilets too, and viewable by senior management. Ostensibly used only when money has gone astray, you can be assured they may also check on your cleaning habits. Then there maybe any type of insurance related observance from covert pinhole cameras located almost anywhere - fire smoke detectors and computerware are favoured. Mime is performed in black & white for a reason - it lets the viewer concentrate on intent, rids the stage of distracting colour. Security cameras are black & white - and they read intent like a book, so you best rid yourself of any designs on the £3.28 tea money or £14.67 in the nearly full charity box, before you go into your £50/wk job. hoover animation swallowing cleaning lady & producing Elvis
The vacuum cleaning is the next main electrical job - prior to plugging in, clean the lead by running it through a damp cloth, then check it for breaks in the insulation. It can't be used if wires are showing, and if the insulation is kinked or nicked report it to your supervisor. The PAT testing is usually on a schedule and date labelled on the machine.

Mops are a contentious issue. They need rinsing, then stood upright, or hung up, to dry; or they will pong. A greyed mop doesn't want replacing - a worn mop wants replacing. Discoloured water is also fine, it's how it works - the sediment sits in the bucket after wringing. A good 100sqft can be cleaned with one bucket's worth of water. Cloths are similar, needing a good rinse after use, and the hotter the water the quicker and cleaner it will all dry (70degrees for 10 minutes gets rid of as much bacteria as boiling water). And bacteria brings us nicely to the cleaning liquids..


Bleach is banned, it can give off toxicity if mixed, and irreparably damages carpets and furnishings and cleaner's eyes if splashed.    Cream  Cleaner likewise, as it also clogs drains (it doesn't dissolve, it's a suspension). Ammonia based products too. Pressurised cans are frowned upon for polishes and freshener as they're dangerous if warmed or dented. Many hairdresser shopfronts have been totally nuked by a girl putting cans in a sunny display. That really only leaves the coloured liquids the professional 'bunzle-based' companies use, and these aren't as harmless as they're made out to be. Diluted well they should pose no problem - but then they aren't aromatic - and you're supposed to leave the place smelling nice. To achieve this I usually keep a soap sachet just for adding a little to these dilute spray liquids. I have used radox type bath smellies, and they work nicely if kept lite, in the background.
coloured chemistry flasks Citrus is generally too tart for office environments, and the vogue for environmental lemon washing-up liquid can leave annoying but harmless white precipitate in sinks. The red fluid can be used as a mild descale in toilets if proprietary descaler isn't on site. With no polishes (or air fresheners), mirrors and taps often need a dry cloth buffing.
Glass cleaners are generally of poor quality in commercial cleaning - the Mr Muscle stuff used at home is way too powerful and dangerous for an insured company to utilise. So generally, it's adding a bit of soap, or blue cleaning fluid to aid matters. Usually it's just a small area where customers have been that needs marks wiping away. If clear alcoholic hand gel is around, it can give a super finish to a small problematic area. It's generally verboten to mix chemicals, and adding green to the others makes an unpleasant aroma, but after several years I've found soap to be pretty safe.


Giving yourself a break from the daily grind is what it's all about, cleaning cleverly instead of dogmatically. Obviously read any crib sheets for areas tasked to you, but also be sympathetic to tradition. I'm technically not assigned to do washing up, the inside of white goods, emptying the shredder, looking after computer equipment - but after several years I'm like a Tazmanian Devil and can get hoovering, wiping & mopping accomplished with time to spare...unless some idjit's been up the stairs in farmer's wellies, or scattered shreddies the length of the building.
The customer facing areas, the banking hall or shop side of sales counters are first on the agenda. I like to empty the vacuum bag pretty regularly as a heavy hoover is just making work, gets hot, loses suction and takes longer. I'm not sure there's such a thing as spot-hoovering, but raking a clean section of carpet 300 times a year is an awful waste of everybody's time, money & electric. So go for the obvious grime & grits, but walk the entire carpet. You can be assured an employee in there 8hrs a day will see any bits you missed. Nipping the carpet tool pipe off and hoovering hole punches, toaster trays in the canteen, and the shredder environs, will save time and energy and possible mess later. I have washed the inner filters, but some papier types can drop to bits or clog, so tapping the filter in a bin occasionally is probably a better bet.
Any laminate or tiling gets mopped, but I generally hoover it first. Even chewing gum & tar can be hoovered up with luck. I don't take a mop bucket out if it's a partially carpeted area, as I've seen cringe-worthy stains from splashing around with detergents near them. Just squirting the hard floor liberally with the diluted green liquid and soap mix, and mopping it up, is enough to remove all the dirt. The bases of display stands can also be mopped, if you keep the mop in a rinsed condition after cleaning. The toilets, of course, should be red mopped, and probably with the red liquid, to make them hygienic.
Wiping and dusting can be the most problematic. Do you touch the windows, which are generally window-cleaner territory, or do you leave the entrails of the Great Auk on the window for another few days 'til he comes to clean them. Which is the best cloth (generally never a yellow duster or micro-cloth, but the altogether rarer silk type). You'll see dust build up and hand-prints, and get to know each computer mouse owner's hygiene rating.... I keep all liquids away from the computers, and give them only the lightest of damp wipes or screen dusting. With the washing up, I let it soak and go and do other tasks to come back to it later. It's a fact that you're at the mercy of any employee disease and illness, just as they are from you, so observing good hygiene is for everyone's benefit. Putting dried pots and cutlery away is a good tidier of the kitchen, especially if a lite scour is given to the sink.

Upholstery, customer side or office side, can suddenly become an embarrasment to the company. A good commercial spray is sometimes available, but not always, and I often resort to buying a small spray and keeping it at the back of the cupboard. A biohazard kit should be availiable if wet bodily fluid is involved, and the cleaning company will often give you extra time to clean such areas. Utilising vinyl or marigold gloves is a good idea, although repeated spraying, wiping, drying and hoovering can get such sites near normal again within a week.
small smilie being dragged into a toilet by a hand Toilets are generally pro-wipable and offer little danger. I generally flush them and leave, as I assess and switch lights on, putting wedges under doors, and emptying the bins, coming back to spray wipe. Don't ever kneel, always squat to wipe low down. I once floor-clothed what I thought was a clean toilet floor, having mopped it extensively the day before.... I had to chuck the cloth away...
Sources of smells in toilets are generally in the U-bend plumbing and coming out of the overflow vent in the sinks. Letting taps run, spraying into the overflows, down the chute of sanitary boxes, and changing bin-bags within the week, all go to a fresher experience. Many blue toilet cleaners explicitly say not to leave them in the pan as they'll rot the enamel....yet it's come to be do it, but sparingly.
I empty the bins daily instead of letting them get full over the week. Quite often they'll need a wipe and occasional wash-out if food has crept inbetween the bag & bin, and they can become the fragrance of the kitchen if you put a little bit of soap and red liquid in them prior to fitting the bag. Usually the bin bag is too large, so grabbing a corner and gathering the excess up, then rotating the bin until the excess becomes a tight-wad, and tucking it just inside the now tightened liner, ensures a cleaner fit. Always ensure full liners stored for collection day are knotted tightly.


There used to be a witty sign in some cafes: The Impossible We Do At Once, Miracles Take A Little Longer... . On taking on a new job I found it had been soured by poor customer-staff relations over the course of 3 cleaning contracts.

  • The Banking hall floor was a rich dark mahogany - using the green fluid and washing (the tar out of) the mop with hot water every night, got this back to it's original light sandalwood!
  • The rear toilet and safe area had a black tiled skirting that had been repeatedly spotted with white paint over the course of historical decoratings. I brillo-padded a few each night; within a month they were paint free and back to their dark buiscuit colour!
  • Every till footwell cable run was chocka-block with staples, paper clips, old brittle biros, money & assorted jetsam. I sorted one each night. I think the charity box made £2+ that week from refound coins!
  • Each desk draw had biblical era selotape welded around from many reminder notices. I did a desk an evening with a worn green scourer, and they all came back to a clean finish without loss of any laminate!

  • Recovering the desks got me a thank-you from the Manageress to head office, and the tide had turned regarding her FAITH, in the cleaners!

  • Clearing the limited locker space of old Facilit8, OCS & Interserve coshe and monitoring folders allowed space for more stuff to be put away. Neater, Safer, Cleaner & Legal again!
  • Old rusty equipment and duplicates were kept as no operative had the confidence in a poor customer climate to chuck any away. With permission from my supervisor who was reluctant to use £10 of fuel to collect £5 of equipment, I 'disappeared' several brushes, and mop types no longer in use, to other premises where they were in use. The office staff got their cloakroom back!
  • The numerous large white-boards all suffered from historical scrawlings that refused to be moved by whiteboard cleaner. Every one came back to brand new with a determined damp cloth rub.
  • The thermostats on the kitchen emersion heater was pretty inoperable without it's knobs. I found them, cleaning the cupboard tops, and eventually re-fixed them. The casing wasn't fully on, so none of the knobs had been shoving in to where they 'clicked' and stayed!
  • Most Safes are gloss painted, they aren't dark, rough, monoliths. With a good rub every evening, the creamy gray gloss is back as shiny as a car's surface!
  • The walls & doors & computer cable track all had similar half removed selotape, like the desks. These were none-scourable, and the odd can of polish and rough cloth eventually removed it all. The staff are so pleased to get clean real-estate back, the current supervisor has gone to minimalist 'lean working' as far as posters and notices go!

Time was when I used to be oblivious to the possibility of things going wrong; entering while staff of the opposite sex did overtime, having chats. These days I think it pays to be circumspect and at least let them work in peace if timing permits. Being in the building alone, if you don't log-out, maybe someone may raise an alarm, but not always. So don't even think of going where doors could lock you in; or cleaning deliberate employee negligence or mess; or doing dangerous climbing - it's not expected of you, and could well get you into trouble one way or another.
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