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Haboob is Arabic for "blown"; that's the proper name for the dust storms that hit the Phoenix area this time of year. They come in off both desert and farmland, and pack quite a punch: "Manure and pesticides from agricultural land are prime ingredients within a haboob. Sometimes the wind will kick up brake dust and tiny pieces of tires from roads and highways as well. Spores beneath the desert crust could also go airborne, making people sick with Valley fever, a fungal lung infection." The above is from an article in "All About Arizona News", that you might just... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Janitors' Closet
Janitorial service is not a particularly dangerous business; the occasional fall or sprain usually covers it. I did, however, run across an article about a lady in Madrid who died after a couple of hours of intense housecleaning, with ammonia but not much ventilation. Ammonia used to be big in the industry. As a floor stripper, it's pretty effective; the rule of thumb 30 or 40 years ago was to add ammonia (one measured it by "glugs") to your commercial stripper if the wax looked particularly thick. You needed quite a lot of ammonia, and ventilation was of secondary concern... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
This morning, I got a call from a long-time client, a small medical facility. They needed to tell me that they are changing their restroom stock storage location (towels and TP); it had been in a locked closet, also containing their hard copy patient records. In a security review (something I wish more clients did regularly), they quite reasonably decided that limiting that closet's key access to only those dealing with patient records made good sense. So the TP and towels will be on a cart, down the hall. Good call. The restroom stock is not of quite the same... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
The security or our client facilities - client keys and door fobs, alarm codes - has long been one of my major concerns. Cleaning a couple hundred locations around Phoenix and its suburbs, we've the potential of lots of lost keys. A few years back, I took a string of credit unions from one of the more prominent janitorial franchising operations. Picked up the keys, branch by branch, that the franchisor's individual franchisees had dropped off earlier in the day. Looking at the keys to a couple of the branches, I found little sticky tags on the keys: the building... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Seattle. and some other jurisdictions, have recently banned plastic soda straws. Restaurants are not allowed to offer patrons a straw and, if asked, must provide, if anything, a compostable one. It's all part of a well thought ought campaign to halt global warming, reduce landfill volume, and save the planet. Given that plastic straws constitute, by one estimate, about 0.03% of global plastic, one might wonder why the poor plastic straw is singled out. And, given the "recycle" effect ("I recycle, so I've done my part for the environment - don't bother me with anything else."), the campaign could even... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
It seems that Tokyo's plumbing system has felt the strain of recent World Cup competition. To quote an article from Japan Times: "During their team’s 2-1 World Cup win over Colombia, Japan’s armchair soccer fans risked triggering a plumbing disaster of biblical proportions when millions rushed to the toilet at halftime. It was a case of squeaky bum time when fans finally tore themselves away from the TV last week after a nail-biting first 45 minutes, with water use jumping 24 percent in Tokyo during the break, the city’s waterworks bureau said Friday." Wonder if one could calibrate better viewer... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Caught an interesting article in Willamette Week by the above title. It mostly discusses the fervor with which folks in the trendy community fill the blue dumpsters - not just with recyclable stuff, but with and general garbage that comes to hand. Used diapers are specifically mentioned, to give a bit of color to the discussion. Culling out non-recyclables costs resources; conserving resources is, after all, the point of recycling. Besides dealing with recycle programs in doing commercial janitorial, I served a few years on the City of Phoenix's Environmental Quality Commission; we addressed various issues related to the City's... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Caught an interesting article, "Don't dry your hands with bacteria", on bacterial growth on office lunchroom towels. The bulk of our janitorial clients use disposable paper towels, but we still see a fair number of cloth towels. We also see a lot of sponges in client sinks, which have similar issues. We work hard to sanitize touch points through the office, but particularly in restrooms and lunchrooms. A lot of janitors seem to skip sanitizing the client's repeated use surfaces, such as fridge and coffee pot handles, and faucet handles. If we didn't key on such surfaces, we'd have more... Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Quite diverse messages originate in the various janitorial service blogs and newsletters I follow. It seems that the Supreme Leader of North Korea travels with his personal toilet - or, in fact, several. For reasons of State Security. That said, one might recall Barry Goldwater's jest about solving a perennial security problem by placing a bomb in the men's room at the Kremlin. But that's not the direction Kim, and his security team, are going (no pun intended). Certainly a strange and wondrous world. Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
If you think disinfecting restrooms and such, while providing commercial janitorial service, is critical, imagine the challenge NASA faces in trying to not send pathogens into space, with who knows what consequences. They assemble payloads in clean rooms, with a good deal of care. For this result: "Scientists have found strains of the Acinetobacter bacteria on the surface of the Mars Odyssey orbiter and the exterior of the International Space Station. These bacteria are typically found in soil and water. Scientists from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, CA, have discovered Acinetobacter can break down the detergent used to scrub... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
I follow various newsletters and blogs concerning the commercial building maintenance industry - sanitation issues, building security, air quality and so on. Keeps me on top of things. Caught a study by Michigan State and US Geological Survey folks, via the American Society of Agronomy, on beach closings due to E. coli alerts, in this case along the Indiana shore of Lake Michigan. On envisions too many toddlers, on the beach and in the water. Nope. To fix the problem, it would be handy to figure out the source. It seems that one can take samples from the problem beaches... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Interesting article in USA Today on "Germs at the Airport". There's been some poor science highlighting supposed dangers of passenger touch-screens: seems it's not so big a problem, and easily solved with normal hand sanitation (wash often, don't touch your nose, and so on). And, we face lots of critters every day; most are harmless, and most of the rest are not usually an issue save for the immune-compromised. A bone of contention at airports has always been restrooms - as it has in my profession, commercial janitorial service. Restrooms have been a focus in airport design and maintenance in... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Here's a picture article from the Sun, out of Great Britain, about cleaning the underside of the glass in the Grand Canyon Skywalk. We're right down the freeway, in Phoenix AZ. The glass we clean, as part of providing commercial janitorial service, is a bit different. We keep both feet on the ground (as in the photo to the right). Catch the article, and the pictures. Not much more I can say. Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
"Green Cleaning" programs should involve not only reducing your facility's environmental footprint (things like energy efficiency, recycling materials, product packaging efficiency) but also protecting the health of the humans involved. Makes sense; essentially, what protects people tends to also protect the fish downstream. We've been protecting human health, and our environment, for some 30 years. Here's how: We're certified in Greenguard Environment Institute's cleaning program, originally developed for cleaning schools, hence incorporating an emphasis on indoor air quality, dust control and touch-point sanitation. Using Greenguard's specifications, we keep you healthy via Green Seal certified chemicals, reduced chemical usage, avoiding aerosols... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Interesting proposal out of Brevard County, Florida, in response to the recent shootings. It would allow some guns in schools, to defend against or deter shooters: "... The proposal—Sheriff-Trained Onsite Marshal Program (STOMP)—would be limited to full-time staff such as custodians, vice principals, and cafeteria workers. Teachers are not eligible. Among 700 eligible workers polled by the district, almost 40 percent said they would be interested in participating." It would require some 130 hours of training for participants; one would imagine background checks as well. I quote further: "However, many people are uncomfortable with the idea, including the president of... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Caught another article on disease transmission. I've always favored avoiding hospitals whenever possible; I now discover that hospital beds, and particularly mattresses, are a ready source of hospital acquired infections. Even with sheets changed (and, one assumes, railing, headboard and bedside table disinfected), one has a close to six times better chance of picking up the pathogen from the previous occupant than if he'd not been infected in the first place. I could excerpt, but perhaps better to read the article in its entirety. Not much the janitor can do about that issue. Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Caught an interesting study, via Cleaning and Maintenance Management, concerning some 36 restroom blown-air hand dryers. It seems the air the dryer blows across your wet hands can have 20 to 60 times the bacteria load of ordinary, non-moving restroom air. No indication as to whether the critters are hiding in the blower, or they are in the air and you come into contact with a lot more of them via the blower. A hint might be that when restroom air is being moved about by a small fan, the readings fall in between the other observations. I've looked a... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Here's a pretty good example of how to misinform using statistics. Based on a survey from the National Partnership for Women & Families: " ....about one-third of women surveyed do not believe they are receiving the same pay as men in their organization with similar experience, qualifications, and job titles, according to a survey of over 800 hiring managers and over 800 workers by Career Builder." This is of "full time employees". Sounds pretty definitive, leaving aside the usual caveats about how people respond to surveys. You'll notice, however, that we're looking at annual compensation, not hourly wage. That seems... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
The trendy touch screens on restaurant tables, replacing people for taking one's dinner order, turn out to be quite germ laden, according to an article in Cleaning & Maintenance Management. And who ever washes up after ordering the cheeseburger, but before picking it up and chomping? Makes sense. In providing commercial janitorial service, we try to keep on top of various touch points around the office. Doorknobs and phone handsets are obvious, but few think about the coffee pot handle, or the touch screen on the microwave. Looks like, in addition to our current sanitation training, I'll have to look... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
We're a few days into Spring. What does that bring to mind, given that I run a janitorial service for a living? From Cleaning & Maintenance Management: "Ninety-one percent of Americans participate in some form of spring cleaning every few years, according to a recent study by the American Cleaning Institute (ACI)." Sounds high to me. Particularly suspicious was a finding that "millennials are more likely to partake in spring cleaning than baby boomers." I knew baby boomers were bad - but worse than millennials? We don't do spring cleaning. We figure that a client's facility needs to be maintained... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
It seems that the dome of the Washington state capital is covered with lichen, a periodic problem (one of the many advantages of our hot, dry Sonoran Desert climate in the Phoenix area - not much lichen). The dome authorities have to clean the dome every few years, but face an extra challenge this time; from the article: "It’s about the darkest the stains I’ve ever seen,” said Gizzi. He said that might be attributed to how the dome was last cleaned in 2012. Gizzi said the state chose not to use the traditional chemical cleaner, which was thought to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Quoted a string of health care clinics the other day; a concern at several of them was the constant irritation of grubby handprints on doors, door jambs, and so on - never addressed by the janitorial service. It occurred to me that if the touch-points were not being cleaned, they certainly could not be sanitized. I'm always surprised, looking in my competitor's janitor closets (I run a janitorial service in Phoenix AZ), how seldom I see proper equipment for touch-point cleaning and sanitation. (Touch-points would include door jambs, knobs and push plates; elevator buttons; stair rails; counters; interior glass -... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Arizona sports some 40 species of scorpion. All are poisonous to some degree; while none are generally fatal (Arizona has not seen a death in 40 years, that we know of), they can be remarkably inconvenient, and painful. Scorpion season starts when the weather warms in March, and when (as one might suppose) they emerge from hibernation, they tend to be hungry. They eat crickets, spiders and various bugs, and thus are quite useful. Our janitorial clients who regularly employ pest control services thus provide little attraction for the hungry scorpion. But the scorpion might just need to scout our... Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Quoted a place the other day. Current service is a franchise; besides various service deficiencies, and not being able to handle window washing or carpet cleaning, there's the occasional missed visit (the janitor never bothers to call the client; when the client calls the janitor, he's told something about the car being down). The above one can deal with (given a bit of patience). What took the cake was the video footage showing the franchisee taking his young kids along. Now, we have security and liability issues. Say, the child - unattended, and amusing himself with anything from the paper... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Caught an article on a local site regarding dust storms, and the notification there-of. The State Department of Transportation emails dust storm alerts on a county-by-county basis, mostly to alert drivers of an approaching storm and the attendant lack of visibility. Problem is, Arizona has counties larger than some states, so a county-wide alert covers, often. quite a wider area than will the dust storm. So people receive a warning, see no dust storm and suspect they're "crying wolf". The new system will be much more localized and, it is hoped, get more notice and respect. They'll upgrade flash flood... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet