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In remembrance of our veterans: Two Marine sentries, guarding a gate in Ramadi, Iraq in 2008, looked up to see a blue truck barreling down upon them. In a speech he gave in 2010, General Kelly told their story. Two years ago when I was the Commander of all U.S. and Iraqi forces, in fact, the 22nd of April 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 "The Walking Dead," and 2/8 were switching out in Ramadi. One battalion in the closing days of their deployment going home very soon, the other just starting its seven-month combat tour. Two Marines, Corporal Jonathan... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Janitors' Closet
Since the senseless tragedy in Pittsburgh, I've noticed several commenting on, and quoting portions of, George Washington's letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, on 18 August 1790. It well expresses the philosophy of our Founders regarding freedom of conscience. What I've not seen remarked on is an elegant turn of phrase in the second paragraph (of the part I've quoted) that I've long admired. Religious "tolerance" was the then enlightened view in much of the Western world, and a much touted virtue. Note Washington's take on "tolerance": "...The citizens of the United States of America have a... Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
According to a study reported by our friends at CMM, sunlight saps the viability of bacteria in household dust, cutting their reproduction success from 12% to 6.1%. A substantial improvement (for us), but much less than perfect. But note - the article mentions that removal of dust might be the better solution, suggesting vacuuming, dusting with microfiber cloths, and so on. It suggests a backpack vacuum, and a paper bag (not just a cloth bag) so as to catch particles down to about a micron in diameter. Good advice as far as it goes, but a HEPA filter would be... Continue reading
Posted Oct 26, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
In recent weeks, we've seen an outbreak of Ebola in the Congo; civil war and general lawlessness has made combating the outbreak quite difficult for authorities. Here's some thoughts I sent out several years back, during the heavily publicized outbreak in West Africa. Given a more and more connected world, you never know what might turn up on our doorstep. And, in passing, OSHA has recently updated its guidelines, here's a copy. While I certainly do not expect to deal with suspected Ebola cases, or locations containing the pathogen, I've used the crisis as a conversation starter among my staff... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Another little wrinkle on proper hand washing: we ought prefer paper towels to forced air dryers not simply because the air dryers blow pathogens all over heck and gone, to be inhaled by yourself and anyone else handy (no, that was not intended as a pun). The article puts it well: Hand dryers, however, while seemingly quicker and more convenient, literally suck up all of that restroom bacteria and blow it around the restroom and onto one’s just-washed hands—leaving them just as dirty, or even dirtier, than before they were washed. But further, irt seems that the bit of abrasion... Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Seems that firms in San Francisco are having trouble finding janitors, and those to staff many other lower paying jobs, because of the lack of affordable housing within a one to two hour commute to the city. One begins to appreciate the severity of the situation when it's noted that many $50,000 "entry level" jobs present the same problem. Doubtless, San Francisco's lack of land for housing is exacerbated by the Pacific, just to its left. But many states and cities - particularly San Francisco and California - have created much of their own problem, with "open space" regulations (areas... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Some time back, a customer asked us about using compostable plastic trash liners at their facility. As we feature a health and environment friendly commercial cleaning program - careful chemical selection and use, indoor air quality Improvement technology, recycling programs - our client base tends to be aware of environmental concerns. Compostable trash bags are available, and they work. Problem is, for them to work, they have eventually to be composted. Landfills in the Phoenix area do not try to compost; the climate is a bit too dry. So there is no upside, environmental or otherwise, to the liners. Further,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
I've posted several times over the years about the benefits of handwashing. We encourage it among our commercial janitors, in conjunction with latex gloves and a pathogen defeating hand lotion. But this is the first I've seen of how to do it properly (you thought it was simple?) 1) Wet your hands under running water (standing water in the basin could be contaminated), and add soap 2) Lather by rubbing your hands, all over (helps lift dirt and pathogens) 3) Scrub for 20 seconds or so (best guess - not much in the way of studies seem available) to remove... Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Caught an article in The Chronicle about Duke University rearranging their campus janitorial schedule to cover Saturday and Sunday cleaning in dorm restrooms, the library and other facilities used seven days per week. Covering seven day usage facilities with seven day cleaning makes sense; that's what we do. What Duke did to accommodate weekends was to move their cleaning staff to an every two week rotation, with a Saturday and Sunday v.s. Thursday and Friday day off routine. Makes sense on the face of it, but some of the janitorial staff express concerns about meeting family obligations, and keeping weekend-only... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
I noticed that we'd been mentioned in a Facebook post, in a thread on, of all things, psychics. Paul Kenyon, now retired, was for quite a time our operations manager, supervising our commercial cleaners. Here's his note, and the comment that occasioned it: Tom Gleason I called a radio station one time that had a psychic on it...she got on the phone and said, “what’s your name?” I replied with, “you tell me, you’re the psychic.” They cut me off. 🤣 🤣 🤣 1 Manage 15h Paul Kenyon I gotta tell ya a quick story. I was production manager for... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Here's another study on restroom surface sanitation reflecting differences in restrooms supplying paper hand towels to their users as opposed to restrooms using jet air dryers; the conclusion: "Multiple examples of significant differences in surface bacterial contamination, including by fecal and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, were observed, with higher levels in JAD versus PT washrooms. Hand-drying method affects the risk of (airborne) dissemination of bacteria in real-world settings." Three European hospitals were tested over a 12 week period, so a good many people, and germs, were involved. As I understand it, the difference comes from critters still present on hands after washing... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Caught an article on environmental concerns in the wake of flooding in North Carolina, that I'd wager many folks haven't tumbled to. Not much more to say; interesting read. Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Provocative study by researchers just down the road at Arizona State University, proposing a link between Polluted air and Alzheimer's disease. Some 7 million American adults' health records were perused; the connection drawn is between fine particulate matter in residential air and an accumulation of such particles in the brain, causing inflammation, which is in turn associated with dementia. The article, in All About Arizona News, gives little information on how pollution levels were measured and then correlated with an individual's health records; it mentions studies showing some health impact to folks living near busy highways, so one assumes the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Here are some thoughts I published a bit ago; it's time again: Sick employees coming to work will infect others, who will infect others. Here's an article quoting a friend, Dr. Charles Gerba, down the road at the University of Arizona: “In our studies, we found if we put a tracer virus on the doorknob of an office building, we can detect it on 50 percent of the people’s hands that work in the office and half of the surfaces they commonly touch,” says Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona. “People who come to work with... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Following clients and vendors with presence in the Carolinas, I notice quite a bit of thoughtful preparation in advance of the storm. Very useful. Here's a handy OSHA checklist of hazards to keep in mind. In any disaster clean=up situation, one ought fully evaluate beforehand, look for fall risks, assume power lines to be live, break out protective gear, and use ladders and chain saws properly. While we don't get involved in much major disaster clean-up (we concentrate on our core business, commercial janitorial), we keep a pretty fair rolodex of firms that do. And we're always ready to provide... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
No, not what you think. It'd the plastic security trays where you put your carry-on items. Influenza, rhinovirus- none of which were found on the toilets. But only about half of them tested positive. You need to watch shop payment terminals, check in counters, child play areas, stair rails - about what you'd expect. And about what we tend to stress in sanitizing touch-points in commercial office cleaning. Also - wash your hands, and carry some sanitizer along. Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
In providing commercial janitorial service, we do our best to be a generalized resource to our clients on most anything regarding cleaning, maintenance or disposal - and not just recyclables. Caught an interesting article in the New York Times about what not to flush; dental floss, condoms, contact lenses, wipes, most any plastic, medications - it's a long list. Essentially, sewage treatment plants are not designed to deal with much beyond human waste and TP. Rather than my giving you excerpts, best to sent you directly to the article. Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Chicago Public Schools have recently not re-hired some 266 employees - close to 60% of them teachers - when background checks uncovered unsavory antics. Per the article, in Cleaning & Maintenance Management: "The school district conducted the background checks in response to a Chicago Tribune investigation earlier in the year that found some school employees who were fired for abusing students had criminal backgrounds the school district didn’t know about." We've always thought that a background check was best performed before putting someone to work; that might particularly apply to folks working around children. In passing, we don't just background... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Keeping restroom stalls graffiti free is covered in a perceptive article at CMM. Of prime importance is the author's call to view the stall from the point of view of the user. We train our folks to inspect their own work (as far as is humanely possible). When you've finished a cleaning job and put away your equipment, pause, put on your other hat and walk through the facility as would my daytime customer service representative, trying to find issues that the client might notice. Sit down at the reception desk; you'll better see prints on the front door, or... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
The above observation, from Ben Franklin, neatly encapsulates the significance of a recent article in Cleaning and Maintenance Management, summarizing the "how-to" of planning for everything from a flood to a cyber attack. Similarly, here's a bit on planning out in advance what to do in response to an active shooter in the vicinity, either at work or out in public. We stress security in delivering janitorial services, but mostly focus on our own folks: personnel screening and back-grounding, identity verification, key and alarm code security, segregating client keys from alarm codes from client identifiers (name, address, etc.) and such.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Unexpected article in the European Cleaning Journal. A proposal is in front of Glasgow's City Council to require cleaners to wear body cameras while on duty. OK - it involves street cleaners, not the commercial janitors I employ. But the point is not to spy out irregularities in the work habits of the cleaners, but to protect them from hostile crowds. (I thought Scotland used to be law-abiding - at least, after the '45. Go figure.) Per the article: "A spokesman from the council cleansing section of the UK's general trade union GMB said: "We're working with large crowds of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Caught an article about a Boca Rotan firm that's doing its part to remove floating trash from the nearby ocean by paying fishermen to pull trash; they've just celebrated their million pound mark. They pay expenses by selling bracelets, made of recycled material (though, I gather, not the stuff pulled from the ocean). All very commendable. One million pounds is 500 tons. Though the planet is better off with those 500 tons in a landfill than in the ocean, that's not really a lot of trash (one could talk about a drop in a bucket...). And I wonder just how... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
As we enter the school year, vaccination rates among Arizona school children continue to decline. From All About Arizona News: "Currently, 18 states, including Arizona, permit philosophical exemptions from immunizations leading to “hotspots” with potential for major outbreaks, according to the Public Library of Science’s analysis." In Maricopa County (the metro Phoenix area, where we provide commercial janitorial services, with an emphasis on health): "According to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services, 5.4 percent of students, namely kindergartners and sixth graders, received non-medical exemptions in 2017. The ADHS recommends a 95 percent vaccination rate among schoolchildren to ensure... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
My attention was caught by a quick article about a McDonalds serving a lady cleaning fluid rather than the latte she had ordered. She seems unharmed, but a bit unhappy. Seems that the coffee machine was down for cleaning; staff had neglected to unplug the hose to the cleaning solution tank. Can happen to anybody... Though not applicable to the commercial janitorial we provide, the incident does highlight the importance of procedures, and procedure manuals, and training. We do our level best to make all three integral to our program. And put inspections, and double checks, in place. An old... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
61% of elevator buttons sampled showed microbiological growth, compared to 43% of toilet surfaces, in a study performed in....a hospital, according to the Open Medicine Journal. Per the article, "Bacteria cultured from the elevator buttons and toilet surfaces included Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, coliform (or bowel) bacteria, Enterococcus and Pseudomonas...". Not the stuff I'd want on MY elevator button. In doing commercial janitorial (and not just in health care facilities), we've long stressed the importance of touch-point sanitation, including areas like door push bars and elevator buttons. Our standard touch-point protocol involves a microfiber cloth saturated in a hydrogen-peroxide sanitizer. The HP... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet