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Seems that Windsor Castle, home of the Royal Family, is interviewing for a new housekeeper. According to a piece in CMM, here's a bit of the interview process: "Staff who interview candidates have set up a test determine if candidates are detail-oriented enough for the job. Tracey Waterman, head of housekeeping recruitment at the royal household, said she places a dead fly either in the fireplace or carpet in a room of the castle. She then brings candidates into the room, giving them a chance to look around. She said out of 10 candidates, about half will notice the fly.... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at The Janitors' Closet
It's National Clear Your Desk day; h ere's an article via our friends at Cleaning & Maintenance Management. I don't generally pay much attention to the various often self-proclaimed "days", but this one has a couple of points. In commercial janitorial, we find it challenging to sanitize desks displaying clutter - clients don't generally want paperwork moved - and it's easy to spend a good deal of time hunting down a given piece of paperwork. (It's often in the sales department, and it's always the big proposal that needs be submitted today, and the finger is generally pointed at the... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Janitors' Closet
Disinfection via ultra violet light has recently been touted as a great advance. Here's a study, via Cleaning & Maintenance Management, that gives a bit of perspective. A quick excerpt: "After the disinfection time had passed, researchers found a significant reduction in pathogenic microorganisms from the medical equipment. Prior to UV-A disinfection, 37% of the equipment had pathogenic microorganisms, compared to 10% after. They found a modest reduction of MRSA, C. auris, and the bacteriophages on the disks, but no reduction of C. diff spores, even after 24 hours of exposure to the UV-A light." Further, "High-level disinfectants, including peracetic... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
Here in Phoenix, where I run a commercial janitorial service, we just endured a special election seeking to derail, as it were, a major expansion of our light rail system. Our current system, as I understand it, cannot even cover operating costs with ridership revenue, let alone make any payments on the huge debt for the initial construction. I supported the referendum to halt expansion; the voters, in their wisdom, voted to continue expansion - with even more debt. Coincidentally, I just read "Strong Towns". Interesting work; resonates with much else of what I read. The author argues that prosperity... Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
Something I'd never thought of - turns out that 3-D printers pose a bit of a health risk, according to a study conducted by Georgia Tech and Greenguard Environmental, a unit of Underwriters Labs. We've worked with Greenguard for years; we're certified in their ongoing building maintenance program, and I have a good deal of respect for their findings. However, the health risk is easily mitigated: like much equipment and chemical usage in the historic building restoration process I enjoy, it's mostly a matter of ventilation, keeping a bit away from the equipment while running, use the lowest heat setting... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
Caught an article from CMM on a hepatitis outbreak in Florida, blamed on a lack of proper handwashing. The sometimes dangerous and always unpleasant pathogen seems to be spreading via restaurants: patrons infecting the restaurant help, and the restaurant help infecting more patrons. Sounds to be a growth industry. With all the notice taken in recent years about the importance of handwashing, I don't believe I've seen evidence of much behavior change. About the only hopeful sign I've noticed the that more restaurants have extra trash cans positioned adjacent the restroom exit door, sometimes even just outside the door; they... Continue reading
Posted Oct 25, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
Had a call from some folks wanting a day porter. It seemed to be about the same situation as one I wrote about a few years ago. A client wanted us to quote and provide a day porter for their facility, perhaps an hour per day, mid-day, in addition to our regular nightly cleaning. They're a large call center, with lots of folks using a couple of large restrooms, in something of a high pressure environment. So the restrooms get hammered, and my client thought they needed an extra mid-day cleaning I dropped by, early afternoon, to check the restrooms... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
A conversation with an old friend the other day reminded me of an incident we weathered some 30 years ago. Our first indication of trouble was when one of our crew was asked to leave one of our client facilities late at night: seems the police were evacuating the entire neighborhood; a warehouse facility a few blocks had exploded. Found out the next morning that the exploded warehouse facility was another of our clients.... I'd just about absorbed that information when several serious looking fellows from Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (they also do explosives) appeared at our office door. They... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
Awakened by an unwelcome call this morning. One of our janitors had had her vehicle broken into last night (matter of fact, she was awakened by the police, who'd found her car); among other things stolen were a set of keys and fobs to one of our client facilities. Our long standing policy is that client keys are not to be left in vehicles (see the above as to why not). Fortunately, we figure that people, being generally imperfect, will forget and violate procedures; thus, we work "what ifs" into the system. We don't allow any client identifiers (name, address)... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
Cogitating on the recent shootings in Texas, and the Texas Lieutenant Governor's thoughts on requiring some sort of eligibility requirement in private party gun sales. I've also seen some discussion of late on photo ID requirements for voting, and the argument that requiring same could disproportionally impact certain groups of voters. Well, most all adults in America have a driver's license... Simple solution, to both gun ownership and voting rights. The left claims to think that requiring a state issued photo id in order to vote is onerous; the right fears that checking an ineligible list when at the gun... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
My janitorial crews get more than a bit perturbed when they come across a clogged toilet, usually due to something placed in it - wads of paper, etc. - that doesn't belong. But we usually can do little more than clean up the mess. So it is with a certain amount of satisfaction that I noted an article via ISSA and the Sheboygan Press about a fellow who received jail time - 150 days - and was ordered to pay $5500.00 in restitution for repeated cloggings. He does have something to say for himself: "According to the complaint, Beeman told... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
Another article from our friends at CleanLink, this time summarizing maintenance strategies to improve a facility's indoor air quality, and thusly the health of it's inhabitants. Could have wrote it myself. Stressed are proper vacuuming (we stress frequency, as well as differing frequencies for different areas - quite aggressive around entries and especially the entry matting, moderate in traffic paths, a bit less on edges - catch the particles before they migrate throughout the facility). Besides getting allergens and other undesirables out of the facility, such a program extends carpet and hard flooring life, thus saving back some of the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
Quite a number of janitorial firms still use feather dusters for routine (up to 6 or 8 feet high) dusting; most everybody uses a feather duster or a lambs wool duster on a pole to catch anything higher. The (more or less) responsible ones will then wait a while for the dust to settle, and then vacuum it up. Problem is, the very fine particles in that dust can take well over 8 hours to settle; nobody waits that long. Makes much more sense to use something that will capture the dust, instead of just moving it around: either a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
Scientists as are testing an innovative method of sterilizing air. Up to now, one can use filters - hard to filter out critters as small as viruses - or use UV light, which works, but takes a long exposure time. The new method pumps air through borosilicate glass beads; the voids between the beads, through which the air (and viruses) passes, generate tiny sparks, which create radicals - unstable atoms - which inactivate the viruses. Some 99.9% of them. Read the full article - fascinating stuff. Be interesting to see about applications, and cost. Can't think of exactly how the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
Tucson, our neighbor down the freeway, is having issues with its residential recycling program. It can no longer sell newspaper and glass it collects from its residents (more fallout from China's discontinuance of accepting most recycled trash), so the prospect is to dump it in the landfill. Tucson already charges residents for recycling (not an optional program, by the way); they're looking at roughly doubling the fees. Or cutting the pick-up schedule. The City is losing three-plus million annually on the program. (I served a few years on the City of Phoenix Environmental Quality Commission, and we involve ourselves in... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
"...more than one-third of Americans are wasting toilet paper in public restrooms", according to a survey reported by our friends at Cleaning & Maintenance Management. Problem is, that's just a report of what folks believed and were willing to admit to. Doubtless, the real number is higher. At the same time, "A high majority (87 percent) of the survey respondents believe it is important that businesses use sustainable products in their public restrooms to help prevent product waste". Go figure. China has a larger problem. Folks don't just over-use, they grab it in bunches and take it home. So China... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
A subject we tend to not think about in commercial janitorial, and I suspect in a number of other maintenance fields, is hearing protection when using or working around noisy equipment. Fortunately, about the only equipment we use with much sound at all is the backpack vacuum, and it's not bad. A good rule of thumb, according to an article by our friends at Cleaning and Maintenance Management, is that if you have to shout to be heard over the equipment, you need hearing protection. A nice point of the article is a good explanation of how to use, and... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
A friend (my sales manager from 30-some years ago, now retired) sent me the following: "This article linked below from a friend of mine in England. It seems no matter how you 'slice' it, statistics, or what counts for empirical knowledge on gangs is contentious. London looks at the intersection of knives, or sharp objects, and juvenile behavior. While we look at guns, or as in Chicago, at 'shots fired'. I wonder if The Bobbies are counting stitches, cause as you might have heard, snitches get stitches." My reply, as regards (somewhat) the commercial janitorial industry: Lots of threads... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
More good news. A study just out indicates the widely used antibacterial Triclosan, used in toothpaste, kids toys and, of all things, socks, seems to strengthen the bacteria it comes in contact with: " Based on these data, we hypothesized that triclosan exposure may inadvertently drive bacteria into a state in which they are able to tolerate normally lethal concentrations of antibiotics. Here we report that clinically relevant concentrations of triclosan increased E. coli and MRSA tolerance to bactericidal antibiotics as much as 10,000 fold in vitro and reduced antibiotic efficacy up to 100-fold in a mouse urinary tract infection... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
A product that get sprayed on hotel room surfaces to disinfect them, ongoing, is coming into use in Denmark. According to an article in Cleaning & Maintenance, "The hotels have partnered with Danish company ACT. Global, which developed a spray technology known as Clean Coat. A two-year test has shown that the spray’s active ingredient, titanium dioxide, breaks down pathogen microbes, including influenza, salmonella, mold spores, and allergens." The goal seems to be to cut cleaning time. Somewhat offsetting the savings will be the $2500.00 per room application cost, renewable annually, and the cost to clear the room of all... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
A hopeful, but perhaps naïve, report out of our friends at Cleaning & Maintenance Management. In the 10th Annual Hand washing Survey (bet you didn't know that was a thing), folks report that they wash their hands 87% of the time when using public restrooms. (The reasons given for NOT doing so involve dirty sinks, lack of soap, and so on - issues we do our best to address in doing commercial janitorial). We notidced last Presidential election that people sometimes fib to survey takers (often not wanting to admit to opinions or actions that are socially unacceptable). Might just... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
California, one of the most progressive, richest, and highest taxed states in the nation, is looking at adding a tax to remove pollutants from many residents' drinking water. From an article in the Sacramento Bee, Governor "Newsom last month released a state budget that called for a new fee on drinking water to fund drinking water projects. He did not release many details, but the proposal was characterized as similar to a 2017 bill by Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, that would have generated $140 million a year for water projects." Used to be that government was supposed to address safety... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
Polluted indoor air is said to be responsible for a good many premature deaths. Here's an interesting article, out of Perdue University, on developments in sensors that can detect volatile organic compounds (VOCs), that cause many of those deaths. From the article: “Our work’s goal is developing low-cost volatile organic compound sensors capable of identifying indoor air quality problems and capable of controlling ventilation in response to high indoor emissions,” Braun said. “Sensing indoor volatile organic compound concentrations and then adjusting ventilation accordingly can maintain acceptable levels, but current sensor technologies are much too expensive for this purpose.” Also of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
Interesting story out of Bristol, England. It seems that the local fire chiefs are warning folks to exercise caution when using social media tips on cleaning chemicals. The reason that we in commercial janitorial train our crews in chemical usage involves the various hazards one might encounter in mixing inappropriate chemicals, or neglecting proper ventilation, or failing to don protective equipment (at the most basic level, eye protection and gloves). One gal, for instance, found herself inside a chlorine gas cloud after mixing bleach and vinegar to scour her shower. You'd think, in England at least, people would have some... Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
We don't see a lot of mold in the Phoenix area where I work in commercial janitorial, as mold likes wet places; most building here have little problem with wet foundation, walls or attic. But where there is an active moisture source - think a floor drain, a pipe leak in a restroom wall, a blockage in the drain line from the air conditioning unit - we have a problem, just like anyone else. Some people are allergic to mold, and some molds (thankfully, a minority) are toxic to all people. So the preferred solution is to fix the leak,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet