Cleaner’s Corner: When it comes to cleaning schools, how is it different than, say, office buildings?

Brian Regnart, KleenMark’s Madison-area Branch Manager:

Overseeing an array of cleaning teams across various industries (and having children myself) one thing is certain: Kids can make a new mess before the old one’s even cleaned up.

Knowing that, every school gets a top-to-bottom cleaning each night. From disinfecting surfaces to scrubbing hallway floors, it’s critical to clean everything each day. That’s far different than a commercial office space.

In schools, specifically, we’re working to keep kids safe – from germs but also from contact with any cleaning chemicals that could irritate them. We primarily use neutral cleaners, along with vinegar, because both are harmless but also effective.  

Attention to detail also is critical in schools. Our teams following a mapped out process each night, ensuring every desk is wiped down and sanitized.

Of course, there’s always gum, clay, paint, glue – you name it – stuck on just about every surface imaginable. Our crews have the training and the appropriate commercial cleaning supplies to make sure we’re able to remove those trickier (and stickier) messes and stains without damaging a surface or furniture.

With schools, our customers aren’t just the facility managers but parents, teachers, kids and staff. We take that seriously, which is why we develop custom plans and training for our technicians working in schools.

Cleaner’s Corner: Why your janitorial company needs to understand JCAHO

Question: Is it important that a cleaning company understands healthcare rules and regulations, specifically those from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)?

Tenzin Kunga, Medical Operations Assistant Manager:

One. Hundred. Percent. Having worked on both sides of the fence, if you will, I’ve seen the benefits for a healthcare facility when its cleaning partner has a clear understanding of what’s expected from the JCAHO.

Any of us who work in the space are aware of JCAHO’s role, but as a refresher it’s a 70-year-old nonprofit organization that accredits more than 22,000 health care organizations in the U.S. That includes hospitals, clinics, labs and more.

JCAHO is focused on assuring patient safety and quality of care – a mission we all can agree is important. As part of that mission, JCAHO measures more than 250 standards organizations must meet to maintain their accreditations.

And, yep, you guessed it: Infection control is a big part of JCAHO’s standards. That means your cleaning company needs to fully understand those standards, given the fact JCAHO will randomly audit a facility with no advance warning.

At KleenMark, we’re one of few cleaning companies that has a dedicated health and safety officer. His focus is on staying up-to-date on the latest health & safety regulations, best practices and standards. He then provides regular training to our healthcare teams.

Additionally, our healthcare leadership team has worked exclusively in clinics, hospitals and labs for the past 20-plus years. We know what matters most for patient safety, your infection control team and, of course, JCAHO. From waste streams to how to properly change gloves, we get it.

So, yes, it’s incredibly important your cleaning team understands JCAHO standards. Not only will they keep your facility clean and safe, but they’ll also understand the nuanced needs without any additional training needed from your internal team. And they’ll have tracked and recorded the cleaning process, so you’re ready for an impromptu audit.

If you want to learn more about how we train our healthcare cleaning teams, or our process in general, send us a note any time.

Cleaner’s Corner: Applying Disinfectant – Good, Better, Best

Question: What’s the best way for applying disinfectant?

This may seem surprising, but we get this question a lot. And it’s still common to see people applying disinfectant incorrectly. The thing is. it doesn’t need to be complicated. I’ve laid out three different approaches to application, ranging from good to best.

Of course, I’d always recommend you use the best method when applying disinfectant, but for proper disinfecting, any of these options will do the trick. So, take a look below and let us know if you have questions.

Good: Immersion

Immerse your cloth in the disinfectant for the amount of time per label instructions. This is what we rarely want to see because the longer the cloth is in the disinfectant, the less effective that disinfectant becomes if it’s quaternary ammonium.

See our KleenMark Distribution site for quaternary and accelerated hydrogen peroxide disinfectants.

Better: Quick Soak

Dip the material in the disinfectant for a few seconds and then use it immediately. This will lessen the quat action, but not as much as leaving a cloth soaking in a bucket of disinfectant. Another great tip is to frequently change the surface of the cloth per surface being cleaned. 


Best: Direct

When the disinfectant is applied directly, it begins to immediately interact with the contaminated surface. The key is to ensure you cover all surfaces with disinfectant, use the appropriate micron level on your sprayer and manage over-spray. This reduces quat binding almost entirely. That means the positively charged “quats” can’t get stuck in a negatively charged cloth. If they get stuck in the cloth they’re never released and therefore don’t do their job.


Cleaner’s Corner: How do I make sure my construction cleanup project finishes on time?

Question: It’s more common than not for our construction cleanup projects to miss deadline, which can affect the opening of a facility. How can I assure that doesn’t happen?

Mike Staver, KleenMark’s vice president of operations

This may be my shortest answer ever. It comes down this: Make sure your cleaning company has a dedicated project manager.

Like every other aspect of your construction project, effectively manage your cleanup to make sure you hit deadlines. At KleenMark, we have a dedicated project manager who specializes in construction cleanups, because we’ve seen what happens without one.

A project manager understands the sequence of events and guarantees the right parts of a facility are cleaned at the right time. For instance, you don’t want the sinks cleaned until an inspector tests the water. And if the HVAC hasn’t been commissioned, you’re going to have to go back and clean the dust it blew everywhere once it was turned on.

Those are only a couple of examples. Our project managers “talk the talk” as well. They attend contractor meetings to clearly understand project delays, new needs, etc., that impact work.

Ultimately, with a specialized project manager you don’t have to worry if the building is going to be cleaned to your standards. It’s out of mind and that’s value in itself. Check out this article to better understand how trained crews also save you time and money.

About this series: In the Cleaner’s Corner, our experts address questions we receive in the field. Our goal is to provide straightforward, practical tips and advice you can use.

Cleaner’s Corner: When’s the best time of year for window cleaning?

Question: Handling our facility’s window cleaning is a big, time-consuming job. What’s the best time of year to do it to make sure we get the most bang for our buck?

We always say if you only do it once a year, focus on spring. Twice a year? Add fall. The reason is simple: After a long winter, lower-level windows accumulate salt and grime buildup, which affects your building’s appearance but also restricts sunlight. Additionally, windows on the upper floors deal with snowfall and melting snow from the roof, which can leave watermarks.

If your budget allows, we recommend also doing a fall cleaning. After a summer of pollen and dust, it’s a perfect time to remove that warm-weather haze that leaves windows looking cloudy. Lastly, you’ll see cost savings if you do the interior and exterior glass at the same time, because crews only have to come out once and can therefore offer better pricing for a package.

In a time when cleanliness is a priority, dirty windows can give employees and visitors the sense that your building is dirty. That makes it that much more important to stay on top of keeping them crystal clear.

Send us a note if you want to get a better understanding of what’s the right window-cleaning program for your facility.

About this series: In the Cleaner’s Corner, our experts address questions we receive in the field. Our goal is to provide straightforward, practical tips and advice you can use.

Cleaner’s Corner: Back-to-office Services to Consider

Question: What are some services clients are adding as they begin to bring employees back to the office? 

Jeremy Angle, KleenMark’s Milwaukee-area branch manager: 

While this is customized to your facility, we’re seeing many organizations amplifying or adding several services that improve perception – and the health – of your cleaning program.    

Below are three areas – some new, some established – where you can focus efforts to make employees and clients more comfortable with your approach. 

Ducts + Vents – Prior to COVID-19, it was rare for an organization to want their vents cleaned. But, with clean air a priority, we’re increasingly getting requests for us to remove dust and debris from exposed ducts and vents. This largely is due to employees asking why vents are so dirty, as they realize ventilation is important to air quality. From cold-air returns to fans in restrooms, it’s important to keep them looking good.  

Restrooms – A facility’s perception follows the cleanliness of your restrooms. If employees and visitors see spotless, well-maintained, and well-stocked restrooms, they’re more likely to view the rest of your facility in a positive light. Increase spot cleaning and restroom policing to keep your restroom’s looking sharp. 

Day cleaning – Adding or increasing day cleaners to your program is one of the most critical steps you can take to elevate your game. Day cleaners, often referred to as day porters, handle everything from high-touchpoint disinfection to restroom policing. Many organizations are adding multiple day porters to handle the increased disinfecting demands brought on by COVID-19. Check out Facility Day Cleaning: The Essential Checklist, to get a handle on day porters’ capabilities. 

About this series: In the Cleaner’s Corner, our experts address questions we receive in the field. Our goal is to provide straightforward, practical tips you can use in your facility. 

Cleaner’s Corner: How to Fix Nagging Restroom Odors

Question: We clean our restrooms daily but without fail, we find ourselves dealing with some nagging odor issues on a fairly regular basis. What can be done about this?

Several factors are to blame nearly 100% of the time when it comes to lingering, persistent restroom odors. No matter how clean things are, a foul-smelling bathroom can immediately turn customers and employees off.

It’s important to address odors at the source. But sometimes, it’s tricky to pinpoint where they’re coming from. Below are several tips I generally share with anyone dealing with restroom odors in their facility.

Floor Drain Icon

Check the floor drain. More often than not, the floor drain is to blame for lingering restroom odors. If the trap dries up, sewer smells can easily fill the air, because the water barrier in the pipe is gone. Make sure the trap is clean and properly maintained.

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Use Enz-Odor II. Add this handy odor counteractant to the toilet bowl to neutralize and eliminate odors.

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Deep-clean the floor grout. Due to grout’s porous and hard-to-clean nature, it easily absorbs odor-causing bacteria. In addition, urine droplets can build up over time and release bad smells through tile cracks. Standard mopping can make this worse, so make sure to deep clean the bathroom floor regularly.

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Check sink drains. Often, odors can emanate from sinks. Usually, the sink trap is the odor-causing culprit, because it’s where debris is trapped. Invest in a liquid cleaner with enzymes to combat this. Pour it down the drain to break up bacteria and eliminate the source of the odor.

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Make sure the toilet wax ring isn’t defective. The wax ring at the base of toilets seals off waste pipes below. If broken, a defective wax ring can release foul odors and hydrogen sulfide, a toxic pathogen. Therefore, check to make sure the bolts holding the toilet to the floor aren’t loose or broken. If this happens, the toilet may get moved out of place and break the wax ring.

About this series: In the Cleaner’s Corner, our experts address questions we receive in the field. Our goal is to provide straightforward, practical tips you can use in your facility.

Cleaner’s Corner: What are the best chemicals for disinfecting soft surfaces?

Question: There isn’t a lot of information about disinfecting soft surfaces, particularly which chemicals will kill COVID-19 on things like upholstery, chairs and drapes. Do you have a recommendation?

Mike Staver, KleenMark’s Director of Operations

There’s good and bad news here. The good is we have a chemical proven to kill COVID-19 on soft surfaces exists. The bad news is there aren’t many options for you to choose from. And, that means if one supplier runs low on inventory, you could have challenges getting what you need.

But, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved a couple chemicals for killing COVID-19 on soft surfaces. Our teams use Triple S’s TRIPLE Carpet Cleaner/Deodorizer & Hard Non-porous Surface Disinfectant

TRIPLE was originally designed as a carpet cleaner. It remains a fantastic chemical for that purpose, but it works wonderfully for disinfecting soft surfaces like chairs and drapes, because it doesn’t leave a residue. The chemical is an antimicrobial and also cleans and deodorizes. That’s effective and efficient.

If you want to better understand how to clean soft surfaces, check out another article I recently wrote, Soft-surface disinfection: Tips for tackling upholstery, drapes and more.

About this series: In the Cleaner’s Corner, our experts address questions we receive in the field. Our goal is to provide straightforward, practical tips you can use in your facility.

Cleaner’s Corner: What tips do you have to improve school gym disinfection?

About this series: In the Cleaner’s Corner, our experts address questions we receive in the field. Our goal is to provide straightforward, practical tips and information you can apply in your facility. 

Question: Other than maintaining a cadence of regular disinfection, including high-touchpoint surfaces, what tips do you have for reducing germs in a school gym, specifically when working with soft surfaces such as wrestling mats and trainers’ tables? 

Mike Staver, KleenMark’s Director of Operations: 

Whether it’s for school gym disinfection or any commercial gym, I focus on a few specific things when disinfecting mats, weight benches or similar surfaces. 

First and foremost, try to use a hydrogen peroxide-based disinfectant. When they dissipate, these types of disinfectants return to a water state. That’s important because others, like quat disinfectants, will leave a residue and cause the surface to fade. We prefer Alpha-HP from Diversey.  

Oxivir wipes are also a good choice. They’re convenient and have a hydrogen peroxide base. I will say, even when using these types of disinfectants, I recommend wiping the surface afterward with water and a microfiber towel – again, to prevent any chance of discoloration. 

Household soap products are another excellent choice but they’re not practical. Often, they create a lot of suds and aren’t an efficient way to frequently disinfect items used daily. 

Lastly, focus on dwell time. It’s tempting to wipe the disinfectant off immediately, especially when student athletes are using the equipment multiple times each day. Instead, try to find a disinfectant that has a 1-minute dwell time, so you can still move quickly but while insuring you’ve killed the germs. 

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