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What Is Cleaning?


This month, Matt Baines, of Premiere Products, tackles two of the most fundamental questions a future cleaner may face when they step inside the Premiere Cleaning Academy.


Whilst delivering training sessions on any matter cleaning related, there are two questions I tend to pose early on in the proceedings in order to engage the grey matter of those attending. These questions are:


1. What is cleaning? 2. Why is it important?


Believe it or not the first of these, whilst seemingly simple, often elicits little more than blank expressions in response. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to infer that the people I have the pleasure of working with are anything less than knowledgeable and intelligent. In truth, I actually think that they are often too emotionally invested in the service they deliver to see the broader but simpler picture.


The second question by contrast, prompts a veritable tidal wave of response which clearly demonstrates the widespread passion and belief many people feel for this great industry of ours.


Whilst having these discussions I repeatedly recall the words of a wise man I had the pleasure of meeting once or twice during my formative years in cleaning. Imagine, he said, if all of the cleaners working in the UK belonged to one cleaning specific trade union and for whatever reason, that union recommended industrial action. How long would it take for the nation to slow to a grinding halt? It wouldn’t be months or weeks, but most likely days, if not hours in some circumstances. You don’t have to think


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too hard to envisage the potential impact on healthcare, education, food service, transport and so on.


Sadly it’s all too often in my experience that, in terms of understanding the importance of cleaning, there is a disconnect between us inside the industry and the multi-faceted client base we serve. For example, I am vehement in my disdain for the all too frequently uttered phrase “He/she is only a cleaner”, as if they are some kind of sub-species less deserving than everyone else!


Having said this, there have also been times when I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in delivering training to client organisations who, whilst involved in overall facilities management, wish to improve their knowledge of modern, professional cleaning.


On these occasions there are always two classic “penny-drop” moments that the attendees experience upon realising for the first time that: 1. “Wow, I genuinely didn’t think there was this much to cleaning!” and 2. “Our perception of what clean is is totally out of kilter”.


Going back to my first question – “What is cleaning?” – the very straightforward answer I quote is that cleaning is the process of restoring the desired standard to an environment that has been contaminated by dirt, bacteria and other impurities.


Whilst this is undeniably true, it’s interesting to note that the majority of


www.tomorrowscleaning.com


cleaning audits are based on a solely visual assessment of cleanliness. This approach can surely only ever hope to measure whether or not surface soil/dirt has been removed. Gauging the presence of bacteria can only be done via swabbing or other more complex activities, which I’m not suggesting is practical or even necessary in most circumstances.


For me, training and education are key to building a scenario in which the cleaners employed by a service provider are sufficiently skilled to deliver high quality cleaning (without unnecessarily involved auditing), the provider is trusted and valued for the good job their staff do whilst the client understands more of the complexities, technicalities and difficulties inherent in the delivery of said service.


The end goal being improved understanding and a bit more give and take in the cleaner/service provider/client relationship.


With this in mind Premiere are very proud to be the only cleaning industry manufacturer to hold both BICSc and City & Guilds accreditation, offering a wide variety of training courses and qualifications run either from our state of the art Cleaning Academy in Cheltenham or at client’s site across the nation.


www.premiereproducts.co.uk


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