Dangerous Cleaning Mistakes
You might think that cleaning is an easy and rather boring task. It’s hard to get wrong, isn’t it? After all, if it was mentally demanding, why were all those housewives back in the 1960s campaigning for the right to go back to work etc.? While that could be another topic of debate, it’s still a fact that offices need to be cleaned and it isn’t as easy as you think. It is possible to make mistakes – mistakes with worse consequences than just having a slightly dirtier window or benchtop.
Some of the mistakes you could make cleaning around you office could actually be dangerous to your health. If you err in one direction, you could risk not cleaning your premises thoroughly enough and exposing yourself to harmful bacteria or other pathogens. If you go in the other direction, you risk harming yourself and your colleagues by cleaning too much and exposing yourself to far too many toxins from the cleaning products themselves.
Mistakes With Daily Office Cleaning Products
- You mix cleaners. To be fair, mixing things does work if you’re talking about natural cleaning products like salt, vinegar, soap, washing soda and good old baking soda. Those mix without too much in the way of disaster. However, if you try to mix commercial cleaning products, then you don’t get any synergy. You could be creating a lethal cocktail of chemicals that will damage you, not just the dirt and germs in your office. The very worst combination is a blend of chlorine and ammonia, which produces some of the gases that made trench warfare in WWI such a horror.
- You love to spray. Many modern commerical cleaning chemicals come in spray or aerosol form. This does make it easy to cover a large area quickly and it does lend a certain amount of fun to the job. It’s like shooting things. However, this causes two problems. The first is that you often end up using way too much product – far more than you really have to. Of course, the manufacturers of these products aren’t going to mind a bit that you’re using more product, as it means that you’re going to cough up for more! The second problem is that not all of the spray will end up on the thing you’re trying to clean. Some of it will be in the air and you will breathe it in. This means that all these harsh chemicals will be landing on your sensitive mucous membranes in your nose, eyes and throat. Sometimes it’s not the dust making you cough and sneeze during a big session of spring cleaning but the product you’re using.
- You don’t let the cleaner do its job. Most of us want to work quickly and efficiently. So we spray the surface with our chosen cleaning liquid/detergent or apply it in some other way (see below) then get busy wiping away with a cloth. Sprays and liquids aren’t magic and they actually need some time to do their work of dissolving grease and grime, or killing bacteria (or doing both). This time is known to professional commercial cleaners as “dwell time”.
The Right Ways To Use Cleaning Materials
So how do you correct the common and potentially harmful cleaning mistakes described above? Here’s how:
- Instead of spraying the surface, spray your cleaning cloth or tool. This means that there aren’t lots of droplets flying through the air where you can breathe them in. It also means that you save money in the long run by using less cleaning product. Coat your cleaning cloth or brush with your chosen product, then apply the product to the surface to be cleaned with the product. Alternatively, don’t bother with spray cleaners at all but look out for ordinary liquids, creams and pastes. Use a fresh, clean cloth (preferably damp) to remove the product and the dirt away.
- Let the product have its proper dwell time. Sometimes, dwell times are listed on the packaging. Sometimes they aren’t. However, products need a least a minute to do their stuff – but don’t leave them too long so they dry out. This may require a little multi-tasking (apply cleaner to Surface A then go and do a little on Task B during the dwell time) but don’t have more than one task going at once or you will cut down on your efficiency – something that all professional cleaning ladies know.
- If you like to mix and combine, learn more about green cleaning products. Natural cleaners do mix well with each other, so if you love to stir and combine to come up with the perfect commercially available cleaning product, do it with these. These products are safe for your system (you can eat some of them quite safely, like vinegar, baking soda, salt and water) and clean perfectly well.
Mistakes With Cleaning Technique
You might have it right when it comes to choosing and using cleaning products, but there may be a few things that you aren’t quite getting right when it comes to methods. Some of the things you do – or don’t do – might be worsening your health and wellbeing.
- Leaving off the rubber gloves. Your skin can absorb chemicals – that’s how nicotine patches and other patch medications (e.g. some contraceptives) work. Toxins can get into your system in the same way. Even if you don’t absorb many nasties through your skin, many chemicals can damage your skin itself, leaving it dry, flaky and itchy – even cracking. After all, the chemicals in your favourite disinfectant can’t tell the difference between healthy skin cells and bacterial cells. So pull on the rubber gloves!
- Cross-contamination. You may risk spreading bacteria from a really dirty location to somewhere that germs certainly aren’t welcome. If you use the same tools for every job, you can create this sort of cross-contamination. Take a tip from professional janitors and have a different set of tools (e.g. cloths, gloves and brushes) for different jobs: one set for, say, the toilet and the kitty litter tray; one for the kitchen food preparation surfaces. Hospital cleaners often have three sets (one for really dirty places, one for neutral places and one for areas that need to be sterile) but you probably don’t quite need to go that far in your daily efforts. Here is a London office cleaning company that uses an alternative to commercially recommended industrial cleaning materials. Have a read on their blog to see how they avoid endangering the environment.
- Forgetting to clean pillows. Pillows contain all the food that dust mites love. However, when did you last clean your pillows? Give your pillows (and duvets) a good spring cleaning. However, if you’re not sure about how to do it, give a professional upholstery cleaner a call to avoid disasters.