Category of Blogs on education and advice

How to Practice Eco-Friendly Cleaning and Save the Environment

Eco-Friendly, Going Green, Clean Living, are buzzwords we hear more and more these days. They all remind us of making an effort to be earth friendly, preserve our environment and practice the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Using products that are safe to the environment or following practices that conserve our natural resources like water and forests are some ways of being Eco-friendly.

So, how do we play our part in this noble cause and perhaps bring it in one of the most common routine of every household which is…Cleaning.  Let’s find out….

The Need to be Eco-Friendly and How to Practice it

Are you concerned about your and your family’s health? We all are! But did you know that we are constantly breathing and often use toxic substances that affect quality of life? Issues like headaches and skin irritations can be caused by pollutants and dangerous compounds found in chemical cleaning solutions. These substances also contribute in making our planet suffer from environmental problems like pollution and global warming.

Assessing and changing the way we consume is a good start to green living. The way we commute, usage of packaging materials, how waste is disposed and the unchecked consumption of natural resources must be relooked at. For example –

Reducing reliance on harmful chemicals and use of natural, eco-friendly cleaning products. This promotes a healthier environment and a healthier you. Replacing chemically laden products with those containing natural ingredients decreases risk of diseases and illness.

Practicing the 3Rs of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

  • Reduce the amount of waste produced. Use only what you need.
  • Reuse or repurpose items from their intended purpose.
  • Recycle or use items that have been recycled.

Saving the earth by using sustainable products that reduce waste or are biodegradable.

To find out more on how you can practice the 3Rs, checkout NEA’s Waste Minimising and Recycling initiative.

 

Cleaning the Eco-Friendly Way

Now that we know the reasons for being environment friendly, let’s find out how it can be applied to daily Cleaning. There are many ways to practice.  And one of the most common and easiest way to begin is through Green Cleaning.

Green cleaning has many definitions, but in essence it means using cleaning solutions and methods that keep both us and the environment safe. One can start by using eco-friendly cleaning products…

1.      Cleaning Liquids and Solutions

DIY cleaning liquidMany conventional cleaning products found in the market are laden with toxic and pollution causing substances which make cleaning easier. But did you know these substances are also a cause for allergies, asthma and other lung and respiratory problems? Not to mention products that cause skin and eye irritation. Some products also have ingredients that are carcinogen! These chemically concentrated products harm not only humans but also the environment.

Switching to eco-friendly and green cleaning solutions is one of the most effective ways to be kinder to ourselves and the planet. With a growing number of people being eco conscious, finding non-toxic cleaning solutions has become a breeze.

You can also make your own cleaning solutions using common kitchen ingredients like vinegar, baking soda and lemon. This is not just a trend, but an effective way to cleaning your home, keeping it safe and free from chemicals.

2.      Cleaning Aids

Besides cleaning solutions, cleaning aids also contribute to pollution and landfills. Cleaning aids are tools, such as mops, brush, sponge, etc that help in cleaning. Use a microfiber cloth and chemical free wet wipes to clean spills and stains. Avoid using single use disposable gloves. Buy cleaning aides like sponges and cloth in bulk instead of single packs. Choose recycled or bio degradable packaging.

Most household sponges are made of plastic or polyester. These materials breakdown very slowly and some also contain chemicals that leak into the water. Natural cellulose sponges, coconut husk brushes and loofahs are some examples of naturally sourced cleaning aides.

3.      Cleaning Methods

How do you wash your bathroom and sinks? Do you leave the tap running? Instead of letting the water run, fill up a bucket with water or use a mug for washing sinks and basins. Recycling water for other uses or collecting rain water for simple home cleaning is another eco-friendly method.

Soaking greasy or burnt pots and pans in water first before washing reduces effort and lowers water consumption.

Microfiber cloths are perfect for wiping and cleaning as they are highly absorbent. This reduces water and detergent usage plus it has a long life span.

A Final Note

Cleaning is just one of many ways to be eco-friendly. However, it is something we do every day, whether at home or work. More importantly, the products and methods we choose affect our near and dear ones.

At times we are tempted to choose quick fix chemical laden products, not realising the harm they do to the people around us and the environment. Luckily, there are cleaning service companies that offer eco-friendly cleaning services to those who need an extra pair of hands.

Common challenges in Cleaning for Small Offices & Business and how to overcome them

All business owners know how important first impressions are in getting customers. But what exactly makes that first and best impression? Let us go through a simple scenario…

Imagine you are walking your neighbourhood, planning on getting a quick haircut. You decide to check out the shops at the market….upon nearing a salon you take a peek thru the glass door only to notice crumpled tissue balls, debris and hair littered on the floor. To your dismay the glass door also looks like it hasn’t been cleaned for ages, with sticky fingerprints all over. EEWW!! definitely not going in that shop…you say and move on. That salon just lost a customer.

A few shops away you see another salon. The floor has been swept and recently mopped. You look in to take a peek through the clean glass door and see several customers inside. Immediately, you decide to give this place a try. As you open the door, a waft of essential oils greets you. This salon just gained a customer.

It’s plain obvious that cleanliness of your premise is an important factor in attracting customers especially in the retail industry. Spending thousands of dollars in creating that perfect ambience for your establishment will be of no use if your surrounding area is dirty and unkempt. It is no wonder large companies spend a lot on cleaning services. This however, may be difficult for a small business.

Fret not! No matter which industry your business is in, be it a clinic or tuition centre, we’ll reveal some really effective tips and tricks on cleaning for small offices and businesses.

Challenges Faced by Small Offices & Small Business Premises

Did you know, cleaner offices tend to look bigger? And clean spaces somehow help highlight clutter which can then be removed. However, many small business owners find it difficult to keep their premises clean. We’ll share some commonly cited challenges faced but along with the solutions to overcome them : –

Finding time to Clean

Solution: As with all other tasks, make cleaning as part of the office schedule. Allocating time each day for cleaning and tidying individual workspaces and common areas should be incorporated.

Staying committed, Observing a schedule

Solution: Making a cleaning plan and roster can help to distribute the workload among colleagues. Create a checklist to ensure that the cleaning task has been completed. Send out tips and reminders on how to keep the work area clean. Another way to motivate and keep staff committed to keeping the premises clean is by giving incentives.

Cost of Hiring Cleaners

Solution: Keeping costs low is a high priority for any small business. And hiring professional cleaning services may seem costly but can be beneficial in the long run. For e.g. proper cleaning prevents dirt and dust from accumulating on expensive equipment, keeping them in good condition. This can reduce repair/maintenance costs and do its part in attracting customers.

wiping and dusting desk

7 Cleaning Tips for your Small Office or Business

Cleaning an office is no easy feat but it’s not impossible either. Doing a little every day is easier to accomplish then to spend an entire day cleaning. To get you started to a cleaner, tidier office, we have some actionable tips listed below.

1. Be organised

Cleaning and organizing is a process. Files, paperwork and other supplies should be well organised. Eliminate clutter by throwing what you don’t need, Marie Kondo style. Making use of proper storage reduces office chaos and makes cleaning easier.

Action – Make it a habit to put things back where they belong after each use.

2. Maintain Good Hygiene

How long has that coffee cup been sitting on your desk, waiting for a wash? When was the last time you wiped your desk, keyboard or phone? Germs are everywhere and they can be easily spread by objects that are frequently handled.

Action – Keep anti-bacterial wipes handy for that quick swipe and clean.

3. Clean everyday

There are certain areas that need cleaning every day and sometimes even more than once a day. This would also depend on the type of business you have. For example, a clinic should not only be clean but sterile as well. Making sure the dispensary is clean and free from any spillage is a must. On the other hand, a retail shop should have dust free shelves and display spaces.

Action – Give staff an extra 10 mins break dedicated to cleaning.

4. Create a checklist

Having a schedule and following guidelines ensures a certain standard in cleaning. Break down tasks to daily, weekly and monthly in the checklist. A checklist also indicates what has been done, what needs to be done and also other major future cleaning projects.

Action – Hang creative posters on cleaning to remind staff

5. Distribute Cleaning Duties

Once the checklist is created, the tasks can be distributed evenly. Getting all your staff involved in cleaning and keeping the work place tidy will create a sense of ownership. Remind and encourage your staff to clean their own workspace daily so their mess does not affect the overall look of the office. Cleaning together also fosters camaraderie amongst colleagues.

Action – Have a Cleanest Workspace Contest

6. Rearrange your space

Does your space looks cluttered or messy even after you have just cleaned it? Analyze your layout. Sometimes a little rearranging of storage space can make a whole lot of difference. Items used daily should be in close proximity whereas seldom used items can be stored in drawers or shelves.

Action – adding personal touches to your work area creates a happy space.

7. Inventory of cleaning supplies

Keeping an inventory of cleaning supplies ensures that supplies are available at all times. It can be very frustrating just when you are about to clean, to find out that the cleaning detergent is over or some other equipment is faulty. Conducting regular stock checks and replacing key items can prevent cleaning backlogs.

Action – Appoint staff on a weekly rotational basis for stock take.

Follow best practices in cleaning to make it efficient and if you are looking for some pictorial reference  on how to clean you small office Click Here.

Conclusion

Keeping the workplace clean is a collective effort. Hopefully with these tips your small office will be clutter free and more productive. Know that a clean office is a healthy office and one that leaves a good impression on potential customers. If your budget allows it, you can also consider hiring professional cleaners on a part time or ad hoc basis for a deep cleaning.

5 Carpet Shampooers that can revive and restore your old carpets to new again

Do you vacuum your carpets every day assuming that’s the best way to keep them clean? Then maybe you’re wrong! Vacuuming only lifts the superficial dirt and debris found on your carpet.

Carpets are those humble ornamentations of the house that get stepped on continuously day in day out with dust, dirt, grease and grime from the outside. So, a simple vacuum routine is just not enough to lift it out of the dull, cloudy overlay which builds up over time.

Worried how to get back the bright fresh look for your good old carpets? Let’s find out….

dirt due to footfall on carpetsDeep Cleaning your Carpets

To really give your carpets a deep, thorough clean, you will need to either seek professional help from a company that provides carpet cleaning services or get yourself a Carpet Shampooer.

So what exactly does a carpet shampooer or carpet cleaner do? Basically, a carpet cleaner uses warm water, detergent and spinning brushes to remove stains and deeply embedded dirt and grime from your carpets. Your carpets will be revived and get a new life! However, these machines don’t come cheap and are bulky. Thus, before buying one, ask yourself these questions.

  1. How often will you be cleaning your carpet?
  2. Is there heavy footfall?
  3. Is the space heavily carpeted / wall to wall carpeting or just a couple of carpets?
  4. Do you have storage space?

If you have answered positive to the above and decided to buy a carpet washer, it’s time to choose one that will be most suitable for you.

Five Carpet Shampooers to Consider

Based on a popular online site, here are some recommended best sellers.

  1. Hoover FH50150 Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner

Touted as the Best Overall cleaner, this machine is high on performance. Comes with rotating brushes that provide all around cleaning and heated air to lift stains and make the carpet drier. This cleaner is also considerably light weight.

  1. Bissell Proheat Advanced Carpet Cleaner

This cleaning machine is the most budget friendly. Its ability to get rid of tough stains like mud, food and drinks makes it a favourite. Its Heatwave Technology helps maintain water temperature throughout the cleaning process.

  1. Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro Carpet Cleaner

As the name suggests, this is best for homes with pets. With a pet stain and odour removal technology, you can consider this shampooer if you have pets. It also come with a pet hair collection basket. However this cleaner is not too friendly on the pockets.

  1. Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner

The Best Professional cleaning machine is the Rug Doctor. Good for rugs with heavy traffic. The quick dry feature takes only 4 hours or less for carpets to dry. Also comes with an upholstery tool to clean soft furnishings. However, this is one of the heaviest cleaners.

  1. Bissell 86T3/86T3Q Big Green Deep Cleaning Carpet Cleaner

A high-end carpet cleaner compared to its counterparts, this cleaner gives a deep and thorough washing. It has a large water tank, saving you trips on refilling. This machine also has a quick dry up time of about 3 hours. Being a professional grade cleaner, it is unfortunately pricey, heavy and bulky.

Specifications of the machine to consider

Besides knowing what the different brands and models have to offer, you also need to take in to consideration a few more things. A list of points to note is as follows :-

  1. carpet shampooer in singaporeTank capacity
  2. Length of power cord
  3. Weight of the machine
  4. Extra attachments such as upholstery cleaner
  5. Noise
  6. Heated air dryer

DIY or Cleaning Service Providers?

Going the DIY way may be an option for some but, many would still prefer to engage a cleaning service company especially for businesses. Lack of storage space for bulky machines and having to purchase different shampoo solutions to suit the various cleaning needs can be a put off for many.

As mentioned earlier, purchasing a carpet cleaner really depends on the need and frequency of use. Professional cleaning companies are already equipped with the right tools and solutions. Their equipment is also more powerful ensuring a deep and thorough cleaning. Hiring a reputed cleaning service provider is therefore more than a convenience.

5 Must-Haves of any Office Space Cleaning routine

Did you know that almost one third of your life is spent at work? Living in Singapore, a 40 hour work week and more, is the norm. With so many people spending a majority of their awake hours at the workplace, it would be wise to make office spaces, conducive and as comfortable as possible. Investing in employee wellness by keeping the office clean raises energy levels and creativity, boosts morale and hence, increases productivity. A clean workplace also makes your clients feel confident about your business. An unkempt workplace gives a careless impression and customers may assume you won’t care about their business needs too.

Raising the bar for Workplace Productivity

Besides a clean office, individual work space, furniture and office ergonomics also improve work standards. Good lighting, comfortable temperature, green or flowering plants as well as choosing the right colour scheme to stimulate your employees all make for a positive and productive environment.

Fortunately for us in Singapore, government agencies like the National Environment Agency (NEA) and SkillFuture SG (SSG) are always trying to raise cleaning standards here through training and up-skilling the workforce, adopting technology and more.

So how can one keep their office actually clean? With so much online information available these days on effective cleaning methods, it can get overwhelming! So, to keep it simple yet applicable, here’s a sequence of handy tips to clean any office space effectively.

5 Office Space Cleaning Routine Tips

Source: Office Space Cleaning Guide by NEA

1.      Preparation and Inspection

  • Wear appropriate gear.
  • Check condition of tools and equipment.
  • Display safety sign.
  • Check and report any damages in the property.
  • Identify hazards or risks at work area.
  • Check for spills.

2.      Removing Spills and Stain on Carpets

  • Check for colour fastness on the carpet.
  • Remove furniture and obstacles.
  • Spray carpet cleaner and clear spill with absorbent paper.
  • Spray water and use cloth to blot till spill or stain is removed.

3.      Vacuuming and Cleaning of Surfaces

  • Vacuum carpeted area section at a time starting from far end.
  • Check for anymore spills or stains.
  • Place back all furniture.
  • Dilute cleaning chemical into spray bottle.
  • Spray solution on cloth and wipe all horizontal surfaces starting from the edge.
  • Rinse cloth when necessary.

4.      Cleaning the Pantry

  • Display safety sign.
  • Spray cleaning solution on spills or stains on floor.
  • Clear spills using absorbent paper.
  • Spray water and use cloth to remove spills or stains.
  • Sweep floors paying attention to corners.
  • Fill water and mopping solution in bucket.
  • Dip mop in solution and wring.
  • Mop floor section by section.
  • Rinse mop before moving to a new section.

5.      Emptying Waste Bins

  • Tie and remove used bin liner, keeping it away from body.
  • Dispose it in service trolley.
  • Clean the interior and exterior with sanitizer.
  • Place bin with new liner.

After completing these 5 steps, assess the areas cleaned and check that work has been done according to requirements. Remove all safety signs and return all tools and equipment to the store. Wash hands thoroughly for good hygiene.

Conclusion

Even with these standards in place, it is up to the office admins and facility managers to ensure processes are adhered with regular inspections and evaluation.

Keeping up with the cleanliness of your office space can be difficult on your own. That’s why many business owners choose to hire professional cleaning companies to maintain their space. A1 Cleaning Services has a dedicated team of trained office cleaners to meet your needs.

Essential cleaning tasks for the maintenance of Common Areas of your Office

Wikipedia defines a Common Area as ”area which is available for use by more than one person” and these can be found in almost all types of properties, be it a gated community or commercial property such as shopping malls

As such, your office also has common areas. This would include the reception area, lift lobby, the pantry, restrooms, corridors or walkways and more, depending on the type of establishment. Maintenance and cleanliness of these spaces are crucial to your organisation. So, in this post we’ll touch upon the scope of work which typically covers Common Areas cleaning and how best it should be carried out.

common area of MNC office

Reflecting Business Prestige and more

Your personal desk space reflects on your personal image. A clean and organised office area reflects how your customers perceive your business. It also improves the general morale of employees, making them happier and more productive. A high level of cleanliness in the common areas also sets the standard for keeping individual work space clean.

A good way to gauge the quality of cleanliness in your common area would be to put yourself in your client’s shoes. What impression would your client get when they enter your office premises?

So how to attain an effective cleaning job? Below are some guidelines to achieve this –

Essentials of Office Common Area Cleaning

Tools and Equipment required

  1. Make sure you have the necessary tools and equipment ready on hand to carry out the cleaning. Cleaners should have appropriate protective gear such as gloves, uniform and boots.
  2. Keep a checklist of all cleaning solutions and equipment and see that they are available and in working condition. You don’t want to start the cleaning only to find out you have run out of vacuum cleaner dust bag!

Pre-work Inspection

  1. Thoroughly check the area to be cleaned. If there are spills or stains which may be a hazard, they need to be addressed immediately. Report any damages to your supervisor.
  2. Display the safety sign at the work area before commencing. Clean up spills on hard floors using the appropriate cleaning solutions and wiping it dry.
  3. Clean up stains on carpets using cleaning chemical. Use a white cleaning cloth to clean the spill or stain on the carpet to avoid colour runs.

Dry Mopping of Dust

  1. Use a dust mop to clean hard floors. Unlike brooms, dust mops prevent dust from flying everywhere. Start from one corner of the room and mop in a turning motion, paying attention to corners.
  2. Use a broom and dustpan to sweep up the debris, dust and litter collected by the dust mop. Us the broom to sweep out dust collected in the corners.
  3. Throw away the debris into a lined rubbish bin.

Upkeep of common areasWet Mopping

  1. Use a double bucket, one for water and another with diluted cleaning solution. A cleaning solution with sanitizer is a good option.
  2. Dip and wring dry the mop in water first and then in diluted cleaning solution.
  3. Mop the floor using a number 8 or letter S motion for effective cleaning coverage.

Cleaning Passenger Lift

  1. Use sanitizer and damp cloth to wipe the button panel, interior lift doors, wall, mirrors and ceiling.
  2. Mop the lift floor.
  3. Wipe the exterior lift door with damp cloth and sanitizer.

Cleaning Stairway

  1. Display the safety sign. Use a cloth to wipe the inside and outside of the door and the handle.
  2. Dry mop the stairs.
  3. Wipe the hand railings.
  4. Wet mop the stairs. Remove the safety sign once floor is dry.

Cleaning and Emptying General Waste Bin

  1. Tie and remove bin liner keeping it away from the body and disposing it in rubbish bag in the service trolley.
  2. Sanitize the interior and exterior of the bin and wipe with cloth.
  3. Place a new liner in the bin.

Inspection of Areas Cleaned

  1. Check the work areas ensuring that it has been cleaned as per required. A checklist can be used.
  2. Remove and dispose the rubbish at the collection point.
  3. Remove signage only when floor is dry.

Returning Equipment to Store

  1. Clean and return all tools and equipment to the store.
  2. Check against the equipment list for making refills of cleaning solutions or replacement of equipment.
  3. Wash and hang the gloves.
  4. Wash hands for personal hygiene.

Conclusion

With these steps in place, you can be sure that your office reception and other common spaces will leave a good impression on prospective clients and business partners. Make cleaning your common area as part of your routine cleaning procedure with A1 Facility Services’ professional cleaners.

Best Practices for Singapore Office Cleaning [Infographic]

Office Cleaning Best Practices: A practical guide to ensure high cleaning standards for your Office

If you’re an office admin or facility manager of a Grade A, B or even C office in Singapore, you have probably engaged a local cleaning agency before. Every corporate or business premises needs a strict regime of upkeep and maintenance.

The question now is do you receive the level of service you expect? And if you don’t, then is there a procedure that’s followed to ensure quality standards are met.

In fact many a time’s office managers or business owners themselves are ignorant of the standards that should be expected from their cleaning contractor. And without set guidelines and processes it’s difficult to address any of this.

So in this post, we’ll lay out Office Cleaning Best Practices for you along with an Infographic that’ll serve as a handy guide for quick reference in the Singapore context. And thus, help you improve the quality of cleaning service that your company deserves!

spic and span work desk

Benefits of having high Cleaning Standards for your Office

Well, this one’s a no brainer….who doesn’t like a neat and clean environment? But wait…

Besides the hygiene aspect, a clean workplace also equates to a happy and healthy workforce. Its boosts staff morale and their delivery potential enabling them to focus on key result areas rather than on cleaning up. This in turn improves the productivity level of the company.

A clean office also portrays a good corporate image to customers and clients. It affects the way customers perceive your business, to be a trustworthy and professional one.

As a service buyer you need to ensure that your expectations for cleanliness, productivity and service quality are first set, then met by your service provider. This can be achieved through a well-crafted contractual agreement, work process efficiency, by leveraging tools & automation; thereby raising productivity and reducing reliance on additional manpower.

A Four-pronged approach to ensure high standards for Office Cleaning

Infographic on cleaning best practices

A balanced and all-encompassing approach is needed to ensure cleaning standards for office and commercial premises.  Starting with –

1. Setting Cleaning Procedures, Leveraging Tools & Equipment

Prescribed cleaning sequence/procedures, following the right methods and using correct equipment help deliver a better work outcome. A sample cleaning procedure would be –

  1. Prepare & Inspect – Don personal protective equipment (e.g. Gloves, covered shoes, etc), check condition of tools, display signage at work area, perform colour fastness test for chemicals used, remove furniture and obstacles beginning cleaning tasks
  2. Tackle Spillages & Stains – Clear spillages with absorbent materials, spray tested chemicals to remove carpet or flooring stains
  3. Vacuuming – Vacuum the carpet floor section by section working from far end to near end, arrange furniture back. Use Vacuum Cleaners with appropriate attachments
  4. Empty Dustbins – Tie & remove bin liner placing them in a larger disposal bags
  5. Clean Horizontal Surfaces – Spray cleaning chemical onto cleaning cloth, wipe horizontal surfaces like tables, shelves, desk etc
  6. Clean Pantry – Repeat above steps for the pantry. Ensure food waste is not be left overnight. Sweeping and mopping (damp mop) of the floor is a must
  7. Re-instate & Finish – Check if work is done as per requirements, remove disposal bags to designated collection points, remove signage, return tools & equipment back to the store, and then wash hands for good personal hygiene

As a service buyer, you should specify upfront to the cleaning company on the use of effective tools and technology for better cleaning performance. If your office has its own equipment, then you are liable to maintain them in good condition. Always stress to the service provider for proper training to their cleaners on the usage of onsite machinery & tools.

2. Defining the Scope of Work

Convey as much information as possible to enable the cleaning service provider to submit an accurate proposal.  This also helps the cleaning company to plan and deploy manpower for the required cleaning services. The scope of work must include – .

  1. Area of Coverage – provide information on the list of inspection units, total number and fixtures in the inspection units. Area of coverage should include types of floor surfaces and total floor area to be cleaned together with a layout drawing / floor plan of the premise.
  2. Service Hours – indicate the service hours (including the peak and off-peak periods) for the cleaning service.
  3. Schedule of Works – a recommended schedule of work i.e. types of cleaning and the required frequency for the area of coverage should be provided for better management of resources.
  4. Other Services – If other services besides cleaning services are required, (e.g. waste management, landscape maintenance, pest management, etc.) then these should be included in the contract.
  5. Fault Reporting Procedure – Draft the fault reporting procedures and user feedback channels to ensure that all faults reported are attended to and resolved promptly. Some examples of faults include leaking or choked water fixtures, overflowing litter bins, presence of spillage, etc.
  6. Pandemic Event – In the event of a pandemic outbreak, service buyers must agree on an appropriate deployment plan with the service provider to carry out and complete the works as specified in the contract.
  7. Deployment Proposal – to help the service provider accurately plan and submit their deployment proposal, let them know of your requirement of the number of cleaners, by what date and so on

During proposal response evaluation, you must assess the service provider’s submitted list of equipment, materials, schedule of work and deployment proposal/plan for their suitability and effectiveness.

3. Service Quality Inspection

The quality of service determines a major portion of the performance of the service provider as it measures whether the service provider is able to meet the performance standards set by the service buyer. Your inspection strategy should include –

  1. Cleaning work checkingInspection Checklist – can be made listing down inspection units such as entrance, lift lobby, common corridor, meeting rooms, etc depending on the scope of work for your facility. Inspections made should rate the actual cleanliness against the reference rating for the items in the inspection units.
  2. Performance Ratings – Determine and give ratings (say on a scale of 1 to 5) per inspection and report it to the service provider for performance review. It is a good practice for joint inspections by both parties where possible. Definition of performance ratings should be defined prior
  3. Inspection & Response Times – Carry out inspections immediately after the cleaning routine. Also measure the service provider’s response time to ad-hoc requests during and outside of service hours. Requests can be categorised based on work priority ranging from non-critical to very critical.

4. Performance Review

Keeping track of performance metrics and assessing service provider’s performance on a regular basis helps close the feedback loop. Implement a –

service provider review

  1. Performance Scorecard – An evaluation scorecard with relevant performance metrics, or KPIs, can be used; which can be customized based on individual facility requirements. Regular review meetings should be arranged to discuss the results
  2. Incentive Scheme – Adopt some form of reward system as an incentive to cleaners when they attain a higher score than expected during the performance review. Giving out monetary incentives or non-monetary rewards can ensure that service providers regularly meet or exceed expectations

Support from Singapore Government Agencies

In tune with rising public expectations, government agencies are making the cleaning industry in Singapore a progressive one with guidelines, training programmes & regulations. See video below –

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has developed a 5 year Productivity Roadmap for the Cleaning Industry here.  It features standards development (containing referenceable checklists, guides, etc); training programmes under WSQ framework; use of innovative technology and lastly regulatory measures for qualifying and licensing local businesses before they can provide cleaning services in Singapore.  Service buyers thus have peace of mind when contracting a service provider.

Especially for cleaning service buyers, a sample of such a guide is available here.

Following best practices and observing set guidelines is the responsibility of facility managers and office admin staff. Working closely with the cleaning contractors on setting expectations, drafting contracts and laying out procedures leads to better understanding, stronger work ethics and ultimately higher cleaning standards.

What Cleaners ought to know about Food Court & Hawker Centre Cleaning?

With hawker centres, food courts, fast food and fine dining restaurants in every nook & corner, it is no secret that Singapore is a foodie’s paradise. However, this status can be celebrated only if along with the variety and range of food, we also maintain high standards of cleaning and hygiene at public eating places.

Dirty tables with blobs of fish head curry or dropped morsels of greasy char kway teow left uncleaned on the floor can be a total turn off.  But yet, many a time’s manpower shortage or untrained cleaners do result in such an unsightly experience for patrons….leading to lack of business for the food stall owners, or even worse, causing health risks. So what can food establishments do in order to ensure that cleaning and hygiene standards are upheld by cleaners in charge of food premises cleanliness.

open air public eating place

In this post we’ll share F & B related cleaning procedures that will help you address this very issue.  Read on!

F&B Premises Cleaning Procedures

Following prescribed guidelines together with proper tools/equipment when conducting cleaning at food establishments can ensure not only good cleaning standards but also reduce time wastage.

Before commencing the job, cleaners must wear proper cleaning attire such as apron, gloves and covered shoes. The cleaning trolley must be well equipped with cleaning supplies and tools such as spray bottle, wash cloth, bucket, receptacles, bin liner, squeegee, broom, dustpan, mop and safety signage.  With the pre-work preparation properly done, there are 5 main areas to focus on –

Cleaning table tops

  1. singapore cleaner clearing food platesBefore starting to clean tables make sure that cleaning solutions are replenished and bins are lined
  2. Clear food spills and disposable waste into the waste bin
  3. Clear used trays, crockery and cutlery from the table and place them in the halal or non-halal receptacles
  4. Use squeegee to clean up liquid spills
  5. Use cloth to clean the table. Rinse in bucket and clean again if required
  6. Clean with sanitizer during off peak hours
  7. Place all used trays, crockery and cutlery to the tray return station or the respective food stalls depending on the type of establishment

Use different colored cloth for cleaning and sanitizing for easy identification. Change cleaning solution in bucket often.

Tray Return Station

  1. Clear leftover foods or waste from the trays, crockery and cutlery into the waste bin
  2. Sort the trays, crockery and cutlery from the racks onto halal and non halal receptacles
  3. Clean the tray return station racks and countertops with cloth
  4. Use a different colored cloth to sanitize
  5. Dispose the rubbish

For premises without centralised washing, clean the trays with cloth and sanitize with a different cloth.

Washing Used Trays, Crockery and Cutlery

  1. Check working condition of dishwasher and report any faults to the supervisor
  2. Scrape or rinse off food remnants and stains and soak in basin
  3. Transfer all items into rinsing basin
  4. Place all trays, crockery and cutlery onto receptacles and load the dishwasher
  5. After the wash inspect the crockery to check for any stains or unwashed parts. Rewash if required
  6. Dry thoroughly before returning items to respective food stalls
  7. Clean the dishwasher and washing area and dispose rubbish

Sweeping and Mopping

  1. Sweep floor and corners where dust can accumulate
  2. Use 2 buckets – one for water and one for mopping solution
  3. Rinse mop in water and wring dry and then in solution and wring dry
  4. Prop up safety signage at both ends of mopping area
  5. Mop the entire area section at a time making sure to overlap
  6. Remove safety signage only when floor is dry and then move on to another section

For spot cleaning or removing of stains, twist the mop head.

Throwing Refuse

  1. Tie and remove rubbish bag from the cleaning trolley
  2. Use extra liner if leakage occurs
  3. Throw rubbish bag into bulk bin taking care to avoid body contact
  4. Wash inside and outside of bin. Let dry and place new liner

Main bin centre should also be properly cleaned with safety signage kept.

Return of Tools and Equipment

  1. After cleaning, all tools and equipment have to be cleaned and returned to the store area.
  2. Cleaning cloth, apron, gloves and mops need to be washed and dried.
  3. Cleaners should wash their hands thoroughly for personal hygiene.

Mandating a strict Cleaning regime

Hawker centres and food courts are an integral part of life for Singaporeans. In order to make sure that hawker centres are kept clean spring cleanings, repairs & redecoration are carried out regularly. These are mandated and conducted by agencies like National Environment Agency (NEA) and by respective Town Councils for HDB owned centres.  Such cleaning and maintenance schedules are announced by NEA on its website.

By following Cleaning best practices and maintaining a strict cleaning regime, a meal at the hawker centre or food court hopefully will always be a pleasant experience. Keeping in mind food patrons’ health, good cleaning practice also keeps pests and other harmful bacteria at bay.

How to prevent Food Contamination by following these Hand Washing techniques

Food handlers need to be very careful about hand washing in order to prevent food contamination. Harmful bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli and viruses such as Norovirus can be present on human hands and these can lead to contamination during handling, ultimately causing food poisoning. And as you know food poisoning is responsible for a number of sicknesses ranging from vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, stomach ache, weakness, migraine and even fever.

Besides the usual cleaning and hygiene maintenance routine in food areas, in order to remain safe from infections practicing proper hand washing techniques is very important. To put it in a simply, proper hand washing is one of the most effective way in which you can prevent the spreading of infections through food contamination.

Know When to Wash your Hands

instances when hands should be washedWhile its essential for food handlers to wash their hands and wrists at frequent intervals. Here are some instances when it is mandatory for them to wash –

  • Before starting the preparation of food
  • Before handling ready-to-eat or cooked food
  • After preparation or handling of raw food
  • When changing tasks, i.e. when switching from handling of raw food to ready-to-eat food. This prevents cross-contamination
  • After handling waste or disposing trash
  • After cleaning duties
  • After handling money
  • After using the washroom
  • After coughing, sneezing or blowing the nose

Having an ideal Hand Washing Station

foot operated binA designated hand washing station is a must in food preparation areas. It should be easily accessible for dish washing activities. The taps should be pedaled, elbow or knee operated so that it is not required to use clean hands for touching any part of the washing station. This greatly helps in prevention of cross contamination.

Ideally, a hand washing station must have the following components:

  • Taps
  • Sink
  • Foot-operated rubbish bin
  • Paper towels
  • Liquid soap

 

Steps for Proper Hand Washing

Yes, we all do wash our hands but do we follow all the steps? Did you know that Hands should be washed for a period of at least 15 to 20 seconds.  And the actual steps that should be followed are –

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running and preferably warm water
  2. Use liquid soap in good quantity so as to form lather
  3. Rub your hands, including fingertips, thumb, wrists, in between the fingers and back of your hands
  4. Rub your hand for about 15 seconds. Rub vigorously
  5. Rinse your hands thoroughly in the running water
  6. Dry your hands with a paper towel

Foodborne diseases are a common norm. In spite of the fact that most people recover from such health disorders, these can lead to chronic health issues in about 4% to 5% cases. Thus observe and follow infection control practices that can help keep such diseases at bay. If you are involved with food preparation at home or a food handler (Chef, cook, kitchen and food stall assistants) at your workplace, education and awareness in this regard is of utmost importance.

Why hiring an licensed Cleaning Company is a smarter choice

If you’re sulking over the quality of cleaning done by your full time helper at home or feeling agonized by the behaviour and skill level of a part time cleaner that you hired recently, then this post is just for you.

Low standards of cleaning and unprofessional work attitude is a wide-spread problem faced by many Singaporean home and office owners.  And at times its not the workers or cleaners who are at fault but rather the errant services providers who don’t observe fair employment policies, hire unskilled individuals and even underpay their staff.

But the good news is that the National Envrionment Agency (NEA) has got into action to introduce some order and standards for the cleaning businesses in Singapore.  Let me share more about this and most importantly how you as a customer can benefit from it.

NEA Cleaning Business License – What is it for and what does it entail?

A Cleaning Business License by NEA aims to impose better employment standards in the cleaning industry so as to ensure reliability and professionalism of cleaning services delivered in Singapore. From September 2014 onwards Businesses that provide general cleaning services (to Public and Private sectors) at premises or any public places in Singapore will need to be licensed.  With exceptions given only for those belonging to the excluded cleaning works category.

A1 Cleaning Certified

The License needs to be renewed every year and there are penalties of upto S$10,000 for those who operate without a valid license.

To earn this license a Sinapore Cleaning Company is required to –

  • Be registered with Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) or Registry of Societies (ROS)
  • Have an existing Cleaning Business – at least 1 cleaning contract on-going OR completed in the 12 months before applying
  • In case of start-ups have employees with demonstrated understanding, training, practical experience in cleaning
  • Send their Cleaners for training courses under WSQ framework or other relevant training programmes
  • Submit a progressive wage plan for their cleaners

Scope of Licensing

The following is the scope of Licensing regime –

  • Businesses that provide general cleaning services at premises or any public places in Singapore will need to be licensed
  • Companies employing in-house cleaners to clean their premises are exempted from this requirement
  • Those who provide housekeeping services to hotels, hostels and serviced apartments are required to be licensed
  • Accredited cleaning companies such as those with Clean Mark accredition will already comply with the licensing requirements

Benefits of hiring a NEA Licensed Cleaning Company

So what does all of the above mean to the end customer? In terms of the benefits here’s what it gives to the end user –

nea certified cleaning companySkilled Workers

License requirement ensures that employees working for the company are well-trained or undergo the required training. With experienced and trained professionals doing the job, consumers can get superior quality of services.

Better Employment Standards

Cleaners have a pathway to higher wages in the future….they aren’t exploited, tend to have better work attitude and be more productive.  Happy workers mean better standard of service and professionalism for consumers.

Better Quality of Services

Companies that offer cleaning services are valid business entities on the record and having a track record in providing such services.

Peace of Mind

Customers don’t have to fear of being involved in any kind of fraudulent practices such as hiring illegal or moonlighting workers

The licensing criteria thus ensures that the employees receive the wage they deserve and at the same time put in their efforts in honing their skills.  It’s a win-win situation for the consumer as well as the employees. Business owners are also reminded to raise their game and uprade the service standards they provide whilst boosting their reputation. So, next time before you hire and sign the contract with a Cleaning Company do so only after to verify their NEA Cleaning Business License.

5 Cleaning & Sanitation Practices you should follow if you Handle Food

Singaporeans are food lovers…hawker centers, food courts and restaurants may be among the most visited places besides our homes and offices! However, inadvertently sometimes F & B Businesses ignore the way food is handled resulting in food poisoning cases that have led authorities to cancel food licenses and even shut down some establishments.

Cleaning and Sanitation deserve utmost attention.  Coz, more often than not contamination and food poisoning are majorly caused due to inadequate sanitation measures. So, if you run a food stall or happen to be a food handler (such as a chef or kitchen assistant) or simply a concerned homemaker here are five best practices you may want to implement at your home/work place.

1. Mark your Calendar, Observe a Schedule

Plan, mark dates and time slots to clean your kitchen, stall etc.  If you run a food & beverage establishment, there should be a clean-up session daily, making sure to keep your supplies and equipment ready before time. Creating a schedule and following it diligently ensures bacteria, insects, pests do not enjoy time in your kitchen spaces.

 

2. Employing efficient methods for Cleaning and Sanitation

sanitization of dirty utensilsSparkling clean utensils does not mean bacteria free. Cleaning and sanitizing are two sides of the same coin. The first is just physical removal of visible dirt, while the latter is removal of bacteria. The following applies to all utensils used or in contact with food.

  • Rinse your utensil under running water to wash away any leftovers or debris.
  • Wash the surfaces of your utensils with appropriate detergents. (Soaking, spraying, foaming and pressure cleaning are all forms of washing).
  • Flush away or clear food or dirt particles on your surfaces.
  • Sanitize your utensils by steaming or rinsing in hot water or with reliable chemical cleaning solutions.

Sanitizing works best when the cleaning solutions are warm (with hot water > 77 degree Celsius) and the surface to be cleaned are in contact for a sufficient time.

Depending on type of food, sanitizing solutions should be diluted as recommended by the manufacturer.

 

3. Using the Right Tools

Always ensure that suitable brushes and tools are used for the job. Using coarse cleaners might cause scratches that can lead to bacterial growth if not sanitized properly. Therefore, different surfaces require different treatment.  For example –

  1. Tough surfaces should be cleaned with stiff bristled brushes
  2. Soft bristled brushes should be used on dusty, fragile and scratch prone surfaces.
  3. Pads, sponges are soft and flexible; they should be used for utensils.

Having color coded tools for different areas makes it easier for to identify. After use, it’s vital to thoroughly clean, dry and store the cleaning equipment in hygienic conditions.

 

4. Practicing Personal Hygiene (e.g. Hand-Washing)

Hands can sometimes be the key source for contamination. So they should be washed – before and after preparing food, changing between raw meat and vegetables, after using the toilet, handling any waste and when you cough and sneeze into your hands.

correct way of washing hands

Image Source: Good Cleaning & Sanitation Practices by AVA & NEA

Practice these 8 steps for clean hands:

  1. Rinse hands under clean running water, rub palms together.
  2. Clean between the fingers.
  3. The back of your hands.
  4. Scrub your thumbs
  5. The back of your fingers
  6. Get your fingernails
  7. Your wrists
  8. Lastly, rinse and dry your hands with paper towels/clean napkins.

 

5. Storage of Food & Housekeeping Materials

So far we have focused on cleaning and sanitizing. But without proper housekeeping, management and storage of food, only half your job is done.

To keep bacteria and other microorganisms from growing, it is important to store perishable goods at the correct temperature for the proper amount of time. Microorganisms are more likely to grow in the danger zone where the internal food temperature is low. Storage has to be hygienic and dry depending on the kind of food (i.e. raw or cooked vegetables and meat).

Besides food storage, hazardous chemicals used for external cleaning and maintenance such as detergents, pesticides, polishes, glass cleaners, etc should be separated out, labeled and stored in an organized manner.

It always matters, not only what you eat but also where you eat. Whether you’re a homeowner managing your own kitchen or a manager overseeing an F & B establishment, cleaning and sanitation is of paramount importance. There’s no substitute or shortcuts when it comes to implementing basic hygiene standards.