In the last few months, Covid-19 has introduced many new challenges into people’s everyday lives. For those who run warehouses or other storage facilities, keeping them clean and sanitized is a significant struggle. It’s challenging to support optimal cleanliness in a vast space with many people and shipments going in and out of it. However, a clean and sanitized warehouse should be at the very top of your list of priorities.
Maintaining a clean and sanitized warehouse is necessary for your workers’ health, your facility’s productivity and efficiency, and your company’s professionalism. Here are the basics of how you should be cleaning your warehouse, and how often you need to do so.
Depending on what kind of business you run out of your facility, your warehouse needs both regular cleaning and deep cleaning. To kill most germs, viruses, and bacteria, use appropriate cleaning products with at least 70 percent alcohol content.
Every few months–or even monthly, depending on your business–your warehouse builds up enough dirt and grime that it starts to affect productivity, safety, and efficiency. Before it gets to this point, you need to deep clean.
Before You Deep Clean
Deep cleaning happens less frequently than regular cleaning, but it is much more efficacious. Here are some things to consider before you deep clean.
- In-House or Outside Cleaning Service
Before the deep clean happens, decide whether you’ll use staff from inside the company or an outside cleaning crew to deep clean your warehouse.
If you go with an outside cleaning service, schedule the deep clean for evenings or weekends so that the clean doesn’t disrupt productive working hours. If you’ve decided to use your staff, allot a section to each person or team and have them record how long it took them and what exactly their deep clean entailed.
- Different Materials
Specific materials need particular treatments to clean them thoroughly. For hard surfaces like floorings, shelves, stairs, railings, or walkways, remove all dirt and dust from the surface using a vacuum or broom and then clean and disinfect using an appropriate cleaner for the surface.
For soft surfaces like rugs, carpeting, furniture, or drapes, launder the materials when possible or clean with appropriate cleaners and a soft-bristled brush. Electronics like machinery, keypads, computers, or touch screens should be wiped down and disinfected. You may want to put covers over the keyboards and other sensitive areas first.
Some machinery may need specific cleaning protocols, which are usually included with the equipment manuals. Determine whether your staff or an outside cleaner can effectively clean the machinery, or if you need to call in a qualified service technician.
Cleaning usually refers to the process of removing dirt or dust. Sanitizing or sterilizing is the second step of this process. It uses particular substances to disinfect, sterilize or sanitize a surface or object. It is essential to use the correct chemicals in a prescribed manner to ensure the safety of your employees.
Here are some of the different cleaners and what they do:
- Cleaner–Removes soil and dirt from the surface and often removes germs with it but doesn’t kill them.
- Sanitizer–Kills bacteria down to a level that is considered safe by public health organizations. Kills bacteria more quickly than a disinfectant but doesn’t kill as many.
- Disinfectant–Kills bacteria, viruses, and infectious fungi (but not bacterial spores) on hard surfaces.
- Virucide–Destroys (or renders inactive) viruses.
- Sterilant–Eliminates all types of microbial life, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and spores.
Disinfectant is a highly effective way to keep your facility germ- and bacteria-free. There are a few specifications, however, and it’s essential to know the differences to clean effectively.
- Limited is only effective against certain microorganisms, like gram-positive or gram-negative types.
- Broad-spectrum or General is effective against both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria.
- Hospital Grade is broad-spectrum and kills additional bacteria like a nosocomial bacterial pathogen.
When you make an in-depth cleaning plan, note the dates of regular deep cleans so the staff know the exact procedures, and have the relevant cleaner or disinfectant for specified areas.
If you haven’t deep cleaned your facility before, take ample notes on the process–how long it took, what materials were needed and what steps were taken.
Deep Cleaning Steps
To thoroughly deep clean and sanitize a warehouse or other holding facility, give special attention to any high-traffic areas like doorknobs, railings, desks, sinks or faucets.
This first step is merely to clean the area of dirt and grime so that the more potent chemicals can do a better job of disinfecting. Warm water, a rag and soap are useful tools in this first step. Make sure the area is dry before continuing to the next level.
The best way to thoroughly disinfect your facility is by rigorously following instructions on the sterilant or disinfectant of your choice. Some products recommend keeping the product on the surface for up to a minute to make it truly useful. Cleaners should wear protective gear for handling the more caustic chemicals. Never mix cleaners or chemicals.
Deep cleaning your facility is one of the significant ways you can keep your employees safe and healthy. However, you also have to manage the deep clean itself to ensure your employees remain healthy while cleaning.
Warehouses usually house machinery, and there are particular steps to take when cleaning machinery. To be thoroughly safe while cleaning your facility, you need a lockout/tagout device and safety stickers.
- Lockout/Tagout Station
This system, used in many industries, protects workers from dangerous machinery or elements. When an employee is working on a piece of electrical equipment or a gas main or anything potentially dangerous, they need to signal to other workers that the machinery is unstable. For this, workers use lockout/tagouts.
While working on a piece of machinery, the worker ensures that any source of power is disconnected. If they haven’t finished working on the machine when their shift ends, they lock it using a lockout/tagout device. For all of your workers to have access to these necessary pieces of equipment, it’s crucial to have a highly visible, user-friendly lockout/tagout station.
- Safety Labels
These tools help convey information to any employees about the status of certain areas of the warehouse. A safety label can point out the voltage of a particular piece of machinery, or merely indicate that the bathroom floor is wet. Whatever the message, it’s essential to communicate the information in a clear, eye-catching manner.
Safety labels announce the dangers and hazards of their environment, keeping your employees safe.
To maintain a productive, efficient, and safe environment, schedule a deep cleaning for your warehouse or facility. It is important to use effective chemicals and proper safety equipment, like labels or lockout/tagout stations, to communicate information about the warehouse environment.
Now more than ever, it is vital to maintain a germ- and bacteria-free environment for your goods and employees.
Guest Blogger – David Morrison
David Morrison is the Director Of Business Development for Panduit and General Manager of ThunderID, a trusted advisor who works to address businesses’ most critical challenges within their Data Center, Enterprise, and Industrial environments.
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