CHICAGO — Maintaining a clean facility overall is a top priority for the majority of laundry/linen operators polled in this month’s American Laundry News Your Views survey.
A whopping 83.3% of respondents say they perform all or most of these cleaning tasks every day: sweeping/mopping floors; disinfecting soil-sort conveyors/chutes; disinfecting washers; cleaning exhaust fans; wiping/vacuuming/blowing down equipment; and cleaning lint filters.
“We gather other people’s dirt for a living,” says one laundry/linen operator. “If we do not clean, we will drown in it.”
“Our entire company basis is about clean,” says another. “Clean is what we do. Our facility should represent that at all times.”
Of those who do not complete all of the listed tasks every day, cleaning lint filters was a top priority for 7.6% of operators, while wiping/vacuuming/blowing down equipment was the most important cleaning task for 4.6%. The remaining respondents, representing equal shares of 1.5%, had their priorities spread among sweeping/mopping floors, disinfecting soil-sort conveyors/chutes and cleaning exhaust fans.
“I truly feel that a clean work environment helps instill pride [in] the workforce,” says one respondent. “A clean work environment enforces higher standards and improves quality output.”
Less than half of the respondents—46.3%—post cleaning/maintenance schedules prominently in their facilities. For most respondents (73.2%), training on cleaning tasks is part of a new employee’s orientation.
“With the elevated rate of HAI [healthcare-associated infections] across the country and more stringent protocols in all aspects, cleaning and training play a greater role than [they] ever [have],” says one laundry/linen operator.
So what is the best way to ensure that staff members complete assigned cleaning tasks? Nearly 45% believe it’s best accomplished by putting a team member in charge of confirming completion.
A smaller but still significant percentage (24.6%) say that demonstrating how cleaning benefits a facility is the most effective method. Others point to frequent training (10.8%) and threatening with discipline (4.6%), while 15.4% listed “other” methods, such as using detailed check-off sheets, having daily discussions with staff, and having a designated employee to do cleaning and repairs, to name just a few.
When asked for the primary reason that regular cleaning might not occur as needed, more than 50% of respondents say that timely production takes priority. Roughly 15% pointed to having a lack of time to complete the tasks, while almost 11% say having no team member in charge of tasks leads to a cleaning lapse.
“Even when unexpected (short-term) load increases interfere with routine maintenance and cleaning, a regularly maintained cleaning schedule will allow for extended time periods between cleanings without affecting production,” says one operator.
For 7.7%, problems with cleaning arise when employees don’t understand how it benefits a facility, and a little more than 6% say that high turnover makes it hard to keep staff properly trained. A small percentage (6.2%) listed other reasons, such as equipment breakdowns or falsified documentation, to name a few.
Just how important is cleanliness in maintaining a safe working environment? Almost 88% of respondents say it’s “extremely important,” and 10.6% deem it “somewhat important.” A small percentage (1.5%) disagree, saying cleanliness is “not at all important” in maintaining a safe work environment.
“I and anyone [who] has a plant for any amount of time has [had] or will have a fire,” says another respondent. “The only way to keep that fire small is to clean everything every day.”
While the Your Views survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific.
Subscribers to American Laundry News e-mails are invited to take the industry survey anonymously online each month. All managers and administrators of institutional/OPL, cooperative, commercial and industrial laundries are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define operator opinions and industry trends.