Whilst the glitz and glamour of the Oscars, BAFTA's Tony's and Emmy's might still be a month away, award season kicked off early this year as the 2012 Loo of the Year nominees were given their just rewards. Whilst they might sound like a slightly hokey ceremony, the Loo of the Year awards are actually serious business in the cleaning world. Having just celebrated their 25th year, the Loo of the Year awards reward excellence in maintaining safe, accessible and sanitary washrooms across several different categories. Previous winners include McDonald's, ASDA and The Trafford Centre in Manchester - as well as 2010's winners JD Wetherspoon's. This year, however, the spoils went to the hard-working contract cleaners at Staffordshire County Council, for their continued excellence across a wide range of council-operated facilities. Other nominated companies and commercial bodies included McDonald's in England, whilst JD Wetherspoon public houses scooped a prize for their accessibility and Eurostar Passenger Terminals bagged a prive for changing facilities. Here's hoping for a few more London councils and companies to get nominated in 2013!
As an office cleaning company in London, we like to think of ourselves as pretty magical. People leave work at 5pm, and when they arrive at 9am the next day, desks have been cleaned, floors have been treated bins emptied and so on.
However, one curious case in the US has seen a woman dubbed the 'Cleaning Fairy' sentenced with trespassing and other criminal charges. Homeowner Sherry Bush was left with her 'jaw on the floor' as she returned home to find the washing up taken care of, vacuuming done and rubbish taken out to the curb. And not because her teenage daughter had finally done her chores - because there was a hastily-scrawled 'bill' on a napkin on the table. Thinking a commercial cleaning company had dispatched someone to the wrong address, Mrs Bush called the number - belonging to one Susan Warren - on the invoice/napkin and was calmly informed that there was no error, and that Mrs Warren would be expecting $75 (£48) for her unrequested cleaning services. Rather than settling the bill, Sherry Bush took the matter up with the police, who have sentenced 53-year-old Susan Warren, to 20 hours of community service after pleading guilty to one of the most unusual cases of attempted burglary you'll ever hear. Apparently, after driving around a neighbourhood of large houses and lacking 'something to do', Warren broke in, took care of some household tasks and left her invoice. Saying she owns a cleaning business, Warren claimed she sometimes enters homes, cleans them and leaves a bill - telling the court 'I do this all the time'. And she wasn't lying. Last year, Warren as charged with trespassing for a similar 'cleaning fairy' visit. We'd hope that attempted burglary charge will make this her last unrequested cleaning job.
Following the late 90's move away from chlorofluorocarbon solvents (CFCs to the uninitiated), another major shake up could be coming to every corner of the cleaning industry, as new regulations are being trialled in the US. The OTC - or O-Zone Transport Commission - has been tasked with achieving better air quality by the Federal Clean Air Act - and one of the ways it's aiming to do so is cutting down on VOC's - Volatile Organic Compounds. Whilst you might not have heard of the term VOC before, you will have heard of the compounds that fall under it's umbrella; Formaldehyde, Benzene and byproducts of seemingly innocuous appliances like office cleaning equipment and cleaners. In fact, anything that involves heating-up something to use it (laser printers, floor cleaners, carpet treaters) does have a chance to produce a VOC as a by-product/ Whilst only coming into effect in the US this month, it won't be too long before London office cleaning companies like ourselves will have to make the adjustments to our cleaning methods - but rest assured - we'll be fully compliant when it does arrive on our shores!
When we stay in a hotel room, the last thing we want to think about is it's cleanliness. But according to a report from the University of Houston, we might well do well to add a bottle of disinfectant into your travel essentials whilst we're taking a break. [caption id="attachment_476" align="aligncenter" width="470"][/caption] After diligently swabbing hotel rooms in Indiana, Texas and South Carolina, researchers have labelled the Television Remote and Bedside lamp topped the list of items in a hotel room most likely to be contaminated by bacteria. It seems that these two hotel room staples are most-commonly glossed over by cleaning staff, who might only give them a light dusting or polish. However, it would seem that many guests are handling the remote or lamp directly after using the bathroom - spreading bacteria. Speaking of bathrooms, as expected, the toilet and bathroom sink were also high on the list, posting exceptionally high levels of coliform bacteria on their surfaces. By contrast, the headboard of hotel beds and the bathroom door handle were found to be the cleanest place in most rooms. Katie Kirsch, an undergraduate who this week presented the results to the general meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, also said that hotel cleaning staffs' mops and sponges were one of the main culprits behind the transference between surfaces, with Ms Kirsch also having the potential to cross-contaminate surfaces between rooms, too. The conclusion of the study praised most hoteliers for their high levels of surface sanitation; but warned of the inconsistency between hotels. You might be surprised to learn that there is no universal cleaning 'code' for hotels - instead leaving it up to the best judgement of the cleaning staff, as well as spot-checks by managers and mystery customers. Most researchers involved with the study suggested implementing the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) to the hotel-room cleaning process. HACCP is a NASA-developed system of cleaning and disinfection; designed to ensure the safety of food for astronauts - though it has been adopted by a number of industries. Here at Total Clean, we don't think contract cleaning needs to be rocket science - in the age of internet reviews and social sharing, a hotel with a bad reputation for poor cleanliness is soon outed. The study is unlikely to become a landmark, however, as Ms Kirsch and her team of researchers feel a larger sample size would benefit the outcome of the study, as only three hotel rooms were tested in each state. That said, if you feel compelled to give the TV Remote a once-over with a wet wipe next time you're on holiday, we wouldn't blame you...