It's early 2020 and the definition of clean is pretty agreed upon around the world. With the cleaning industry growing more every year there was no sign of a massive change coming anytime soon.
Then COVID-19 swept across the states of America in the blink of an eye and everything changed.
The reasons that we show up for work.
The reasons we take pride in delivering a perfect cleaning.
The reasons that we take the bad days with a smile just to make it to the good ones.
So much of our lives changed within the walls of Homeer and throughout the rest of the cleaning industry.
Thankfully, I am in a unique position to share some of the things that changed and continue to evolve as the situation unfolds.
To start let's talk about how the definition of cleaning changed.
Up to the point of 2019, the world had gotten used to a cleaning that was subpar while moving with the definition of clean as "free from dirt, marks, or stains."
Then suddenly, in 2020 the definition evolved to mean more than physically clean. I believe the adverb definition of clean is the most representative here, being: "used to emphasize the completeness of a reported action, condition, or experience." So, what does it mean for your home to be clean?
The differences may seem very minute, so let me give you an example.
Previously, many cleaning companies would operate with the thinking that as long as the aesthetic aspect (the part you see) was of high-quality, then the entire service was. But, that's no longer the case. Starting Homeer we introduced the idea of the 4 Pillars of Quality which establishes the idea that there is more to quality than what you see.
To break it down as simple as possible we divide each aspect into its pillars, resulting in the four pillars of quality that we follow: * Functional * Process * Aesthetic * Technical
These four points are the single easiest way to break down what is "clean" without worries of the client perceiving something differently. To keep things consistent it is incredibly important that we start with a top-down approach and instill the expectations from the very top of the ladder to each rung on the ladder as we continue into the business.
During the training process at Homeer, we make sure to get all team members familiar with each pillar. But the goal by the end of training is always to fully understand the four pillars of quality and their importance. If at any time someone is confused on any aspect of the pillars we always make sure to clarify the importance of each.
Let's get into it.
As the pandemic swept America the reaction was consistently delayed. But, there was a small group of businesses that we're pushing hard to do absolutely everything they could.
As an industry, we had to come up with new ways to optimize our routines while following more safety precautions than ever before.
On top of all the uncertainty, the industry was also swept with a wind of employee-exits. And it was understandable. As the owner of a cleaning company, I couldn't be upset because we didn't have much solid information yet and my team members were concerned for their safety. In the following weeks, we would all learn the proper practices and procedures to follow however this period changed the cleaning industry forever.
As the pandemic grew many local cleaning companies tried to stay on top of it.
Companies like Lime Maids which is owned by my friend Jasper Flour. Jasper embarked his writer to share tips on how to keep your home sustainable during COVID-19. I'm a passionate follower of Jasper so when I saw this post I knew the shift the cleaning industry was experiencing could not be downplayed. Suddenly, we were more than just cleaning services. We were the companies getting calls with pleas for advice and assistance during the largest pandemic the world has faced in recent time.
Things like: 1. How safe is it to hire a maid?
How can I protect myself?
Will cleaning my home prevent infection?
Constantly I was seeing the cleaning industry band together while the cities our locations are in became more dangerous. Lubbock, Texas quickly became a hotspot and it's been a difficult battle since day one. For the first time, our clients were not only concerned with the quality of cleaning they would be receiving. They were also concerned with the risk factors that come with having someone in your home during 2020.
For years we have had different terms for different types of cleaning. But, they were constantly thrown around in hopes to grab more of the marketing share and diluted the value significantly. So when COVID-19 was on the upswing to our peak "sanitation companies" were popping up left and right hoping to snag a small piece of the pie.
Generally, even, it was the case that these "sanitizing companies" were using that term in more of a catch-all manner. So instead of operating with the idea that they would be sending team members to clean with rags, they would be sending team members with machines that will take care of all the germs in the building without physically touching any surfaces. These companies weren't even sanitizing the same thing across all locations, but of course, it is very difficult to decipher that through their marketing lingo.
So if you see someone boasting their sanitation services you will want to enquire for more details.
What pathogens do they focus on?
Are they cleaning or using a machine?
Do they even offer the type of cleaning you need and want?
In turn, sanitizing somewhat lost it's definition and was blown into the wind. So now the cleaning industry as a whole needed to take a grip of the definition and rectify the issues that had been created.
So, the definitions for the types of cleaning had to become more rigid.
For years we have had terms in the cleaning industry that meant certain things, but finally, we have cleared the discrepancies in definitions and can operate with these three: 1. Cleaning 2. Disinfection 3. Sterilization
Suddenly, cleaning companies had gained the ability to be more firm not only with the expectations but also the results. Not because it a power-filled situation, but because everyone needs the service they are requesting to be accurate to the initial desire.
So now that we have the rigid term of "cleaning" we must understand what that means. Cleaning refers to the actual act of the physical removal of germs from a surface. Not by the use of an electrostatic sanitation machine, but with a rag and hand. You must catch that cleaning is to remove the germs. Not kill the germs.
Since the beginning of English clean has been a very general term and that still stands. But, now you know that without the physical contact the act cannot and should not be considered cleaning.
Don't be misled though. Just because you are not killing the germs doesn't mean cleaning isn't enough. It's quite the opposite situation.
COVID-19 is a very fat virus. I mean this virus is surrounded by a protective fatty layer like a polar bear in the middle of a snowstorm. It's wrapped up, but thankfully that's quite a disadvantage when you have a rag and a cleaning supply in your hand!
For example, UCHealth says:
Both soap and hand sanitizer neutralize the coronavirus, but soap and water ... coronavirus because soap disrupts sticky bonds and the virus slides right off.
So even a home cleaning from your trusty local cleaning person will keep you safer! The only thing that doesn't help with COVID-19 and the germs in your home is doing nothing. Even the most basic of cleaning effort will decrease your chances of getting sick by an incredible margin.
Now, this is where the idea of clean takes a turn. Disinfection solely speaks to the killing of the virus. Disinfection is not just to remove the virus, but to completely kill the virus and make sure the surface is clean of all germs and viruses.
There are many common disinfectants use and the preferred brand varies slightly by the area of the world you live in. But, just about any alcohol-based cleaner will be perfect to wipe all of your surfaces down. With a general alcohol-based cleaner killing 99.99% of the viruses it will encounter you can rest assured knowing your home couldn't be cleaner.
With a supply like this, the value of the results will solely come from the amount of time and patience put into getting the clean perfect. Making sure to wipe every surface with a disinfecting clean is vital to have any kind of marginal success or results.
Now you may notice that I didn't say it would kill 100% of germs. That's because there are some viruses and bacteria that can survive the disinfection. For example, before COVID-19 you would be hard-pressed to find a cleaning supply that would take care of that. Now 8 months into the experience of COVID-19 you would be hard-pressed to find a disinfecting cleaner that doesn't.
In the case you choose to perform your Texas disinfecting clean you must pay attention to all the high-traffic items. This includes things like:
Handles to cabinets
Strings or rods to open blinds
Laptops and phones
Oven door handle
Buttons on kitchen appliances
Knobs that turn on your faucets and sinks
Toilet flushing handles
Remote controls and video game controllers
Musical instruments (be careful not to use corrosive chemicals)
Any buttons on electronic devices
Basically anything you touch more than once a day.
The important thing to note here is that disinfecting is essentially the highest level of cleaning you can receive in your home.
Let me explain...
Sterilization is where things get tricky and generally scummy. The idea of sterilization is the killing all pathogenic microorganisms. With proper sterilization, all of the bacteria and germs that weren't killed with disinfecting would be. But, there's one caveat.
Sterilization is essentially only found in two places. * Medical establishments.
Those two industries require a clean-room that is germ-free without the concern of dealing with any dust fibers. Simply put, that's not possible in a home and anyone that claims it is, is lying. There is no other way to put it.
There are no local sterilization companies for your home because they do not and cannot exist. If they do, you should no trust them with anything. That's the unfortunate truth.
Then, we saw the definition spread like wildfire.
This change was more than welcome though was the change needed to allow for disruption within the local cleaning industry. Just in Lubbock, Texas, we have home cleaning services that are finally getting a website! In Midland, Texas we even have a few cleaning companies that finally have online booking forms. It's an exciting time to be a professional home cleaner and be in the cleaning industry.
The benefits of the definition of cleaning evolving aren't just limited to the business owners.
Although a lot of things have changed and brought benefits for the companies rendering the service. There are also a large number of benefits that clients get.
One of the biggest benefits of having a cleaner home is that it's easier to be active. Perhaps the act of cleaning your home was a physical task, but the time you get from not having to clean allows you to have time for the things you want to do.
While being active is important, that also comes with an increased level of health in general. By having a clean home you never have to worry about constantly breathing in dust or dealing with dust-bunnies. In Lubbock, Texas, and Midland, Texas we encounter a huge amount of red dirt. That means this new definition of clean has only removed the possibility for miscommunication as we are there to clean everything, every time.
Living in a cleaner home prevents you from being surrounded by constant bacteria and germs. With COVID-19 it is of utmost importance to keep our home clean. But, that won't change when a vaccine rolls around. Now that we are aware of how dirty things are it will be very difficult to go back to the way we previously lived.
For example, there are many in the West Texas area that have asthma or very bad allergies and choose to have a home cleaning service. But, having a cleaning service isn't an immediate solution. Having a professional cleaning service that cleans everything is though. That's because now that germs are flying around more we are more aware than ever of the risk that is introduced by not cleaning our surroundings properly.
Essentially, many clients of cleaning companies are receiving a higher level of quality without having to pay an increased price. This has worked out to benefit everyone involved with home cleaning services. Both owners of cleaning companies and the clients of those companies.
This begs the question though...
With the increased risk it can make sense to some to resort to Bleach. Bleach has the potential to be very dangerous in the wrong situation to your body and the items you're cleaning. But, it's not a bomb waiting to go off. With proper handling and usage of Bleach, you can get rid of more germs with less work.
For example, when Homeer team members use any bleach they get ready with the PPE needed. The last thing we would want is for Bleach to splash onto our clothes or skin without noticing.
At Homeer we have a client that owns a Spa and she shared a story just the other day about how she was wearing all of her PPE and still, some Bleach got inside her glove. You may not think that's a big deal, but her skin was not only very irritated but rough and sensitive. Bleach is a very strong irritant and the last thing you want to do is forget your gloves or other PPE.
We also never recommend using Bleach when it is not diluted. Bleach is very powerful and doesn't require extreme concentration to do the same work. You must know that you should never mix bleach with any other chemicals.
Bleach instantly becomes poisonous gas when mixed with certain cleaning chemicals. So, when you're deciding to dilute your Bleach mixture only use water. Seriously. The water and Bleach mixture will be more than enough for the task at hand.
Bleach is very good at a few things: 1. Cleaning large areas like the bathroom and kitchen.
Brightening white bathtubs, tile, and grout. Your bathroom spends a lot of the time steamy and wet so a lot of moisture is left hanging for hours. With Bleach you can make everything white shine like new with minimal effort.
It's also a wonderful general disinfectant to use throughout your house.
But here's where things get bad. Bleach can easily stain any fabric it comes into contact with. It doesn't take minutes. It's not something you can fight. It's an instant stain and impossible to remove. This is precisely why no Homeer team member ever uses Bleach in a room with carpet. Because having access to Bleach is not worth the risk of ruining carpet with a single drop.
So, Bleach should never be your first resort when building a cleaning supply arsenal however it can and should be a last-ditch effort.
And more importantly, with this new definition of clean did not come a new round of cleaning supplies. The cleaning supplies haven't changed at all. The method of using those supplies is what changed.
For many cleaning companies, it was a shift from rushing through the bookings each day to taking their time and making sure that everything top-to-bottom has been cleaned.
To make the process a little easier I thought I would go into detail on how you can easily clean some of the more delicate items like your electronics.
Cleaning your microwave is easy. When operating with the idea that you are going to clean absolutely everything the microwave is very easy. Although a microwave can build up a large number of crusties on the walls, you rarely need to spend more than a few minutes cleaning it. When cleaning your microwave you aren't going to spray your cleaning supply inside or on the rag. Instead, you are going to get a towel barely damp with water and set it in the microwave. Then, turn on your microwave for just a couple of minutes so that you can steam the inside of your microwave and save your elbow-grease for later. Once it's finished running you can let it sit for another minute and then easily wipe the sides and plate off in seconds.
How to clean your screens without wetting it. Televisions and computer monitors are sensitive and the last thing you would want to do is spray the glass cleaner directly onto the screen. Instead, you will want to use a fresh microfiber rag and barely spritz the glass cleaner onto your rag. It should be such a small amount of glass cleaner that you can touch the tag and barely tell it's wet. Cleaning a TV you will want to take your time and get every port and ledge on the back as well. If you just do the front and skip the back, the front will be dirty again in no-time.
The idea of cleaning your electronics remains consistent throughout. Use a minimally damp rag and use a very cautious touch as you remove all dust and smudges.
With COVID-19 still seeing a rise in cases within America, there is no sign of this ending soon. So, let's talk about the things cleaning companies have to done evolve with COVID-19 and the new definition of clean.
Coronavirus has controlled the content we see on our media for the last months, but one thing is still difficult to decipher. How does someone catch COVID-19?
Well, this virus is primarily spread from person-to-person via respiratory droplets released into the air. And that is precisely the CDC recommends wearing a mask at all times when near anyone. Along with wearing a mask, one can stay much safer by standing 6 or more feet away.
Also at this time and based on the data we have available, Coronavirus appears to have its highest contagion at the point of the worst symptoms. Thankfully, all professional cleaning services know how to handle sickness: By sending that team member home until they feel better.
Along with staying at home when feeling sick, many cleaning companies have introduced:
Masks required for all cleaners on staff.
Contactless cleaning appointments.
Temperature checks before starting the day.
Staff required to disinfect supplies and surfaces between cleans.
Coronavirus may have the potential to spread from infected surfaces or objects, but this is not thought to be the main route of transmission.
So even though COVID-19 is considered highly contagious by the CDC, the odds of catching Coronavirus due to your home cleaning is very low. This is all before because your cleaner is there to remove all bacteria in your home. Thus, the odds of you catching COVID-19 due to a professional home cleaner being in your home is very low.
We know it will be okay to keep our local home cleaning service. But, what if we need to find a new company that will take more safety precautions?
One of the first concerns that many local cleaning companies experienced in Texas were that our clients didn't want anyone coming into their home. To resolve this issue, many cleaning services added the option for a "no-contact home cleaning". This way the client doesn't even have to be home to receive the home cleaning needed.
With a no-contact home cleaning you are given a couple of options: 1. Leave a hidden key for your cleaner to use. With almost every home cleaning company in existence, you have the option to leave a key for your cleaning team. This way your home can remain locked before your team arrives and they can lock up as soon as they're finished.
Leave the door unlocked. You also have the option to leave the door unlocked. Although this is not my favorite option this is a viable option. Even though you may not be home if you're planning your schedule with your cleaning team then you could simply leave the door unlocked for just a few minutes between the time you leave and they arrive.
Lockbox with a code. Although becoming less common in Texas if you have a lockbox with a code you can share the code! At Homeer we lock all keys and private access codes behind the booking so that you never have to worry about someone else having access to your information. But, this feature won't come with every cleaning company so in the case you choose to leave a code please ask how the company handles your private information.
Garage door code. In 2020 it's become very common to have a garage door with a code pad. Operating extremely similar to every other method of entry, with this you can rest assured knowing your home is safe before and safe after.
Still, this isn't all to say you have to leave your home. At Homeer we understand that it is your home and we would never ask you to act otherwise. Ideally, your cleaning company is the same and is willing to work however you feel most comfortable!
We've spent this entire post explaining the changes to the cleaning industry.
But what about the changes in your life?
You are assuredly more busy than ever with less time than ever before. While the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the nation, cleaning companies are one of the few industries that can help control the spread.
Having introduced the new definition of "clean" you get the ability to get a top-to-bottom cleaning that you know is going to be perfect.
If you're concerned, talk to your cleaning team. There has been an incredible amount of cancellations within the cleaning industry and by being honest with your cleaning team about the way you feel you can secure yourself a much better cleaning with a much lower level of risk.
So, let me welcome you to the world where we carry a new definition of clean.
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📝 Written By: Chance Herriage
🗣 Published: 11/25/2020
⏰ Updated: 03/22/2021
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