Adopting a Proactive Store-Cleaning Policy

(Photo: © AndrewLozovyi/Depositphotos)

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Adopting a Proactive Store-Cleaning Policy (Conclusion)

Tools that can help you make things look like new

SUN CITY WEST, Ariz. — When buying or building a new laundromat, you have three basic goals: 1) you want a busy mat that will be profitable for years, 2) you want to attract customers and then have them return again and again, and 3) you want a good resale value for when you eventually sell.

The day you open your doors, your mat’s condition will begin declining … unless you have a plan to prevent it.

You can keep your equipment looking new for quite a while by changing worn-out keypads and decals, etc., but eventually you have to bite the bullet and retool. Mats that look like new always attract customers, but the busier your mat is, the more time, effort and money will be required to keep it in that condition.

This month’s topic is less dramatic but just as important. After all, what good is new equipment if your mat is dirty?

In Part 1 of this column, I began looking at how various factors—types of surfaces, customer engagement, and more—can impact your efforts to keep your store clean. Let me conclude:

Keep Logs on Cleaning Tasks — When someone is trashing your restrooms, keeping track of cleaning tasks as they’re completed can be useful in helping you identify who might be responsible.

People aren’t supervised in restrooms, obviously, so install a camera just outside the restroom, focusing on the door. 

To catch a “trasher,” have your crew clean the restroom(s) every hour and take before-and-after photos with their cellphone each time; make sure the images captured carry accurate time stamps. You’ll eventually narrow things down to the customer who may be trashing it.

Flip the Broom to Get into Nooks and Crannies — As your crew mops your store, swirling the mop around pushes dirty water into the edges of the floor. When the water dries, the edges are left with a thin coating of crud. After a while, layers accumulate into a thicker, visible layer of dirt.

You can use a brush on a stick, or try duct-taping a putty blade to the top of a broom handle. As a crew member sweeping the floor comes across a crud-filled corner, they can flip the broom over and use the blade to quickly scrape out the dirt.

Cleaning Washer Soap Boxes — In my experience, they need to be cleaned well every 24 hours. The lids should also be kept open overnight, if possible, to air out and avoid mildew. Or, finish up with a shot of 50/50 bleach and water in a spray bottle and let it sit overnight.

A step stool, a couple rags, a small bucket of hot water, and some decent sink brushes and toothbrushes are good tools. Some mat owners like to use a steam sprayer; the steam melts the caked-on softener stains.

If you start to see encrusted white calcium deposits on stainless steel tops, you can rub them down with a product called “Bar Keepers Friend.” Comet or Ajax can also be used safely because they have new formulations that won’t scratch the metal. (Always refer to your equipment’s owner’s manual for cleaning guidance first before trying a new product.)

A light layer of calcium can usually be removed right away. But if the buildup is significant, keep rubbing them down every night and eventually you’ll see results. 

There are mild acid products in your supermarket that can soften up and remove calcium, lime and even rust.

Make Door Gaskets and Rubber Lids Look Like New — Even the best-quality rubber will eventually get black mildew stains. Once a week, spray the door gaskets with Tilex, Clorox Cleanup, or make your own spray of 50-50 water and bleach.

First, get a popsicle stick or screwdriver and wrap one layer of a rag around the tip. Lift the gasket off the glass enough so you can insert the rag-covered stick, then run the tip all around the inside of the gasket where it meets the glass. That will gently scoop out any dirt and debris.

Next, lift up the gasket from the glass near the top of the door again and shoot some spray inside. Capillary action will run the bleach all around the inside of the gasket, down to the bottom of the door. Wipe any excess bleach off the inside glass so customers don’t get it on their laundry. If you can let that sit overnight, you’ll be pleasantly surprised in the morning.

It’s also a good idea to spray the inside of your soapbox lids if they’re rubber. Once you have the staining under control, this cleaning only needs to be done once a week as maintenance.

Use Humor to Get Your Point Across — I used to tell my crew, “I want this store so clean that customers will need sunglasses when they walk in.”

However “shiny” you’d like your store to be, I wish you luck in keeping her spick-and-span.

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].