Freshening Up Your Store, from Simple to Elaborate

In this archive photo, retired multi-store owner Paul Russo dons a dust mask, glasses and a disposable jumpsuit before using an extended-handle air gun to clean the lint and dust found in his laundromat. (Photo courtesy Paul Russo)

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Freshening Up Your Store, from Simple to Elaborate (Part 1)

Pointers from Paulie B: Spend some time getting into the cracks and crevices

GLENDALE, Ariz. — When first built, most laundromats look terrific. They’re immaculately clean and shiny, with all-new machines, floors, walls, tables, sign and doors. Maybe even a new storefront, as well.

A customer walking into a freshly built laundromat may feel like they’re getting into a brand-new car (they can smell the newness!), only they don’t have to pay $40,000 for the experience. New mats attract many customers.

Knowing this, my best strategy over the years was to simply keep my mats looking like new. And it worked! The problem is that one must invest more time and money periodically to maintain that look and feel.

Within mere months, a mat can start going downhill. A ding here, a scrape there. Sun damage and water stains. Dust and lint accumulating almost everywhere. Graffiti. Crud building up in the nooks and crannies. It happens gradually and can sneak up on a mat owner.

I suggest you take lots of photos of your new mat, so you can look back to see the changes.

If you’ve been reading my column, you’ll see that most of the things I recommend here are just “common sense,” along with a touch of some “out of the box” solutions.


Scrub Brushes to Clean Cracks and Crevices — Periodically use scrub brushes to clean all the cracks and crevices around your store. One day a week, we had a “Nook & Cranny Day,” when I assigned someone (yes, even myself some days) to go around the store and brush out any accumulated crud; soap boxes were done every day, too.

If you mop your floor every night, this kind of cleaning detail is needed. You see, the mop swishes the dirt around the main surface of the floor and gradually pushes the dirty water into the corners and edges of the floor. This quickly builds up and looks terrible.

Mop-Handle Tools — To remove chewing gum from floors, why get down on your hands and knees? Simply attach a 2- to 3-inch putty knife to the end of a broom handle with duct tape to create a dual-use cleaning tool. As you’re sweeping, if you come upon a piece of gum stuck to the floor, just flip the broom upside-down and scrape off the gum. You can clamp the putty knife on, but duct tape will minimize the tools from scratching anything.

Attaching a scrub brush to a broom handle creates a tool for cleaning flooring edges and corners. Dip the scrub brush in a mop bucket. As you scrub, you could have someone else follow behind and push a rag with the putty knife.

Air Compressors and Leaf Blowers — If you close your mat at night, you can clean all the lint and dust within minutes with an extended-handle air gun and 50-foot hose attached to a nice air compressor. Very similar to how landscapers clean up properties with leaf blowers. You could even use an electric leaf blower. Once you set up, it’s easy. Just walk around the store and blast anything you want, including coin mechanisms right from the coin slots. Sometimes I would open the change machines and blast them, too. Simply start with the ceilings and work your way down. 

More importantly, you can go behind your dryers to blow the lint out of the dryer motors and fireboxes. You’ll have fewer issues with your motors and less chance of a dryer fire catching.

You’ll want to wear PPE, of course, especially for behind the dryers. I wore a dust mask, glasses, and a disposable hooded Tyvek jumpsuit. It works great because when you’re done and take it off, you’re dust-free.

Check back Thursday for more easy, inexpensive fix-ups in Part 2!

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