From a training perspective, many people might consider the cleaning industry a no-brainer. But 35 years in the cleaning industry have taught George Price that there's more to smart, successful cleaning than pushing a mop. By teaching cleaning personnel what he has learned, he hopes to bring new levels of performance, retention and professionalism to the industry.
Over the past 10 years, Price has been creating a new science of cleaning he calls "cleanology." Price teaches a class by the same name at Rice University in Houston, and does consulting work with area cleaning firms. In both venues, he teaches students the basics of cleaning. He also shares more advanced knowledge with them, such as use-dilution, active and inert ingredients, and the pH scale.
To explain how traditional cleaning practices don't really work and need improvement, Price uses the task of mopping the floor as an example. Because mopping a dirty floor with a mop makes the mop dirty, each time the mop goes back in a bucket of water, the water just gets dirtier and mopping becomes an act of spreading dirty water on the floor. Instead, Price teaches his students to use a different technique: hot water vapor, which kills germs without using dirty water. "The mop is actually causing us to work harder instead of smarter," Price says. "Using hot water vapor, though, increases productivity and knowledge, and the quality for the customer is where it should have been in the first place."
Price teaches three levels: basic, certified and registered cleanology. At the basic level, students learn about materials and supplies. Students at the certified level learn the engineering aspects of cleaning, such as how to determine the right number of staff for a building, how to calculate how many square feet of a building must be cleaned per hour to complete a job on time, or which chemicals really clean what areas (based on pH scales rather than color or smell of the cleaning agent). At the registered level, students are required to be able to teach cleanology to others. "The registered person could actually go into a cleaning business themselves and be able to run it," Price says.
Price says that cleanology imparts more than information about what technologies to use. It teaches cleaning staff to think in terms of professionalism and ownership of their work, which in turn reduces turnover. Price believes that although some don't think that cleaning staff can be taught advanced knowledge about their profession, the will to train them is what makes the difference.
"There are some people in the cleaning business that have problems with reading and writing because of their educational background," Price says. "But let's give employees an opportunity to become professionals by understanding what they're using. I say they do get it—if you take time to teach them." —H.D.