Why Cleaning Is A Technical Skill

To begin to understand how problems in cleaning (or the lack of cleaning) arise, we need to appreciate that cleaning is a technical skill, even though it is not viewed as such in the wider society. We take for granted that anyone can clean, and that it is just a simple case of picking any cleaning product with any piece of cleaning equipment and then ‘getting on with it’.

However, adopting this attitude is a sure-fired way of creating more problems than that are solved, and not just problems that have a direct impact on people and to the environment. For example, the wrong cleaning detergent for hard floor cleaning, without proper cleaning discipline, could lead to an increase in slip incidences.

The process of cleaning is actually a blend of chemistry and mechanics: the interaction of the cleaning chemical product (detergents, solvents, acids and alkalis and polishes and waxes) with the mechanical action of the cleaning equipment on the surface material, under the prevailing environmental conditions at the time. Even the cleaning product alone can interact (or react) with the surface material if the product is sufficiently ‘aggressive’, this also applies to overly ‘aggressive’ or abrasive equipment.

These four parts: the cleaning product, surface material, equipment and conditions, come together in a multitude of different ways – problems in cleaning arise through incompatibility of two or more of these parts.

For example, the use of a piece of cleaning equipment or cleaning product that is too aggressive for a particular surface will cause irreparable surface damage. Or, the poor choice of cleaning product working in extra-ordinary environmental temperatures (high or low temperatures) fails to work efficiently, or fails to work at all.

There are many more examples, but the key concept to understand is that cleaning is all about the understanding of surface materials and how the cleaning product and equipment are carefully selected to work harmoniously and efficiently together. To do so, you will need to know the different types of cleaning products, their composition and how they work, with this information you will be able to select the most appropriate one for the job. Coupled with this information you’ll need to select the right cleaning equipment to match the product, the area to be cleaned, the environmental conditions and other factors.

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