With millions of people visiting our shores each year and thousands of hotel nights being booked each day, our hospitality sector is certainly kept very busy. According to the 2018 SA Tourism Annual Report[i], an estimated 10,285m tourists arrived on our shores in 2017, a 2,4% increase on the previous year.
A busy hotel or guest house requires the highest levels of cleanliness across the board, from front of house right through to bedrooms and other areas. But what does it take to keep it all clean?
“Hygiene should be high on the priority list of any establishment which is to be someone’s home away from home,” explains Emma Corder, Managing Director of Industroclean.
“Just a hint of grime or a stain on a surface, can be harmful to a hotel’s reputation. More importantly, hotel rooms that are not properly cleaned put guests at risk of contracting infections and viruses.
“This makes the role of the housekeeper extremely important. These workers have to be properly trained, not only to ensure clean and comfortable rooms and bathrooms for guests, but to remain committed to adhering to Safety Health Environment and Quality (SHEQ) guidelines set out by their employer, to avoid injuries, illnesses and fatalities.” she adds.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act, Act 85 of 1993, demands employers to provide and maintain a safe work environment where employees our able to carry out their duties without risking their health.
The Department of Labour’s health and safety guide for the hospitality industry, cites chemicals as potentially harmful. The list of risky chemicals includes certain washing-up liquids, dishwasher detergents, drain-cleaning products, disinfectants, toilet cleaners, bleach and sanitizers.
Housekeeping departments are advised to follow the correct health and safety guidelines and procedures, since many of the tools and chemicals used can be hazardous.
“It is crucial that employers educate staff on the dangers of particular products. Workers should be informed when a product contains dangerous chemicals and should always carefully consider whether it is really worth using. Safer alternatives such as products which have good quality components are always available” Corder says.
Hotels are advised to have clear guides for housekeeping staff on correct usage of chemicals, for example how to properly dilute them, when to wear protective masks and should be reminded to wash hands regularly, especially after contact with detergents, so that the product is not transferred onto their face and eyes.
Employees should always wear the correct uniforms and protective gear like gloves, the correct shoes and aprons.
Housekeeping trolley essentials
Most housekeeping guides maintain that, in order to effectively clean a hotel or guesthouse room, housekeepers must be armed with a well-stocked trolley, which has everything from colour coded buckets and cloths to prevent any cross contamination between bathrooms, toilets and bedrooms, and products that will leave the room with a neutral smell.
“The ideal trolley should consist of gloves for protection, sanitiser, cleaning spray, toilet detergents, a toilet brush, window and mirror cleaner, surface cleaner and cloths and bin bags,” Corder says.
“Housekeeping should make sure that trolleys are well-stocked to manage time effectively. The trolleys are also helpful for transporting equipment such as a small vacuum cleaner and other cleaning items which solves the issue of unnecessary strain on the backs of housekeepers.”
Caring for long-wearing items
It is important to also focus on long-wearing items in hotels rooms, like beds, upholstery, carpets and curtains, as they also carry bacteria and dust mites. While bed covers are helpful to protect mattresses, housekeeping should also vacuum and sanitize them regularly with an anti-bacterial spray. Over-wetting the mattress should be avoided, and the bed should be completely dry before it is made. All curtains must be scheduled for dry-cleaning at least once a quarter and all carpets need to be deep cleaned periodically. Vacuuming on a daily basis and dealing with stains immediately helps keep floors in a good condition. Chairs should be vacuumed twice a week.