May 29, 2024

How to Create a Culture of “Cleaning for Health” at Your School or College

large classroom with tables and chairs facing front of room surroundd by glass window walls at higher education facility

Keeping college campuses clean and tidy can contribute to better student performance and fewer absences, thus helping to reduce lost learning time due to illness or distraction. 

Missing school can have a detrimental effect on students and chronic absenteeism from school is linked to overall poor performance including lower grades and graduation rates. 

Therefore, keeping college and school facilities clean is crucial to the overall health and safety of students, staff, and educators, as well as to creating an environment conducive to continued learning and education. 

Following these steps can help create a school or campus culture focused on health and well-being, and this can have a profound impact on learning and the success of students and teachers. 

Create a Clear Cleaning Plan 

Step one, make sure there is a detailed cleaning plan in place for cleaning teams to follow. Providing proper training to custodial employees can help to reduce improper cleaning tactics.

A plan can be used as a checklist and this means facility managers can follow up on specific tasks that are crucial to creating a healthy environment, such as wiping down high-touch surfaces, for example. 

Having a cleaning plan in place not only helps keep custodians on track, but it can help to eliminate any confusion regarding what needs to be done each day. If the team is confused or not sure where to start, time can be wasted trying to figure these things out. Over time, the lost work time can really add up. 

Other important parts of the plan include making sure cleaning supplies are kept in the same location, that supplies are fully stocked, and that custodians are trained in how to safely use chemicals and cleaning agents. Improper use can cause harmful odors or substances to be left behind. 

The CDC notes that proper ventilation is necessary when using disinfectants in a school setting as the fumes can be harmful to children. 

Keeping students, staff, and faculty healthy is the main concern—so making sure all cleaning materials are used correctly is a crucial step. 

Use Cleaning Detergents, Disinfectants, and Sanitizers Correctly 

Soap or detergent and water are the first steps in making sure surfaces and communal areas are clean. Using soap and water cleans the surface and according to the CDC can help lessen the likelihood of spreading infection. 

Disinfectants do not actually clean the surface, but they kill germs and bacteria that rest on surfaces, and this can help eliminate the spread of germs and infection, especially in high-touch areas. 

Sanitizers also do not clean but help to kill germs and bacteria, although they have a more limited range in terms of types of germs and bacteria they target when compared to disinfectants. 

The CDC recommends cleaning surfaces in a school setting at least once a day and using disinfectants in high-touch areas and with proper precautions based on the specific school setting. For example, in elementary schools, disinfectants should be used with caution and in areas that can be or are well-ventilated. 

Make Handwashing a Priority

ICE Cobotics washing hand guide

Adopting a “hand hygiene” philosophy across campus or throughout the school district is a major step in helping to keep everyone healthy. 

For K-12 students, scheduling specific times of day for handwashing or sanitizing, such as between classes, after meals, and always after using the restroom, can go a long way toward decreasing the spread of germs. 

On college campuses, displaying signs and having sanitization stations across campus and in all buildings can help promote hand washing and sanitizing. 

Guidelines suggest using sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol to effectively kill germs and help stop the spread of infection. 

Promoting this culture across campus and throughout a school building can help keep everyone healthier. 

Clean More Frequently 

While this can be a tough one for already overwhelmed custodians and facilities maintenance staff, high-touch areas such as door handles, railings, sinks and faucets, desks and chairs, and other shared devices (like library computers), need to be kept clean and disinfected. 

“Increase cleaning frequency during winter months to prevent against illnesses that thrive during this time, such as the cold and flu. Schedule frequent restroom cleanings throughout the school to disinfect and sanitize these germ hotspots.”

ICE Cobotics disinfecting faucet

One way to help combat the extra time necessary to increase cleaning is to have students participate by providing them with disinfectant wipes. 

Older students can take responsibility for wiping down any communal surfaces like desks, chairs, and computers before and after use. Just be sure to keep the wipes filled and the wastebaskets emptied. 

For younger kids, teachers may have to do some additional wiping down of surfaces throughout the day to help support custodial staff. 

Of course, automatic sinks, toilets, soap, and paper towel dispensers are all great ways to help reduce the number of objects touched throughout the day. 

Another way to help cleaning staff gain some time is by adopting autonomous cleaning technology that can be used for other cleaning tasks. 

For example, an autonomous floor scrubber, like Cobi 18 by ICE Cobotics, could be used to clean large areas like gyms and cafeterias, or long hallways, and this can free staff to focus on high-touch surfaces. 

Focus on Better Indoor Air Quality 

According to research, it is estimated that children with asthma miss 10 million school days annually, and some of this can be attributed to poor indorr air quality. Poor indoor air quality is also related to poor performance in academics. 

By focusing on better indoor air quality, schools and campuses alike can help promote a healthier built environment that helps teachers and students focus on education. 

One way to address this problem is by placing door mats at every entryway. Door mats help to collect dirt and debris that is tracked in on shoes from the outdoors. 

“To improve IAQ, place matting at all entrances and high traffic zones of the school to prevent particulates such as dust and dirt from being tracked in the building. Matting placed inside locker rooms and exterior entryways will also help prevent soil, mud, and water from traveling inside the building. To maintain fresh IAQ and clean facilities, ensure that matting is regularly laundered to remove captured debris.” 

Other important steps include updating and maintaining ventilation and HVAC systems, exposing students to as much fresh air as possible, and using cleaning equipment with HEPA filters which are designed to collect and trap micro-particles. 

Provide Updated and Maintained Cleaning Equipment 

Not only is it frustrating for custodial and facility maintenance staff to use outdated and broken-down equipment, but it also leads to more downtime and less effective cleaning. It can also lead to unexpected expenses. 

Providing cleaning equipment available through a subscription service, like that offered by ICE Cobotics, can have multiple benefits. 

First, with an ICE Cobotics all-inclusive floor cleaning equipment subscription, once the contract is up, the equipment is sent back and switched out for new equipment. Meaning, that the equipment on hand will never be more than three years old (the longest subscription offered). 

This can lead to more uptime because staff will not have to deal with issues related to deteriorating equipment. 

Second, the all-inclusive subscription includes parts, service, and maintenance. So, the predictable monthly payment allows you to budget better, but also the ICE Cobotics team helps to monitor and maintain the machine, at no extra cost.

Third, the software is updated automatically. ICE Cobotics’ equipment comes integrated with i-SYNERGY fleet tracking software. The technology is automatically updated, and this is included at no extra charge. 

For facility managers, this is a great way to keep track of equipment, the square footage cleaned each day, who has used the equipment, and to track any machine alerts and notifications. 

This is beneficial because managers can know when the cleaning is done and can help their teams be more efficient and productive by monitoring the use of the machines. 

Making sure cleaning equipment is updated and well-maintained is a key step in staying on top of the cleaning in an educational facility. 

There is a lot to do and no time to spend on finding, repairing, and dealing with broken machines. 

ICE Cobotics is committed to the advancement of cleaning for health and safety. Contact Us with questions or to get started with our equipment subscription. 

*This blog was orginally published Dec. 2021 and has been updated as of May 29, 2024.

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