How to Clean and Sanitize Your Warehouse
For those who manage a warehouse facility, it can be difficult to keep up with proper cleaning and sanitizing. However, a clean warehouse should be number one on your priority list for several reasons, like keeping workers healthy and happy as well as ensuring the quality of your products is unaffected by potential contamination. If staying on top of warehouse sanitation is too much of a burden on you and your workers, a commercial cleaning service can help.
Why is Warehouse Cleaning Essential?
While warehouses are often used to store items or products before they get shipped out, keeping them clean is critical. Proper sanitation and cleaning protocols will protect products from gathering dirt and dust, and the potential of bacteria, mold, and mildew growth in case of a leak. Not only does routine cleaning keep your products safe, but it also protects your workers from bacteria, viruses, and other potential health hazards by ensuring that surfaces are properly disinfected using hand-on application of disinfection products.
Irregular maintenance can also impact daily workflow, leaving you with less productive workers and a dirty facility. Having a clean space to work helps boost productivity, keeps employees safe, and can lead to higher job satisfaction across the board. Make sure that your employees know how to efficiently clean and sanitize their workspace or rely on cleaning experts who can do the cleaning for you. They will be able to address your unique needs with the know-how needed for your specific industry.
What is The Difference Between Sanitizing and Disinfecting a Warehouse?
These terms are often used interchangeably, and it’s true—they are similar in theory. However, there is a difference between sanitizing and disinfecting that anyone responsible for warehouse cleaning should know.
What is Sanitization?
Sanitizing kills bacteria on surfaces by using chemicals in products that have been registered by the EPA. They are not intended to kill viruses¹. Sanitation is less thorough than disinfecting, but it kills bacteria quickly. It’s more commonly used in the food industry, due to the FDA instilling requirements that all food-contact surfaces must be sanitized after use. Remember, it’s considered to be more of a quick-fix solution that will kill bacteria quickly when used as a regular part of your cleaning routine.
What is Disinfection?
Disinfectants kill viruses and bacteria on surfaces by using chemicals in products that have been registered by the EPA¹. For those who don’t work at a healthcare-related business, like a warehouse, disinfectants may be used to work in tandem with cleaning and sanitizing to kill unwanted germs that can spread to people and products.
Clean Warehouse Sanitation Checklist
To ensure that your warehouse facility is being properly cleaned and sanitized on a routine basis, ServiceMaster Clean has put together a Sanitation Checklist that can be used for daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, and biannually warehouse upkeep.
Separating out lists for different tasks will help to maintain a clean and safe environment. While you most likely take out the trash every day, you probably don’t rotate products and clean behind the shelves daily. Having separate lists for different tasks will help you stay organized.
A daily warehouse sanitation checklist could include the following:
- Sweep and mop the warehouse floor.
- Take out the trash and recycling in both the bathrooms, kitchens, and areas where product is unpackaged.
- Clean and sanitize the employee bathroom.
- Wipe down all heavily trafficked areas like countertops, machinery, and doorknobs
- Wipe down all heavily used equipment, like forklifts.
It’s also advisable to implement a “clean as you go” rule for warehouse workers to take care of new messes as they happen.
A monthly warehouse sanitation checklist could include the following:
- Sanitize and inspect floors throughout the warehouse.
- Pull pallets and rotate products on shelves.
- Clean breakroom refrigerators and throw away expired or uneaten food.
- Check for leaks, mold, and mildew.
- Wipe down windows and dust/clean blinds.
- Clean under units and shelving.
- Power wash walkways, steps, and landing docs.
A manager or worker in a warehouse should be able to quickly create these checklists, and more tasks can be added as the routine cleaning process is implemented.
Tips to Keep Your Warehouse Clean
Aside from a checklist, there are other tips you can follow to tidy up the warehouse:
- Have a plan. Don’t let cleaning hinder the productivity of a warehouse and add it into the workflow instead. Cleaning without a plan will not address the unique cleaning needs of your warehouse and may give you a false sense of confidence that your property is clean. Knowing what areas to clean and how to do so is key.
- Make sure cleaning supplies are always stocked. Even if you outsource the deep cleaning to the professionals, cleaning supplies like sanitizers, mops, brooms, etc., should always be available. This will be helpful to clean up manageable messes as they happen.
- Have your employees be responsible for their “areas.” Assigning areas for employees to clean can help everyone stay accountable. Give them a list to check off their cleaning tasks, along with a spot to initial and date/time. For example, if your employee uses two types of heavy equipment throughout the day, have them be responsible for cleaning and sanitizing the machines.
- Ensure employees know when they should report issues. All warehouse workers should know when and who to go for when there are spills, hazards, and other conditions that need to be reported immediately. If hazardous messes aren’t taken care of immediately, it can cause potential health issues for workers, affected products and eventually a loss in revenue.
Warehouse Cleaning Can Keep You, Your Employees, and Customers Safe
The importance of regular cleaning leads to a healthier workplace for employees and customers. Workers and managers should work together to ensure that all cleaning and sanitizing tasks are kept up to standard on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. With warehouse facilities struggling to find workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, you may not find that there is enough time in the day (or in a month) to get through all the cleaning to uphold your safety and cleanliness standards. This is where ServiceMaster Clean professionals can come in and help get and keep your facility clean.
Often, it’s best to leave the deep cleaning and sanitizing to the professional warehouse cleaning services. If you feel you aren’t properly equipped to take care of the big stuff at your industrial facility, consider outsourcing to commercial cleaning services that can keep everything up to standard. Find a ServiceMaster Clean location near you to help with all your warehouse cleaning needs.
“What’s the Difference between Products That Disinfect, Sanitize, and Clean Surfaces?” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 13 July 2021, www.epa.gov/coronavirus/whats-difference-between-products-disinfect-sanitize-and-clean-surfaces.