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Early Years Journal
hire a pro
Hiring an external cleaning company can help to ensure that
your centre is as clean and hygienic as possible, reducing
outbreaks of infection and keeping staff and families happy.
Belonging spoke with Nathan Butcher, National Sales Manager at
Cleaning Edge Solutions, about contracting a professional cleaner,
and how to ensure that you find the right provider.
Belonging (B): What are the benefits of hiring an external
cleaning company as opposed to requiring childcare centre staff
to clean up at the end of each day?
Nathan Butcher (NB): The last thing staff want to do after
cleaning up messes throughout the day is clean again at the
end of the day. Maintaining cleanliness throughout the day is
routine for all centres; what matters most is the end-of-day clean.
If childcare centres are not cleaned and sanitised daily, the dirt
and dust builds up quickly and infection becomes a serious risk.
Employing an external contract cleaning company is one of the
most effective ways to control bacteria and infection. In addition,
parents look for cleanliness when they are enrolling their children
in a childcare centre, and if they spot poor cleanliness, it can
often result in loss of business.
B: What tasks will a cleaning contractor undertake daily and weekly?
NB: Typical tasks a cleaning contractor will undertake include
dusting of all horizontal surfaces using a cloth dampened with a
sanitiser solution to kill bacteria; sanitisation of bins, door handles,
doors and frames; spot cleaning walls and glass; removal of
cobwebs; and cleaning and sanitising toilets and basins/hand
troughs. A critical task of the daily routine is floors. Children in
childcare centres are typically on the floors a lot, and this is where
most of the dirt and dust sits. Shoes are known to carry some of
the most infectious and dangerous bacteria, which transfers onto
floors. So, to mitigate the risk of infection, floors must be properly
disinfected and sanitised throughout the day, and routinely at the
end of each day. In addition, regular steam cleaning of carpets,
and strip and sealing of vinyl floors, should also be a part of your
cleaning schedule to ensure that floors are maintained in the best
B: How should centre managers go about developing a cleaning
schedule with their cleaning contractor and centre staff?
NB: A good cleaning company will always have a specific
schedule for childcare centre environments. You should always
let the contractor provide the schedule, as this will show you
how well they know the industry. Managers should ensure that
there is a cleaning checklist in place based on this schedule that
is ticked off daily by the cleaning staff, and then rechecked and
signed off by the centre staff before children begin arriving again
in the morning. Any issues should be raised with the cleaners
immediately. Regular audits by the cleaning company should
be conducted and reports provided to ensure accountability on
the part of the cleaners. Centre managers should also ask the
cleaning company for a schedule that their centre staff can follow
throughout the day and at the end of the day, so that both can
work together to achieve optimum results.
B: How can centre managers go about choosing an external
NB: In choosing a cleaning contractor, managers should first seek
referrals by speaking to other centre managers in their network or
region. It is not easy to find good cleaners and if centre managers
can find another centre that is happy with its cleaners, then this
should be the first choice. Contractors should be able to provide
references for their work, even if they aren’t experienced in child
care. Look at the work they do, and don’t just go for the cheapest.
Get three quotes and then meet again with the company
providing the most comprehensive schedule and/or suggestions.
Cleaning in a childcare centre should be seen as an investment
rather than a cost. If you get a quote with a cleaning schedule you
like and the price is higher, don’t just overlook them or leave them
off your list; have another meeting and talk about it. If they reduce
the price without justifying it, then this would raise questions
about quality. If they talk to you about changing the schedule to
accommodate your budgetary needs, this is a good sign that they
have quoted accurately for the job to ensure that everything is
Many companies underquote, in this industry specifically, to win
your business knowing that cleaning budgets are usually low
for childcare centres. Going for the cheapest will almost always
result in a high turnover of cleaning contractors for the centre
or staff in the chosen company, and lots of complaints and
dissatisfaction. When you get quotes, choosing the one with the
highest price will usually mean they know their business well and
they know your industry.
If the price is 30 per cent or higher than the other quotes, the
schedule should leave the others for dead, or they don’t want your
business. If it is around 20–30 per cent higher than the others, it
would be recommended that the centre manager meets with them
to discuss the schedule to see how you can reach agreement
and work together to get the price where it needs to be. This
is the best way to get a good cleaning contractor, avoid lots of
headaches and have a win-win situation for all, which is what
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