Friday, October 2, 2009

updated housekeeping notes..for the upcoming test!



Cleaning is primarily the removal of dust and dirt. Dust to being composed of loose particles, is removed comparatively by the use of various types of equipments, dirt however, owing to this adherence to surfaces by means of grease or moisture, requires the use of cleaning agents in conjuration with the right equipment if it is to be removed efficiently.

Cleaning agents in general can be defined as natural or synthetic substances that are used to assist the cleaning process – that is, removal of dirt and grit and the maintenance of a clean appearance on the surface. The various kinds of cleaning agents used by the housekeeping department staff are depicted in Figure 7.8 .

Cleaning Agents



Organic solvents



Floor Strippers

Toilet cleaners


Disinfectants & bleaches

Laundry aids

Glass cleaners

Floor sealers


Carpet cleaners

Fig. 7.8 Various types of cleaning agents


Referred to as the universal solvent, this is the prime agent in the cleaning process. However, though an excellent solvent, water alone is not a sufficiently effective cleanser to meet the standards most hotels require. Indeed, it does not even wet a surface properly, as its surface tension prevents it from spreading easily. For water to be effective in cleaning, it must be used in conjunction with other cleaning agents such as detergents, soaps and so on. From the perspective of cleaning, there are two types of water – hard water and soft water. Soft water is ideal for cleaning purposes and also to make up the proper dilutions of other cleaning agents.

Sources of water

Water is available in abundance in some parts of the country, but is scarce in others. Sources of water may be surface, sub-soil or deep soil.

Surface water- Obtained from streams, rivers and lakes, it may contain both organic and inorganic impurities in large amounts.

Sub-soil water- Coming from shallow wells and springs, it is not likely to be contaminated with suspended matter and organic impurities. However, some gases and mineral matter are generally dissolved in it.

Deep soil water- Deep soil water, pumped up from deep wells, has percolated through, much soil and rock to reach its resting depth. Therefore it has a very high content of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, sulphur, phosphates and silica as well as dissolved gases such as nitrogen, carbon dioxide and oxygen. The mineral salts dissolved in this water results in its hardness and render it unsuitable for cleaning purpose.

These days most of the cities, towns and some villages have running water supplied by the public works department (PWD). This water is filtered and chlorinated before being piped.

Hard water and soft water

Water that contains more than 60 ppm (parts per million) of calcium and/or magnesium is called hard water. When the mineral content is in the range of 61-120 ppm, the water is said to be more moderately hard and if it exceeds 180 ppm, the water is considered very hard. When the level of dissolved calcium and/or magnesium is below 60 ppm, it is said to be soft water. However, water from all sources contains varying amounts of calcium and magnesium, usually in the form of bicarbonates, sulphates and chlorides. It is their relative proportions that determine how ‘hard’ the water is and in what way.

Temporary hardness- This is caused by bicarbonates of calcium and magnesium being dissolved in water. Temporary hardness is so called because it can be removed by simply heating the water to a temperature above 72o C.

Permanent hardness- This is caused by sulphates and chlorides of calcium and magnesium dissolved in water. It cannot be removed by boiling and requires chemical treatment to render the water ‘soft’.

Effects of hard water

Calcium and magnesium salts dissolved in water inhibit lather formation from soaps and detergents, so that much more detergent will have to be added to precipitate out the calcium and the magnesium before cleaning can occur. This process causes a lot of scum to be formed, which may further soil the surface, when hard water is used for laundering, for instance, it causes premature ageing of fabrics due to constant friction with the deposits from hard water. They also become coarse and uncomfortable to wear. Hard water also causes scale and fur to be deposited in boilers, pipes and various appliances. Iron and sulphur salts can cause discolouration. Sulphur also causes a rotten – egg odour. Dissolved phosphates, on the other hand, can actually enhance the cleaning power of some detergents.

Methods of softening water

Water which has hardness greater than 50 ppm needs to be softened. Temporary hardness can be removed by boiling (or heating above 72oC). In the reaction that takes place at these temperatures, dissolved bicarbonates decompose with the liberation of carbon dioxide and the carbonates precipitate out as scum or fur these should be removed by filtration before using the water for cleaning.

Ca(HCO3)2 CaCO3 + CO2 + H2O

In the case of magnesium bicarbonates, the resultant carbonate further decomposes into magnesium hydroxide

Mg(HCO3)2 MgCO3 + CO2 + H2O

MgCO3 + H2O Mg(OH)2 + CO2

The most practical way of removing hardness , however, is to treat it chemically. This is done in one of the following ways :

Alkali method - The alkali calcium hydroxide is used to remove the hardness from water in this method.

Lime soda method – In this method, sodium carbonate and calcium hydroxide are both used to remove the hardness.

Addition of sequestering/chelating agents – Sequestering agents are organic or inorganic compounds that react with metallic ions and form a complex. These metallic ions will still be present in the water, but will be unable to react with soaps or detergents as they are held in the complex formation. Thus the water is rendered soft. The most commonly used sequestering agents are EDTA (ethyl diamine tetra acetic acid), NTA (nitrolo triacetic acid) and sodium hexametaphosphate.

Ion exchange method or zeolite process – Zeolites are hydrated silicates of sodium and aluminium. Hard water is made to percolate through the zeolite. In the chemical ion exchange reaction that takes place, any hardness is almost totally removed. Ion exchange units are available as attachments that can be fitted into the plumbing system at the point where the water supply enters the hotel.

Organic base exchange method - Organic base exchangers are synthetic resins containing the sulphonic and carboxylic acid groups. When hard water is passed through these resins, the acids react with the calcium and the magnesium salts to produce products which are non reactive. When the last two methods are used in succession, they yield very soft, pure.


These are cleaning agents that, when used in conjuction with water, loosen and remove dirt and then hold it in suspension so that the dirt is not re deposited on the cleaned surface. They can be of two types – soapy detergents and synthetic detergents (nn soapy). The three basic properties of a good detergent are :

1. Good wetting power – to lower the surface tension of water and enable the surface of the article to be thoroughly wet.

2. Good emulsifying power – to break up the grease and enable the dirt to be loosened.

3. Good suspending power – to suspend the dirt in the solution, thus preventing its re-deposition.

Composition and action of detergents

All detergents are primarily composed of three parts.

Active ingredients : - In soapy detergents, the active ingredient is obtained from natural oils and fats. These are composed of long fatty acid chains. The fatty acids commonly found in nature are the palmatic, stearic, oleic, and linoleic acids. These fatty acids occur in nature as triglicerides. The active ingredients in synthetic detergents are the surface active agents or surfactants obtained from petrochemicals. Surfactants are of four types. They are summarized in table 7.3.

Anionic Cationic Amphoteric Non ionic

Ionize in water Ionize in water Contain both positive Do not ionize

carrying a carrying a positive and negative charge in water

negative charge charge on the groups in the molecule

on the hydrophobic hydrophobic part

part of the molecule of the molecule

Good wetting power Very weak clean- Used to impart soften- Have good

sing power, so ess and as dye fixer. emulsifying

never used alone. Powers.

Used to impart

softness and

counteract anionic

detergents in com-


Limited suspendi- Blended with non- Have some germicid- Donot lather

ng power Lather ionics to give anti- dal properties as well as

very well. static and sanitizing anionic

properties. surfactants

Constitute about Used in fabric soft- Used in fabric softe- Used in low

20% of most eners, water repell- ners, dye fixin agents foaming det-

detergents. ents, and sanitizers. and other textile ergents, ideal

Include soaps Include quaternary textile auxillaries for use in

alkyl aryl sulph- ammonium comp- scrubbing

onates such as unds. machines

alkyl benzene They constit-

sulphonate, most ute about 6-

widely used 12% of liquid

surfactants synthetic det-

ergents and

about 2% of

most powde-

red detergent

Anionic detergents Cationic detergents Amphoteric deterg- Non-ionic

account for 80% used as neutral dete- ents are neutral detergents

of neutral synthet- rgent sanitizers in They are expensive are also used

ic detergents-wash- hospitals and food and are incorporated as neutral

ing powder, fluids, preparation areas. into speciality form- detergents.

floor cleaners and They donot have ulations such as They should

carpet shampoos. any smell.They are metal cleaners and be used in

pH is 7-9 also used in dusting oven cleaners in solutions

solutions. pH is of the stren-

below 7 gth recom-

. mended by

the manuf-


Various builders used in detergents Table 7.4

Inorganic builders Purpose Organic builders Purpose

Sodium sulphate Acts as an inert CMC(carboxyl- Mainly helps in

filler, making methylcellulose) improving the sus-

expense low pending power of

Gives the powder of detergents. Acts

free flowing as a thickening age-

properties ent. SCMC(sodium

Improves foam carboxymethyl

formation. cellulose) is espec-

effective on cotton.

Ethyl hydroxyethyl

cellulose is effecti-

on synthetics.

Phosphates Soften water. PVP(polyvinyl Prevents redpositi-

Eg. di & trisodium Act as sequestering pyrrolidone) on.

phosphates agents. Chloridated

phosphate has ble-

aching properties.

Silicates Enhance the deter- Tetra acetyl Used as new blea-

Eg.sodium sesquis- gency of the dete- ethylene di- ching agent beca-

ilicate by softening water amine use of the need

acting as buffers for high tempera-

emulsifying grease tures for other

and helping in the agents.

suspending action.

Sodium silicate

prevents corrosion

of aluminium in

the body of wash-

ing machines.

Carbonates Sodium carbonate

Eg. sodium carbo- acts as an alkaline

nate & bicarbonate builder; cheap

source of alkalinity

It also is a good

absorbent as it

absorbs large qua-

ntities of liquid on

its surface and still

remains dry. Softens

water. Sodium bica-

rbonate lowers the

pH of the products.

Sodium perborate On dissolving water

liberates hydrogen

peroxide which is a

bleaching agent.

Effective at temper-

atures 85-100 degrees.

Helps remove stains

such as those of tea

and coffee.

Borax(sodium Acts at low pH as a

tetraborate) water softener. In

pentahydrate form

helps improve the free-

flowing property of


Sodium chloride Helps increase visco-

sity of an anionic

detergent. Enhances

detergency property

especially in case of

blood stained fabrics

and of woolens. Acts

as a bulk filler.

Magnesium sulph- Accts as a stabilizer

ate for sodium perborate.

Helps eliminate stickiness

in powders using alkyl

benzene sulphonate.

Builders – These give bulk to the detergent. A builder is a compound that has no surface active properties but increases the efficiency of the detergent. They are added to facilitate better handling and dilution. In case of liquid detergents, the diluents can be water; in case of powders, sodium sulphate is used. Builders can be inorganic or organic. The various types of builders are summarized table 7.4.

Additives- added to the detergent, these may be bleaching agents, blueing agents, fluorescent brighteners, enzymes, and so on. Optical brighteners or fluorescent brighteners help counteract the yellowing of fabrics that occurs with age. They are compounds that absorb ultraviolet light and reflect it back as blue light, creating an illusion of whiteness. Photo-activated bleaches, on the other hand, have an action that is chemical and not physical. They convert oxygen to nascent form when activated by sun light. Chelating agents are compounds capable of binding the mineral salts that make water hard. EDTA (ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid) and NTA (nitrilo triacetic acid) are chelating agents used in small amounts in detergents. They chelate calcium and magnesium salts.DTPA (diethyl triamine penta acetic acid) is used to chealte iron salts. Zeolites are also being used in some detergents. Hydrothropes help when, due to the presence of inorganic salts, the solubility of the liquid detergent decreases. Hydrothropes help to keep all the materials in solution. Enzymes such as proteases, lipases and amylases are incorporated in detergents to attack stains of different kinds. Advanced research has led to the development of enzymes that are stable up to temperatures of 60o C and a pH of 10.5-11. Their action is very slow and therefore they require a soaking time of 30 minutes or so. Perfumes are added to cover up the unpleasant smell of some synthetic detergents. Dyes, usually blue and green, are used to colour powdered detergents and make the product more attractive. Ground pumice is added to detergents to create a coarse texture so that stubborn dirt may be removed due to friction.

How detergents work

It is the surface active agents or surfactants in the detergent that are responsible for the three basic properties of detergents. Each molecule of the surfactant has a hydrophilic(wave loving) head and a hydrophobic (water heating), oleophilic (grease loving) tail. In other words, the hydrophilic head is attracted to water, whereas the hydrophobic tail is attracted by grease and repelled by water. When the detergent is added to water, the following actions take place:

Wetting action - The detergent lowers the surface tension of the water. The surfactant molecules tend to arrange themselves at the water-air interface. The hydrophobic tails of the surfactant molecules are repelled by water, creating a pull in the opposite direction to that of the inward pull of the water molecules .

Emulsifying action – The hydrophobic tails of the surfactant molecules are also oleophic in nature, that is they are attracted to grease. The tails thus penetrate the grease and lift off the fabric surface. The dirt also gets lifted away as it is entrapped in the grease.

Suspending action – Since the grease molecules are entrapped by the surfactant molecules, their contact with other surfaces is prevented. The grease (with the embedded dirt) is thus held in a stable emulsion in the water. This is also partly due to the fact that the hydrophilic heads at the other end from the grease molecules are attracted to water. Most of the surfactants now carry a mild charge, that is, they ionize and repel each other. This also aids in the suspending power of the detergent.

Figure 7.9 shows the role of surfactants in removing dirt from a surface.

Types of detergents

Various types of detergents are available for use in different areas and on different surfaces. Figure 7.10 summarises various types of detergents.

Soapy detergents/soaps – These are obtained when fat/oil is treated with an alkali. The process is called as saponification Soaps are relatively inexpensive. Soaps are effective only in soft water; in hard water they form a scum that is difficult to rinse away. Detergents from this category used in housekeeping are :

1. Toilet soaps – They are used in different kinds of packaging for guest rooms and cloakrooms. They contain perfume, dye stuffs, and antioxidants such as vitamin E. they donot contain any builders.

2. Soap powders – They dissolve rapidly in water and lather well, and comprise up to 40% of builders.

3. Soap flakes – The simplest form of all detergents, they dissolve easily and are used for delicate fabrics washed at lower temperatures.

Synthetic detergents – These are soap free and havr replaced the use of soaps in many cleaning processes. They are not affected by hard water and have good suspending powers. Based on their chemical nature, they may be neutral detergents (anionic, non ionic, cationic or amphoteric) or alkaline detergents as we have seen above. Alkaline detergents are used in the housekeeping departments, as they are very strong detergents, ideal for removing grease. They have a pH of 9-12.5. Though they do not foam much, they require thorough rinsing because of their slippery nature in solution. They will also patch the cleaned surface if not rinsed well. They are used on heavily soiled surfaces and for removing water-based floor polishes. Since they have such a high pH, they are harmful to the skin and therefore the staff must take special precautions while using them. However, the various categories of synthetic detergent in common use in housekeeping are:


Soapy detergents Synthetic detergents

Toilet soaps Liquid synthetic detergents

Soap powders Powdered synthetic detergents

Soap flakes Solvent based detergents

Biological detergents

Disinfectant detergents

1. Liquid synthetic detergents – These are light duty detergents for hard surfaces and lightly soil fabrics. They contain 20% anionic surfactants and 6-12% non-ionic surfactants. They are neutral in reaction with pH 7.0

2. Powdered synthetic detergents – These are heavy duty detergents suitable for heavily soiled fabrics. They contain 20% anionic surfactants, 2% non ionic surfactants, about 33% alkaline builders, 9% bleach, 20% fillers, SCMC (sodium carboxyl methyl cellulose), brighteners and 15%water

3. Solvent based detergents – These contain water miscible solvents, builders, and anionic solvents. Their pH is 12 and they are used for stripping spirit based wax floor polishes. They are used for cleaning areas with a heavy accumulation of grease, as in the kitchen and on machinery.

4. Biological detergents - These are powdered detergents to which enzymes have been added, They are used to remove organic stains at a temperature of 40-50o C.

5. Disinfecting detergents – These are based on cationic surfactants, mainly ‘quats’ (quaternary ammonium compounds). They have good germicidal and antistatic properties. They are available as cleaning gels, air fresheners, and fabric conditioners. They may be used on floors, walls, equipment and areas that come into contact with the food.

The ideal detergent

Different types if detergents are used according to their suitability in cleaning various surfaces. However, the selection of detergents should be based on certain criteria to ensure that the optimal detergent ids bought and the housekeeper gets value for money. An is]deal detergent should - -

- Have good wetting, emulsifying powers.

- Readily dissolve in water

- Cleanse quickly with minimum agitation

- Be effective in all ranges of hard water, without producing scum

- Be effective over a wide range of temperatures.

- Be harmless to the skin and the surface to be cleaned

- Be easy to rinse away ; and

- Be biodegradable

Various ‘all purpose detergents’ are now available that combine most of the above qualities. However, buying the very best detergent will be of no use if the staff are not trained to use them in the correct way. Certain points to consider when using detergents are listed below :

- Dilute as per the manufacturer’s recommendations, using the measuring scoops and dispensers provided.

- Use the right detergent for the surface to be cleaned.

- Use protective gloves when using strong detergents.

- Dissolve the detergent thoroughly before use.

- Rinse away all traces of detergent from the surface and any cleaning equipment employed.

- Label detergent containers neatly.

- Store detergent containers in a dry, well-ventilated storage area.

- Wipe up any spilled detergent, as it may be a safety hazard.


These are substances or chemicals that depend on their rubbing or scratching action to clean dirt and grit from hard surfaces. They are used to remove very stubborn stains on various surfaces.

Types of abrasives

Based on the classification of hardness for various substances shown in fig.7.11, abrasives are classified as :

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Talc Calcite Feldspar Diamond

Fig. 7.11 Scale of hardness

Fine abrasives – These include precipitated whiting (filtered chalk) and jeweler’s rouge (a pink oxide of iron) used for shining silver. They are also constituents of commercial silver polishes.

Medium abrasives – These include rotten stone, salt, scouring powder and scouring paste. Scouring powders are made up of fine particles of pumice mixed with a soap/detergent, an alkali and a little bleach.

Hard/coarse abrasives – These include bath bricks, sand paper, pumice, steel wool and emery paper.

Glass paper, calcite, sand paper, fine ash, emery powder and paper, jeweler’s rouge, powdered pumice, precipitated whiting (filtered chalk), feldspar, ground limestone, sand, carborundum, steel wool and nylon scourers are some commonly used abrasives.





Abrade with emery.

Abrade with carborundum and water.


Abrade with emer.


Abrade with carborundum.


Abrade with fine emery.

Lead, tin


Abrade with fine emery.

Degrease with care and abrade with glass paper.


Abrade with fine emery.

Steel, iron



Abrade with emery.

Abrade with wire brush.

Abrade with fine glass paper or fine wool.

Abrasives are usually not used alone in cleaning agents. For example, cream or paste meant for cleaning utensils contains about 80% of finely ground limestone, along with other substances such as bleachers, anionic surfactants, alkaline builders and perfumes. The use of various abrasive agents for cleaning different surfaces is summarized in table 7.5


These bring about cleaning by a chemical reaction requiring a distinctly low or high pH. They thus include acids and alkalis that aid in the cleaning process. To understand the action of acids and alkalis one must have knowledge of the term pH. pH is a measurement of the level of acid or an alkali in a solution or a substance. In the pH range of 0 – 14 a reading below 7 shows an acid and one above 7 shows an alkali. A pH scale is shown in fig. 7.12.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Acidic Neutral Alkaline

Types of reagents

Reagents may be acids or alkalis.

Acids used as cleaning agents may vary from mild acids (such as acetic acid) with a pH of 3 to strong acids( such as dilute or concentrated hydrochloric acid )with a pH of 1. Mildly acidic substances used commonly in cleaning include lime, tamarind and buttermilk. Acids may be used in solution alone or may be a part of some special formulations, as in toilet cleaners. Housekeeping staff need to be trained in the safe handling of strong acids, as they are highly corrosive. They literally eat away dirt. Rubber gloves should always be used while handling them. They should be used in very small quantities as they emit toxic fumes as well. Strong acids should be thoroughly rinsed away after the cleaning process. Table 7.6 summarizes the use of different acids in cleaning.

Acids and their use in cleaning




Concentrated HCL (once referred to as ‘spirits of salt’)


Removing stubborn hard water deposits.

Dilute HCL


Removing stubborn scales and deposits from sanitary ware.

Oxalic acid


Removing stubborn hard water deposits.

Acetic acid


Removing tarnish and stains from metals such as copper and brass(the acid must be washed off quickly). Neutralizing alkalis used in cleaning. Preventing colours from running during washing.

Sodium acid sulphate


Removing hard water deposits and scales from toilets.

Alkalis are used as cleaning agents in the form of liquids and powders. They are particularly useful in the laundry. Very strong alkalis should be used with the utmost caution as they are corrosive and toxic. These are called caustic alkalis. Many alkalis act as bleaches. Caustic soda based cleaning agents are used to clear blocked drains and to clean ovens and other industrial equipment. Ammonia is a strong grease emulsifier and should also be carefully used as it emits strong fumes. It is also added to abrasive formulations. Toilet cleaners to which bleach has been added are very effective. It should be kept in mind that sodium chlorite bleach should never be used with an acidic toilet cleaner, however, as it will release toxic chlorine gas. The use of alkalis in cleaning is summarized in table 7.7.




Sodium hydroxide(caustic soda)


Removing stubborn grease from ovens and equipment. Clearing blocked drains.



Removing stubborn grease.

Sodium carbonate(washing soda)


Used as an alkaline builder in synthetic and soapy detergents. Clearing blocked drains.

Sodium perborate


Removing stains and whitening due to bleaching action at higher temperatures (above 40o)

Sodium hypochlorite


Removing stains and whitening due to bleaching action on various types of surfaces.

Acts as disinfectant.

Sodium bicarbonate(baking soda)


Removing stubborn grease from smooth, delicate surfaces.

Removing stains such as tea,coffee and fruit juice.

Sodium pyroborate


Sodium thiosulphite



Same as above.

Removing iodine stains.

Organic solvents:

Grease is soluble in organic solvents such as tetrachloride, acetone, turpentine, & methylated spirit. Thus, these organic solvents are used extensively in the removal of grease, dry-cleaning of fabrics, & stain removal. Solvents are also useful in cleaning surfaces that may be harmed by water. Organic solvents evaporate rapidly from a surface & are therefore ideal for cleaning glass surfaces such as mirrors & windows.

Disinfectants & bleaches:

Disinfectants aid in the cleaning process by bringing about varying ranges of microbial control. The term ‘disinfectant’ is now used as a general term that covers all kinds of agents that bring about germ control. Most disinfectants have a strong smell & therefore should be used only in recommended amounts in areas where germ control is required.

Varying ranges of microbial control:

Microbial control


· Disinfection

· Bactericidal

· Bacteriostatic

· Antiseptic

· Sanitation

· Sterilization

Killing most microbes , but not their spores

Killing most bacteria, but not their spores

Making the environment non-conducive for the growth & reproduction of bacteria.

Making the environment non-conducive for the growth & reproduction of disease causing (pathogenic) microbes.

Reducing the microbial count to an acceptable level.

Killing all kinds of microbes as well as their spores.

Type of disinfectants:

Disinfectants can be categorized in terms of their chemical action and composition:

Phenols: These are hydroxyl derivatives of the aromatic hydrocarbon benzene. They are used in dilute or high concentrations to disinfect surfaces in hospitals especially. In hotels, diluted phenols are used with their sharp smell masked by other additives.

Halogens: The elements chlorine & iodine may be used as disinfectants. Chlorine is used both as bleach & as a disinfectant on many surfaces. Iodine is not often used to disinfect surfaces because it tends to leave brown stains.

Quaternary ammonium compounds (‘quats’): these are cationic surfactants useful as bacteriocides.

Natural pine oils: pine oils are obtained from pine trees. They are germicidal to some extent, but are mainly added to cleaning formulations for their pleasant smell.

Guidelines for using disinfectants

Certain points to consider while using disinfectants are given below:

· Clean the surface first with detergent & rinse with soft water only.

· Rinse away the detergent solution thoroughly before using a disinfectant on the surface.

· Use the correct disinfectant for the range of disinfection required.

· Use the disinfectant at the correct dilution for it to be effective. Different surfaces may require different dilutions of the same disinfectant.

· Allow the recommended time for the disinfectant to act.

Bleaches used in cleaning of hard surfaces are stabilized solutions with a high pH. The alkali sodium hypochlorite acts as powerful bleach & is used on WCs & sinks for the removal of stain.

Glass cleaners:

These are composed of an organic, water-miscible solvent such as isopropyl alcohol & an alkaline detergent. Some glass cleaners also contain a fine, mild abrasive. Most glass cleaners are available as sprays or liquids. They are sprayed directly onto windows, mirrors, & other glass surfaces or applied on with a soft cloth & rubbed off using a soft, lint free duster. A glass cloth is ideal for the purpose. Soft water to which some methylated spirit or vinegar is added is an inexpensive glass cleaner that can be readily made in the housekeeping department.


Deodorizers aid in the cleaning process by counteracting stale odors & sometimes also introducing a fragrance to mask them. They are used in restrooms, guestrooms, guest bathrooms, cloakrooms, & public areas such as lobbies. Some deodorizers leave no trace of a perfume cover-up. They are usually available as aerosols sprays, liquids, powders & crystalline blocks. The crystalline blocks are effervescent & manufactured using the principal of time- released aromatic chemicals. Naphthalene balls also serve as effective deodorizers. If thorough cleaning & good ventilation are provided, money need not be spent on expensive deodorants.

Toilet cleaners:

These are strong, concentrated cleaning agents designed to clean & disinfect WCs & urinals. They are available in liquid, powder & crystalline forms. They are acidic in nature as their main function is to remove stubborn stains & lime scale. They all contain some form of disinfectant.

Liquid toilet cleaners: These contain dilute hydrochloric acid, bleach, & pine oil. Adequate protective gear should be worn by the user while using such a toilet cleaner.

Crystalline toilet cleaners: These contain sodium acid sulphate, anionic surfactant & pine oil.

Powdered toilet cleaners: These cleaners contain a soluble acidic powder, chlorinated bleach, a fine abrasive & an effervescing agent to help the active ingredient spread in water.

Whatever form of toilet cleaner used, they should never be mixed with other cleaning agents since harmful gases may be produced in the resulting reaction.


These chemicals produce a shine by providing a smooth surface from which light is reflected evenly. Polishes are primarily applied to form a hard, protective layer & thus guard against finger marks, stains & scratches. They also create attractive sheen on the hard surface.

Classification of polishes:

Polishes are used on metal, furniture, & flooring & are classified according to the type of surface they are used on. On metals, they also smooth out any unevenness on the surface of the article and in case of flooring & furniture, they provide a smooth protective layer.

Metal polishes: These remove the superficial tarnish that forms on metal surfaces due to the attack of certain compounds in the air & some foodstuffs. These polishes also eliminate any scratches on the metal. They consist mainly of a very fine, mild abrasive, generally either precipitated whiting or jeweler’s rogue. Most polishes also contain a fatty acid, a solvent & water. On buffing, they remove tarnish & produce a shine. In hotels, hard surfaces where metal polishes are used include door-plates & handles, foot rails in bars, staircase banisters, ashtrays, bathroom fittings, tableware & cutlery. In metal polishes such as Brasso & silvo, the grease solvent or acid mixed with the abrasive powder aids in the removal of tarnish. Long term polishes contain some ingredients that coat the surface of the metal & retard the process of tarnishing in future. Metal polishes are available in the form of milky or clear liquids & of powders. Care should be taken in applying the correct polish as polishes meant for hard metals may damage the surface of soft metals. Because of their solvent content, metal polishes have a strong smell & should be used in well-ventilated room to let fumes dissipate. The container should be closed immediately after pouring out the polish into the polishing tray. If not, the solvent in the polish will evaporate, rendering it ineffective.

Certain recommendations on the use of metal polishes are given below:

· Cover the surrounding area with the newspaper or protective sheets.

· Carry out any polishing work in a well- ventilated room.

· Use an appropriate polish applicator or disposable rags.

· Use cocktail stick covered with rag to apply polish in narrow, hard –to-reach nooks & corners.

· Remove polish with cotton or a soft, dry cloth.

· Buff the polish with rags & dusters, preferably with ones with a napped surface.

· Wash any polished cutlery in warm detergent solution before use.

· Leave the area & equipment clean & tidy after polishing work is complete. Dispose off rags & newspapers used.

Classification of polishes:

Furniture polishes:

These contain wax or resin, a solvent, water & silicone. The wax or resin helps to keep the furniture surface supple. It also protects against abrasion & absorption of stains & spills. The main role of wax, however, is to provide a smooth surface from which the light is reflected evenly, producing an attractive sheen. The types of waxes commonly used are carnauba, beeswax, ozokerite, and paraffin wax. The solvent and water are meant to remove grease stains and water-soluble stains, respectively. Silicone is used to make the polish easier to apply. It also gives an added gloss and improves resistance to moisture, heat, dust and smears. Silicones thus give a harder and longer-lasting finish. Furniture polish needs to be applied frequently only in the case of untreated, unvarnished wood. Painted and varnished furniture should not be varnished too often. Most pieces of furniture manufactured these days are polished with a permanent synthetic resin and thus do not require further application of polish. As a preventive maintenance activity, they can be buffed regularly with a duster during dusting. As seen in figure 1 furniture polishes are available in various forms, differing in their wax contents.

Paste polishes These have a higher percentage of wax (25-30 percent). They may or may not contain silicones. They are ideal for use on antique wooden furniture. Pastes should be applied in small amounts buffed for a long time to get the desired result, and care should be taken to remove all traces of excess polish from the carved areas afterwards,

Cream polishes These have a high percentage of solvent. They contain light-colored waxes. Creams need to be used on furniture with a gloss finish only as they gradually increase the shine after continual use on the surface. Because of the higher solvent content, they have a strong smell and should be used in a well-ventilated room to let the fumes they exude dissipate completely. They are applied with a dry or damp rag and the surface polished up immediately with a dry duster.

Liquid polishes These too have a high percentage of solvents. They contain about8-12 percent wax. In addition, they may also contain a dye that can mask scratches on the surface of varnished furniture. They are used on glossy finishes to remove grease marks and other stains. They should be applied with a dry rag and buffed up with a soft, dry cloth while still moist to produce a good sheen.

Spray-on polishes these contain about 8 percent wax and a high amount of silicone. Spray contains aerosols to make their application simpler. These polishes clean as well as polish, and pre-dusting of the surface is not required. They are ideal for use on non-porous surfaces such as glass, chromium, plastic, and varnished or gloss-painted wood. They produce the static electricity on the surface so that dust is not attracted readily. The ideal way to apply a spray polish is to first spray it on the duster and then rub this on the surface. This minimizes wastage, an important consideration for these polishes especially, as they are expensive.

Certain points should be kept in mind while working with furniture polishes;

· Apply the polish on the clean surface

· Use the least quantity required to accomplish a good polishing of the surface; else it may result in stickiness that will attract more dust.

· Use soft, disposable rags for applying polish to the surface, except in the case of a spray-on polish.

· Always keep the polish container closed when not in use, else the solvent will evaporate and polish will dry out.

· Use polishes undiluted, unless it is specified otherwise by the manufacturer.

· Be careful while using polishes with a high solvent content since they are flammable.

Floor polishes:

These have a two-fold function. They not only lend an attractive sheen to the surface, but also provide a protective coat on it. Floor polishes should not be applied too frequently. They should be used only when simple buffing does not produce the desired sheen on the floor. The main aim in using floor polishes is to deposit a layer of wax on the surface. Therefore they are also referred to as floor waxes. The right kind of polish should be used along with the right equipment. Polish applicator mops should be labeled neatly with the kind of polish they are each used for to avoid mixing of products. The wrong polish may easily damage a floor surface and mar its appearance. The two basic types of floor polishes are spirit/solvent based and water-based floor polishes. A special group of floor polish called high speed emulsion polish is also discussed below.

Spirit/solvent-based polishes this kind of polish may be in the form of a liquid or a paste. They contain a blend of waxes and silicone dispersed in a solvent (a white spirit or Freon).) The waxes used may be natural (carnauba or ozokerite or synthetic (polyethylene). After the polish has been applied to the floor, the solvent evaporates and the wax left behind is buffed up using a polishing machine. The silicone helps in easy application of the polish and gives a more lasting finish. Additives such as perfumes and dyes are also added to solvent-based polishes. Solvent-based polish is used on porous floors such as wood, wood composition, cork magnesite and linoleum.

Water-based polishes These are available in the form of creamy liquid emulsion containing a blend of natural (carauba and montan) and synthetic waxes suspended in water by means of an emulsifying agent (ammonia or a synthetic detergent). They account for 80-85 percent of all floor polishes manufactured. After the polish has been applied to the floor, the water evaporates and the wax is deposited on the surface in a hard film. Colloidal silicon is sometimes added to water-based polishes as an anti-slip agent. Plasticizers and either alkali-soluble resins or metal-complexed polymers are also added. Plasticizers aid in the easy application of polish. Alkali-soluble resins are meant to provide weak break points in the water-based polish to facilitate cleaning with alkaline detergent solutions. The metal in the metal-complexed polymers shields the break points against the penetration detergent solutions. Usually only occasional buffing is required for these polishes. They are therefore also referred to as dry-bright polishes. Often these polishes are made into liquid sprays by addition of high amounts of emulsifying agents. The polish is then sprayed on and buffed immediately. Water-based polishes may be fully buffable (containing 45-60 percent wax and 20-40 percent polymers), semi-buffable (containing 25-40 percent wax and 45-60 percent polymers), or dry bright (containing 5-15 percent wax and 50-70 percent polymers). The amount of wax determines the amount of waxing required to achieve a desirable amount of shine. These polishes are not meant for porous surfaces, as water will damage them. Water-based polishes are used on porous floors only when they have been sealed properly. These polishes are used mainly on semi-porous surfaces such as thermoplastics, PVC, rubber, asphalt, terrazzo, marble, and natural materials such as Cuddapah tiles and so on.

Some guidelines on the use of floor polishes are given below:

· Use an appropriate sign to warn people walking along that area of the fact that floor polishing is being carried out.

· Ventilate the area well before starting.

· Apply the polish to clean, dry floor.

· Rinse the floor thoroughly using a neutralizing agent such as diluted vinegar after stripping the old polish.

· Apply several thin coats of polish rather than few thick coats.

· Work systematically to ensure that all the areas are covered.

· Allow sufficient drying time before applying the second coating.

· Buff thoroughly to reduce the slipping hazard.

· Remove any extra build-up of polish with an appropriate abrasive pad.

· Leave all polishing equipment clean and store them properly

Leather polishes These contain a special blend of waxes, a spirit solvent, and occasionally a dye. They are available in the form of creams and liquids. They help keep the leather supple and impart sheen to it. They also prevent deterioration of old leather articles.

Some do-it-yourself polishes

Some methods of making do-it-yourself (DIY) polishes are presented in the tables. When unsure about applying polish to a surface, first apply it on a small area not in view.

Floor sealers

These are applied to flooring surfaces as a semi-permanent finish that acts as a protective barrier by preventing the entry of dirt, girt, liquids, stains, grease, and bacteria. They prevent scratching and provide an easily maintainable surface. The right type of seal should be applied to each type of floor for effective protection and an attractive appearance. According to their functions, floor sealers can be finishing, protective, or a combination of both.

Furniture polish for dark wood: furniture polish for all types of wood:




methylated spirit

linseed oil


2 parts

1 part

2 parts

1 part

Method: combine all ingredients in a bowl and shake well to form an emulsion





25 g

25 ml

Method: heat the beeswax on a moderate flame till it melts. Remove from flame, add turpentine and stir well till the mixture is cool.

Furniture polish for light colored wood:



white wax


1 part

2 parts

Method: break the wax into small bits and put in a lidded can. Add petrol and shake well till it becomes creamy

Cream polish for leather and wooden furniture:



Soap (shredded)


Beeswax( shredded)

White wax(shredded)


1 tbsp

1 cup

2 tbsp

1 tbsp

1 cup

Method: place the beeswax and white wax into a bowl. Mix in turpentine so that the waxes are submerged in it. Heat the mixture over a water bath till the waxes dissolve. Combine the contents of the two bowls. Beat the mixture to a creamy consistency. Store in wide-mouthed bottles

They are also grouped as permeable, semi-permeable and impermeable, according to their penetrability vis-à-vis water. Permeable seals can be used on wood, cork, stone( except slate), and magnetite floors. Impermeable seals should be avoided on these floors as moisture naturally found within these floors will then get entrapped and may cause disintegration of the flooring. Impermeable seals may be used on PVCs, thermoplastic tiles, and rubber floors.

Sealers may be reinforced by the application of floor waxes. Floor sealing should always be done on a clean and dry surface. Most sealers require a hardening time of 12-16 hours and 2-3 coats are recommended

Types of floor sealers

There are six main types of floor sealers, depending on their composition.

Oleo-resinous sealers these are clear, solvent-based sealers used on wood, wood-composition, cork and magnetite floors. That consists of oils, resins, solvents, and driers. They not only impart an attractive surface gloss, but also penetrate the floor, darkening the colour and highlighting the grain of wood floors. They are comparatively cheaper than other sealers.

One-pot plastic sealers these are also called one-can sealers. They are made up of synthetic materials. They impart a gloss to the floor surface but do not penetrate it. They are used on wood, wood-composition, cork, and magnetite floors. Polyurethanes can also be used on concrete the three types of one-pot plastic seals are:

1. Urea-formaldehyde resin with an acid catalyst.

2. Oil-modified polyurethane.

3. Moisture-cured polyurethane

Two-pot sealers this type of sealer is composed of a base such as urea-formaldehyde or polyurethane and an accelerator or hardener. The two components are kept separate until use, else a chemical reaction occurs between them and the mixture hardens in the can. Because of the separate components, the shelf life of these sealers is longer. The accelerator in itself has a shorter shelf life, however. The two components should be mixed in the recommended proportions; else the sealer will not harden and will result in a patchy finish. This type of sealer should be used in a well ventilated room as they smell strongly of solvent fumes. They may be used on wood, wood composition, cork, and magnetite floors.

Pigmented sealers as the name implies, these sealers contain color pigments, which, apart from providing color, also strengthen the sealer. They may be used on concrete, wood, wood-composition, magnesite floor, asphalt, and stone floors. There are two types available:

1. One-pot synthetic rubber

2. Two-pot polyurethane.

Water-based sealers these are composed of acrylic polymer resin and a plasticizer. The particles of the resin penetrate the pores on the floor surface to provide a plastic skin. These are less durable sealers and should be reinforced with a water-based floor wax. However, they can easily be touched up, removed, and renewed. They may be used on marble, terrazzo, magnesite, linoleum, rubber, thermoplastic tiles, PVCs, asphalt, concrete, stone and quarry tiles.

Silicate dressings these consist of a base of sodium silicate dissolved in water. This is not a true sealer. The sodium silicate reacts with the lime in concrete floors to form insoluble calcium silicate. The water acts as a carrier, and after it evaporates, silicate glass is formed. These simply reinforce concrete and stone floors, and prevent the accumulation of dust on their surface. Silicate dressings are much cheaper than sealers.

Selecting the right sealer

Most sealers are expensive. So a lot of thought should be put into buying the ideal seal for the particular flooring to get maximum durability and value for money. The following points need to be kept in mind while selecting floor sealers:

· The type of floor

· The amount of traffic in the area

· The availability of the floor for future sealing

· Good fixing or ‘keying’, durability, appearance and anti-slip qualities

· Ease of application, repair, removal, and renewal

· Odor and fumes

· Drying time

· Shelf life

· Cost-effectiveness

Applying floor sealers

Whichever type of floor sealer is chosen, the following recommendations should be followed while applying floor sealers

· Use appropriate signs to warn passer-bys that sealing is being carried out, else it may be a safety hazard

· Ensure the floor surface is clean, chemically neutral and dry before applying the sealer. Otherwise the seal will not ‘key’ to the surface

· Maintain an ideal room temperature of 21oC

· Keep the room well ventilated

· Protect the area from flies and pests until the sealer is dry

· Keep on hand only the required amount of sealer and store the rest tightly lidded, else the whole bulk may deteriote

· Apply several thin coats rather than a few thick ones

· Allow the recommended drying time between coats.

· Clean & store all equipment, such as sealer applicators, neatly after use.

Floor strippers:

These are used to remove a worn-out floor finish so that a new sealer or polish can be applied. Most are based on ammonia & the other is a non- ammoniated product. Ammonia has an intense odor & therefore the area treated should be well ventilated for many days to get rid of the smell. Alkaline detergents with a high pH are also used as floor strippers. It should be kept in mind that any residual stripper solution needs to be rinsed away thoroughly with a mildly acidic rinse. The ideal way is to add vinegar to the last rinse of water.

Carpet cleaners:

These are composed of neutral water-soluble solvents, emulsifiers, de-foamers, soil repellents, sanitizers (occasionally), optical brighteners & deodorizers. They are available as sprays, powders, foams & liquid shampoos. Whichever type is selected, it is essential that they be used in the correct dilutions.

Some common cleaning agents

Some common cleaning agents used in professional housekeeping are as follows:

Ammonia: Liquid ammonia is a solution of ammonia gas in water, held as ammonium hydroxide. It is a strong alkali used for softening water, cleaning window panes & emulsifying grease.

Bath brick: This is a reddish- brown powder, also obtained in brick form. It is used for scouring & polishing metals such as brass & copper. In powdered form, it is used for cleaning earthenware.

Benzene: Obtained from the distillation of coal tar, benzene is used as a grease solvent & for removing paint & tar stains.

Borax: Chemically sodium borate, this white crystalline powder is used to soften hard water & to remove coffee & tea stains.

Bran: The husk of wheat grain, it is used in dry-cleaning as grease absorbent.

Fuller’s earth: This is ash- white clay that readily absorbs grease. It is used on colored wood surfaces.

Hydrochloric acid: this is corrosive & poisonous mineral acid, used diluted for removing stains in bathrooms.

Jeweler’s rogue: Chemically this is ferric tetroxide a pinkish powder used for polishing silver. It is constituent of commercial silver polishes too.

Lemon: Lemon is used for removing ink stains from wooden surfaces.

Linseed oil: This is obtained from crushed seeds of the flax plant. It is a constituent of furniture polishes & paints. It darkens unpainted wood slightly.

Magnesia: chemically magnesium carbonate, this fine white powder is used for dry- cleaning felt, fur & woolen articles.

Methylated spirits: This is used for cleaning window panes & mirrors to a shine. It is a constituent of varnishes & lacquers.

Oxalic acid: This is an organic acid used for the removal of stains from fabrics & bath fittings. It is also used for cleaning porcelain.

Paraffin oil: Not to be confused with paraffin wax, this liquid is a product of distillation of crude petroleum & is used for cleaning greasy iron & steel articles. It also cleans greasy earthenware when used in combination with bath brick.

Petrol: This too is obtained from petroleum distillation. It is highly inflammable & is used for dry cleaning & for removing grease stains.

Pumice: This is a light, porous rock of volcanic origin. It is used as an abrasive for hard metals, earthenware & enamel.

Rotten stone: This is a decomposed siliceous limestone & is used for cleaning copper, brass & earthenware.

Common salt: Chemically sodium chloride, this is used as a medium-grade abrasive. It is used for stiffening the bristles of brushes & stiff brooms. Salt is also added as a mordant while washing colored clothes. (A mordant is a substance that prevents undue loss of color while washing clothes)

Sand: This hard compound of silica is used as a hard abrasive on stone floors & hard coarse wood.

Sawdust: It acts as an abrasive & a grease absorber.

Shikakai: Sometimes called soap-nut or soap berry, but more accurately soap-pod (to distinguish from the fruit of reetha). This is used for non abrasive cleaning of tarnished metals.

Soda: It emulsifies grease &aids in the cleaning of dirty pans.

Steel wool: This is steel manufactured in to long filaments, in varying grades of fineness. It is used for scouring hard metals & dirty pans.

Turpentine: This is constituent of paints. It is also diluents for paints & removes tar stains.

Vaseline: this is obtained as a residue in petroleum distillation. It prevents rust formation on metals, acts as a lubricant & may be applied on leather to make it soft & supple.

Vinegar: Chemically this is 4% acetic acid. It is used to remove stains & tarnish from metals such as copper. It is also effective in removing streaks from glass surfaces such as window panes & mirrors.

Whiting/ precipitated whiting: Chemically this is calcium carbonate in pure form. It is used as a mild abrasive on soft metals & in cleaning white-painted articles.

Selection of cleaning agents:

The use of cleaning agents is meant to save time, effort & money. If selected well, all the three objectives may be fulfilled. The following points need to be considered when selecting cleaning agents:

· The type of soilage

· The type of surface

· Odor

· Range of action or versatility

· Composition of the cleaning agent

· Ease of use, saving of effort & time

· Toxicity or side effects

· Shelf life

· Packaging volumes & quantities

· Cost effectiveness

Storage of cleaning agents:

Cleaning agents with a longer shelf life are usually bought in bulk because of the reduced costs that accure from the economies of scale. Other agents are bought & replenished periodically. Storage of cleaning agents is crucial & the various points to be kept in mind are mentioned below:

· Ensure that the storage racks are sturdy. Heavier containers must be kept on the bottom shelf.

· The store should be kept clean & well- ventilated at all times.

· Label all containers neatly with a waterproof marker.

· Ensure that the lids are tightly secured.

· When dispensing cleaning agents, use appropriate dispensers & measuring apparatus.

· Ensure that no residual deposits of cleaning agent are left around the rims of the containers.

· Avoid spillage; if a spill occurs, clean it up immediately.

· Follow a systematic procedure for rotating stocks.

· Organic solvents, strong reagents, polishes, & aerosol- based agents should be kept away from heat sources.

· Check stocks regularly. The format of a stores stock sheet is shown below:-

· The store should be kept locked when not in use.

Hotel snowflake


S no

Name of item


Stock in hand

Stock received

Total stock

Less issues

Book stock

Actual stock

Difference in stock


All purpose detergent

500 ml bottles


Mansion polish

1 litre tins


Floor cleaner- soap oil

5 litre cans


Air fresheners

20 blocks per carton

Signature of Housekeeper: Signature of storekeeper:

· Format of a stores stock sheet.


Efficient cleaning and maintenance are dependent upon high-quality cleaning equipment, correctly using. Though only 5-10% of the overall cost incurred on cleaning is accounted for by cleaning equipment and agents, selecting the ideal equipment plays a major role in the cleaning process. There will often be several ways of carrying out any particular cleaning task and different types of equipment that can be employed for it. It is the executive housekeeper’s responsibility to select the most appropriate piece of equipment according to the hotel’s requirement. Most types of cleaning equipment fall under the category of recycled items, but a few large pieces of items may be considered as fixed assets. The correct choice of quality cleaning equipment could save costs due to breakdowns, reduce fatigue and also ensure overall efficiency in operations.

Equipment used in the cleaning of surface, furniture and fittings in a hotel building include both manual and mechanical equipment .

Manual Equipment

Manual equipment can include all types of equipment that clean or aid in the cleaning process by directly using manoeuvre, operation and energy of employees.


These may be designed to remove dry or wet and/or ingrained dust and dirt from hard or soft surfaces.

Basic parts of a brush: The basic parts of a brush are as follows -

· Bristles: These may be of animal, vegetable or manmade origin. Horsehair, nylon and polypropylene are commonly used to make bristles for cleaning brushes. In general, the finer, softer bristles are best for smooth and hard surfaces. The harder the bristles, the softer the surface on which the brush should be used, exception being toilet brushes and brushes found on all-purpose flour machines. Bristles, if not maintained properly, have a tendency to bend, splay or fall out of the stock. Bristles should be closely set in tufts and the stock well covered with tufts.

· Head stock: This is the part of the brush into which the bristles are inserted. The stock may be of wood, metal, or plastic. A good brush is one that has a sturdy stock.

· Handle: Brush handles may be detachable or non-detachable. Detachable handles must be fixed firmly in place on the stock when the brush is in use.

Types of brushes: Three main types of brushes are used for cleaning surfaces.

· Hard brushes: Hard brushes have bristles that are fairly stiff and well spaced out. They are most suitable for the removal of heavy soil and litter from carpets and for cleaning rough surfaces.

· Soft brushes: Soft brushes have bristles that are fairly flexible and set close together. These help to remove loose soil and litter on hard, smooth surfaces. Such brushes may be designed to dust carpets and furniture, too, especially those made of cane, wicker and bamboo.

· Scrubbing brushes: Scrubbing brushes have short, coarse bristles designed for use on surfaces that have become stained and heavily ingrained with dirt. These brushes should only be used to remove stubborn, heavy soiling from small areas that are difficult for a scrubbing machine to access. Long handled scrubbing brushes, called deck scrubbers or T-scrubbers, are useful for cleaning larger areas as well as corners.

Brushes are also classified on basis of their function:

· Toilet brushes: These are WC brushes, radiator brushes and Johnny mops.

· Bottle brushes: These are used for cleaning overflow vents in wash basins and tubs.

· Cloth scrubbers: These are used for scrubbing clothes.

· Deck scrubbers: These are used for cleaning large areas.

· Carpet brushes: These are used for brushing carpets.

· Upholstery brushes: These are used to loosen out dust embedded between the fabric fibres in upholstered chairs and sofas

· Feather brushes: These are brushes with feathers, for light dusting.

· Hearth brush: These are used for cleaning heavy soiling and removing ash out of fireplaces.

· Flue brush: These are used for cleaning chimneys.

Care and cleaning of brushes:

Brushes should be gently tapped on a hard surface to loosen dust and debris after the cleaning process. Frequent wash with water is avoidable since the brushes may lose some of their stiffness in this way. If they must be washed frequently, the final rinse should be in cold saline water to help the bristles regain their stiffness. Brushes should be cleaned of all fluff and threads before washing. They may then be rinsed in warm, mild soapy water. A disinfectant should be added to the water used for rinsing toilet brushes. If brushes with natural bristles (vegetable or animal origin) have been used for wax polishing, add washing soda (1 tbsp to 2 litres of water) to remove grease thoroughly. Brushes should be washed by beating the head up and down, with the bristles facing downwards, so that the water splashes up between the tufts. They should be rinsed well in the same way in cold water. After shaking off excess water, the brushes should be left to dry in such a way that the remaining water may drip off the side of the brush or the top of the head stock. Never leave brushes resting on their bristles, else they will splay out; if left resting on their stock, water will rot the stock in time. The best way would be to hang the brushes bristles downward. When possible, dry brushes in the sun or open air. To extend the life of the brush, apply lacquer to the stock and handle with an oil-can and allow to harden.


Sweeping brooms consist of long bristles gathered together and inserted into a handle. The bristles of a broom may be made of grass, corn or coconut fibres. Depending on the type, brooms may be used for removing dust or dirt in large areas.

Types of brooms: As with brushes, brooms may be classified into 3 main categories:

· Soft-bristled brooms: Soft bristled brooms such as corn-fibre brooms, grass brooms and whisk brooms are used on smooth floors. A good soft broom has comparatively fewer split ends and any splits that do form are short.

· Hard/Coarse-bristled brooms: Brooms such as yard brooms and coconut fibre brooms are used on course surfaces, especially outdoors.

· Wall brooms: These are also called ceiling brooms or Turk’s heads. They have a soft head and long handle, usually made of cane. These brooms are used to remove cobwebs as well as dust from cornices, ceilings and high ledges.

Electric brooms, arguably a fourth type, have been discussed under

mechanical equipment. All kinds of brooms raise and dissipate dust, so that, with the advent of the more hygienic process of vacuum cleaning, brooms are used less often for cleaning purposes in hotels.

Care and cleaning of brooms:

Brooms should be shaken free of dust and fluff. Never store them standing on their bristles, or the bristles will bend out of shape, resulting in inefficient cleaning. Store brooms either lying horizontally or hanging bristles downward. Never use soft brooms on wet surfaces. Stiff brooms such as coconut-fibre brooms can be used on wet surfaces but must be cleaned afterward thoroughly in saline water and dried in the sun before cleaning.

Box Sweepers

These are also called carpet sweepers and are used for sweeping up dust and litter from soft floor coverings as well as rugs and carpets. They are ideal for the removal of spills and for light cleaning of small carpeted areas. A box sweeper consists of a friction brush that revolves when the equipment is pushed manually over the carpet bottom to facilitate emptying after use. Choose sweepers with a wide base that is low enough to be pushed under furniture and that will clean close to a wall. In sweepers meant to clean hard floors as well as soft floor coverings, the brush can be lowered to the floor to sweep.

Care and cleaning of box sweepers:

The friction brush should be kept clean; else the efficiency of the equipment will be seriously impaired. After the cleaning process, the dustpans should be emptied of all the collected dust.

Dry Mops

Also called dust control mops, these are designed to remove soil and debris from floors, walls and ceilings without raising and dissipating dust. These mops generally consist of a handle to which a metal frame is attached. The mop head is either inserted into the frame or stretched over it, according to the type.

Types of dry mops: There are 4 principle types of dry mops:

· Mops with impregnated fringes: These mops consist of dense cotton fringes, approximately 15 cm in length, inserted into a metal frame of 15-120 cm length. These mops are usually pre-impregnated or will require impregnation by soaking in or spraying with mineral oil or a synthetic impregnating fluid. The dust is held onto the mops by the oil.

· Impregnated mop sweepers: These mops consist of a double-hinged frame and are thus called ‘V-sweepers’ of ‘scissor-action sweepers’. The mops can be pre-impregnated or may require impregnation before each use. Following impregnation, sufficient time must be allowed for the mineral oil to cure the fibres; else the mop will leave a film of oil on the cleaned surface due to improper curing. To be effective, an impregnated mop must also be manoeuvred correctly. It should be worked in long, even strokes in a continual movement, keeping the mop head in contact with the surface all the time. This way, maximum dust collection and minimum dust dissipation is ensured.

· Static mops: These mops consist of acrylic, nylon or polyester strands fixed to a backing stretched over a metal frame. When in use, the fringes splay out to form a large surface area, holding dust by means of a static charge that builds up on the fringe. Static mops are more easily maintained than impregnated mops.

· Disposable mops: These mops consist of a handle with a soft pad at the end, onto which a cheap cotton or synthetic material is affixed. The material has properties enabling it to attract and hold dust. The fabric is held in place by clips or a special tape and is usually purchased in large rolls, from which the desired amount can be cut. The fabric is disposed off after each use and replaced immediately. Although very expensive due to constant replacement of the head, they are extremely hygienic and are particularly suitable when infection control is required.

Care and cleaning of dry mops:

Shake mops well after use outdoors. The mop head should be easily detachable so they can be frequently washed in hot water with detergent. The use of soap-free detergent will prevent the formation of scum that clogs the fibres of the head. The mop must be worked up and down in at least 2 changes of clean, hot water. The clean mop should then be tightly squeezed out, shaken well to get rid of excess moisture and left to dry in open air. Once dry, the mops may need to be re-impregnated.

Wet/damp mops:

These mops are used in conjunction with buckets for the removal of dirt adhering to a surface. The mop heads can be made of cotton, sponge or any other fibre capable of absorbing moisture well.

Types of damp mops: There are 4 types of damp mops available:

· Do-all mops: These mops consist of strands of twisted cotton fixed to a circular metal plate, which in turn is fixed to a stock.

· Kentucky mops: These mops consist of cotton strands fixed to a length of cotton fabric which is in turn inserted into a flat metal stock. They are available in weights ranging from 330g to 670g. The strands may be stitched together or unstitched. The former are less likely to tangle, can be laundered more easily and are likely to last longer than unstitched mops.

· Foss mops: These consist of a dense cotton fringe inserted into a heavy metal stock. They are available in a wide range of weights.

· Sponge mops: These consist of cellulose sponge fixed to a replaceable, lever-controlled head, hinged for wringing out and attached to a long handle. Using a sponge mop is one of the easiest ways to wash a hard floor. Short handled sponge mops are also available for cleaning windows.

· Squeegee: A squeegee consists of a long metallic handle and a wooden or rubber blade to remove excess water from a surface being cleaned It is effective when followed by mopping with a damp mop. A smaller version called the window squeegee is used for wiping away water from windows after washing.

Care and cleaning of damp mops:

Take mops outdoors after use and shake well to remove excess moisture. Then these mops may be washed in the same way as dry mops. Detachable heads are easier to clean and maintain. However, drying is the most important part of mop care as bacteria require moisture to multiply. A disinfectant to discourage their growth is effective only for a short period of time, so leaving them damp means letting germs breed. Damp mops should be renewed as soon as there are signs of wear. They should be stored in such a way that air is allowed to circulate around the mop head. Never use disinfectant or bleach with a cellulose sponge head. Wash and rinse sponge heads after use, squeeze out excess water and dry well. Store the sponge head by hanging.


Various cloths are used extensively in wet and dry cleaning by housekeeping staff. For efficient and correct usage, cloths may be colour-coded and the staff well-trained.

Types of cloths: A variety of cloths are available for specific purposes:

· Dusters and cloth mittens: These are meant for dusting and buffing. Soft, absorbent plain or checked cotton material or yellow flannelette of up to 15 sq. Cm is ideal for dusters. When used for damp dusting, they must be sprayed with a fine mist of water or dusting solution. Cloths may be impregnated with a mineral oil instead. Dusters must be folded several times into a hand-sized pad before use so as to provide a number of clean surfaces and avoid spreading dirt again to a clean surface instead.

· Swabs and wipes: These are all-purpose cloths made of soft, absorbent material. They are used for wet cleaning and damp dusting of all surfaces above floor level. They are also used for cleaning sanitary fittings such as bathtubs and wash basins. Wipes include loosely woven or knitted cotton cloths and non-woven cloths. Synthetic sponges may also be grouped under this category. They are available in various sizes and shapes. Sponges are better than cloths for washing walls, woodwork, glass and upholstery.

· Floor cloths: Floor cloths are bigger, thicker and made of coarser cotton material than all-purpose swabs. They are used to wipe WC pedestals and remove spills from floors.

· Scrim: This is a loosely woven linen material resembling fine sackcloth. Scrim, because of its high absorbency and lint-free nature, is often used instead of chamois leather for cleaning windows and mirrors.

· Glass cloths: Glass cloths are made up of linen tow yarns and do not leave behind lint. They can therefore be used for wiping mirrors and drinking glasses. These must not be confused with fabrics made from glass fibres (glasscloth).

· Rags and polishing cloths: Rags are disposable cloths usually obtained from the sewing room or bought by the sack from tailors. They are used for applying polish or strong cleaning agents are disposed off when dirty. Polishing cloths need to have a fleecy napped surface and pieces of flannel are ideal.

· Wet cloths: Wet cloths need to be very absorbent and of a manageable size, so that they can be wrung out by hand easily during cleaning. They are used for mopping large floor areas.

· Chamois leather: Real chamois leather is the skin of the chamois goat antelope, but now various cheaper imitations are available. These simulated chamois leathers are usually skivers, that is, split sheepskin. Chamois leather can be used wet for cleaning windows and mirrors; when dry; it is used as a polishing cloth for silver and other metals. It is also ideal for wiping squeegee blades.

· Dust sheets: Dust sheets are made of any thin cotton material, being about the size of a single sheet. Discarded bed sheets or curtains from the linen room are ideal for use as dust sheets. They are used to cover floors, furniture or other articles during spring cleaning or decorating.

· Druggets: These are made up of coarse linen, fine canvas or clear plastic. They may be the size of a carpet square or runner. They are placed on the floor in doorways to prevent excessive dirt being tracked in or out during bad weather and during redecorating projects. They are sometimes placed in the passage between the kitchen and dining area to catch spills and debris.

· Hearth and bucket cloths: These are made up of thick fabrics and used to protect the carpet and flooring when a fireplace is being cleaned or placed under buckets to prevent marks on the surface they are kept on. They also catch splashes of water.

Care and cleaning of cloths: Good care of cloths is important for efficient cleaning and longer life. Care and cleaning recommendations for various types of cloths are given in Table 7.1.

Table 7.1: Cloth care & cleaning recommendations



Dusters and cloth mittens

Wash, rinse and dry thoroughly after use. If cloth mittens are impregnated with mineral oil after washing, keep them covered or they will attract dust.

Swabs and wipes

Wash in hot detergent water, rinse and dry thoroughly after use. Those used on WCs should be disinfected after washing.

Floor cloths

Wash in hot detergent water, rinse, disinfect (as floors may harbour many germs) and dry thoroughly.


Wash, rinse and dry after use.

Glass cloths

Wash, rinse and dry after use.

Rags and polishing cloths

Rags should be disposed off after use. Polishes with a strong odour may contain flammable chemicals and storing rags and polishing cloths used in their application may prove a fire hazard.

Wet cloths

Wash in hot detergent water, rinse and dry thoroughly. Disinfect periodically to prevent them from becoming unhygienic.

Chamois leather

If not maintained properly, leather gets cracked and is damaged easily. Remove excess dirt from it with newspaper. Wash only when necessary, in plain cold water. Rinse and either store damp or dry flat. When dry, rub to soften the leather again.

Dust sheets

Shake well outdoors after use. Wash, rinse and dry when necessary. Fold neatly and store when not in use.


Shake well by tapping on the ground outdoors, if made of plastic. Use a hard brush to clean away stubborn dirt from cloth. Wash rinse and dry canvas and linen ones frequently. Plastic ones can be damp wiped instead.

Hearth and bucket cloths

Shake well after use. Wash, rinse and dry thoroughly after use. Use a hard brush to clean away stubborn soiling.

Polish applicators

These are usually oblong in shape for efficiency of application. The polishing head should slide out from the metal or plastic casing to enable easy replacement.

Types of polish applicators: There are 3 kinds of polish applicators:

a) Natural lambswool, with a built in polish reservoir or tray.

b) Synthetic wool, with a built in polish reservoir or tray.

c) Solid-wax pressurized applicators.

Care and cleaning of polish applicators:

Polish applicators should not be washed with water. Wiping away excess polish with newspaper or rags before it dries should suffice. It is important to label the applicators with the type of polish for which they are to be used so that each applicator is used with just one kind of polish, to avoid mixing different products.


Work becomes much easier and efficient if the staff is given appropriate containers in which to carry, transport, collect and store supplies and other items.

Types of containers: The various types of containers used are:

· Buckets: These may be made of plastic or galvanised iron. Plastic buckets are more popular these days as they are lighter in weight, quieter to use and easier to clean. Buckets to be used with mops may have one or two sections and may have a wringer device that can be detached for easy cleaning. Twin buckets on a low trolley enabled the brush to be rinsed more effectively each time. Larger buckets should have castor wheels which must be kept free of hair, fluff and dust. Buckets should be thoroughly washed, inside and out, every time they are used and then allowed to dry before being stored.

· Basins and bowls: These are used to carry small amounts of water, cleaning solutions and powders for cleaning small areas.

· Dustpans: These are used in conjunction with a broom or brush for gathering dust. They may be made of plastic or metal, plastic ones being the usual choice these days. Dustpans with long handles that eliminate stooping are ideal. In order that the dustpans are effective, the edge in contact with the floor must be thin, sharp and flat. They should always be emptied after use and occasionally washed. They should never be stored resting on their flat edge, as it will wear out and warp so that the pan becomes inefficient. Store dustpans suspended from a hook or lying horizontally, sideways.

· Dustbins : The housekeeping department is concerned with dustbins in 5 areas:

a) In guestrooms: These bins may be made of plastic or wood. Some properties also use jute or wicker bins. Individual dustbins in guestrooms may be lined with a disposable inner lining made of recycled paper or plastic. These bins must be emptied and wiped daily. They should be washed once a week.

b) In the service rooms: These are used to collect waste from guestrooms, brought in by the room attendants’ carts. The carts contain a sack called the trash bag for guestroom trash. There should be 2 types of bins in the service room, a metal bin for disposing of ash from guestroom ashtrays and a plastic or thick paper bin for other types of trash. The latter can be incinerated directly.

c) In public areas such as guest corridors and lobbies: These bins may have a creative design since they are constantly on view. They should be emptied daily.

d) In waste-collection areas: These are usually located outside the main building and are hidden from view. These bins should be kept covered and emptied t least every alternate day

· Sani-bins: These are metal or plastic bins with lids. They are found in toilets for the collection of soiled sanitary towels. They should be lined with plastic or paper bags for easy cleaning. The bins must be emptied and wiped daily for reasons of hygiene. Disposable paper bags (sani-bags) should be provided in the guests’ toilets for wrapping sanitary towels, before disposing in the sani-bin. Some metal sani-bins may be provided with incinerators, but these are not available in India yet.

· Spray bottles: These are lightweight containers that deliver a fine mist or cleaning solution through a fine nozzle, particularly used for spray cleaning. It is essential that the nozzle is properly adjusted and free from any blockage. The nozzle must be kept clean, by spraying clean, pure water through it after every use.

· Polish applicator trays: These are used in conjunction with a polish applicator mop for polishing floors with a liquid polish. They should be labelled with the kind of polish that they hold. Cleaning them after use is difficult. Pour any excess polish back into the polish container. Soak the tray in a small amount of solvent used to remove that particular type of polish. Wipe with rags and store.

· Hand caddies: Also called ‘cleaners’ boxes’, these were originally made of wood or metal but are nowadays usually made of plastic. They consist of a box with a handle and fitted tray. They are used by room attendants for carrying cleaning supplies from room to room for guestroom cleaning. After each shift, they must be cleaned and topped up with replacement supplies for use in the next shift.

Carts and trolleys:

These are more useful than hand caddies when a large amount of supplies and items are to be carted or replaced. They are ideal for the efficient removal and carriage of smaller pieces of cleaning equipment, cleaning agents, linen and rubbish. They eliminate the time wasted in assembling equipment at the work location or moving them from one place to another. The various kinds of carts and trolleys that may be used in the housekeeping department are discussed here.

· Maid’s cart/Room attendant’s cart: Also called a room attendant’s trolley, maid’s cart or chambermaid’s trolley, this is perhaps the most significant piece of equipment in the housekeeping department. It is like a giant tool box; stocked with everything necessary to service a guestroom effectively such carts available are now made of metal, but sometimes wooden carts may be in use. The cart should be spacious enough to carry all the supplies needed for a GRA to complete half a day’s room assignments. Since the cart is large and may be heavily loaded, it must be easily manoeuvrable as well. The ideal cart would have fixed wheels at one end and castor-wheels at the other. The cart should be well organised so that the GRAs do not have to waste time in searching for supplies or make frequent trips back to the supply room. Also if the cart is not stacked neatly, it will look very unsightly when in the guests’ view. There is usually one such cart for each room section and it is stored in the floor pantry along with other housekeeping supplies. Fig 7.6 shows an organized room attendant’s cart.

Fig 7.6: An organized room attendant’s cart

maids cart.jpg

Most of these carts have 3 deep shelves – the lower 2 for linen and the top, partitioned shelf for small supplies. The carts also have a sack for soiled linen, detachable trash bags, storage space for a vacuum cleaner and a hand caddy. Many carts also contain a locked box in which to store the guestroom keys, incase a floor master key is not being used. While arranging the linen on the cart, it should be kept in mind that the heavier linens must be placed on the lowermost shelf and the smaller, lighter ones on the top shelf. Housekeeping supplies that are usually found in the room attendant’s cart are listed in the table below:





· Water tumblers & tray

· Water jugs/bottles

· Ashtrays & matchboxes

· Candle stands & candles double bed (folded in pairs)

· Sewing kits (also called a ‘Dutch wife’ in the singular

· Bibles/Gitas/Qurans (for placement in the rooms

· Shoe mitts

· Service directories

· Telephone books

· Business kits

· Guest stationery folders or sets; ballpoint pens & pencils; scribbling pads

· DND cards

· Copies of the house rules

· Breakfast knob cards; ‘Polish my shoes’ cards; room service menu cards; ‘make my room’ cards; ‘collect my laundry cards’

· Telegraph forms; laundry forms

· Laundry bags; clothes hangers; light bulbs

· Toilet rolls

· Toilet tissues

· Blade dispensers

· Shower caps

· Tooth glasses

· Soap bars

· Soap flakes/powder

· Shampoo bottles

· Sani-bags/disposal bags

· Bottles of bath foam

· Loofah pads

· Packets of cotton wool

· Tubes of toothpaste

· Toothbrushes

· Bottles of cologne

· Bottles of aftershave lotion

· Toilet strips (disinfected paper strips to ‘seal’ the toilet seat)

· Sanitary pads

· Mattress protectors – a few, to replace soiled ones if necessary

· King-size sheets – 2 per kingsize bed (folded in pairs

· Queensize sheets – 2 per queensize bed (folded in pairs)

· Double bedsheets – 2 per double bed (folded in pairs)

· Standard sheets – 2 per twin bed (fold in pairs)

· Kingsize pillowcases – 2 per kingsize bed (fold in pairs)

· Standard pillowcases – 2 per bed (fold in pairs)

· Bath towels/Bath sheets – 2 per bathroom (folded individually, with hotel logo facing outwards)

· Hand towels – 2 per room (folded individually, with hotel logo facing outwards)

· Face towels – 2 per room (folded individually, with hotel logo facing outwards)

· Bath mats – 1 per bathroom

· Bedspreads – a few to replace soiled ones, if necessary

· All-purpose cleaner

· Window/glass cleaner (in spray bottle)

· Johnny mop

· Cloths and sponges

· Rubber gloves

· Disinfectant

· Naphthalene balls

· Room fresheners

· Deodorizers

· Brass polish

· Wax polish

· Scrubbers

· Broom

· Janitor’s trolley: This is used for carting and storing cleaning supplies. It is used during the cleaning of public areas or any special cleaning projects scheduled for guestrooms. It includes a detachable trash bag and a place for storing cleaning agents and small pieces of cleaning equipment.

· Mop-wringer trolley: This piece of equipment consists of a mop and one or twin buckets with an attached wringer, all mounted on a trolley with caster wheels. It may have provision for holding cleaning agents as well as a trash bag.

· Linen trolley: These are used for the transfer of clean linen from the laundry to the linen room or from the linen room to the floor pantries and so on. Linen trolleys may be made of aluminium or steel.

· Laundry sacks: These, in fact, may or may not be mobile (and hence may not necessarily be trolleys). They may be made of wicker, fibreglass or plastic. A very popular choice is the one made of tough cotton with drawstrings, as it can be washed frequently.

All carts and trolleys need to be kept clean, wiped daily and stored in a locked, dry, well-ventilated area when not in use. A thorough cleaning may be done once a week. The wheels may be oiled during this cleaning. Carts or trolleys should never become general dumping grounds when not in use.

Sundry equipment

This includes other miscellaneous pieces of equipment used in the housekeeping department – ladders, carpet beaters, and abrasive pads, rubber gloves, airing racks, fit pumps and choke removers.

v Ladders

Ladders are generally made of wood or metals such as aluminium. These days, fibreglass ladders are also available. The different parts of a ladder are the rungs (treads), stiles (side rails), spreaders (the hinge-and-brace arrangement) and footpads.

When buying a ladder, one should primarily consider the following points:

ü What kind is needed for the work it is going to be used for – for occasional work, it may be cheaper to hire a ladder than purchase one.

ü The weight that the ladder must bear.

ü The condition of the ladder.

ü The physical work environment it will be used in.

There are 5 main types of ladders used, based on hotel properties.

· Single-section standing ladders or stairladders: This is the simplest, old-fashioned ladder with 2 straight stiles and rungs fixed across them at a minimum of 254mm intervals. The ideal ones are those with both stiles curved at the apex for safety.

· Stepladders: Various types of stepladders are available. A basic stepladder has 2 rectangular stiles fitted with treads that are a minimum of 76 mm in width. The treads should lie horizontal, parallel to the ground when the ladder is placed at an angle of 75 degrees. A platform stepladder gives a more stable work position with a high-level platform for holding tools and materials in use. It is available in various heights, or without a high-level handrail. The platform must not be more than 3.85m above the ground. The A-type platform ladder opens up like a pair of scissors to make a free-standing set of steps with a small platform at the top, thus leaving the worker’s hands free and eliminating the need to keep getting off to get tools and materials. It is very stable and if fitted with a handrail above the platform, extra-safe. The steps may be folded together for easy storage of the ladder. A swing-back stepladder is self-supporting. Locking stays are fitted together to brace the steps. When opened up, the treads of the ladder lie horizontal.

· Extension ladders: These are used for working at greater heights. These consist of 2 or 3 parts that can be slid along each other to add the required height. They are available with 2 or 3 extensions and in various ‘closed’ lengths of 2.5-3.5 m. A double extension ladder which can give a long length of about 8m should be sufficient for most 2-storey properties. Longer, 3-section ladders can give lengths of up to about 10m. In the case of smaller extension ladders, the ladder may be extended by hand & secured by stay locks that rest on a selected rung. On larger ladders, the sections are extended by means of a roped loop running down the side of the ladder and secured upon a cleat.

· Combination ladders: A combination ladder offers various arrangements to give a stepladder, an extension ladder and a stair ladder in one piece of equipment. The sections fold down to about the same size as a platform stepladder.

· Roof ladders: This type of ladder is used when working on a pitched roof. The roof ladder has 2 wheels at the upper end, which enables it to be pushed along the slope of a roof without damaging the shingles. On the end opposite to the wheels, the ladder forms a hook to fit over the top ridge of the roof, which stops the ladder from slipping down.

ü Angle of inclination: Whichever ladder is used, if it leans at an angle, it should be ensured that the bottom of the slanting section is about 1 foot away from the vertical support for every 4 feet of ladder height between the foot and top support.

Maintenance and storage:

Ladders should be stored in a sheltered area, away from the sun and rain. Wooden ladders especially are adversely affected by exposure to heat combined with dampness. They need a dry, well-ventilated storage area. Wooden ladders used outdoors should be treated with shellac, varnished or given 2 coats of linseed oil as a protective treatment. A wooden ladder should never be painted, as this can hide any defects that may arise, making the ladder potentially unsafe. Straight (stair) and extension ladders should be stored horizontally on racks or hooks, with support points at the top, middle and bottom of the ladder, to prevent sagging and warping. All ladders should be kept scrupulously free of oil, grease, wet paint and other slip hazards. Periodically tighten the reinforcing rods under the steps of a stepladder, spreader hinges and other joints. Despite all the precautions, ladders should nevertheless be carefully inspected for wear and damage before each use. In case of any damage, it is always best to discard it.

v Carpet beaters:

Beating of carpets, although not recommended, sometimes becomes a necessity. Wire beaters should be avoided as they may damage the rug. Instead, rattan beaters should be used. While beating, it is best to place carpets and rugs with their naps down on the grass. They should never be hung up and beaten.

v Abrasive pads:

These are available in the form of non-woven, nylon netting pads, suitable for the removal of localized, heavily impacted soiling by abrasion. Pads with different abrasive properties are produced. Wire-wool and steel-wool pads should be used with caution as they may damage certain surfaces.

Mechanical Equipment:

The various pieces of mechanical equipment used in the housekeeping department are usually powered by electricity or gas. The staff should be well-trained in the operation of these equipments since incorrect usage will not only lead to inefficient cleaning but may also become a safety hazard.

Vacuum cleaners/ Suction cleaners:

Vacuum cleaners remove debris and soil and/or water from a surface by suction. All vacuum cleaners work on the same operating principle. In all types, motor drives an impeller, which sucks in air through an inlet, creating a difference in pressure between the air within and outside the machine. Air drawn in from the inlet passes through and out of the machine. Air drawn in from the inlet passes through and out of the machine. Usually the air is sucked in together with soil, debris or water. The dust is collected into a container provided, which may be within the body of the machine (as in cylindrical and canister models) or on the outside in the form of a bag (as in upright models). The dust-collecting apparatus in the heavy duty models used in hotel properties usually consists of 2 types of dust bags. The inner bag is made of disposable paper and the outer one is made of fabric.

Types of vacuum cleaners: Various types of vacuum cleaners are available.

· Dry vacuum cleaners: These are used for removing dust and small pieces of debris from floors, upholstery, furnishings, walls and ceilings. Those using a flexible hose come with attachments, such as a floor-cleaning head, a power head, a crevice-cleaning head, an upholstery-cleaning head, a dusting head and extension tubes. Many variations of the dry vacuum cleaner are in use:

v Electric brooms: These are very lightweight vacuums without a motor-driven beater brush. They are used only for light vacuuming and for touch-ups on carpets and hard floors. In other words, they come in handy when a full vacuuming is required.

v Dustettes: These are small, lightweight vacuum cleaners used for cleaning curtains, upholstery edges, mattresses, computers and music systems. They clean by brushing and suction and are very easy to handle. The may be carried in hand or strapped to the back of the operator.

v Backpack vacuums: These are very efficient to clean high, hard-to-reach areas. The vacuum unit in these machines can easily be strapped to the back of the operator. These machines have hand-held wands that come with various attachments for flexibility in cleaning. They are ideal for use on curtains, drapes and ceiling corners. These vacuums are also referred to as piggyback vacuums.

v Upright vacuums: These vacuums are the ones more frequently seen in hotels. The main body of the vacuum lies horizontal on the floor and is driven by a single motor. The dust-bag is outside the machine’s main body. There is a belt-driven beater brush to facilitate removal of dust from thick-pile carpets. In an improved variation, there is a dual-motor system – one motor drives the beater brush and the other provides the suction. The machine also has a built-in hose for cleaning corners and upholstery. This machine is most suitable for use on large carpeted areas.

v Cylindrical vacuums: These have no rotating brushes and work by suction only. The term ‘suction cleaner’ is generally used for these kinds of vacuum cleaners. A filter-cum-diffuser is fitted at the outlet which removes fine dust and micro-organisms from the flow of air passing through the outlet. The filter-cum-diffuser also reduces air disturbance and noise. The dust-bag is inside the cylindrical body of the vacuum cleaner. A flexible hose along with the different attachments is used to clean a variety of surfaces. These are the type commonly used by GRAs in guestroom cleaning.

v Pile-lifter vacuums: These vacuum cleaners are used to groom long-pile carpets. They lift up the carpet pile that has become packed down and restore their vertical orientation. It is especially useful before shampooing the carpet, more so if the soiling is heavy.

v Centralized vacuum: In this type of unit, suction is generated at one point in the building. Meanwhile, soiling can be removed at vacuum points somewhere else in the building by suitable nozzles connected to detachable flexible hoses. The collected dirt is then conveyed by a network of pipes to a central container. This unit is expensive to install and is generally done at the building construction stage. The advantages of this kind of system are :

ü It is extremely hygienic, since all the dust is carried away from the point of cleaning.

ü Maintenance costs are usually lower.

ü Operative fatigue is lower.

ü There are no frayed flexes to repair and no individual machines to go wrong.

· Wet-and-dry vacuum cleaners: These are extremely useful in hotel housekeeping operations. They can pick up spills and excess wash water when on the wet mode. When on the dry mode, they help in removal of dust and debris. In hotels, these machines are usually used in their wet mode to pick up spills. They are also required when large areas of floors are being stripped of polish and cleaned. They have a flexible hose with attachments such as a squeegee head. The waste water collects in a tank that needs to be emptied after use. A variation of this is the large tank-type vacuum cleaners. These are also called canister-type or industrial vacuum cleaners. They can be used for dry and wet pick-up or both. The waste water is scooped up by a squeegee attachment through a nozzle and travels back into the tank. They are used for cleaning large areas when time is a constraint. They are ideal for cleaning lobbies, banquet halls and restaurants.

Points to consider while purchasing a vacuum cleaner:

The housekeeper needs to pose and find answers to the following questions while purchasing a vacuum cleaner:

ü Is the suction power sufficient enough to dislodge dirt as well as remove dust and debris?

ü If the suction power on its own is not efficient enough, can a machine with a rotating brush be selected instead?

ü Can the suction power be directed to where it is needed?

ü Is the machine portable enough for the staff and the layout of the building?

ü Does all the dust get trapped inside the air bag before the air passes out from the outlet?

ü What attachments are available along with the machine?

ü How easy is it to empty the contents of the machine?

ü What is the noise level while operating the machine?

ü Is the cost of the machine within the budget?

Care and storage:

Vacuum cleaners will give maximum cleaning efficiency when they are maintained well. Housekeeping staff need to be trained in the care and maintenance of the machines. The wheels of the machine need to be oiled periodically. After use, the dust bags should be checked and emptied. If the machine is operated with the dust bags full, cleaning will not be operated, the machine may heat up too much and the bags may get damaged. Wipe the casing daily and check the hose and flex before use. Clean the attachment heads after each use. Check the filter after use. If the machine is meant for dry suction only, never use it to clear even a little amount of water, else the dust bags will get damaged.

Incase of wet vacuums, the bucket should be washed, rinsed and dried. The squeegee should be wiped clean and replaced whenever necessary. The hose needs to be rinsed out, the casing and wheels wiped and the filter checked after use. The wheels need oiling periodically.

The hoses should be stored hanging on hooks. The tubes and attachment heads of a dry vacuum cleaner should be stored in boxes, drawers of shelves. The hoses and attachment heads of wet vacuum cleaners should be stored off the ground on a rack, in a well-ventilated place.

General-purpose floor machines (scrubbing and polishing machines)

These are designed for scrubbing, buffing, burnishing, scarifying and spray maintenance.

· Scrubbing: The bristle tips of a brush or the surface of a pad abrade and cut the soiling to remove it.

· Buffing: The bristle tips of a brush or the surface of a pad create a high-gloss finish on the floor surface. In case of a surface on which a polish has been applied, it will involve generation of a local heat to harden waxes and resins.

· Burnishing: The tips of a brush or the surface of a pad abrade and cut the floor surface to create a smooth surface with a glossy finish. In case of a polished surface, it will involve the removal of a surface layer of polish.

· Scarifying: The bristle tips or edge of a cutting tool, cut into impacted soiling and remove it by means of a chisel-like action.

· Spray cleaning : This is similar to spray cleaning, but the term is applied to the maintenance of floors where a buffable or semi-buffable polish has been applied and the bristle tips of a brush or the surface of a pad remove both soiling and the surface layer of polish to leave a smooth, glossy surface. Resins and waxes in the maintenance product form part of the restored finish. These machines consist of one large or several small brushes that revolve and scrub the floor. Water and detergent are released from a tank attached to the machine. These machines can be used for shampooing carpets, polishing floors and spray maintenance. Such general-purpose machines are preferred in many establishments as the machine can be put to greater use due to its versatility. In some machines, coloured, abrasive nylon pads replace the scrubbing brushes. For normal-speed machines:

v Beige pads are used for buffing;

v Green pads are used for scrubbing; and

v Black pads are used for stripping.

The lighter the colour of the pad, the lesser abrasive is the action. These machines may come with or without the suction capacity to pick up water. If the machine is one without a suction action, then the machine will have to be used in conjunction with it while scrubbing. The usual attachments for these machines are brushes, drive discs, coloured nylon pads, a water tank, a shampoo tank and a sprayer.

Care and storage of general-purpose machines:

The brushes and pads should never be left on the machine after cleaning. The brushes should be detached after cleaning. The fluff should be removed from them after washing. Wash, rinse and dry wet ones after use. The dry ones should be washed occasionally, but dust should be tapped away after use regularly. The pads should be washed, rinsed and dried thoroughly. The tanks should be emptied, washed and dried. The wheels and casing should be wiped after use. The wheels need oiling periodically. The flex should be checked for any fraying before each use. Brushes and pads should be stored in a well-ventilated area, preferably on airing racks or hooks. They should not be kept flat on the ground. The tops of the tanks may be loosely fitted during storage.

Wet-extraction systems:

These machines are used to restore the surface appearance of carpets, upholstery and curtains. They remove the more deeply embedded soilage not easily removed by suction cleaning. They are also useful in the application of soil-retardant finishes on carpets.

Types of wet-extraction systems: There are various types of wet-extraction systems.

· Hot-water extraction machines: These are machines with no rotary action. They carry a tank for hot water and detergent, which are used for deep cleaning carpets. The hot water and detergent are shot into the carpet from high-pressure spray nozzles. The dirt is thus flushed to the surface and this, along with the soiled water is removed by suction into a container in the machine.

· Solvent extraction machines: These machines are primarily used for cleaning upholstery and curtains and to a lesser extent for carpets.

Carpet shampoo machines:

These machines, as indicated by the name, are designed for the deep cleaning of carpets that are heavily soiled.

Types of carpet shampoo machines: There are 4 broad groups of these machines:

· Steam-extraction machines: Though these machines are universally called steam extraction machines, there is in fact no generation of steam and the cleaning agents are simply hot water and detergent. Hot water containing the detergent is injected at a prescribed rate and subsequently extracted by a wet vacuum system built into the machine.

· Cylindrical-brush dry-foam machines: This system has a cylindrical brush that scrubs that scrubs and picks up in one pass, the foam generated by the machine.

· Rotary-brush wet-shampoo machines: A rotary brush cleaner in conjunction with a wet shampoo is employed for the cleaning of carpets here. The machine comes with a range of accessories including vacuum and drying equipment.

· Small rotary-brushes wet-shampoo machines: This is also a rotary brush cleaner, but employs 2 brushes instead of 1 and is somewhat smaller than the rotary-brush wet-shampoo machine.


These machines remove debris, soiling and/or water. They are suitable for large areas where mechanical sweeping, scrubbing and drying are required.

Types of scrubber-drier-sweepers: The various types available are as follows:

· Power sweepers: These are self-propelled or manually propelled machines designed to remove debris and loosen soiling from roads, pavements, carpets and large areas of hard flooring.

· Pedestrian-driven sweepers: These feature a battery or mains-operated rotating broom that carries dirt back into a hopper. A side-broom suction unit and filters may be included.

· Petrol or gas-driven sweepers: These have petrol or a gas-powered engine to drive a suction unit and brush. Soiling is brushed back into the inflow and collected in a large cloth sack situated behind the motor. These machines are suitable for the sweeping of pavements, car parks and similar heavy-traffic areas.

· Self-propelled sweepers: These machines may be petrol, gas or battery-powered. The power is transferred to the drive wheels and a rotating broom, which carries soiling away from a surface. Such machines typically contain:

v A side broom to carry debris from the floor edges into the path of the main broom.

v A water spray or suction with the side broom to prevent rising of dust clouds.

v A high volume suction-unit that sucks or blows air through a filter as dust or dirt is deposited in the hopper.

v A filter shaker or air-flow reverser to prevent blockages.

High-pressure washers:

This type of equipment is designed to remove soiling by subjecting the surface to water, steam and/or sand under pressure. Water under pressure physically dislodges the dirt. The process can be assisted by the use of hot water, steam or sand.

Scarifying machines:

Scarifying is the process by which heavy grease, mud, wet sawdust and thick deposits are removed from the surface of floors. The process is employed when simple scrubbing has been ineffective. Here dirt deposits are broken up by the chisel-like action of a wire-brush cutting tool.

Types of scarifiers: 2 kinds are available -

· Heavy-duty scrubber polishers: These single-to-three-brush machines can have a brush weight of 65kg or more. They are used in conjunction with a scarifying assembly. Dislodged dirt is removed by a second operation involving sweeping.

· Self-propelled scarifiers: These consist of a revolving tool, a hopper into which the dirt is thrown up by the tool and suction-unit filter to remove finer particles.

Storage, Distribution and Control of Cleaning Equipment

All housekeeping equipment must be stored under lock & key. When issuing equipment for use, proper records must be maintained with information regarding:

ü The items issued

ü The attachments given along with them

ü To whom they were issued

ü The date and time of issue

ü The area where they are to be used

ü By whom they were issued

ü The date and time of return

The signature of the personnel involved must be obtained on the document during both issue and return. A card-index system is a useful method of collecting all the relevant info about each piece of equipment being used in a particular establishment. A sample card index is presented in Exhibit 7.1. This system is of great value to the manager and supervisor for the following reasons:

ü It gives up-to-date info concerning the equipment.

ü It indicated the location of the equipment.

ü It indicates who usually operates the equipment.

ü It contains a record of what servicing has been carried out, costs, new accessories supplied, and so on.

ü When purchase of new equipment is being considered, this info can be used as a reference to check on reliability.

Exhibit 7.1: Sample card for equipment indexing

Type of equipment: Taski 450 smm(18”) brush, low-speed machine SM381

Date of purchase

Cost of machine

Period of guarantee

Specific user(if any)

Location of area where used


Local representative

6 Feb 2006

Rs. 1,78,000

2 years

S. Justin (Houseman)


Taski, Johnson Diversey, Cochin

Mr. Samson (558889)

Date first used

Attachments cost

Life expectancy

Other users(if any)

Other areas(if any)

Servicing details

12 Feb 2006

Rs. 15,000

7 years


Banquet Hall 2

Selection of Cleaning Equipment

It is the responsibility of the executive housekeeper to procure the ideal, most efficient equipment for her staff to ensure maximum productivity. The choice of equipment to be purchased is made after considering the following factors:

ü Safety in operation.

ü Suitability to the type of area, surface, work, amount of obstruction and cleaning frequency.

ü Versatility to undertake various types of cleaning

ü Work performance in terms of capacity and machine and consumer reports on performance.

ü Ease of handling in terms of size, weight and height of the machine and ease of manoeuvring and operating.

ü Portability in terms of ease of transfer between floors and the provision of wheels and detachable parts and consumer reports on life expectancy.

ü Noise level which is a more important consideration for hospitals than hotels.

ü Availability of spare parts, easy servicing conditions and lead time after booking of equipment.

ü Protective design which may feature a protective edging to prevent damage to wall furniture and fittings and no sharp edges.

ü Ease of storage in terms of ease of dismantling detachable parts and storage space required (compactness).

ü Cost as a sum of initial costs, operating costs, maintenance and depreciation, as well as hiring considerations as opposed to purchasing.



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