Clearing the cobwebs

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Published: April 7,2008

Spring cleaning is not just for homes. Plenty of offices in the Magnolia State take advantage of the warmer weather and change of season to do much more than routine cleaning.

“My phone has certainly been ringing since the weather turned warm. I have many more calls to return,” says M.L. Jones of M.L. Jones Commercial Cleaning Services in Jackson. “Offices want to make sure dust is gone and carpets are clean to help with spring allergies. Cleaning windows is not a big part of it, but carpets are.”

Basic cleanliness around equipment and desks is important because that’s where people spend most of their time and germs collect. Office cleaners don’t touch desks, but Jones says they would dust desks if workers stacked their papers in the center of their desks.

“Reducing clutter would also be a big help with dust,” says Jones, who’s been in the cleaning business 17 years. “Our job is to keep it clean, but that would help. We find different cultures and different levels of cleanliness in different buildings.”

At Tri-County Carpet and Janitorial Service, George Shepherd was also busy with constantly ringing telephones that he attributes more to regular business than spring cleaning.

“My advice is to have some type of regular maintenance program to keep offices clean,” he says. “That’s definitely the way to go.”

Patricia Ann Spann of Pat’s Professional Cleaning Service in Gulfport advises that it’s better to keep up with cleaning work places day to day so things don’t get so bad. “We do general cleaning day to day that includes sweeping, mopping, bathrooms and emptying trash,” she says. “With a lot of businesses, you can’t get to desks often because they’re piled with papers.”

Both professional cleaners say workers eating at their desks creates the need for more cleaning. “For a lot of people, it’s a time factor — maybe they have only 30 minutes for lunch,” Jones says.

It’s not just messy desks strewn with crumbs. Spann says it would help keep offices cleaner if employees didn’t eat all over the building. “People don’t think about liquids and that there are places to empty them,” she says. “They put cups of coffee and sodas in trash cans and that’s a big mess for us, especially in carpeted areas when we’re emptying the cans and don’t know liquids are in them.”

The Web site Tips for Design and Life also supports the no-eating-at-the-desk suggestion along with advice to develop a system for managing and sorting paper, delete junk and limit photo frames and personal items.

Then there is the office kitchen, which poses special problems for professional cleaners. “With refrigerators, we’re afraid we’ll throw out food that someone wants, and the food belongs to different people so we don’t touch it,” Spann says. “We clean only the outside of refrigerators.”

Spann, who’s been in business approximately five years, points out that dirty microwaves are the biggest kitchen culprits when cleaning businesses.

“It really helps when employees work with us and cover things they put in the microwave,” she says. “When I see some offices, I wonder what these people do at home.”

She identifies eating sunflower seeds with their messy shells as another problem of keeping offices clean along with employees smoking in bathrooms. “Some people sneak in bathrooms and smoke but pretend they go outside,” she says. “They wet those butts but we can still smell them.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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