Buyers' guide to cleaning products - find your perfect cleaning product
This guide includes
- Staying safe & compliant
- Cleaning by environment
- Product choice by environment
- Equipment checklist
Trusted by 100,000s of Care Homes and Nurseries, our extensive cleaning product range includes the best on the market. With so many to choose from, we’ve put this guide together to help you decide which products are right for you.
In general most cleaning products can be grouped according to the environment they are used in, so we’ve written this guide with that in mind. Whilst some products can be used in multiple places, we’ve focused on best practice per environment.
Things to think about
- When choosing a cleaning product it’s always worth doing an audit of the products you currently use. Are they the right ones for the task, and are they being used efficiently?
- Only trained staff should have access to cleaning chemicals and products
- Make sure products are stored according to the product specification’s guidelines. Most websites will provide these online
- Accidents and allergies happen, so have you provided washing facilities and spillage clean-up kits near to where any chemicals may be used?
- Keep storage areas well ventilated. According to HSE guidelines you should have 5-10 air changes per area with a through draught.
- We recommend that you keep apart the following types of products: Solids and liquids, Flammable and non-flammables & Acids and alkalis
If you see these symbols the product is proven to kill 99.999% of germs and harmful bacteria
Keep compliant and on the go
Cleaning products are used every day, and most of them go down the drain after use, which is why manufacturers consider safety for environment as well as safety for people as their top priority. The law requires products to be safe to use, provided they are used correctly and according to the instructions. Be sure to read all directions for use on any product that you buy.
Care home zones
The NHS recommends that routine environmental cleaning be carried out on a “scheduled basis not an ad hoc basis and not in response to an outbreak”. It also defines the care home environments to be cleaned as inanimate surfaces that are touched by or in direct physical contact with the patient, such as:
- Bedside tables
- Bed linen
- Infusion tubing
- Feeding equipment
- Medical equipment
- Other frequently touched surfaces such as door handles etc
- PPE must be worn during cleaning tasks
- Single use disposable gloves should be worn
- If using household rubber gloves, these should also be treated as single use and not re-worn for different cleaning tasks
- All tasks should be documented
- Cleaning solutions should be changed when dirty, or otherwise every 15 minutes and prior to moving on to a different location
- Cleaning solutions should be used in accordance with the COSHH regulations and manufacturer's instructions
- Cleaning should be done more frequently in patient zones
- Cleaning equipment should be colour coded and only used according to the area indicated by the colour
Remember to download all of you COSHH sheets prior to an inspection.
At a National level, legislation requires childcare providers to ensure premises and equipment are kept clean and policies and procedures are in place. If debris, dust and food particles are left around, it can act as a hub for the reproduction of germs and can also attract pests which are more likely to introduce infection to the environment. For dealing with the many different surfaces, areas and items however, a robust cleaning approach is necessary, and it may be easier to segment by ‘zones’ such as these to ensure the correct product is used:
- Play areas - use products that are sensitive to skin allergies in case any residue comes into contact with children during play
- Eating areas - ensure products are labelled as ‘food-safe’
- Toilets and washing areas - use an antibacterial product to eliminate germs, choose one that states it kills 99.999% bacterial and germs within 30 seconds
- Nappy changing areas - again use products that are not harmful if ingested and are suitable for allergy sufferers
- Sleep and rest areas - avoid using products that have a strong smell as this may affect babies and children when resting
- Ensure eating surfaces have been sanitised using a suitable (non-toxic) sterilising solution before and after every mealtime
- Ensure all zones are cleaned at the end of each day and prior to opening and receiving children
Remember to store all cleaning products and equipment away from children, and all chemicals should be stored at the correct temperature, preferably in a locked cupboard
Kitchen and dishwashing
In an ideal world if you had to choose just one cleaning product we’d recommend an effective multi-purpose antibacterial spray, which will clean and disinfect most kitchen surfaces adequately, as well as saving you time and money. Choose one that can be proven to kill 99.999% of germs and harmful bacteria in around 30 seconds (most claim 99.99%, trust us, that extra ‘9’ on the end makes a huge difference!). Washing up liquid is a kitchen essential, and if you’ve ever wondered how it works, this diagram shows you. The hydrophobic (water hating) tails attach themselves to fats and proteins, drawing them away from the surface (dishes etc) and keeping them in the water.
DID YOU KNOW: Diluted washing up liquid can also be used on flooring (apart from wooden floors). Other products use powerful chemicals (including acids) to dissolve fats, and should be used with caution as they tend to be corrosive to certain materials and skin. These tend to be used for oven cleaning. Protective clothing and gloves should always be worn. If using in a food preparation area, look for ones that state they are ‘Food Safe’.
There’s a wide range of dishwashing products available:
- Multi acting, combining cleaning with descaling, disinfecting etc
- Chlorine-free versions are more gentle so more suitable for rubber, ceramic and copper items
- Products containing a glass protection agent
These need to be used in conjunction with:
- Salt - to soften the water and reduce limescale build up
- Rinse aid - a low foaming product, great for shorter cycles of 1-5 minutes, and designed to leave a shine on items such as cutlery. Being acidic it is not suitable for copper, brass, aluminium or rubber
How to keep your dishwasher working at its optimum performance:
- Daily - you should be checking traps such as baskets
- Weekly - you should be removing the filter and any food debris, taking care to remove any grease build ups. You can use white vinegar to clean any extra stubborn areas
- Monthly - you should remove the spray arms, checking for any food residue, clean the filter under running water, check the filter bowl is clean, and use a specific dishwashing cleaner to clean all other components, using a fine brush to free any food particles. We recommend using a descaling product to run through a cycle
Things to think about
- Save money with multi-purpose cleaning products, or eco-friendly concentrated formulas
- Check protective gloves for holes or tears before using
- We recommend that you descale your kitchen
- equipment every 2-3 months
It’s important to use the right cleaning product for the floor material as some cleaners can cause damage by containing abrasive or corrosive ingredients.
The material, and the type of area your hard flooring is situated will dictate the best product to use. For instance, if it receives high footfall, your best option is a heavy duty cleaner of industrial strength.
We recommend vacuuming all areas of the floor before applying any wet products as this eliminates dust and dirt that could contaminate the wet cleaning product. Choose a product that has a neutral PH value (so that it’s suitable for all floors), and also conforms to BS EN 1276. If you need to also eliminate odours, choose a floor cleaner that contains a fragrance, such as lemon. Note: If using a floor cleaning machine - not all products are suitable as they may create too much foam, ensure you check the label description first.
POLISHING & BUFFING
Not all products are suited to all types of hard flooring. Floors with a polyurethane finish need a water based urethane polish rather than a wax-based polish. Wooden, marble, terrazzo, cork and vinyl floors greatly benefit from floor polish. Buffing removes any excess product that may cause build up, as well as smoothing over small scratches. It’s best to use a product that is dedicated to this purpose, and also contains waxes for a better shine.
TIP: Clean shoe scuffs from laminate flooring by rubbing with a clean, fuzzy tennis ball.
You could also try our Magic Foam Eraser for stubborn scuffs and marks
Carpets and rugs
To keep carpets looking as good as new we recommend a 3-stage process:
- Remove any stains with a stain removing liquid or foam based product
- Deep clean with high quality carpet shampoo
- Freshen by applying an odour eliminating fragranced product
There are specialist formulas such as Urine Neutralisers that act by eating away at the urine crystals and salts to draw the stain and odour away from the carpet.
Things to think about
- For washrooms, choose an anti-bacterial floor cleaner for the best hygiene results
- If you have a high traffic area, consider a specialist low maintenance satin floor polish to help reduce scuff marks and scratches
- For deep cleaning, try using a floor stripper to remove dirt, debris and old wax. However, do check the product is suitable for the type of flooring
Washrooms and toilets
Washrooms are a breeding ground for germs, and because these areas require high maintenance standards, it is vital they are inspected and cleaned daily, and even after every shift. Choose surface cleaning products that clean and disinfect the environment at the same time. Soaps and sanitiser gels that are used with a dispenser are not only more cost effective, but help reduce risk of harboured germs.
Signage will promote good hygiene practice
Things to think about
- Hand soaps come in many forms - lotions, foaming, solid or cream, and you can also choose from dermatological, antibacterial, perfumed or hypo-allergenic. To ensure you get the right dispenser for the cartridge, see our Quick Guide To Dispensers & Products
- Washroom sanitisers usually come in the form of a gel or a spray. Some gels can contain a high percentage of alcohol for extra performance, they evaporate easily, reducing the risk of skin irritation, and kill up to 99.999% of germs and bacteria. Look for ones that are compliant with BS EN 1500:2013 and BS EN 1275 as these standards support locations requiring CQC inspections.
- Unblockers are a must have, effectively clearing any blockages whilst removing odours and germs
Bleach, or products that contain a high percentage of bleach are the best due to its components that destroy germs and dirt instantly and keeps the toilet cleaner for longer. Additionally, you will need limescale remover to stop the build-up and keep the toilet bowl looking spotless. Choose disinfectant cleaners above all else when cleaning toilets; and there are many products available for neutralising unpleasant odours too.
Things to think about
- Urinal Cleaners minimise unpleasant odours and keep urinals fresher, being void of paradichlorobenzene, they are safe for use in enclosed spaces or areas frequented by children and also have a water soluble design that prevents them evaporating into the air
- Bathroom sanitisers will protect against unwanted germs, freshen the air and remove harmful bacteria. Fully biodegradable they will break down completely over time, eliminating the risk of blocked pipes due to residue
- Toilet cleaning products should be anti-bacterial and disinfect all areas efficiently and to optimum effect. Some also contain a descaling component, which will prolong the life of your toilets
DID YOU KNOW? There are two types of bleach - chlorine and non-chlorine, both of which belong to a class of chemicals known as oxidative agents, which work by causing a chemical reaction called oxidation when they make contact with certain germs or organisms.
That’s why bleach is so effective in removing mold and mildew.
Cleaning power explained
There are four key factors that influence the effectiveness and efficiency of laundry washing:
- The type and amount of detergent you use determines the amount of chemical reaction that occurs during a wash
- Heat is needed to cause these chemical reactions. The lower temperature setting chosen, the colder the wash, the less efficient and effective the detergent becomes
- Time affects how long the chemical reactions can take place during a wash cycle, the shorter the wash the less reactions occur
- The faster a machine spins the more friction is created that helps lift stains and dirt
If one of these key cleaning factors is reduced, then others will need to be increased to compensate.
Stain removing top tips
- Tea - flush with water as soon as possible, then apply a small amount of baking soda before washing in detergent. The powder absorbs the tea, drawing it away from the fabric
- Sun cream - needs a biological laundry liquid which breaks up the enzymes in the oil that creams contain
- Ink - as long as the material doesn’t contain acetate or triacetate you can sponge a little methylated spirit onto the affected area before washing in detergent
Bio vs non-bio
- Biological (bio) washing detergents contain enzymes which will degrade protein-based stains. Staff clothing stained with sweat and food (protein-based stains) can be hard to remove so a biological detergent is extremely effective for cleaning, breaking the stain components down and removing dirt. Used at a 50°C wash they are most effective
- Non-biological washing detergents do not contain these enzymes therefore provide slightly less effective cleaning results. However, this also means that they don’t cause any irritation to skin making them more suitable for those suffering from sensitive skin, eczema or other skin conditions
Keeping it fresh
Air fresheners instantly revive a room and are essential for most rooms within Care Homes or Nurseries. They are available in many forms: sprays, plug-in, dispensers and refills, gel blocks and balls, reed diffusers and pouches. Fragrances in concentrated formulas offer great value and have many different uses, such as being mixed with water for a mist spray or added to laundry liquids. Don’t forget that smells linger in soft furnishings too.
A good polish should be usable on multiple surface types, which makes a ‘wax-free’ option one of the best to choose, as it can be used on most surfaces including ceramic, acrylic and laminates. Being a silicone based formula means it will also remove oil and finger marks. Choose one with a fresh fragrance to give your rooms a lift.
TIP: It’s not always necessary to use a cleaning product, a damp microfibre cloth is excellent for removing dust without the need for a polish.
Professional Deodorisers contain active enzymes which kill both gram positive and gram negative bacteria, which make them highly effective in removing odours caused by urine, faeces, food and vomit. They can be used on most soft furnishings, and even added to laundry that has been soiled.
If urine odours is a particular problem, we recommend using a Urine Neutraliser that is designed specifically for that purpose. These work by eating away at the urine crystals and salts, to draw odours and stains away from the material they are on. Choose one that is suitable for soft furnishings as well as carpets, and a concentrated formula will be most cost effective.
Vacuum cleaner fresheners
Vacuum cleaners have a nasty habit of harbouring bad odours, so we recommend you use a freshener pouch designed to fit. A good freshener should last up to 4 weeks, and there are a variety of different scents on the market to choose from.
Things to think about
- Where’s the smell coming from? Getting rid of bad smells is important but, instead of covering it up you should start with understanding what’s causing it. Once you know where the smell is coming from, you can take action to eliminate the source entirely. Don’t forget to look underneath furniture and beds, as well as behind radiators
- Bathroom smells? Apart from the obvious, a lot of smells are caused by damp, which can be avoided by changing shower curtains regularly, wiping walls after bathing and washing floor mats
TIP: Keeping a pack of dry wipes to hand will encourage drying shower walls.
Thorough environmental cleaning, designed to combat the spread of drug resistant bacteria like MRSA, requires janitorial equipment that not only gets the job done but also complies with the latest cleaning and hygiene standards.
To back up the safety culture that’s at the heart of everything our industry does, there’s a long list of regulations to assure human and environmental safety at every stage of the product life cycle.
Full details for Health & Safety at work can be found here:
Checks make sense
Checking your cleaning equipment is vital for Health & Safety precautions. Things you should regularly look at are the individual components, the functioning controls (if applicable) and any perishable elements (in case they need to be replaced). Keep a record of when the checks are made so you can monitor its lifespan and plan replacements.
Things to think about
- Is the equipment in top condition or is there sign of damage?
- How often do you clean your cleaning equipment?
- Have you trained your staff on how to use the equipment properly?
- Is the equipment stored safely, avoiding it being a trip hazard?
- Do you need PPE to use the equipment?
- Have you considered using a colour coding system to avoid cross-contamination?