B and B – Going Green in the Housekeeping Department

Several of my consulting jobs have revolved around the volatile subject of housekeeping. I’m combining several discussions about cleaning and housekeeping for this article.

The biggest irony, to me, in the way American’s tackle cleaning is that the powerful cleaning products they use often don’t kill the “germs” they are going after. In the quest to make the B&B or home clean we load the cleaning closet or cart with numerous products that often are harmful to the people using them, the environment and the people who use the rooms later, and also kill useful bacteria. We have killed so many bacteria around us we are making ourselves sick, or at least more prone to health issues and diseases.

The cleaning and housekeeping arsenal I recommend to bed and breakfasts, hotels, and individuals alike includes microfiber cloths, white vinegar, baking soda, and the oxygen bleach StainSolver. Some people also recommend lemons, borax and hydrogen peroxide, but my idea is to simplify and consolidate.

I do have a “magic” all-purpose solution I personally use for a wide range of purposes, but you’ll have to contact me for that recipe.

One inn keeping client of mine had two frustrations. In greening her B&B she switched from using paper towels for her cleaning to using rags. These rags were created from worn out sheets and towels. She was frustrated though because she didn’t like the lint that was too often left behind and the fact hair and crumbs weren’t picked up to her satisfaction. She admitted some of that may have been a problem with the paper towels too, but she was having trouble adjusting to the new regime and probably looking for excuses to go back to her familiar housekeeping routine.

She’s not alone in being at odds with what kinds of wiping material to use in cleaning. Which is the most environmentally friendly cleaning “cloth”?

Microfiber is my conclusion. With quality microfiber cloth friction, static and capillary action combine for an effective cleaning action. And because of these characteristics I have found I don’t really even need cleaning solutions, though I do use either my “magic” formula or vinegar water in the bathroom and kitchen sometimes.

There are a variety of microfiber cloths to choose from. Sorting the quality microfiber from the “cheap imitation” is important. Liking to keep things simple I recommended my favorite cloth which is wonderful for every cleaning challenge I’ve used it for: floors, counters and sinks, showers and tubs, glass and mirrors, refrigerator shelves and doors, as well as walls and doors.

The cleaning tip that works for me with microfiber cloths is to use the cloth dry, spritz the surface to be cleaned with water or a cleaning solution, and wipe.

Other microfiber products I have found that make my other cleaning tasks easier include dust wands and waffle towels for dishes. To avoid doing floors on your hands and knees there microfiber mops too. In doing floors take care of the spots before starting wet or dry mopping, and it comes out perfectly with an easy swipe or two of the mop head.

The second frustration my client had was she hated toting the myriad cleaning solutions around the inn. My arsenal of cleaning “solutions” includes white vinegar (diluted to a 1:15 vinegar:water), baking soda, and StainSolver. I do have environmentally friendly cleaning products available for some situations, but rarely use them. I can clean any and every surface in the house with those items.

Bathroom cleaning, mirror and glass cleaning, laundry, kitchen cleaning — they are all easy with microfiber cloth and basic kitchen ingredients. Nobody gets hurt, the house gets clean, and the budget is eased too. Housekeeping isn’t so bad when you keep your cleaning regime simple.

Kit Cassingham, Founder and Chief Sustainability Officer of Sage Blossom Consulting, is a hospitality consultant to the B&B and hotel industries, and has been since 1988. Her focus includes market niche, and sustainable and green operations. Kit is the “go to” person when you want to improve your hospitality business.

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