Busy break room.

How to Keep Your Break Room Clean

For managers of busy offices the goal of keeping the kitchen clean throughout the business day can seem like an impossible dream.  From piles of dirty dishes to empty paper towels, there can be numerous cleaning hurdles.  With the constant hustle and bustle of coffee breaks and the lunchtime rush, it’s enough to make you want to wave the white flag and let the ants come marching in.  For those of you struggling with this issue, here are some tactics you can adopt to encourage a shared responsibility for cleanliness.  Here is how to keep your break room clean without breaking a sweat. 

Only use trash and recycling bins with lids

Lids will prevent people from shooting baskets into the trash.  Yes, the reality is that some folks will toss that paper cup into the trash from distance.  They’ll spot up from deep, or while on the run.  They do this because it’s fun.  It’s also quicker and easier than strolling over to drop it in.   

Why you should care: some folks will lay up coffee filters filled with grounds, or toss clam shells filled with Thai noodles.  These things may break open on impact leading to spills on the side of the can, on surrounding walls, or on the floor.  

The answer: put a lid on it.  Problem solved. 

Stop using sponges

Sponges are a breeding ground for bacteria and germs.  The use of them only transfers germs from one wiped area to another.  As such, you’re contaminating multiple areas as you go from counter tops to table tops, to dishes and coffee cups.  Yuck!

The answer: Use nylon brushes to scrub the dishes instead.  They’ll often have a handle, which allows you to clean the dishes with higher temperature water. 

Another solution: use clean microfiber dish towels for counters and tables.  They are quick drying, machine washable, and durable. 

A clean office break room.

Don’t underestimate the power of a clean fridge

The nucleus of any break room: a clean and organized refrigerator will radiate cleanliness.  Of course, nobody ever intended to spoil the situation and create the first mess.  But it happens: forgotten food containers bloat or the contents inside grows mold.  Addressing this in a timely manner is important as it encourages an environment of clean.  Weekly cleanings are ideal.

Consider asking your employees to label their food with names and dates. Provide them with labeling stickers and sharpies.  This will help put the responsibility of disposal back onto them.   Bonus: office lunch theft does happen.  In a recent study, 1 in 5 workers admit to doing it.  Labeling food items might help reduce office discord.  Sad, but true!

If ignored, things will only get worse.   The disgusting fridge soon becomes someone else’s problem.  Of course if you ask them, everyone was busy, in a rush, etc. They couldn’t spare a second or two to do the right thing.  It’s vital that you create a system for keeping the fridge clean.

“1 in 5 workers admit to office lunch theft.”

Avoid posting too many cleaning signs with sarcastic jokes.  

They know, their mother doesn’t work here. Posting a few reminder signs that respect your audience is fine, but don’t go overboard.   Too much sarcastic humor can begin to take on a passive-aggressive feeling that can pit ‘you’ against ‘them’.  Keeping the kitchen clean should be a collaborative effort.  Everyone who uses the facilities should share in the responsibility of keeping them clean.

The answer: send periodic email reminders instead.  And encourage feedback.  Yes, they may or may not read the emails.  But it shows that you’re trying and are actively engaged in keep the facility as clean as possible.

Don’t throw liquids in the trash cans

Even the thickest of trash liners can rip if there is liquid in the bag.  It’s now in the bottom of your trash bin, which can be a hassle to clean out.  Prevention is key. By simply pouring out unfinished coffee or soda down the sink instead of dropping them in the trash can, you will keep the insides of your trash cans clean, reducing garbage stink. 

Added bonus: having no liquid makes the trash bags lighter in weight.  This reduces the chances that the bags will ever be drug or lugged across the floor.  As a result there will be fewer spots on your carpets from leaking trash bags. Yay!

Create a ‘cleaning command center’

If messes are made, make it a no-brainer on how employees can solve the situation themselves by placing a utility cart somewhere within easy access.  Stock it with all the necessary supplies for keeping the break room clean, from paper towels and trash bags to cleaning agents and deodorizing sprays. If you keep your cleaning supplies in a visible location, employees will be more likely to use them.

Cleanliness and organization are key considerations when creating a functional break room that works for everyone in the office. It takes cooperation from everyone to keep the communal space in tip-top shape.  Communication and organization are key.  Questions, contact our service consultants today!

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