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Modern day cleaning or housekeeping goes much beyond just keeping the place look clean and neat. It involves keeping it hygienically clean. This subtle difference between housekeeping and hygienic housekeeping requires minute understanding of the hygiene issues related to cleaning that are not immediately visible but have profound effect on the efficiency of the workforce in any workplace premises or the guestroom in a hotel.

Says Sumedha Nerurkar, the Hygiene Manager at The Leela Kempinski, Mumbai, “Workplace hygiene has direct effect on the productivity of an e mployee. We have devised various training programmes to educate and make our employees aware of the importance of hygiene in housekeeping. We also use world class cleaning tools and products to add value to the process of housekeeping in our hotel.” Being a microbiologist, Sumedha makes sure that finer aspects of housekeeping, including personal hygiene and food safety, are taken care of by the staff.

Globalisation has given rise to an influx of international visitors into India They are well aware of the international standards of hygiene and housekeeping, and expect to see the same standards being followed in the hotels and resorts, especially the international chains operating in India. “We have therefore to keep ourselves and our employees up-to-date with the latest international trends, and even train them from that perspective from time to time,” says Balamurugan, Executive Housekeeper, The Lalit Resort and Spa, Kerala.

They believe that it is the nicotine that affects the guests but it is not true. It is in fact the bacteria infected saliva from the mouth, which gets transferred onto the fingers, and from the fingers it gets onto the food meant for the guests. – Sumedha Nerurkar

Most of the five star hotels and resorts concentrate on food safety and personal hygiene. Workplace hygiene is an issue which does not get its due recognition. Putting up posters, hand washing machines, sanitizers, dustbins all over the workplace is not just enough to ensure hygiene. Use of right kind of machinery is also equally important. As Balamurugan puts it, “Cleaning can be done either by hand held vacuum cleaner or backpack vacuum cleaner depending on the availability in that property. Again, it depends on the area which you want to clean. The choice of machine is important because use of wrong equipment will result in loss of time, energy and productivity.”

Hygiene, if it is to be maintained at an optimum level requires investment. Here we are not talking about basic norms of hygiene but hygiene that goes beyond just sweeping and swabbing. To meet the high expectations & standards and to ensure high employee performance by keeping the workplace germ and bacteria free, the management needs to have cleaning capital.

It is observed that be it international class hotels or any business houses in India, the percentage of money reserved for keeping the premises clean in the total budget is very less. Again, the percentage varies from property to property and seems to be absolutely need based. Out of the total budget to meet requirements of her department in a five star Spa like The Lalit, 20% of the total budget is utilised for housekeeping, revealed Sumedha. While it was generally agreed that the budget allotted was enough to get the work done, the managers welcomed the idea of increasing the limit.

“We are in pursuit of getting ISO 22000. It requires certain changes and upgradation of certain areas in the hotel. The management has decided to create a separate budget dedicated for ISO 22000.” This goes to prove that if you set high goals for yourself, you automatically begin to look beyond the obvious and start thinking about keeping the premises hygienically clean and not just clean.

Third Hand Smoke

When we speak of hygienic cleaning, we refer to surfaces that are cleaned and yet not clean. Recent studies have shown that standard cleaning techniques are not effective on the problem of Third Hand Smoking. This is a phenomenon, which involves residual toxic particulate settling onto surfaces and dangerous volatile organic compounds that saturate furniture, carpet and coat existing house dust. Third Hand Smoking poses a bigger health risk to children than adults since children have weak immune system as compared to adults.

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