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What makes housekeeping at a housekeepers’ training institute tricky?

Bashir Vandana Rawat

Meet Bashir Vandana Rawat, Head of Department – Rooms Division, Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology & Applied Nutrition, Jaipur. She serves a dual role – training the housekeepers and facility managers of tomorrow, as well as overseeing the facility management of the institute’s campus. She spoke with Mrigank Warrier, Associate Editor, Clean India Journal about the ins and outs of maintaining a residential college campus.

What are the difficult-to-clean areas of the campus?

Washrooms and kitchens are the most difficult to clean. The men’s washroom is more of a problem, partly because there are more male students. In the kitchen, oil and grease are an issue. Students do not come with knowledge of how and how much oil to use, or how to dispose of it correctly. This is where they learn.

Is kitchen cleaning mechanised or manual?

It is a combination of both. Day-to-day cleaning is more of a manual process. For deep cleaning, we make sure that the vendor uses specialised machines.

Within the kitchen, the four main areas that need to be cleaned are the food preparation area, pot wash area, drainage and exhaust vents. We make sure that daily cleaning is thorough to avoid buildup of dirt and grime.

How are the hostels cleaned and maintained?

There is one hostel each for boys and girls. As a way of imbibing dignity of labour, basic cleaning of their rooms is done by students themselves. Sweeping and mopping, of course, is done by the housekeeping vendor. We also make sure that one janitor is deputed to each hostel every morning for dealing with eventualities.

How are the housekeeping operations supervised?

The housekeeping agency has its own supervisor; from the institute, we have housekeeping attendants. Some students are selected as housekeeping proctors; their job is to monitor cleaning as well as cleanliness. Whenever an issue arises, they coordinate with the agency or the maintenance department to get it resolved.

At present, students are responsible for getting their own clothes laundered. How will this change in the future?

In the second year, as part of the curriculum, students are taught how to remove stains from aprons, which are a part of the uniform. For stubborn stains, we ask them to bring the garment to the housekeeping lab for special treatment, followed by the regular process.

For the future, an on-site laundry has been proposed. A laundromat model would be too minimalistic; we want to have more than just a washing machine and drier.

For our students, we want to create a mini-laundry setup similar to what they might find in a hotel. This will include washing machines, tumble dryers, calendering machines and steam presses.

We are located in the heart of the city, near many hotels and guesthouses. Once our laundry is functional, we might also accept laundry contracts from hotels that don’t have in-house laundries.

As educational institute buildings become more sophisticated and premium, how will their FM expectations change?

For newer schools and colleges, nothing less than five-star service is expected. The kind of maintenance required is very specialised.

Ours is a relatively old building, commissioned in 1989. We are in the midst of a massive renovation exercise; the level of maintenance needed will undergo a major change once it is finished.

What skills, knowledge and prowess should a housekeeping vendor bring to an educational facility?

They should have in-depth knowledge of the different kinds of surfaces, flooring, wall coverings etc. They should know what cleaning chemicals to use to maintain hygiene, especially in the washrooms. We also look at what new solutions they have introduced when it comes to chemicals and machines.

What’s the latest when it comes to green chemicals and digitisation of FM in educational institutions?

Facilities that are conscious of their carbon footprint, and can afford it, are investing in green cleaning chemicals, and giving an upper hand to vendors who use them. Harsh chemicals which release noxious fumes and damage surfaces are obsolete. Even with budgetary constraints, we keep green chemicals in mind when talking to vendors.

Automation in cleaning is knocking on the door. Many large universities have already accepted it.

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