Professional housekeeping as a career

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Jul/Aug 2012

Aloha Rose,
As a front office employee for hotels, I have read your Clean Talk articles and have become interested in professional cleaning / housekeeping management. Please share information about training needs and also and also tips on starting a professional cleaning business.

Aloha MT,
Professional housekeeping/ cleaning management as a career provides for opportunities and growth in hospitality facilities such as hotels, resorts, timeshare properties, condominiums, foodservice establishments, retail and commercial businesses, and in many other facilities, including healthcare, education, government services, retirement communities — in contract cleaning, consulting services and more.

Professional cleaning is considered to be a very diverse and big business globally. A career at the management level requires an employee to have what is referred to as “ASK” — abilities, skills and knowledge, under the triad of “AMT” — in administration, management and technology. Success in the housekeeping/ cleaning profession also requires embracing an attitude of proprietorship and to be action and results oriented. Professional trade association membership and certification in the profession are also recommended.

All the above, when met, may also provide for a smoother process toward becoming an entrepreneur and business owner in professional housekeeping/ cleaning management. Here are some basic factors to consider: business attitude and passion; income potential; market demand for services offered; existing know-how, contacts and reputation; recession resistance; start-up cost and overhead; long range security; competition; hours of work and stress level; suitability to your personality; organizational skills; legal and insurance requirements; selection of a business name; pricing strategies; start-up costs; and expanding considerations through diversification.

Understanding and knowledge that cleaning is a science and an art is an important step toward business and career success. The cleaning industry generates billions in annual revenue in the United States alone and ranks as one of the world’s big 10 businesses. It is also nearly recession proof, due to the nature of cleaning as an essential and necessary part of daily life. As a growing industry — and with many seasoned cleaning professionals now reaching retirement age — there are plenty of opportunities and careers available in the world of professional cleaning today.

Best wishes in your search for professional growth and success.

Rose Galera, CEH

Seven steps in guest room cleaning

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Mar/Apr 2012

Hi Rose,
As a reader of your articles, I wish to request your assistance for information you may have developed for a hotel guestroom cleaning process program. This will be for housekeeping operations for a new property my company will be managing.
Thank You, Jessie

Aloha Jessie,
To measure up to today’s performance standards, establishing appropriate cleaning processes is important. The following seven steps in guest room cleaning provides for a dynamic and effective system that will create quality standards and value results. It also will simplify and assist in the training process.

1 – Prepare the Room: update room status; remove food service trays; check lights, lamps, television, drapes and lanai.

2 – Removal of Trash and Soiled Linens: disinfect bathroom surfaces; collect soiled linens and used glasses; collect and remove trash.

3 – Make the Bed: strip soiled linens; prepare clean linens; make the bed and finish with bed cover.

4 – Clean the Bedroom: dust furniture and surfaces; wipe and polish surfaces; replenish or replace room supplies.

5 – Clean the Bathroom: wash, wipe and shine fixtures; replace bath amenities; replace bath linens.

6 – Vacuum Carpets and Floor Surfaces: start from area furthest from door; reset climate control on air conditioning; draw drapes to standard.

7 – Final Inspection Update: take last look and check; turn off lights; secure and lock door.

To further enhance the above program, proper equipments and tools are highly recommended. The microfiber cleaning technology is a best practice program. A color-coded program of cleaning cloths and flat-head mops should be applied to all cleaning tasks; for example, for cleaning cloths: blue – furniture dusting, red – bathroom cleaning and green – rnirror/ glass polishing. The flat-head mop system with an extendable handle and two heads should be used: blue for bathroom cleaning of tub/shower walls and surfaces and green for floor mopping. Add to the above as needed.

Happy Cleaning!
Rose Galera, C.E.H.

Helping senior housekeepers maintain productivity

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Jan/Feb 2012

Hi Rose,
Please share best cleaning practices on how to assist our senior housekeepers with 20-plus working years to maintain their assigned room cleaning productivity level, within the company’s acceptable cleaning standards.

Aloha TM,
Your concern is shared by housekeeping managers in our Hawaii hospitality industry, given the many dedicated and loyal longtime cleaning attendants still in the workforce with high work attendance ethics.

Fortunately, with the ongoing increase in cleaning trends and technology today, there are solutions with processes, tools and equipment that housekeeping managers can turn to creatively. Traditional ways and methods must be replaced or be enhanced with today’s technologies. The following are creative ideas for consideration.

Microfiber cleaning technology:
1. Stained terry cloths cut, surged and used for cleaning rags are tools of the past and are to be replaced with today’s cleaning tools of the fiade, microfiber cleaning cloths and mops.

Microfiber cloths reduce time in dry dusting, damp wiping and wet cleaning of surfaces as they attract and hold onto soil and do not spread it around. When used properly, the microfiber cloth can have 16 folded sides to speed up the cleaning process. A color coding cleaning process for guest room cleaning will avoid the guesswork of which cloths to use. For example: blue for dry or damp dusting of furniture and fixture surfaces, yellow for glass/ mirror polishing, and red for bathroom cleaning of counter surfaces, walls and fixtures. Microfiber cloths are also excellent for carpet spotting processes.

2. Replace the old string mops or terry rags for mopping of floors with the microfiber flat mop system. I recommend two extendable mop handles with flat head attachments, 12-14 inches in size with four to six microfiber flat mop heads. With the microfiber flat mops, the following bath and guest room cleaning processes can be accomplished without bending, stooping or climbing for low and high area cleaning:
a) bathtub wall or shower wall cleaning
b) bathtub surround, outer tub surfaces, inner tub and shower floors
c) damp mopping of the bathroom floor
d) cleaning and polishing of bathroom mirrors with a flat mop head
e) dusting of walls, ceilings, vents, baseboards and ledges

Renewable cleaning with microfiber cleaning technology and proper training on the various processes will enhance and simplify guest room cleaning, save on body movements and safety in cleaning, that will assist in maintaining productivity and results-oriented cleaning, for senior employees still in the workforce.

Mahalo, Rose

Renewable cleaning

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Nov/Dec 2011

Hi Rose,
At a Renewable Energy Conservation program I attended, the speaker emphasized the importance of the housekeeping department’s role in renewable cleaning, and its impact on energy conservation. Please share any information as I missed a workshop you once held.
A Neighbor Island EH

Aloha NIEH,
Yes, I’ve talked, trained and promoted renewable cleaning since attending the 2009 ISSA/ IEHA Convention held in Chicago and gained Trends & Technologies updates that are having an impact on our cleaning profession and industry today. Renewable cleaning is the removal, inactivation and/ or proper disposal of pollutant contaminants, pathogens, particles and chemical residues to restore our indoor enviromnents to their original or desired condition. Renewable cleaning works like nature does employing parallel methods. The process conserves resources (economic and financial) and focuses on cleaning for health and establishes a code of best cleaning practices to deliver high standards of cleaning services and environmentally sound standards.

Renewable cleaning is organized as green cleaning, which targets general sanitation using eco-friendly practices, products and equipments for a healthier environment. It is a program that utilizes natural cleaning products that are non-toxic, biodegradable, not tested on animals, and are renewable and sustainable. It uses cleaning equipment that clean better, faster and reduce the need for chemical application, and cleans surfaces, polishes stainless steel, cleans mirrors, or collects dust with microfiber cleaning cloths and flat mops. Water is a key medium for renewable cleaning as it is a universal resource, is benign, non-polluting and naturally replenished. Water plays an important role as a chemical substance, is one of our most plentiful chemicals. Its chemical formula (H20) is the most well known of all chemical formulas. Water’s many important functions include being a good solvent for dissolving many solids, serving as an excellent coolant both mechanically and biologically and acting as a reactant in many chemical reactions. When believed in, accepted and implemented, renewable cleaning will have definite and positive environmental, economic, financial and social impact for Hawaii.

Rose Galera

Developing a technical information manual

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Sept/Oct 2011

Aloha Rose,
Managing a hotel housekeeping department requires many details when directing and communicating with employees. I feel that I need to have basic tasks and processes put to writing, to meet ESL (English as a Second Language) and cultural diversity needs. Please share any information or ideas that will help.
Thanks, Andi

Aloha Andi,
Your plight is very much understood. Because of the many details, tasks and various duties required in cleaning for health, safety and best results in a hotel, putting information to writing ensures a smoother running operation.

Years ago I developed a “need to know and must have available” technical information list of various basic and daily cleaning processes covering the what, why, when and how of it all. The list consisted of the following: guest room and bathroom cleaning; public restroom cleaning; carpet cleaning and spotting processes; dusting techniques; dust mopping; dry, damp and wet mopping; odor control cleaning; sanitizing of drinking glasses; stripping, sealing and finishing of hard floors; window, glass and mirror cleaning; vacuuming processes; bed making process; VIP night turndown; trash removal; chemical usage and control, safety and more.

Putting such a manual together can initially be time consuming, but once accomplished, it will have a positive impact on the morale, motivation, quality and productivity of the department. As a writing tip, apply “KISS,” keep it simple and short. There are cleaning books written today that may also be helpful. Don Aslett, a cleaning guru, authored several excellent cleaning books that can be searched for on the Internet.

Another training tool developed for a cleaning operation called “A Pail Full of Training,” may also be helpful. My web site,, will take you to that information.

Good Luck and Happy Writing!
Rose Galera, CEH

Developing a housekeeping operations manual

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Jul/Aug 2011

Hi Rose,
Please provide information on developing a housekeeping operations manual. Suggestions on contents for a manual will be most helpful.

Aloha BK,
Creating a comprehensive housekeeping operations manual is a challenging process. It should include procedures, policies, systems of control, training programs and more. Once completed, it will set a positive tone for the department. A few key, recommended areas are listed here. Add or delete to enhance your department’s manual.

  • Orientation — a. about the property/company, b. organizational chart, c. floor plans
  • Position Descriptions
  • Task Lists
  • Work Schedules
  • Training Programs — a. management; b. supervisory; c. front line; d. orientation – new employee; e. OSHA required training: safety training, universal precaution – bloodborne pathogen, hazard communication – employee right to know
  • Policies & Procedures — a. standards & services, b. quality control, c. safety & security,
    d. health & wellness, e. lost & found, f. guest services, g. housekeeping rooms control, h. inventory/ cost control, i. equipment control, j. chemical control, k. linen control, l. uniform control, m. inspection procedures, n. health & wellness, o. educational training & upward mobility
  • Cleaning Processes — a. guest room, b. bathroom, c. kitchen, d. public restrooms,
    e. floor care & maintenance, f. carpet care & maintenance, g. project cleaning/recycling programs, h. night turndown services
  • Reports & Records — a. daily room report, b. daily cleaning reports, c. employee evaluation, d. inspection reports, e. incidents & accidents, f. housekeeping budget.

Enjoy & Good Luck,
Rose Galera

Easy training ideas

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, May/June 2011

Hello Rose,
Keeping up with the training of housekeeping frontline and supervisory employees is always a challenge because of the daily workload and limited training time. Please share any easy training ideas you may have.

Aloha Evelyn,
In all types of housekeeping operations where training is often overlooked and/or placed on a lower priority – because of time and cost – creativity is essential. Ongoing training for housekeeping employees is an important motivation booster because of the redundancy of the work performed.

Daily morning training briefings of 15-20 minutes on educational and informative topics is a successful approach to training. Topics can be set and listed under various categories as: cleaning exercises, cleaning technology, safety and security, culture, health and wellness, human relations, legal updates and self development. Consider training also to enhance the learning processes for supervisors and assistants. Topics should apply to daily tasks of the job, customer service and relations, life values and principles, cultural diversity and more. One fun topic is teaching employees “How to Smile” using the English and/or Hawaiian vowels of A, E, I, O, U. The fun and enjoyment is in seeing the various facial expressions.

Develop creative training exercises, games and quizzes on a single sheet of paper that can also add fun, humor and enjoyment to the training process and starting of the work day. Frontline employees and supervisors should be familiar with the many and various interesting topics that will make their jobs and everyday life exciting and rewarding. Consider what I would call the “ASK” training. After all, training on Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge are important for successful results. Follow all briefings/training sessions with ASKing questions.

With each presentation, provide a handout produced from the master copy. A “Topic of the Week” posted on a bulletin board is also recommended. Keep in mind that in giving of information, you will get back results of high morale, motivation and productivity.

Good luck and best wishes for happy training.

Rose Galera

Chemical-free cleaning

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Mar/Apr 2011

Hello Rose,
I attended training with a speaker from Canada on cleaning practices that warned of disinfectants as a cleaning health problem. I’m now reviewing cleaning programs for safety and health concerns. What, if any, tips can you share?

Aloha Trina,
Cleaning for health, safety of people and the environment are top industry concerns. I have been working on a renewable cleaning program and chemical-free cleaning for two years, and have since been introduced to the science and chemistry of ionized water and the conversion of tap water into a powerful cleaner, resulting in my piloting of cleaning processes to create a healthy and safe environment, for best and sustainable results, for schools and all other facilities.

The cleaning risks of toxic chemicals is a concern today. Many institutional and household cleaners still used today contain harmful toxic chemicals, such as ammonia, phenol, ethanol, formaldehyde, butane or propane. Such chemicals have a significant impact on people’s health and the environment. Chemical-free cleaning, as a process, is actively introduced to our industry through programs as renewable cleaning and other similar systems. Renewable cleaning is the removal, inactivation and/or proper disposal of contaminants, pollutants, particles, pathogens and chemical residues to restore our indoor environments to an original or desired condition. Water is a key medium for renewable cleaning as it is a universal resource, is benign, nonpolluting and naturally replenished. Renewable cleaning works like nature does and employs parallel methods. Renewable cleaning conserves resources (both eco and financial), is an organized green cleaning program, and focuses on using eco-friendly products and practices to create a healthier environment and to establish a Code of Best Cleaning Practices.

Renewable cleaning, once adopted with proper training, will advance the “Value of Clean” for your operation in 2011 and beyond.

Good luck,
Rose Galera, C.E.H.

2010 IEHA Convention

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Jan/Feb 2011

Hi Rose,
An Education Boot Camp was held at the IEHA Convention in November 2010. What benefits would there be to attend such training and in being a REH or CEH by IEHA?

Aloha JR,
Attending the November 2010 IEHA convention as a presenter for the intense two-day Boot Camp, was an enjoyable experience in observing the successful results of the six IEHA member participants. All were actively involved in the two continuous nine-hour days of comprehensive instructions, covering 16 modules, of the management, technical and administrative series. All passed the final proctored examination of 50 questions and earned the designations of five CEHs and one REH. Modules were on; management philosophy style, communication, planning/organizing, staffing/staff development, continuous improvement, housekeeping techniques, work, chemical and pest controls, waste management, purchasing, accounting and budgets, microbiology, safety/security, interiors and laundry management.

Education is a top priority of the International Executive Housekeepers Association, Inc. to increase professionalism of the industry. Recent survey results show that IEHA educational programs significantly enhanced job skills and self-confidence. IEHA’s annual salary survey, showed that members with REH or CEH have a higher earning potential. REH designations increased earnings $20,000 more per year on average and CEH designations increased earnings $5,000 more per year on average, than members without such designations. The Return on Investment (ROI) from their IEHA education, 77 percent believed IEHA programs yielded 100 percent to 1,000 percent or greater ROI.

REH /CEH status is renewed every three years by examination or by submitting 30 hours of continued educational credit, requiring keeping abreast of cleaning trends and technology essential. IEHA also offers continuing education through its professional education credentialing programs (PECP), IEHA-sponsored seminars and workshops.

As a 36 years active IEHA member, attaining and maintaining the status of CEH for 35 continuous years resulted in the many benefits above that ensured for a long successful and rewarding career.

All in professional cleaning management are encouraged to attain certification, in the New Year 2011.

IMUA – Hauoli Makahiki Hou!
Rose Galera, C.E.H.

The Hidden Paycheck

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Nov/Dec 2010

Hi Rose,
Some years ago you presented a budget workshop that briefly covered the “hidden paycheck.” You indicated that it enhanced employee morale and productivity. Given the economy today, training on the topic may be a morale booster. Please share any updates in an article.

Aloha PL,
The “hidden paycheck” information shared since the mid-1980s was and still is one of my favorite “Did You Know?” training topics. So many today are still not in the know!

What is a hidden paycheck? A hidden paycheck is the cost of benefits and perks that are either required by law, a result of employment or union negotiated contract, or employer choice to provide, that employees receive, paid for by the employer and are not fully reflected on paychecks or stubs.

Not all companies have the same benefits or perks. There are company variations. The following are examples: temporary disability insurance (TDI), unemployment contributions, workers’ compensation, FICA (Social Security, 6.2 percent), Medicare (1.45 percent), and medical insurance – all of which are required by law, as well as vacation and sick leave pay, life insurance, uniforms, laundering/dry cleaning of uniforms, meals, paid lunch break, bonus, profit sharing, retirement funds (401K) and others.

When a person questions negatively on pay rates received, being informed of the hidden paycheck will raise informative insights on an employer’s responsibilities, challenges and care of operating a business. One may not see the amount in a regular paycheck, but all that is provided and paid for as the burden rate are definite financial benefits for as long as one is employed. Depending on one’s employment status, the cost of a hidden paycheck to the employer may range from 20 percent to 60 percent or more, so a $10 hourly rate of pay may represent an additional amount of $2 to $6 per hour. Consider the following questions: 1) Would I as an employee be willing to pay for the hidden benefits that I receive from my employer on my own? 2) Do I know what the real dollar cost factors that are in my hidden paycheck?

More often than not, good things come in “hidden” packages! Happy Holidays!

Mahalo, Rose