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Industry Terms in Cleaning: A Glossary

Cleaning happens everywhere and we have all been involved in cleaning during our lifetimes. But do we know all the terms and phrases related to cleaning?

Common Cleaning Terms

Cleaning is an essential part of our lives, whether it’s in our homes, workplaces, or public spaces. However, the cleaning industry can often be shrouded in jargon and technical terms that can be confusing to the average person. In this article, we will explore some of the common industry terms in cleaning and what they mean.

  1. Sanitizing

Sanitizing is a process that reduces the number of bacteria and viruses on surfaces to a safe level. It’s an essential part of cleaning, especially in high-traffic areas where the risk of infection is higher. The US agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using a solution of at least 70% alcohol or an EPA-registered disinfectant to sanitize surfaces.

  1. Disinfecting

Disinfecting is a more aggressive process than sanitizing. It kills almost all bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens on surfaces. Disinfecting is necessary for hospitals, food processing plants, and other areas where high levels of cleanliness are required. Disinfectants are regulated in the UK by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs DEFRA and must meet certain efficacy standards.

  1. HEPA

HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. HEPA filters are used in vacuums, air purifiers, and other cleaning equipment to capture tiny particles, including dust, pollen, and pet dander. HEPA filters are essential for people with allergies or respiratory problems, as they can improve indoor air quality.

  1. Microfiber

Microfiber is a synthetic material that’s commonly used in cleaning cloths and mops. It’s made up of ultra-fine fibres that are much smaller than human hair. Microfiber cloths are highly effective at trapping dirt and dust and can be used dry or wet. They are also reusable and can be washed hundreds of times before they need to be replaced.

  1. pH

pH stands for “potential of hydrogen” and refers to the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Cleaning products are formulated with a specific pH to achieve the best cleaning results. For example, alkaline cleaners are used to remove grease and oil, while acidic cleaners are used to remove mineral deposits.

  1. Dilution

Dilution refers to the process of mixing a cleaning solution with water to achieve the desired strength. Most cleaning products are sold in concentrated form and need to be diluted before use. Dilution ratios can vary depending on the product type and the cleaning task at hand. It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure the cleaning solution is effective and safe.

  1. Green Cleaning

Green cleaning refers to the use of environmentally friendly cleaning products and practices. These products are designed to minimize their impact on the environment and human health while still effectively cleaning surfaces. Green cleaning products are typically made from natural or plant-based ingredients and are free from harmful chemicals. Green cleaning has become increasingly popular as people become more aware of the impact of cleaning products on the environment.

  1. Janitorial Services

Janitorial services are professional cleaning services provided to commercial and public spaces. Janitorial services can include regular cleaning tasks such as vacuuming, mopping, dusting and emptying trash cans. They may also include more specialized cleaning tasks, such as carpet cleaning, window cleaning, and deep cleaning. Janitorial services can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the client.

  1. Cleaning Equipment

Cleaning equipment refers to the tools and machines used to clean surfaces. Cleaning equipment can include vacuums, mops, brooms, scrubbers, and pressure washers. Cleaning equipment can be manual or powered and can be designed for specific tasks or surfaces. Using the right cleaning equipment can make cleaning tasks easier, more effective, and safer.

  1. Restroom Hygiene

Restroom cleaning or washroom hygiene refers to the cleaning and maintenance of public toilets. Restroom hygiene is essential for preventing the spread of disease and maintaining a clean and pleasant environment. Restroom hygiene can include cleaning toilets, sinks, and floors, as well as restocking supplies such as toilet paper and soap. Restroom hygiene is often handled by janitorial services or specialized restroom cleaning services.


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Clean Phrases

Here is a glossary of common industry terms in cleaning:

  1. Absorbent: A material that is capable of taking in liquids or gases.
  2. Acids: Chemicals that are capable of reacting with bases to form salts, and that can dissolve some metals and cause chemical changes in some substances.
  3. Alkalis: Chemicals that are capable of reacting with acids to form salts, and that can dissolve some types of grease and dirt.
  4. Ammonia: A chemical compound made up of nitrogen and hydrogen, commonly used as a cleaning agent.
  5. Antibacterial: A substance that is capable of killing or inhibiting the growth of bacteria.
  6. Bacteria: Single-celled microorganisms that can exist independently, symbiotically (in cooperation with another organism), or parasitically (dependent upon another organism, sometimes to the detriment of the other organism).
  7. Bleach: A chemical compound used as a cleaning agent, typically to remove stains and whiten fabrics.
  8. Carpet cleaning: The process of removing dirt, stains, and allergens from carpets using specialized equipment and cleaning agents.
  9. Degreaser: A cleaning agent specifically formulated to remove grease and oil from surfaces.
  10. Disinfectant: A chemical agent that is used to kill or inhibit the growth of harmful microorganisms.
  11. Dust: Fine, dry particles of matter, such as dirt or pollen, that can be suspended in the air or settle on surfaces.
  12. Germicide: A substance that is capable of killing or inhibiting the growth of harmful microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
  13. Germs: Microscopic organisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses, that can cause disease.
  14. Grime: A film of dirt, soot, or other impurities that accumulates on surfaces over time.
  15. Hard water: Water that contains high levels of dissolved minerals, such as calcium and magnesium.
  16. Odour: A distinctive, usually pleasant or unpleasant smell.
  17. Oxidizing agent: A chemical compound that readily donates oxygen or accepts electrons, causing a chemical reaction.
  18. Rust: A reddish-brown flaky coating of iron oxide that forms on iron or steel when exposed to oxygen and moisture.
  19. Soap: A cleaning agent made from the salts of fatty acids, used for washing and cleaning.
  20. Stains: A discolouration or dirty mark that is difficult to remove.
  21. Surface cleaning: The process of removing dirt, stains, and other impurities from the surface of an object or area.
  22. Viruses: Tiny infectious agents that replicate inside the living cells of an organism.
  23. Wax: A substance that is used to protect, polish, and add shine to surfaces.
Pay cleaners

Commercial Cleaning Glossary

Here are some additional industry terms that are commonly used in commercial cleaning:

  1. Air duct cleaning: The process of removing dirt, dust, and other debris from the air ducts and ventilation systems of a building.
  2. Commercial cleaning: The process of cleaning and maintaining the appearance of businesses, office buildings, and other commercial facilities.
  3. Contract cleaning: A service agreement in which a cleaning company is hired to perform cleaning tasks on a regular basis for a specific period of time.
  4. Crew: A group of workers who are assigned to a specific task or project.
  5. Day porter: A member of a cleaning crew who is responsible for maintaining the appearance of a facility during business hours.
  6. Emergency cleaning: The process of cleaning up after a disaster or unexpected events, such as a fire or flood.
  7. Estimate: A preliminary calculation or prediction of the cost or duration of a project.
  8. Janitorial services: The maintenance and upkeep of a building or facility, including tasks such as cleaning, trash removal, and minor repairs.
  9. Keyholder: A person who is responsible for the care and maintenance of a facility, including tasks such as checking alarms and unlocking doors.
  10. Maintenance: The act of keeping a facility or equipment in good working order through regular upkeep and repairs.
  11. Manpower: The number of workers or personnel required to complete a task or project.
  12. Night porter: A member of a cleaning crew who is responsible for maintaining the appearance of a facility during non-business hours.
  13. On-demand cleaning: A type of cleaning service that is performed on an as-needed basis, rather than on a regular schedule.
  14. Pest control: The regulation or management of animals and insects that are considered to be pests, such as mice, roaches, and bedbugs.
  15. Pressure washing: The use of high-pressure water to remove dirt, stains, and other impurities from surfaces.
  16. Restroom cleaning: The process of cleaning and maintaining the appearance of restrooms in a facility.
  17. Scheduling: The process of planning and organizing the tasks and resources needed to complete a project.
  18. Service agreement: A contract between a company and a customer that outlines the terms and conditions of service.
  19. Window cleaning: The process of cleaning and maintaining the appearance of windows, including tasks such as washing, drying, and removing streaks and smudges.
  20. Steam DOFF (Dust and Organic Film Removal): is an advanced cleaning method used for the restoration of various surfaces, particularly historic buildings and delicate structures. Steam DOFF cleaning involves the use of superheated steam to remove dirt, grime, and other contaminants from surfaces without causing damage.
window cleaning

Understand Cleaning Phrases

In conclusion, understanding industry terms in cleaning can help you make informed decisions when it comes to selecting cleaning products and services. By knowing the difference between sanitizing and disinfecting, the benefits of HEPA filters and microfiber cloths, the importance of pH and dilution, and other industry terms, you can ensure your cleaning needs are met effectively and efficiently. Whether you’re a homeowner, business owner, or cleaning professional, knowing these industry terms can help you achieve a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable environment.

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