Standard Cleaning Terms
Abrasive Cleaners - Cleaning agents
consisting of granular materials such as finely ground silica, volcanic ash,
powdered feldspar and powdered pumice. Abrasive cleaners may be used
periodically to remove discolorations and certain stains from lavatory porcelain
and stubborn spots from other surfaces.
Acid Cleaners - Usually formulated to
meet a specific problem, acid cleaners include: removing lime encrustations from
stools and urinals, citric acid solutions for damp-wiping bronze trim and for no
streak washing of stainless steel, and buffered phosphoric compounds for
cleaning exterior aluminum trim. Acid cleaners are often employed on a regular
cycle to neutralize cleaners that are alkaline.
Alkaline Cleaners - Balanced powdered
cleaners composed of alkaline salts such as trisodium phosphate, sodium
carbonate, modified soda and sodium metasilicate. Besides their detergent
properties, certain alkaline salts have water-softening characteristics and are
combined and are combined in the cleaning product for that purpose. Such
products would be above 7.0 on the pH scale (see pH).
All-Purpose Cleaner (APC) - Powder or
liquid cleaner which is designed to clean and deodorize in one operation.
Ammonia - Alkaline chemical used for
cleaning and to increase cleaning abilities of detergents and wax removers. May
be used as a pH stabilizer for floor finishes and detergents.
Biodegradability - Susceptibility of a
detergent to decompose during sewage treatment as result of bacteriological
action on organic matter, which reduces foaming.
Carpet - Floor covering, installed
wall-to-wall, manufactured from various types or combinations of fabric.
Cleanability - Ease with which an object
or surface may be returned to its original condition after application of soil
Concentrated Cleaner - Any cleaner or
material at full strength, normally requiring dilution for use.
Concrete Floor - Also known as a Hard
Floor. Concrete is a mixture of cement, sand and crushed stone or gravel and
water. It sets as a solid mass due to the chemical reaction of the cement with
Concrete Seal - Protective coating
applied to new or old concrete floor to harden, seal and reduce dusting.
Counter Brush - Brush of horsehair or
fibers with extended hand grip of hardwood; used for sweeping in corners,
hard-to-reach areas and for sweeping collected soil and debris into dust pan.
Curing - Total period of time for
complete setting of floor finishes. From 24-48 hours may be required for total
cure. Buffing may speed curing time.
Detergents - cleansing agents designed
to reduce the work requirement. Detergents are synthesized chemically from a
variety of raw materials derived from petroleum, fatty acids and other sources,
available in granular and liquid form, and in pre-measured tablets and packets.
The multiple uses of detergents include wetting, penetrating, dispersing,
emulsifying and suspending soil, making it removable by rinsing.
Disinfectant - Chemical which destroys
vegetative forms of microorganisms, but not necessarily bacterial spores.
Dry Mopping - Procedure by which a floor
is cleaned with a dry mop treated with a dust controllant.
Drying Time - Time required for drying
of a coating applied to a floor.
Dusting - Surface-cleaning operation to
remove light soil. If a treated cloth is used, procedure is normally called dry
dusting. If cloth moistened with water is used, it is normally called damp
dusting. Also, as applied to a concrete floor surface, dusting means the forming
of fine dry particles of the concrete mixture because of foot traffic. Usually
occurs due to improper curing or maintenance.
Fast Floors - Floor surfaces that are
slippery and may not meet the standard coefficient for slip-resistant as
recognized by Underwriters Laboratory.
Feather-In - To carefully blend a spot
in with the surrounding area. For example, in the spot touch-up of floor
polishes, the newly applied polish is “feathered-in” to the adjacent area.
Finish - Protective coating used on
resilient, concrete and wood floors.
Fixture - Furniture or equipment that is
not movable; for example, a plumbing unit such as a stool, urinal or lavatory.
Flash Point - Lowest temperature at
which a combustible liquid will give off a flammable vapor, which will burn
momentarily when exposed to open flame.
Floor Brush (Broom) - Used for general
sweeping of floors. Also called a push broom
Floor Machine - Power-driven machine
equipped with scrubbing or polishing brushes (in sizes 12” to 30”), used to
remove soil by scrubbing and for polishing floor surfaces.
Germicidal Cleaner - Cleaner that also
Gloss (Initial or Buffed) - Brightness
or luster. Initial gloss is the gloss of a floor finish immediately upon drying.
If finish is buffed, it is called a buffed gloss.
Grain Hardness - One grain of water
hardness equals 17ppm of calcium carbonate. Water in the United States ranges
from less than one hardness to as high as 50 grains.
Grout - Concrete with small aggregates
of being poured to fill small spaces.
Grouting - Concrete binder used to
install ceramic tile. Bricks, etc.
Hard Water - Water that contains any
amount of chemical compound, which interferes with the ability of soap to form a
lather. Compounds usually found are calcium and magnesium salts with small
amounts of iron and aluminum. The amount of hardness is reported either as parts
per million (342ppm) or grains per gallon. To convert ppm to grains per gallon,
divide ppm by 17.1.
Heavily Obstructed - Degree of
obstruction to cleaning operations when 50 percent or more of the gross floor
area is occupied by furniture or equipment.
Heavy Mopping - A floor cleaning
operation using two or more mops and a concentrated solution is applied and
picked up from floor area, which is thoroughly rinsed.
Heeling - Method of exerting pressure on
a floor machine to remove rubber heel marks or heavily soiled areas.
Horizontal Dusting - Dusting operation
performed on surfaces, which are horizontal, or at no more than 45 degrees from
Interior Windows - Windows, which are
entirely inside a building
Johnny Mop - Yarn mop on a plastic or
wood handle approximately 14” long, used for cleaning inside toilet stools and
urinals. Also called Acrilan Swab.
Lay-Down and Pickup - Terms used for a
wet mopping operation with the following sequence. Place mop in bucket and
saturate completely. Place mop in wringer, and let excess run off but do not
squeeze. Pull ¾ of mop from wringer and squeeze only the end of the mop.
Lay-down solution on floor, then return mop to bucket, rinse, wring dry and
Leveling - The property of a floor
polish which caused it to flow together and form a smooth surface after it is
spread. Brush or applicator marks represent “hills and valleys” and will
level out or become uniform in height if the polish levels well. The term also
is used to describe how an emulsion, wax or finish adheres to a floor surface.
Light Cleaning - Cleaning operation
sufficient only to remove surface soil.
Limited Sweeping - Sweeping of all
easily reached floor surfaces.
Liquid Toilet Soap - A true soap made of
pure vegetable oil and potash, with or without glycol or alcohol, free from
objectionable odor, and forming a satisfactory lather.
Loose Mop - A wet mop partially wrung
out so that about 25 percent of the water remains.
Low Sudsing - Describes a product which
cleans without forming foam, and which has low surface tension in water but
destabilizes air-liquid interactions, and promotes collapse of foam.
Luster - Describes the ability of a
surface to reflect natural or artificial light.
Machine-Scrub - To scrub floor surface
with manually operated machine.
Machine-Scrub Automatic - To clean
floors using an automatic machine equipped with either bristle brushes or
abrasive pads that apply friction to the surface where solution has been
deposited, then pick up spent solution, soil and finish, and rinse if necessary.
Maintenance - The routine recurring work
required to keep a facility in such a condition that it may be continuously
used, at its full capacity and efficiency, for its intended purpose.
Management - Those who have prime
authority and responsibility to plan, organize, coordinate and control
industrial or institutional activities.
Man-Hour - A unit of work measurement
equivalent to the productivity of one worker, working at a normal pace for on
Mass Relamping - Replacement of all
incandescent or fluorescent lamps in the general lighting fixtures of a specific
area on a scheduled frequency based on average lamp life.
Match Maintenance - A phrase coined to
describe a process whereby professional custodians managers work with
professional custodians to achieve the best balance between supplies, equipment,
time and service.
Mechanical Cleaning - Removing of soil
or dirt from a surface by manual scrubbing or use of abrasives as opposed to
chemical cleaning. Also, use of machines for scrubbing or cleaning.
Method - A general or established way or
order of performing a procedure. The means or manner by which a procedure is
presented or taught. Also, the general term used to cover a worker’s motion or
Methodology - Body of methods and rules
employed by a discipline. A particular procedure or set of procedures
Mild Cleaner - Cleaner which is mild or
non-damaging in its action on the soiled surface, although it may have a pH of
9.8 or 10. A free alkali or .02 and a pH of 10.4 is still a relatively mild
detergent, for example.
Mopping, Damp - Mopping with a mop wrung
out in clear water or diluted detergent solution.
Mopping, Dry - See Dry Mopping.
Mopping, Wet - Use of cotton yarn or
synthetic mops dipped into solution which is applied freely to surface. Spent
solution and soil are picked up with wrung out mop and surface is rinsed with
Mop Treatment - Type of dust controllant
used to treat yarn or cloth dusting tools. Also refers to the procedure used to
treat mops for the purpose of dust and soil adherence.
Neutral - Neither acid of basic alkali.
A neutral soap contains no free alkali or free fatty acids. A neutral pH is 7.
In general terms, a neutral soapless detergent has no harsh alkalis though it
may have a pH as high as 10 (see pH).
Neutral Cleaner - A solution with a pH
of 6.5 to 7.5.
Neutral Detergent - Concentrated
detergent with a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5.
Neutralize - To destroy the peculiar
properties or effect of; for example, to neutralize an acid with a base.
Neutral Soap - Soap not superfatted nor
containing excess alkali. Its pH in water is about 9.5 to 10.0. The term “neutral”
is used because an alcohol solution of soap has a pH of 7.0
Normal Time - Time required by a
qualified worker, working at an ordinary pace, when capably supervised, to
complete an element, cycle or operation following a prescribed method. The time
required by an average worker to perform a task, under average working
conditions, at a normal pace. Allowances are not included. See Standard Time.
Obstructed - A condition resulting when
10-50% of the gross floor area is occupied by furniture or equipment
Odor Counteractant - An agent which
neutralizes the intensity of odor by introducing specific chemical substances,
or combinations, into the odorous environment without creating a new odor
sensation or equal or higher intensity.
Output - The end result of a mental or
physical procedure or process, or the amount of production from the application
Penetration- The ability of a detergent
to force its way between particles of soil and between the soil and the surface
to which it adheres. This action depends upon surface tension and interfacial
A chemical scale for measuring the
alkalinity of a solution. An indication of the strength rather than the amount
of alkali or acid present. The portion of the scale commonly encountered is from
0 to 14. boiled distilled water, which is considered neutral, has a pH of 7.0 at
room temperature; therefore, 7.0 is neutral on this scale. Acids have pH’s
lower than 7.0, while alkalis have pH’s above 7.0. The lower the number, the
greater the acidity; the higher the number, the greater the alkalinity.
Following is a table showing the approximate pH value and relative acidity or
alkalinity of various compounds in terms of pure water.
Approximate pH Value
Relative Acidity or Alkalinity in Terms of Pure Water
1% Muratic Acid
1% Oxalic Acid
1% Boric Acid
Chemically Pure Water
1% Sodium Bicarbonate
Neutral Liquid Soap
1% Trisodium Phosphate
½ % Caustic Soda
4% Caustic Soda
Pickup - Emptying waste containers and
removing general debris from floor
Pitting - Small holes that form in hard
surface flooring. Concrete and terrazzo when installed have fine pores, and use
of high pH cleaners will cause the holes to become noticeable pits. Sealing such
floors and using liquid, low pH detergents will eliminate pitting.
Planning - Advance organizing of
projects, projecting schedules, and coordinating operations.
Policing - Making an area clean and
orderly; for example, picking up debris and litter from floors, furniture and
Policy - A
guide for those in an organization who are expected to use discretionary
Porous - Full of tiny openings, usually
visible only under a microscope. Porous material, such as concrete, is capable
of being permeated by liquids or absorbing moisture.
Poultice - Mixture of a powder and
liquid in a paste like form for application to a surface to remove soils and
Powdering - Undesirable property of a
floor finish that causes it to break up into dust or powder. Also the
development of a fine white flaky deposit resulting from abrasion of the surface
by buffing or heavy traffic.
ppm - Parts per million. Used as a
measurement to determine the amount of any substance in proportion to the amount
of water or other substance in which it is found. “Xppm” means X parts in a
ppm Hardness - Water hardness is
expressed as parts per million (ppm) of calcium carbonate or in grains of
calcium carbonate (CaCO3).
Precipitation - Formation of solid
particles in a solution, or the settling or rising up of small particles in a
Precoating/Undercoating - Application of
a seal to a freshly scrubbed surface, free of floor finish, applied to close the
pores of the floor prior to applying the finishing coat.
Pretreated - Refers to cleaning cloths,
dust mops or similar items that are treated by the manufacturer or supplier
prior to delivery to the customer.
Preventive Maintenance - Performance of
maintenance procedures and techniques to reduce or eliminate maintenance
problems before they arise.
Procedure - Manner of proceeding or
acting; also an act or a special course of action. In this manual, used to mean
a specific job or task.
Project Cleaning - Cleaning tasks which
require special course because of varying frequency; for example, repainting.
Radiator Brush - Single row of horsehair
tufts attached to a flat wood handle, used for cleaning radiators, window sills,
under furnishings and other hard-to-reach areas.
Recoatabilitly - Application
characteristics of a surface coating and its appearance after successive
Refinishing - Removal of soil and
reapplication of a floor finish.
Removability - Ability of a polish to be
removed from a test panel by a standard cleaning solution. If a finish is not
completely removed, polish fails the removability test. “Passing” means the
finish can easily be removed from a floor by the usual wax removal procedures
with products which are not potentially harmful to the flooring.
Repairability - In floor maintenance,
the property which allows a finish to be repaired by the feathering-in and
adding of more finish to a damaged spot and use of buffing or other methods to
bring repaired spot and surrounding areas to the same appearance.
Residual - Having long-lasting
after-effects. For example, when a germicide or insecticide is used and the
effects remain several days or longer, they are said to be residual.
Resilient, soft - Type of floor
covering, i.e., vinyl tile, as opposed to hard surface flooring, i.e., cement or
terrazzo. Resilient flooring is capable of withstanding shock without permanent
deformation or rupture. Includes asphalt, linoleum, rubber, vinyl, cork, etc.
Restroom Fixtures - Term used to
describe towel dispensers, mirrors, plumbing units, trash receptacles, and so
forth, installed in restrooms.
Rinse - Act of applying then removing
clean water from a surface in order to remove residual detergent and loosened
Rug - Soft floor covering laid on the
floor but not fastened to it. Usually a rug, unlike carpeting does not cover the
entire floor surface.
Scheduling - Preparing written guides to
the sequence and frequency of maintenance tasks.
Scrub - To clean thoroughly a surface
without removing the finish or protective coating. To rub hard with a wet, rough
Scuffing - Dull marks on a floor where
the protective coating has been worn by traffic.
Seal - Substance that penetrates the
floor material and fills pores rather than producing a surface finish.
Security - An element of the maintenance
of the work environment, intended to protect property, prevent fire or theft,
and to detect and report any malfunction.
Sediment - Fine soil particles in a
liquid. With time, the larger of these will settle to the bottom of the
Setup Time - Time required to assemble
and arrange tools, apparatus, and supplies required for the performance of