Thank you for your interest in last week’s blog on swabs. This week I would like to stress the importance of overhead cleaning in order to get quality cleaning results throughout the whole plant.  So I’d like to talk about my experiences & recommendations to cleaning anything overhead, which is often hard to reach and does not receive the proper attention. 

Yes, thorough cleaning of overheads is important for cleaning & hygiene, it can also effect running costs, maintenance and production issues with refrigeration units having to work harder to get to temperature.

Here are the main reasons

  • Swabs Results; in order to maintain good ongoing results of surfaces and equipment below, overhead areas need to be cleaned properly, remember everything needs to be clean.
  • A factory that smells good is clean; A strict AQIS auditor by the name of Carlos taught me this years ago & he is 100% correct.  If the room is clean, it will smell clean; If it stinks or has any odor then there is something not cleaned properly.
  • Unclean refrigeration units will work harder to get up to temperature, cost more to run and are more likely to fail.
There are a few steps to get right, in order to clean & maintain overheads

Firstly; your cleaning crew need to accept that this task needs to be done & fit it in within the cleaning window.  If it has not been part of current practice, then you should introduce it.  In my experience, the last day of the production week is the best day to do overhead cleaning.  This will allow drying time which is important. – If you do run 7 days per week, you will need to allow time for drying and to squeegee the ceiling & everything above.     Running 7 days per week does not mean we miss this step.

Secondly; you need to thoroughly apply foam to all areas.  From my observations in a factory setting, this is the main step that cleaner’s struggle with, that leads to a lower quality outcome.   Foaming usually reaches half way up the wall & everything above this is missed. Your product and production type will affect just how long you get away with buildup occurring. But in the end, management will need plan for the cleaners to do this type of job on a non-production day as it becomes a big job. It is better if is done regularly to fit it within the normal cleaning window, so it’s an easier job, keeps the factory cleaner and it saves you money by eliminating deep cleans on non-production days.

Ceilings are simple, you apply the foam to all areas & leave it sit for 15-20 minutes prior to rinsing.  When foaming starts make the Ceilings the first section started, foam will also drop onto the equipment so you are starting the second task from the first task.   When penetration time is up, always start with rinsing ceilings first.   I have attached video of foaming for you to see my example.   Many people (especially chemical companies) will tell you that foam should look like shaving cream, but in my experience this is not true, as shaving cream is too thick to run into tight areas, and I can guarantee is that anywhere too tight to apply/receive foam will be creating a future hygiene problem. 

My hints

Glycol & Freon units; apply foam to the fins or grill area & the units will suck the soap through.  Apply also to the exterior walls of the units. When rinsing the glycol units great care needs to be taken not to bend the fins. Open any trays that you can access, so you can get to all areas directly.

Vents; I recommend leaving the ball valve closed; so the vent tray fills with soap & then open this to rinse & drain after 15-20 minutes. A long squeegee will work to open ball valve or you can build a purpose made handle. It will save time climbing ladders & eliminate potential accidents.  If vent and trays are grubby on the first clean you will may need to apply pressure or agitation. Keeping them clean is easy provided they are done regularly enough. 

Clocks, Speakers & Rails; Speakers are a pet hate for me as dust on the top makes them look bad, these need foam & rinse to keep them perfect, and are not hard to do provided they are done regularly.

Once the above areas are cleaned & rinsed ensure that leave on sanitiser is applied, this is a backup insurance for good micro swabs.

If you have any questions regarding the cleaning of high areas, or you are having issues with you swabs please give me a call or email me, I’m happy to offer advice­­.

The importance of overhead cleaning

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