• Andy Banner-Price

Six cleaning items I can't do without


Over winter, one job which keeps us busy is deep cleaning the bedrooms in preparation for re-opening.

It involves literally starting at the top with the ceiling, coving and lights and working our way right down to skirting and carpets and everything in between. The whole room gets hoovered, dusted, scrubbed and washed and each bedroom takes at least a day to complete.

On my training course, I ask "How clean is clean?" and go through what's expected from guests and the best way to approach cleaning.

Here I've listed six cleaning items that I just can't do without. Even if you never come on my training course, you can still learn some of the tips I have about keeping your own B&B clean...

Henry

Although I'm pictured above using a Vax, this is only a carpet cleaner and quite quickly we found that a Vax vacuum just wasn't up to the job in a commercial environment. We started using Henry hoovers around nine years ago at Plas Dinas, our last hotel, and never looked back. You'll find most commercial environments use them, from schools and offices to builders. They're not ridiculously expensive, and you can get replacement parts when needed (though make sure you go to an actual approved supplier - not just someone who says they are on Ebay). They come with various brush attachments and we love Henry. It can reach all parts, has a nice long cord, high suction power and wheels around with you.

Toothbrush

A selection of toothbrushes are always in my cleaning caddy. They're great for getting into corners and small grooves where dirt and dust can collect but is difficult to get to with a duster alone. They're great for doing round window frames, intricate lamp bases and corners of furniture. Harder bristles are usually best. I also find the other end can be useful to cover with a cloth and poke into inaccessible areas to clean out too.

Vanish Carpet Cleaner

This is a big pink can and the product is a foam that you spray onto carpet stains, leave for a few minutes, then work into the pile with a cloth until it disappears and generally the stain disappears too. It's good for various stains. It's best to carefully wipe the stain from the outside in with a clean cloth first to remove any excess stain if it's still wet. If you don't have the time to get the Vax carpet cleaner out or it's a small stain it's great and it's dry almost immediately so ideal if we're expecting new guests in the room the same day. Our carpets are commercial grade so we can rub the carpet or use various products without fear of damaging the carpet or leaving a mark. If you have normal domestic carpets, it's probably best to try any cleaning items in an inconspicuous area first. I'll cover off commercial grade carpets v domestic on my course.

Old towels

Most of our cleaning work is done using dusters but I also love old towels. They need to be well washed so they're not sending tiny fibres everywhere creating you more dust to clean up. They should also not be washed with any fabric softener so they are more absorbent. The main reason I like them is because they have a rougher surface. Unlike a smooth duster, this means they will rub at a stain or mark more vigorously. If you've just cleaned a mirror or glass shower screen, buffing up with an old towel will get a better shine and remove lasting smears better than a duster and with less effort. They're also great for an initial wipe of a shower screen before using glass cleaner to remove excess water if a guest has not long used it. Old towels wipe a cleaning product off as opposed to pushing it round with a smooth cloth.

Stain Devils

Stain Devils produce a three pack Survival Kit which contains three separate bottles of stain removing products and they're readily available at supermarkets. They cover a whole host of stains between the three of them from blood to oil, makeup to wine. It's rare that I can't remove a small stain with one of these three miracle workers. Accidents happen and occasionally I'll find a mark on a throw, cushion or chair that needs attention and these are my go to product of choice. It does of course help if you know what a stain is to start with - sometimes it's a guessing game and so you don't know which bottle to treat it with. I'd much rather a guest tell me they've spilt or dropped something so I can deal with it appropriately.

Lemon Juice!

I know - maybe this is a strange one but old wives' tales are sometimes the best thing for removing impossible stains. Lately I've had to use lemon juice and salt on a number of different occasions. There's one particular brand of shaving gel that seems to have started producing cans that rust. If the can gets left near the sink, which is the natural place it would be used, and where it's obviously near water, the bottom can leave a ring mark of rust on the ceramic. This is literally impossible to remove and looks awful. I tried everything before going back to good old fashioned lemon juice. Simply cover the stain in lemon juice and leave for around thirty minutes. After that, cover it with plenty of salt and scrub really hard and the stain will disappear! Simples! Our guests will sometimes come back after a day out to find I've placed a coaster under their shaving cream!

Keeping our 5 star B&B in Torquay sparkling clean at all times is hard work. From the moment guests leave for the day until the time they return or we check new guests in, we're busy cleaning and making sure the rooms look fabulous. We want each guest to feel like they're the first person ever to use the room so we're fastidious about cleaning to an OCD level, and it's often commented on and appreciated.

I hope my list has been useful to you, and helps you keep your B&B as clean as The 25 is.


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