Detroit Janitorial & Cleaning Services Blog

Commercial Cleaning 101: Clean, Sanitize & Sterilize Oh My!

Posted by Christine Duquette on Wed, Jun 27, 2018 @ 09:26 AM


What is the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting? You might be tempted to say that, there is, in fact, no difference between them. All of those terms basically mean clean something right? Hopefully you commercial cleaning company will disagree with you on this point. The language and science of cleaning has evolved, and will continue to evolve and grow more complex as the industry expands to meet the needs of an ever-changing marketplace. While it is the responsibility of your commercial cleaning company to keep up, as a Facility Manager, it is wise to have a handle on some of the basic terms. Should you be on the look out for a new commercial cleaning company, understanding some of the industry terms can help you keep prospective janitorial service companies on their toes and ask all the right questions. Have you ever wondered what the difference is between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting? Want to know what pathogens are & why your commercial cleaning company should too? We have the answers to your burning cleaning questions.We’ve put together a list of some key terms that will undoubtedly be useful to know:


Cleaning: Most of us would like to think we know this one! But surprisingly, cleaning only refers to removing visible gunk from a surface.


Mechanical Cleaning: Good, old fashioned elbow grease. Mechanical Cleaning is when you put away the fancy tools and give the surface a good scrubbing.


Sanitize: Sanitizing isn’t the same as cleaning. Think about hand sanitizer for a moment. Put it on dirty hands and they aren’t magically clean, just de-germed if you will. In your building, before a surface can be sanitized it should be cleaned. Then, an antimicrobial solution is applied for a specific dwell time to achieve the desired 99.9999% bacterial and viral kill rate.


Dwell Time: This is a word you would only know if you spend your time reading the back of cleaning products! You might not do that but we do. Dwell times refer to how long an antimicrobial or disinfectant solution must be left on a pre-cleaned surface before it can be considered sanitized or disinfected. The product needs a specific amount of time to do its intended job. This one is important because if your cleaning company is rushing through their work and not following manufacturer recommendations, you will not get as safe, healthy and effective as possible.


Sterilize: To sterilize something requires the almighty autoclave or something equally as powerful to insure a 100% kill rate on microorganisms, viruses, and any type of fungal spore. For those of you that have seen an autoclave before, you know that this isn’t a practical cleaning solution for a big, busy building and for that reason is only used on medical and dental tools as necessary.


Microorganism:The word you missed on your high school biology test has come back to haunt you. All a microorganism is is any bacteria, virus, or spore that can’t be seen without a microscope.


Pathogen: When microorganisms turn evil. Any microorganism that can cause illness or disease is a pathogen.


Hot Spots: Similar in nature to the touch point. Hot spots are areas within a building that are frequently traversed and touched, like handles, shared business machines, any surface, knob, handle, switch or the like. These areas need extra attention to make sure that they are truly clean because as they are touched often and by many, they become the perfect little hubs for the evil pathogens, those microorganisms intent on making you, your employees and building’s visitors sick.


Bactericide: When life gets to be a little too much for the bacteria. A bactericide is any solution that is specifically targeted to destroy bacteria.


Touch Points: The locations in your office or workplace that are touched the most often. Knowing the touch points in your workplace lets you know which areas need special attention because these areas see many hands and many hands see many mouths and noses which see many microorganisms, many of which are pathogens.


Team CleaningWith, a building is divided by duties, not zones so team members specialize. There may be one vacuum specialist, one restroom specialist, one duster and light duties specialist and similar. This specialization of members of a team creates more efficient, more consistent results and reduces training costs and equipment costs and well as increases accountability and professionalism.


Zone CleaningIn zone cleaning a building is divided into zones, sometimes floors or areas and there is one cleaner to one zone. This is an outdated cleaning style that is inefficient because it results in duplicated equipment and inconsistent results.


Cleaning for Health: Unsurprisingly, exactly what it sounds like. Cleaning for health is not only to clean to make something visually appealing, but also to sanitize a surface to prevent the spread of those pesky pathogens and other microorganisms.


Smart Cleaning: Smart cleaning uses a detailed analysis of your building to provide customized solutions to reduced budgets and cuts by optimizing services and identifying livable service cuts and scheduling services in a way that balances your budget and building maintenance needs.


Cross Contamination: When you use the same rag on to wipe the break room lunch tables that you used on the restroom toilets, things don’t get too clean. In fact, they get even dirtier are germs, microorganisms and pathogens are spread around the various parts of your facility. This is called cross contamination and the best way to address it is with a color coded cloth system, team cleaning, proper product use like utilizing dwell times and manufacturer recommendations and other janitorial best practices.


Hopefully with this improved understanding of key cleaning terms, you’ll be better able to understand what your commercial cleaning company is doing, should be doing and better able to communicate what you want and need from them.


Tags: Industry Best Practices, Healthy Work Environment, Learn Everyday

Why Should You Care About Your Cleaning Company’s Culture?

Posted by Chris Stathakis on Fri, May 25, 2018 @ 12:08 PM

stathakis, stathakis culture, company culture, ubuntu

Does Culture REALLY Matter?

As a Facility Manager, should you really care about your janitorial services company culture? While you may not want or even need the finer details regarding what your cleaning company is doing to create a productive, supportive, happy culture, it DOES matter that they have one. But what is culture anyhow? And how how does a company’s culture ultimately affect you the customer?


What Is Culture?

Culture is those values, beliefs and behaviors that contribute to the distinctive environment of an organization. It is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, expectations, customs and those written and unwritten rules that drive an organization. Culture is one of the most difficult things to actively create because it cannot be a “do as I say not as I do” thing. It cannot be faked or put on paperbut not in practice. Culture is what you actually have not just what you want to have.


Isn't Work Just Work, Why Does Culture Matter?

Listen, work is still work, it isn’t a ballgame with a friend or toes in the sand on some tropical island. It is called WORK after all. But work can still be social, fun, rewarding, challenging, connecting and all of the things we as humans thrive on. And even though creating a positive culture requires a great deal of intention and effort, what it DOESN’T require is big dollars. Company culture is not an espresso bar, chair massages, office yoga and the like. It is about recruiting and retaining good people who are well suited for the work. It’s about training those people so that they have the tools to succeed at work and feel good about their contribution. It is having managers and a structure that supports and sees the contributions, small and large, of every single individual that makes up an organization and contributes to its goals and missions. It is a company committed to pulling through losses and celebrating wins in ways that promote learning, accountability, growth and excellence. It is offering your people competitive wages and benefits so they have the extrinsic and intrinsic motivation to get up every morning and do it all over again.


Does a Cleaning Company's Culture Affect the Customer?

So culture is important but how does it affect you the customer? The reality is that a dysfunctional company culture is going to bleed into your experience as a customer regardless of the talent and capabilities of any one employee and really, great employees leave bad companies all the time so in time, companies with culture problems end up with pretty significant people problems. So what are the major benefits of working with a commercial cleaning company or building services company with a really great company culture?

First, happy cultures create happy customers. Employees that are appreciated, valued and satisfied are far more likely to deliver very good service, very often. When employees are consistently treated like just another number, chances are this same culture will translate to how you are treated as a customer. 

Second, inclusive cultures include EVERYONE, including you the customer. On the other hand, ultra competitive company cultures encourage the kind of “I’m number one!” mentality that puts the customer squarely at number two at best.  Companies that encourage their teams to work together, support each other, gently uncover areas for each other to grow and even catch each other’s mistakes often end up creating yet another level of quality assurance that ultimately results in improved and elevated service for you the customer. While friendly competition can push people, in those companies whose culture is TOO focused on competition, rankings become so critical, the idea of who is above you and below you becomes the focus and all too often real teamwork is extinguished.

Third, reliability is created through accountability. There is an old adage that what gets measures gets done, and it’s true. The most effective janitorial companies create service reliability through creating a culture of accountability. A culture of accountability, especially when the focus is positive and growth centered, creates employees that know that the little things DO matter. These teams know instinctively that their efforts to go the extra mile don’t go unnoticed. They are being supported in a culture that rewards effort and achievement and give the employees the positive feedback that makes their extra efforts pay off both internally and externally. These companies have figured out that when employee successes are mapped, measures, praised and rewarded, they get more of them.

Finally, in the best janitorial services companies, employees are empowered to solve problems. When organizations create a culture where their people are encouraged to stretch and grow and are supported to take some risks and get creative, they are less fearful of trying something new. When they don’t have to constantly cover their backs and explain and defend every decision and even misstep, they are far more likely to own up to their mistakes, take ownership of their errors and focus on solving the problem over placing and shifting blame. This focus on “what do we do?” instead of “who did it?” benefits you the customer because the problems are identified and solved faster.


How Important is Culture & What Else Should I Look For?

Of course, a number of things really matter when you are choosing your next commercial cleaning service. Are they CIMS certified? Does a prospective janitorial services company follow industry best practices? Is your office cleaning company committed to recruiting, screening, training and managing the very best people for the job? Is your medical cleaning company aware of the specific regulatory issues in your industry? But the company culture of a prospective commercial office cleaning company DOES play a role in predicting exceptional customer service.

You want office cleaners that have been given the tools they need to do their very best in your facility. You want cleaners who care about their work because their company cares about them. You want teams that work hard to shine because they know they are seen, rewarded and promoted for it. Company culture is not just about the warm fuzzies, though those are nice too. An inclusive culture that values individuals and their contributions to an organization ultimately makes people happy, engaged in their work and positively impacts quality of service and the bottom line.


At Stathakis, our company culture centers around the ideas of Ubuntu. For more information on Ubuntu, Stathakis and what we offer the community and businesses southeastern Michigan, click here or call us at 1-800-278-1884.


Tags: Culture, Learn Everyday, Leadership, Ubuntu

Zika: The Risks & Role Commercial Cleaning Play In Infection Control

Posted by Christine Duquette on Mon, Jun 06, 2016 @ 07:18 PM

zika virus, zika virus unitd states, zika virus commercial cleaning company, zika janitorial services

Chances are that unless you have been living off the grid, you have heard of the Zika virus and some of the threats it poses. It’s all too easy to believe the news headlines designed to grab attention, but not always an accurate depiction of risk:

“Zika virus comes to the United States”

“Scientists warn Zika spreading”

“What you don’t know about Zika could put you at risk.”

“Local communities brace themselves for Zika.”

“Mosquito season could be deadly thanks to Zika virus.”

So what exactly is the Zika virus? What are the real risks associated with it? What if any threat does it pose here in the United States? And what role do commercial cleaning companies and janitorial services play in helping make facilities cleaner and safeguarded against ALL viruses and disease causing pathogens?


So What Exactly Is The Zika Virus?

According to he CDC (Centers for Disease Control), the Zika virus is a disease that spreads to people chiefly through mosquitos, specifically the Aedes species of mosquito. If the mosquito itself is infected with Zika, it can transmit the virus. Among the most widespread symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. Most often, the illness is mild and many people may not even realize they are sick. Although the illness is generally not serious, the Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, in addition to other severe fetal brain defects. After an individual has been infected, he or she is typically protected from future infections.


What Are The Real Risks Associated With The Zika Virus?

The single greatest health risk is that Zika can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus causing severe birth defects. There are also an increased amount of cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome in areas affected by Zika. Guillain-Barré syndrome is a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. As no vaccine exists to prevent Zika virus disease, the current focus is on prevention measures. Prevention measure include avoiding mosquito bites. According to the CDC, when in areas with Zika, the following measures can help protect you. 

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Opt for places with air conditioning, windows and door screens to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Take measures to control mosquitoes inside and outside your residence.
  • Use mosquito netting if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol. Choosing an EPA-registered repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
  • Always follow the product label instructions.
  • Reapply insect repellent as directed.
  • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
  • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
  • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
  • Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years old.
  • Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
  • Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
  • Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
  • Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
  • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
  • Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
  • If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
  • Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.
  • Even if they do not feel sick, travelers returning to the United States from an area with Zika should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks so they do not spread Zika to mosquitoes that could spread the virus to other people.


What Threat, If Any, Does The Zika Virus Pose Here In The United States?

On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Local transmission has been reported in many other countries and territories. Zika virus will likely continue to spread to new areas. As of yet, no local Zika cases have been reported in United States, but with the recent outbreaks in other areas of the world, the number of Zika cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States will likely increase. These cases could lead to the local spread of the virus in some areas of the United States. Public health officials are asking home owners and businesses to help control mosquitoes this summer by cleaning up trash and other man-made containers that can collect rain water, where the insects breed. These same measures were recommended during the mosquito-borne dengue outbreak in Key West Florida.


What Role Do Commercial Cleaning Companies And Janitorial Services Play In Infection Control?

While the United States reported cases of the Zika virus have thus far all been travel related, experts suggest that these imported cases may eventually spread to local areas. The role commercial cleaning companies and janitorial services companies play in the control of the Zika virus is the same as they play in any other type of infection control. It is difficult to precisely quantify the risk of surface transmission for any infectious disease. The current opinion is Zika Virus will not persist on surfaces or spread through the water or air. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not yet published recommendations on specific disinfectant products as environmental contamination does not appear to play a role in the spread of infection. Currently, there are no EPA registered disinfectants labeled specifically to eradicate Zika virus. Still, viruses similar to Zika tend to be susceptible to a broad range of disinfectants used to disinfect hard, non-porous surfaces so your janitorial services company should employ disinfectants they would use to prevent the spread ofother infectious diseases. Likewise, your commercial cleaning company should use standard hard surface broad spectrum disinfectants and hand hygiene.

 zika infographic

 Medical Cleaning Outsourcing Guide


Tags: Cleaning Industry Updates, Commercial Cleaning, Industry Best Practices, Healthy Work Environment, Learn Everyday

Stathakis Director Of Business Development Brian Mamo Earns CBSE

Posted by Christine Duquette on Tue, Mar 22, 2016 @ 02:20 PM

brian mamo, stathakis, issa, cbse, bscaiCongratulations to our Director of Business Development Brian Mamo, who recently earned the designation of Certified Building Service Executive through the Building Service Contractors Association International. A Certified Building Service Executive, or CBSE is among the most prestigious symbols of excellence in the building service contracting industry.

Applicants for the CBSE must have an executive/managerial role, commit to the BSCAI’s Code of Professional Ethics, enroll in this rigorous certification process, prepare for the CBSE examination and pass a demanding, daylong examination.

What subjects are covered in the CBSE examination? The better question might be what subjects AREN’T covered?

The full day examination covered an exhaustive array of subjects including:


Accounting & Bookkeeping

Bidding & Estimating



Business Law

Business Structure


Customer Relations

Employee Benefits

Employee Motivation

Employee Recruitment

Employee Relations

Employee Retention

Employee Scheduling

Employee Training

First Aid

Fiscal Controls

Inspection & Rating Insurance


Labor Law

Office Management

Marketing & Sales

Public Relations Purchasing

Quality Control

Safety & Fire


Technology of the Industry

Trade Practices


As Brian himself told us,

“I never thought obtaining the CBSE Certification was going to be as tough as it was. I studied from over twenty manuals from understanding work loading, accounting, human resources and putting quotes together to learning about carpet fibers, burnishing and window washing. I felt like I was in college again I was hitting the books so hard. The test started at 8:00 am sharp and ended at 4:00--it was very rigorous.

CBSE, bscai, janitorial certifications, brian mamo, stathakis, detroit area janitorial

When asked if there were any moments that stood out during the test, Brian had this to say,

“Funny part, there was a question that did not have an accurate answer. I brought it to the attention of the Certification Board and they agreed and changed it.  I may have helped hundreds of future potential CBSE candidates.”   

By earning the CBSE designation, Brian has become part of an elite group of building service professionals worldwide and not only does this benefit Brian professionally, it has far ranging benefits for all of us here at Stathakis and our customers. When asked how he thinks the CBSE Certification will help him do his job better, Brian told us,

“I have been with Stathakis for five years and the only constant is change. We have changed our sales mix, services and the operational structure to better serve our clients. I think this agility and responsiveness have been the keys to our success. The CBSE gave me a depth and breadth of information I didn’t have before. The more I know, the better I understand each facet of the business and can really respond in a way that makes sense. Understanding how all the parts work together also helps me to help Stathakis grow with new accounts and opportunities for all of us. Our growth has allowed us to promote several people internally, which is very gratifying to see.”

As with the ISSA’s CIMS certification, the BSCAI’s CBSE is an in-depth, rigorous, challenging certification process that only those most committed to our industry even attempt. It is those building service professionals who demonstrate the drive to excel, the dedication to serve and proven industry competence that earn the CBSE. Stathakis CEO, Chris Stathakis told us, 

“ ’Learn everyday’ is not only one of our Core Values here at Stathakis, but also way of life for Brian who shows up each day and leads by example in both his personal and professional life.” 

Congratulations to Brian who has not only been a valuable leader here at Stathakis for the last five years, but has continually worked to develop himself in such a way that he continues to add real value to our organization

Tags: Cleaning Industry Updates, Industry Best Practices, Learn Everyday, Leadership

The BSCAI’s October Convention & 50th Anniversary Just Around the Corner

Posted by Christine Duquette on Wed, Oct 07, 2015 @ 02:39 PM

bscai, stathakis, michigan janitorial company, detroit commercial cleaning company, livonia office celanersThe BSCAI, Building Services Contractors Association International, celebrates its 50th year at the 2015 annual convention coming up at the end of the month. Stathakis CEO, Chris Stathakis, Branch Manager Bob Abraham and Operations Manager, Dale Saylor will all be in attendance at this year’s event.


This year’s 2015 convention promises to be exciting and informative with topics like:

  • Attracting, Developing and Retaining an “On Fire” Workforce
  • Shape Your Customer Experience with the Five Service Dimensions All Customers Care About
  • The Affordable Care Act – What Now? What Do We Have to Do?
  • Transforming Teams
  • Constant Continuous Improvement


Stathakis CEO Chris Stathakis is on the Board of Directors serving as the Chairman of the Technology Committee. A member of the BSCAI board for over 25 years, Chris has been committed to leading within the Building Services Industry by finding new and better ways to use cutting-edge technology to serve customers and drive improvements in service delivery.


Companies like Stathakis continue to be drawn to the BSCAI for its adherence to a strict Code of Ethics and it’s push to drive professionalism and best practices within the industry. The BSCAI and its members are held to a high standard of ethics including:


  • Operating in accordance with the best and fully accepted ethical business practices.
  • Comply with all applicable laws and federal, state and local government regulations.
  • Provide all services and products at fair, equitable and non-discriminatory charges.
  • Furnish adequate equipment, qualified personnel and products of high quality to achieve and maintain the highest standard of performance.
  • Provide courteous and prompt handling of all requests and complaints.
  • Strive for continued improvement of the image and reputation of the industry by good business practices and enlightened public service in the community.


All of the BSCAIs offerings are designed around helping Building Services Contractors raise their game and continue to drive innovation and improvement in the industry and offer our customers more and better.


The BSCAI was formed in 1965 with sixty charter members from various building services contract companies. Since this time, the industry has grown rapidly. An increasing number of buildings began utilizing the wide range of services offered by building service contractors. Whether from small, family firms to large offering janitorial cleaning, office cleaning, school cleaning, medical cleaning, industrial cleaning and more, the BSCAI offered the resources, information and expertise to help Building Service Contractors elevate their services and their organizations.


The BSCAI has grown as the industry has expanded and draws members from a wide cross-section of companies. The BSCAI represents a global network of over 1,000 member companies from across the United States and 15 countries worldwide that deliver cleaning, facility maintenance, security, landscaping and other related services to building owners and facility managers.


The BSCAI continues to be an invaluable resource for education, individual certifications, publications, seminars, industry data and research and networking opportunities, all developed specifically for leaders in the building service contracting industry.




Tags: Cleaning Industry Updates, Industry Best Practices, Learn Everyday, Leadership

Stathakis Attends Spartan Training Event in Toledo Ohio

Posted by Christine Duquette on Mon, Oct 05, 2015 @ 01:06 PM

spartan cleaning training stathakis building services contractors cimsLast month, key members of the Stathakis team attended an intensive Spartan Cleaning Seminar in Toledo, Ohio. For more than 55 years, Spartan has provided cleaning products of all kinds backed by the exceptional services and training to help Building Services Contractors meet and exceed industry standards and stay up to date with best practices. The two-day event was geared toward managers of janitorial companies. In attendance were Farmington Hills Branch Manager Bob Abraham, Assistant Branch Manager Pam Davis, Assistant Branch Manager Julia Bartnicki and Operations Manager Dale Saylor.


The group attended a number of workshops on topics including work loading buildings, effective training for front line cleaners, how to properly clean a restroom and additional training and Spartan certifications. Janitorial companies from all over the United States attended in order to get the newest training available from Spartan and get the most from the benefits of Spartan products. Many attendees had the opportunity to obtain additional certification at this Spartan training.


Branch Manager Bob Abraham said the highlight for him was the training resources Spartan makes available to its customers. As Bob tells us, “they have a complete training room made up of all different types of flooring and carpets. They have a mock restroom, mock conference room all set up to help you develop the best methods to effectively train your people.”


Bob Abraham also touched on CIMS, the Cleaning Industry Management Standard, and its role within the janitorial industry. “The CIMS process was a big topic and of course, they really encourage companies that aren’t already certified to get on board. Obviously for both janitorial companies and their customers, the advantages of CIMS certification are tangible.”


Assistant Branch Manager Pam Davis told us she attended a session where she had an opportunity to see the Spartan facilities and how products were made and distributed. As Pam tells us, “we got to see the lab area for ourselves, how they create and mix products and all of the steps that happen before distribution. It was pretty incredible.”


As for what she took away from the Spartan training, Pam tells us, “I really soaked up the Spartan approach to training front line cleaners. They presented some really innovative new approaches to getting the most from your teams. I have been doing this a long time and I am always excited when I get new ideas I can really incorporate into what we do day in and day out at Stathakis.”


The Stathakis team was excited to participate in this latest training because Spartan understands that with increasing economic pressures from all directions, janitorial companies must stay competitive and their training reflects that understanding. Spartan continually offers strategic solutions, training and certifications to help Building Services Contractors grow their businesses.


Spartan Chemical partners with commercial cleaning companies with a complete line of institutional and industrial cleaning products. Their emphasis is on green cleaning and environmentally preferable products, correct use and how their products can help Building Services companies and their customers support sustainability initiatives. Stathakis works closely with Spartan on areas including green cleaning, industrial cleaning, office cleaning, health care cleaning, school cleaning and more.



Tags: CIMS-GB Certification, Cleaning Industry Updates, Industry Best Practices, Learn Everyday

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