Cleaning Decorative Items

Steve Hanson

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Cleaning an office may involve more than emptying the trash, sweeping the floor and vacuuming the carpet. Some offices may have areas covered with “trinkets" such as photos, plaques, sculptures and all kinds of knickknacks. There is no end to the list of items that people may have on their desk or throughout their office.

The following ten tips are guidelines of how to handle cleaning these special personal or business treasures.

1. Ask your customer if they want you to clean any photos, plaques, sculptures, etc. that are on desks, shelves, tabletops or in display areas. These items may be personal treasures the owner may prefer to clean.

2. If customers want you to clean these items make sure your employees know how to clean them properly. Ask the owner or a supervisor what the recommended cleaning procedure is for that particular piece. Taking the time to know how to clean something properly can save headaches later.

3. Take the time to assess how old, delicate, precious or heavy an item is before cleaning it. If the item is moved will it fall apart? Or if you have to move a heavy item, such as a sculpture, can it be put back safely?

4. Examine items carefully to see if they can be cleaned safely. Test the cleaner you will be using with a white cloth or a Q-tip in an inconspicuous spot before cleaning the entire item.

5. You do not have to clean items in place. It may be easier to move the item and then clean it. When you do have to move something, place a cloth or towel under the object to cushion it.

6. No matter what decorative item you are working on, clean it slowly and carefully.

7. Clean these special items using dry methods if possible. A microfiber works well on many of these surfaces. If you must use a cleaning solution, apply as little solution as possible and remove it by blotting the solution. Ultrasonic cleaning may also be used on some items.

8. Be careful not to leave cleaning residue on the item. Leaving residue may leave a sticky surface on the item allowing it to collect dirt faster.

9. Replace any items that you moved for cleaning back to the same place you took it from.

10. If any damage or breakage occurs report it immediately. Never put a damaged item back in such a way as to hide what was broken. You have to be able to handle items to clean them and occasionally things may be broken or damaged.

It may not be a part of your cleaning proposal to clean decorative and unusual items in an office. But if it is, make sure you follow the proper protocol and treat your clients’ treasures as you would treat your own.

Steve Hanson is co-founding member of The Janitorial Store (TM), an online community for owners and managers of cleaning companies who want to build a more profitable and successful cleaning business. Sign up for Trash Talk: Tip of the Week at and receive a Free Gift!


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