Having cleaning tools at your fingertips saves you and your client time and money – but do you choose an apron or a caddy?
The benefit of wearing an apron or carrying a caddy with you when cleaning is you can be more efficient. Time spent running back and forth to another location to get tools and equipment is a waste of a technician’s time and training, and time is money. Everything you need to effectively clean the room you are in should be at your fingertips. But not everyone likes to carry a caddy or is comfortable wearing an apron, so let’s look at the pros and cons of each.

Aprons and Smocks
Aprons and smocks with pockets allow for safe and dry organization of small tools and spare towels. A larger variety of small tools can be carried in an apron as opposed to a caddy as you clean.  If you are consistent in what apron pocket you place your grout brush, colored scrubbies, scraper, gloves, melamine sponge, cotton swabs, spare towels and whatever else you’re trained to clean with, you will be able to grab it without having to waste time fishing around in your apron pockets for it. 

Your apron is also a convenient place to stow little pieces of trash, like the gum wrapper behind the plant in the corner, without having to stop and look for a trash can. 

Depending on the size of your cleaning spray bottles, they may fit comfortably into the apron pocket so you can carry them around that way. Some aprons even have loops which allow you to hang your cleaning products from your apron so you can even skip the act of looking around and trying to figure out where you left your all-purpose spray. 

However, aprons and smocks aren’t without their drawbacks:
 – Some cleaners don’t wear aprons because they can’t tie the apron around their waist. Extensions for larger sized people are available for some types of aprons. 
 – Another complaint is the apron gets in the way when bending over to clean showers and tubs. One option in this case is to move the apron to your side so it won’t be in your way, but the problem here is tools have a tendency to fall out of the apron in this position.
 – Some cleaners just prefer using the pockets in their pants to carry tools and sling extra towels over their shoulders. 
 – Smock aprons that cover both front and back and tie at the waist may be too hot to wear for some people, so cobbler aprons that tie around the neck and waist and leave the back open may be an option. 
 – Large chemical bottles may be too big or too many to carry comfortably in apron pockets or on apron loops; smaller chemical bottles are required for this use. 
 – Just like the clothes worn while cleaning, aprons get dirty and must be laundered, so each cleaner may need two to alternate on laundry days.

Caddies and Buckets
As with aprons and smocks, caddies and buckets are a great way to keep cleaning chemical bottles, brushes and vacuum attachments together as you travel around a house cleaning. They also have the added advantage of being able to handle drips from the wet work without compromising the technician’s uniform, or the client’s furniture, floors or carpet. 

Using a caddy or bucket efficiently does take training, concentrated effort and practice to help technicians remember to put their supplies back into the caddy when finished using them, but the resulting increase in productivity is well worth the trouble.

Some technicians find caddies and buckets hinder their performance:
 – The caddy must be the correct size in order to be useful. The larger the caddy, the more items it tends to collect; this adds unnecessary weight which makes it less likely to be carried with the technician. 
 – A larger caddy also means things easily can get lost among and under the spray bottles, wasting the technician’s time (and your labor budget) to look for them. 
 – A caddy that is too small may not be useful either; it may cause more items to be carried in the apron, causing the apron to hang uncomfortably with all the weight.
 – Caddies used to hold wet work tools must be maintained – regularly cleaned and wiped dry – to keep them looking neat and to prevent them from becoming a cross-contamination hazard.

The Importance of Training
Whether you select aprons, caddies or a combination of both for your technicians, your training should include proper assembly of items in their place, identification of each item and practice removing and returning items during the cleaning process. 

Caddies and aprons also increase efficiency and thus increase the amount of money one can earn, especially if cleaners are working on commission. It is not always clear, especially to new cleaners, how to use these tools to their advantage. Your technicians should be helped to understand that aprons and caddies, if used correctly, can help them clean better and even be less tired and sore at the end of their work day. If they have their equipment at hand when they need it, they will be less likely to forget to clean something because they don’t want to take the time right then to run to another room and search for it.

These movements – especially with your unique cleaning procedure – will not be intuitive; they must be taught and well-practiced before they can begin to save your technicians time and you money.

Bonus: Improve Brand Awareness with Aprons and Caddies
There are many important things to keep track of when you are a small business owner, but you shouldn’t diminish the importance of putting your name and logo on as many items in your business as you can. In the cleaning industry, two very cheap and easy things to brand are your equipment and your apron or caddy. 

For branding equipment and caddies, start simple with waterproof labels you can run through your printer and work up to purchasing a simple but professional label maker and waterproof labels as you hire more technicians or teams. Think of all of the items you can brand: caddies, vacuums, chemical bottles and anything else you use.

Tip: if you’ve got some non-competing business friends who could use a professional label maker, consider inviting them to share the expense and use of the equipment.

For branding aprons, purchase in bulk, even if you don’t need all of the aprons right now; you’ll get a lower price and possibly free set-up. Whether looking for silk screen printing or embroidering, consider the benefits of patronizing a local business in your area, even if your comparison shopping turns up a cheaper online option.

Janice Stewart is the owner of Castle Keepers and driving force behind the development of the Modern Cleaning approach, Janice brings her scientific and healthcare background to inform the development of effective, safe and healthy cleaning methods.