When it comes to cleaning during the holidays, the time, money and quality of cleaning relate more to the load of possessions than to the size of a building.
While most of the world delights in preparing for the upcoming holiday season, the contract cleaner might be justified in saying, “Bah, humbug!” Before you judge us as a bunch of “Scrooges,” understand that cleaners, more than the rest of society, have reason to be a bit less excited about the season’s upcoming celebrations. After all, we’re the group that sets up, manages the ongoing mess and finally cleans up from every holiday all year long. 

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For us, a one-day holiday can last for months. First, every building we care for is decorated both inside and out. The “out of daily routine” raid on our schedules continues from the moment the first decorations go up, though the holiday itself, and until each “season” is finally over. Shelves, aisles, tables, walls, staircases, offices, bathrooms, and much more must be incorporated into each building’s holiday marketing theme. In addition to our regular building maintenance, we must now clean hundreds of additional items and try to work around them to keep the building itself clean.  

I admit it—years of cleaning retail establishments, especially grocery stores, has left me a bit jaded. At Easter, customers drop and crush jelly beans and marshmallow eggs onto our beautiful waxed floors. Chocolate bunny butts are smeared alongside the counter and aisles that we clean so carefully. Valentine’s Day—that all important recognition of love and kindness for everyone except the janitor— starts thirty days before with loads of cheap chocolate, broken candy packages and heart-shaped labels stuck to the floor with some type of super glue adhesive. Halloween is little more than a pagan holiday for janitors. It’s filled with flimsy displays that are created with cheap paint that stains the floor and fall over when they are within thirty inches of our vacuum air. At Thanksgiving, there is no “thank you” for the janitor who cleans up more than just gravy drippings. Tissue paper and plastic turkey souvenirs, hats and straw cornucopias bloat trashcans and increase the time it takes to clean. 

Do you get the picture here? Before we get to the bonanza of all holiday seasons—Christmas, followed by New Year’s—be reminded that the time, money and quality of cleaning relate more to the load of possessions than to the size of a building. I won’t even touch these last two holidays with my ten-foot squeegee pole (which, by the way, always disappears out of the janitor closet when lone stars need to be set atop pine trees). It is all the “stuff” generated by these holidays that increases the time and expense of a cleaning contract, and usually the complaints, too. There are more dispensers to fill, more dumpsters to empty, more surfaces to dust, more accidents that happen and more circuits that blow during the holiday chaos. 

Each year contract cleaners prepare for another, bigger and longer holiday season. We increase our staff and work longer hours to maintain the overflow. We prepare ourselves to look past the waste and try our best to control the holiday havoc wreaked on the buildings we maintain. So please excuse us if the holidays don’t make us quite as jolly as the rest of the population. And as for that newest holiday fabrication, Black Friday, our wish is that everyone would just take the day off and de-junk their properties. Now that would be cause for celebration! 

Don Aslett is founder of Varsity Facility Services and The Museum of Clean. Known as “America’s #1 Cleaning Expert,” he is a sought-after media source, popular speaker and bestselling author.