Airing My Dirty Laundry (AKA: This sucks)
I had to run a load of laundry yesterday. I hadn’t done laundry since before I left on vacation so I had all my dirty clothes still in my suitcase plus a week’s worth of clothes and I was running out of clean items to wear. Granted, I work from home, but it was time!
As I’m loading up the second load, I looked down at the little door at the bottom of my washer. It contains the filter and you are supposed to clean it out every month. I’m not going to lie: I probably clean it every six months (or more).
You may be wondering: what does this have to do with pest control? It’s all about cleaning. And while we talk about sanitation quite a bit when it comes to pest control, we don’t talk about cleaning the cleaning equipment. So let’s talk about that!
Like cleaning my washer filter on a regular basis, cleaning equipment needs to be regularly cleaned, refreshed, and replaced. A mill I used to work with was having an issue with flour beetles and they were seeing some significant increases in some of their monitors. The weird part was they were finding high numbers in an area that didn’t have any food or food processing equipment.
What was going on? Thanks for asking! They stored their large vacuums in this room. Unfortunately, they were vacuuming (very well I might add), then putting the vacuums in this room. Without emptying them first. So all that milled product and the flour beetles they had sucked up provided a safe habitat and food source for the insects. They kept reproducing and finding their way out of the cracks of the vacuum into this room.
Another issue I have seen quite a bit is the industrial floor cleaners. These hardly ever get cleaned out and when you open up the liquid compartments they are…disgusting is not an adequate word. These cleaners also have a motor that keeps them warm (yes, even when they are turned off, they stay a little warmer) so they are perfect for pests. I’ve found cockroach, small fly, large fly, and even rodent infestations in these machines.
My favorite “clean the cleaning equipment” is mops. The mop heads get really dirty, they stay damp, and don’t get changed often enough. I’ve seen employees mop the floor and the floor ends up being dirtier than before they mopped. The mop buckets and the dumping drain are often just as dirty as the mops. Small flies have plenty of food, water, and shelter in all these spaces.
It’s also about cleaning properly. I could just take the filter out of my washer, shake it over my trash bin, and put it back. But all the “gunk” and hairs stuck on it wouldn’t get removed. It would get dirty again very quickly. One of my favorite stories is about a drain fly (moth fly) issue in a large bakery. They told me they were cleaning every week. Since small flies develop in about seven days, this should have taken care of the problem. For some reason, it wasn’t.
What was going on? Thanks for asking! The employee tasked with cleaning the drains was never trained. So they were dumping a bit of cleaner straight down the drain. They weren’t getting it to the edges and around the pipe where all the “gunk” was building up. Spending an extra minute to slowly pour the drain cleaner around the edges would have minimized the buildup. We also switched them to a foaming cleaner which was a better option.
Here are some other cleaning items to think about cleaning or replacing more often than you may do right now:
Brooms – yep, plenty of food and debris in those bristles.
Dry mops – see above with brooms!
Trash bins – how much is stuck under the plastic liner bag?
Dumpsters – those dumpster pads get pretty gross, fairly quickly.
Drain traps and covers – so much built up organic material gets caught here.
Any piece of equipment with a filter – cleaning these also makes them more effective and efficient.
I’m sure you can think of a few others as well. While you do that, I’m going to go clean out my washer’s trap. Wish me luck. Speaking of luck, you don’t need luck to get help with your pest problems, we can help you with that, contact us here!
Or if you need training…