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Disinfectants – Are We Doing More Harm than Good?

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Friday, June 2, 2017

By Bruce Vance


Bruce Vance – Owner – Town & Country CleaningIt’s a common belief that in order to have a clean and healthy home every surface must be disinfected. In fact, one cleaning company has advertised that they will fog your whole home with a disinfectant to disinfect the entire dwelling. But is all this disinfection necessary, or are we really doing more harm than good with all this disinfectant use?


What are disinfectants?
Disinfectants are biocides, things that kill life, that are regulated by the EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). In order to be called a disinfectant, a product must undergo extensive testing to show that it will meet its kill claims and that it is safe, when used as directed by the manufacturer and specified on the product label. The EPA approves the product and the label before the product can be sold as a disinfectant. The label on all disinfectants and disinfectant cleaners will start with the words “It is a violation of Federal Law to use this product in any way not indicated on the label.” It is worth noting that these products are regulated as pesticides and may require the use of personal protection equipment per label instructions. Would we get a different reaction if we told clients we were going to spray pesticides all over their kitchen counters?


Sanitized, or disinfected?
Are we actually disinfecting when we use these products? Many disinfectants are inactivated by organic matter, so most require cleaning first, reapplying the disinfectant, and keeping it wet for a specified time, often as long as 5 to 10 minutes. How many of us do this? Most of the time when we spray a disinfectant cleaner, we wipe it up right away and believe the surface is disinfected. Unfortunately, we most likely have not. The surface may be sanitized, but it is doubtful that the threshold of disinfection has been achieved. A couple of definitions here: 1) Sanitizing is bringing a surface to a level of cleanliness considered safe for human health; 2) Disinfection requires achieving a kill rate of 99% or greater of the listed pathogens.


How are disinfectants properly applied?
Many customers expect that we use disinfectant cleaners but in most cases it is impractical for cleaning services to follow proper disinfection methods in a high production business model. Of course in those instances we may not make a disinfection claim. But is there any harm in using disinfectants to merely sanitize?  Of several recent studies, the most alarming is one from the University of Ireland in 2010 in which Pseudomonas bacteria were exposed to disinfectants that were either improperly mixed or used. The bacteria became resistant to the disinfectant, but more alarmingly, 240 times more resistant to the antibiotics used to treat an infection of the bacteria.  There is evidence that misuse of disinfectants may be contributing to bacterial antibiotic resistance.


Where are disinfectants properly used?
Don’t get me wrong. Properly used in the right places disinfectants prevent infections, disease and save lives. They are certainly appropriate in hospitals and many health settings. But, in normal residential cleaning there are other, possibly better options. A study at the University of California, Davis showed that high quality micro fiber cloths were able to remove 99% of soil and bacteria from a hard surface with just water. That compared to a 33% removal rate for cotton cloths. Some of the micro fiber manufacturers have 3rd party lab tests showing up to a 99.99% removal rate with just water. These figures compare very well with disinfectants when they are used correctly. Another option is steam, with some manufacturers claiming disinfection in as little as 3-5 seconds for some machines.


When might it be reasonable to use a disinfectant in residential cleaning?  It could be a good last step after cleaning up any bodily fluids. If there is an influenza, norovirus, or similar outbreak in the home, using a disinfectant on touch points might make sense. Touch points are those areas such as door knobs, phones, toilet and sink handles, etc. that people frequently handle and so can be a transfer point for disease. When disinfecting it is important to clean each surface with a fresh surface, meaning use a fresh disinfectant wipe or turn your cloth to a fresh surface for each touch point. In one study using disinfectant wipes they found that by the 3rd doorknob they cleaned with the same wipe they were adding, not eliminating germs.


Bottom line? Follow the label.
When disinfectants are misused we not only fail to achieve disinfection, we may actually contribute to antibiotic resistance as well. In most residential cleaning scenarios there are less toxic and problematic ways to achieve a sanitary home. In the instances where it may be appropriate to use them, it’s important to follow label directions carefully. Only through proper use will these products remain a blessing to us and not a curse.



A 22-year veteran of the cleaning industry, Bruce and his wife Sarah run a million-dollar house cleaning company in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. His passion for excellence in cleaning and for protecting his customers and their possessions has led him to research the scientific and technical aspects of the cleaning profession. Today he is widely recognized by the industry as an expert in all aspects of residential cleaning. Bruce is a Master Textile Cleaner and holds 16 industry certifications. At the 2017 ISSA Convention, Bruce will be leading a session based on the popular game show “Jeopardy.” Along with Cloud Conrad, Bruce and Sarah Vance will quiz attendees during their closing session on Monday, September 11, “IT'S NOT A GAME! What You Don't Know About Cleaning Can Put your Business in JEOPARDY!”

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Here's What You Need to Know to Make Your Hotel Reservations for the 2017 Show in Las Vegas

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Friday, June 2, 2017

ARCSI has a room block at Bally's Las Vegas for the 2017 ISSA/INTERCLEAN North America Trade Show and ISSA Convention. Rooms are just $79 in the room block.


Here's what you need to do to reserve your room at this rate:


  1. Click here to visit the Hotel Reservation page.
  2.  Click 'OK' if you receive a message that 'Time's Up' for your session.
  3. From the dropdown menu, select 'ARCSI' and click 'View Hotels.'
  4.  Select Bally's at $79 per night.
  5.  From there, follow the instructions to reserve a room for the nights you will be at the Show.


Reservation Deadline is August 21, 2017. But the ARCSI room block will likely be full long before that date. Book your room today if you plan to attend the 2017 Show in Las Vegas!

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6 Ways to Delegate Effectively at Work

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Thursday, May 18, 2017

Are you an effective delegator? Too many bosses believe that if you want it done right, do it yourself. And really you aren't alone. According to a Gallup study, 75 percent of employer entrepreneurs have limited-to-low levels of delegator talent. But for your business to grow, it is necessary to delegate. Here are six tips on how to delegate effectively from U.S. News blogger Hallie Crawford.


  1. Know whom to ask. You know your staff – you know their strengths and weaknesses. Delegate the jobs to them that you know they can handle. But avoid overtasking them – you don't want to overburden them and make it impossible for them to get the tasks done.
  2. Give it a trial run. If you have selected an employee to delegate tasks to, consider giving them a “test” task. This way you can test their reliability and still let them be successful
  3. Make sure the task is explained clearly. When delegating, you never want to set an employee up for failure so be sure to thoroughly explain what you want, give them good instructions and any answer any questions that they may have. Spending the time on the front end ensures the task is done right and there isn't any “fixing” to be done on the backend.
  4. Set clear deadlines. Be sure to set a clear deadline. Giving a deadline an “urgent” or an “ASAP” makes it vague and open to interpretation.
  5. Have reasonable expectations. Being able to delegate, means you are going to have to let someone else do the job. And you have to accept that they may not do the job the exact way that you would. If you try to force them to do it the exact way you do, you will micromanage the project – which isn't really delegating. Check in on them but give them some freedom to do the job themselves.
  6. Don't take back the project. If you take back something you delegated, you just told the employee that you don't trust them. Again, they may not do it exactly the way that you would but if it is finished in an acceptable way, you should thank them and recognize them for their contributions.



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It’s That Time!

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Registration opened this week for the Residential Cleaning Connection package at the ISSA/INTERCLEAN Show. Between working with our new teammates in Chicago and the great job Amy King and her Convention Committee have done, we have an exciting agenda. We have managed to bring together the tried and true and the shiny and new. (See story below).


Every year our Convention Committee has the challenge of putting together an education line up with programming for our members that must have topics of interest for everyone from start ups to $2M companies. We cover the topics that you tell us are of the most interest to you, but we also try and bring some new faces to the table. Our speakers cover cleaning issues and general business topics, but we also think it is part of our job to bring you speakers that make you step out of your comfort zone and cause you to stretch a little. 


The most exciting aspect of this year’s show is the new “Residential Cleaning Pavilion” on the show floor. The 2800 sq ft portion of the show floor will be dedicated to ARCSI and vendors who have a connection to the residential community. Your favorites are also back, including our roundtables on Monday night. 


There are some new procedures this year regarding registration. We are now part of ISSA so our registrations are going through the ISSA registration portal. It will be a little different, but do not hesitate to contact us, if you need assistance registering. Because of our merger, we are also able to offer you an exceptional value, and a registration fee that is only $249. This package includes all of our evening events, education on Monday (including free lunch at the Lunch & Learn), Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and access to the show floor. 


One final note, the ISSA Foundation holds a golf tournament on Sunday. I would love to put together an ARCSI Foursome to support the Foundation. If you’re interested in participating, contact me at


See you at the Show!


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Garman’s Cleaning Wins 2017 ARCSI/Cleaning for a Reason Photo Contest

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, April 26, 2017

 Congratulations to Garman’s Cleaning in Manheim, Pennsylvania, for winning the ARCSI/Cleaning for a Reason Photo Contest. The contest was held in honor of the 2017 Cleaning for a Reason Week.


Photo Contest Winner


In 2014 we began Cleaning for a Reason services with beloved mother Aimee. Raising two children while undergoing treatment took much of her energy. One appointment, our staff members came across a hand written letter from Aimee's daughter to her mother. It read "Dear Mommy, I hope you feel better. I love you no matter if you don't have hair, you are still beautiful! Love, Marcella" Cleaning for a Reason is such a beautiful group that helps let women battling cancer focus on treatment, recovery, and family! #ARCSIC4R







Photo Contest Honorable Mention


We wanted to give this photo an Honorable Mention. Tresha McCarty’s team at Custom Maid in Owasso, Oklahoma did a great job coming up with a photo idea for the photo contest.



I am so proud of my team! I asked my Custom Maid team to help with ideas for this contest and while I was attending a workshop they created this incredible photo to submit! I am more than blessed! (Hands of a few Custom Maid team members and chalk drawing.)













At ARCSI, we are so extraordinarily proud to support Cleaning for a Reason and the work they do. It is says so much about our industry that so many of our cleaning companies give generously of their time and talents to offer free cleaning services to women that are undergoing treatment for cancer.


Cleaning For A Reason strives to aid women who are battling cancer by teaming up with cleaning services across the United States and Canada. Together, these two forces offer free maid services to meet the needs of women, and since 2006 have donated up to $6,000,000 worth of free services. Based in Lewisville, TX, Cleaning For A Reason works with more than 1,200 residential cleaning services and continues to grow and gain support. To learn more about Cleaning For A Reason, please visit the website at:



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It’s Cleaning for a Reason Week!

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Not that you can’t celebrate Cleaning for a Reason every week, but we take extra time this week in April to remember what Cleaning for a Reason is and why we participate.


“This is a great opportunity to give back to our community,” Deborah Crowley of Exclusive Cleaning Services shared during a special Hot Topic Tuesday on April 18. “You never know about someone’s journey.”


The journey of a cancer patient is never easy. It is too often filled with tears, exhaustion and frustration, at the very least. Cleaning for a Reason steps in and helps to alleviate at least one concern for cancer patients. So many members of ARCSI, A Division of ISSA participate in Cleaning for a Reason and we are so proud of the work they so generously offer to cancer patients free of charge.


Special thanks to Debbie Sardone and Lynn Frankenfield for the work they do and for joining ARCSI on the special Hot Topic Tuesday.


“There is a great feeling that comes with participating in Cleaning for a Reason,” Debbie Sardone said. She also reminded participants that there is also a business reason to participate as well. “The good you do will come back ten-fold.”


“I wanted to share that we have generated business because of what we do with Cleaning for a Reason,” Donna Garman of Garman’s Cleaning. “I have had many new customers tell me that they chose us because they have heard about our work with Cleaning for a Reason. Our customers like to see that we participate.”


Be sure to check out the video from the Cleaning for a Reason 2016 Volunteer Day on YouTube.


And to find out more about Cleaning for a Reason and how you can participate, please visit their website.

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ARCSI & Cleaning for a Reason Photo Contest

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Monday, April 10, 2017
Updated: Friday, June 2, 2017


We want to show the world that members of ARCSI, A Division of ISSA support Cleaning for a Reason. This year we are going to have a photo contest and winner gets one free Residential Member package to the 2017 ARCSI Education Conference and Show.




We want you to submit pictures of your team showing their support for Cleaning for a Reason. They could be:

  • Decked out in the “pink” gear
  • Cleaning for a Cleaning for a Reason patient
  • Showing support in some way for Cleaning for a Reason

We are sure our many members have taken pictures over the years. Share them now and get a chance to win a free registration to the 2017 ARCSI Education Conference & Show.


To be entered, pictures must be submitted on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag: #ARCSIC4R




All pic

tures submitted on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #ARCSIC4R will be considered.


Companies can enter multiple photos.




Winner will be selected by the ARCSI and Cleaning for a Reason staff teams.


Winner will receive one (1) Residential Member package to the ARCSI 2017 Education Conference & Show which is Sept. 10-14, 2017, in Las Vegas. Winner assumes all other costs to the event, including travel and hotel.


ARCSI retains the right to reject any photo for any reason.


Photos become property of ARCS, A Division of ISSA to be used in other future promotional materials


Tags:  Cleaning for a Reason 

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Hiring Independent Contractors for cleaning

Posted By Dhruval Patel, Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, April 4, 2017


I started my cleaning referral agency and I have the hardest time hiring independent contractors to start with my company. 


I post on Indeed and I get many applicants. I then text them to either fill out online application and other forms which did not go well as some try to fill it out and send incomplete application. I provide them clear direction on what to do with these online application. Some don't even respond to text.


I then tried texting these applicants to meet to discuss the position and fill out the forms in person. This is also not successfully as most cancel on me last minute or don't even respond.


Is anyone experienced this or experiencing this? It is so frustrating to deal with this unprofessional behavior. I can't start marketing to get clients because I am stuck with no staff. I have 2 staff ready but I need more. 


I feel that if you want to work then why not show that you want the job. 


I really need advise on what I should do to hire reliable independent contractors.




Tags:  employees  hiring  human resources  Interviewing 

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Empowered Cleaning Supervisors Free Owners from Having to Micromanage

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Friday, March 3, 2017

By Sharon Tinberg


The first week of February took me to Seattle, Washington. What a GREAT city, even if it did snow three inches my first night there. It is a city full of success stories generating hope and excitement, which was also true of the office I visited. The owners were excited from the remarkable growth they achieved in 2016 and were filled with hope that increased growth could also be accomplished in 2017, but this year with the added benefit of fewer operational challenges.

This is one more common theme I have heard in the 18 offices I have visited in the past 1 ½ years. Owners everywhere are hoping for shorter work days and less stress from their business. I have yet to meet an owner who does not dream of managing their business from a remote location – like an island somewhere. There is the paradox. You can lead a service industry from a remote location but you cannot manage it from afar. The actual management of cleaners requires on site presence from a person of influence. With our tight margins, how can owners afford a person of influence in every home? Promote one of the cleaning partners to the position of supervisor and then teach them how to become a person of influence with their partners, that’s how.



"You can lead a service industry from a remote location
but you cannot manage it from afar."


I have witnessed two types of cleaning teams while observing cleaners in the field cleaning homes.

  • One type of team has co-team leaders where all team members are responsible for organizing the team and insuring the home is left spotless.
  • The second cleaning team is one with no designated leaders/managers where the team is instructed to just work together as a team and look out for one another’s errors.

I always ask owners who work under either of these models “When a key is lost who is ultimately responsible for that lost key?” I can ask the same question regarding the quality of the cleaning. “Who is ultimately responsible for walking the home at the end and insuring all fringes on carpets are straightened, no cleaning clothes have been left behind and the alarm was actually set?” If you have not delegated this responsibility to a sole person on a team then you end up dealing with the issues when the client calls complaining about the fringe not being straight and the cleaning cloth left lying on the sofa. I ask the key question instead of the quality question because it is more finite and does not lend as well to the answer “Well they all watch out for one another.” Either question leaves the same results, something left not perfect because no one felt ultimately responsible for leaving it perfect.

New cleaning partners feel more assured when they have confidence in the knowledge and skill level of the supervisor they are working with on their team.

Clients will also have more confidence with discussing their cleaning concerns with a eam supervisor if they are clearly the “person in charge.” This one change alone will stop your phone from ringing. After all, it is the cleaning team that needs to fix the problem, and they can on the spot, rather than the client having to look at it until they call the office and you get someone out there to fix the cleaning.

Many of the offices I visit do not have team supervisors because all of the team members say they cannot speak English so the client could not communicate with them. First, never put a cleaning team in a home where at least one person on the team is not at least 40% bilingual and then get them to 90% bilingual within a year. When I visit offices and ask team members if they speak English and they say “pequito.” I start talking in English. You would be surprised how much English these cleaners actually speak. Have team supervisors start learning a minimum of 10 English words per week and partners a minimum of 5 English words per week. All of my cleaners who came to me without speaking a word of English were at least 60% bilingual within 2 years. And really, owners, this is where you gain the greatest satisfaction from your career. You have changed a person’s life, and the lives of their family members, forever, when you teach them to speak English. Mothers can now go to their children’s parent/teacher conferences and actually engage in their child’s education. What other paid job results in so much personal satisfaction?

Owners are only one being and cannot be everywhere all of the time. In order to grow you need to stop checking every house that is cleaned. When we cleaned 95 homes per day it was simply impossible to check them all. If you can’t check them all then you need to think of a different way to ensure quality in each and every home. My working team supervisors were my alternative to checking each home. Did it work? My company had 754 repeat clients and we never quality checked a home from an office perspective. Our working team supervisors were ultimately responsible for that task.

When you have key supervisors in place, you have started the ground work for a tiered-organizational chart which makes growth manageable and almost easy. When you have enough teams and supervisors you simply add a field operations manager and you are ready to lead your company remotely.

In my next article I will cover the field operations manager position that has been my main focus of training in the past 4 offices I have visited and will be my main focus for the next 10 days when I reach Annapolis in two hours. What an amazing and small world we live in!


Sharon Tinberg is a national residential cleaning service coach who has worked with cleaning companies across North America. 

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Ten Tips for Training Your Staff

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Monday, February 27, 2017

From Debbie Sardone, The Maid Coach


Training is one of the most important things you can do in your business. So many business owners don't have a training program in place, they simply rely on seasoned employees to bring newbies up to speed. Here are ten tips to getting your training program up to speed. I also have an in-depth bootcamp you can purchase that will help you achieve perfect maintenance cleaning with your staff.


  1. Train the trainer - just because they can clean doesn't mean they know how to train the new person.
  2. Teach technique over results - emphasize technique, show step-by-step how to clean with less focus on results. Don't talk about the clean mirror, talk about the exact steps it takes to get that clean mirror.
  3. Financially incentivize trainers to want to train new staff. Reward your trainers instead of asking them for favors. Give a bonus during the weeks that they train.
  4. Keep the trainer's schedule consistent and predictable. Make sure your trainer has their set of usual houses and avoid adding a lot of first time cleans to the schedule. The predictability of schedule creates a better environment for training and less stress for the trainer.
  5. Give the trainers a step-by-step process to follow and teach. Give them something tangible they can hold in their hand. (The best training manual on the planet can be purchased here).
  6. Meet with your trainers often to refine their skills. Talk about the challenges of training and give guidance and suggestions. Collaborate to improve the training program.
  7. Evaluate the trainers and let the trainee rate their trainer. Get feedback from the trainees directly.
  8. Help the trainer understand they are not the trainee's peer. Let them see themselves as an authority and to be able to come to you with concerns about the people you've hired if they are showing signs of poor character, low integrity, or just not following the training instructions.
  9. Teach the trainer who they should be loyal to - loyalty should be with you, the business owner, not the person who they've worked with for a few days. They should be looking out for your best interests, not those of the person they've just met.
  10. Help them understand that many trainees don't work out. Otherwise trainers could get discouraged and quit. Let them know it's a numbers game and that normally we only retain about 50% of trainees, or whatever your usual rate is.


For more from Debbie, visit her website.


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