Cleaning must be considered at the construction planning stage
Care must be taken to ensure that the value of a property is maintained. Niina Kesti, the founder of the pioneering mould removal company Poistoa, believes that architects and interior designers should take the ease of keeping premises clean into account at the planning stage.
Good property maintenance can bring the owner direct savings. Real estate availability and employee wellbeing are known to be better in properties that are proactively maintained. By thinking ahead, repair costs and staff absenteeism can be kept under control.
“A good cleaning service has goals. It is not just a matter of emptying the rubbish – cleaning helps to ensure a genuinely safe, healthy and pleasant environment. It supports the activities carried out on the premises,” Kesti says.
She recalls one case of a new building where the architects had forgotten that the door of a washing machine would have to be opened for filling and emptying the machine. The adjacent wall was too close to the machine to allow for its normal use.
“There are certain basic things that it can’t be assumed everyone will know. For example, textile mats shouldn’t be put everywhere, even if it’s good for acoustics. With larger construction projects, such as hospitals, a cleaning consultant is often included in the design team. For smaller projects, this will happen less often. From time to time, you come across properties where vacuum cleaning is difficult because there aren’t enough electrical sockets.”
It all adds up
In Kesti’s view, a growing trend in property maintenance is that property users aim to set themselves apart from the competition, thereby improving sales or their image.
“A pleasant negotiating environment can affect customer choices. The starting point for cleaning services is of course a good standard of hygiene, but it can also increase the attractiveness of premises. The role of cleaners is much more multidimensional than is often imagined.”
Professional cleaning makes extensive use of chemical and technology skills. Cleaners need to understand what they are doing, and why.
“Operators in the sector increasingly aim to use environmentally friendly products and chemicals. This is also reflected in property services training, but nonetheless chemicals are overused. For example, surfaces are disinfected for no good reason,” Kesti says.
From observations to action
As Kesti sees it, cleaning services should be part of the monitoring of the condition of properties.
“The things that first catch a cleaner's attention are changes in the colour and odour of surfaces, for instance, which may be signs of problems with indoor air quality. Unlike other people, cleaners usually visit all areas of a property, so they see more,” Kesti notes.
Every visitor to a property can also assess whether there is an abnormal smell in the air and whether the ventilation is working properly. Kesti encourages people to voice any concerns they have in these regards. Experts can then assess the situation. The essential thing is that problems are tackled at an early stage.
“Indoor air problems are not always problems involving mould. In addition to moisture and microbial damage, industrial mineral fibres can be a problem, for example.”
A pioneer in mould removal
Founded in 2013 in Ruskola, under Kesti's leadership Poistoa has flourished to become a company employing more than a hundred professionals in the cleanliness industry. The company is especially known for its mould removal expertise. Poistoa’s customers include housing cooperatives, companies, municipalities, and town and city councils, as well as construction companies.
Kesti has received many awards for entrepreneurship, and is a sought-after trainer for events in the sector. She is reportedly the only person in Finland who has completed both cleaning and construction training.
“Cleaning agents, equipment, methods and tools are constantly evolving. A quick wipe with a cloth is no longer enough,” Kesti points out. “High-quality cleaning always requires trained and skilled personnel, and professional-standard equipment must be used.”