Introduction: How to Conduct a Cleaning Audit (Environmental Services Cleaning Verification)

About: We focus on infection control and hygiene information. We distribute Glo Germ, Glitterbug and other fluorescent materials. We also distribute black lights, infection control posters, CleanPen and other healt…

A cleaning audit can be conducted in ANY organization or home.  You don't have to be in a healthcare organization, food service or other germ hot spots to verify if the environment is cleaned often of illness and disease.

The benefits of conducting a cleaning audit once or on a normal basis include:
-Verify that areas are being cleaned by environmental service staff, employees or students
-Teach others how to clean properly and thoroughly
-Compile reporting data for management analyzes
-Get all the environmental cleaning staff on the same page
-Reward or punish with objective audit results instead of subjective judgments
-Give a visual for cleaning techniques (Glo Germ Fluorescent Powder)
-Increase the responsibility of the cleaning teams
-Experience less cleaning complaints or claims from clients
-Experience less employee absences from workplace illness

Steps to Conduct a Cleaning Audit:
1. Define Goals of the Audit
2. Develop a Tracking and Measurement Tool
3. Introduction Meeting
4. Conduct Cleaning and Audit
5. Retrain Students of Staff Based on Results
6. Reward or Punish Accordingly
7. Repeat Audits Until Optimal Results are Achieved

Auditing tools (such as Glo Germ, black lights, etc.) can be found here:
Glo Germ Gel-
Glo Germ Powder-
Black Lights-
Full Verification Kits-

Step 1: Define the Goal(s) of the Cleaning Audit

1. Define the Goal(s) of the Audit

Before an audit is be performed, you should clearly know the result you want to come from your efforts.  Conducting cleaning audits without defining the result, procedure, consequences and so forth can frustrate your team members rather than motivate them to clean more thoroughly.  Treat the audit more as a motivational campaign rather than negative test.  The following questions, steps and ideas will help you create a positive experience so that your organization or home can avoid illness and disease.

Start with the following questions to help define the optimal results you are expecting.

  • -Who will be verifying the cleaning test?  Who will  be evaluated (i.e. which departments, shifts, individuals, etc.)?
  • -What are the incentives and penalties associated with the cleaning audit?  What consequences will be effective to positively motivate team members towards optimal compliance?
  • -Where are the areas that will be marked for verification and will be checked on a normal basis?  Where will the records be available so that auditors and managers have access?
  • -When will the audit verifications take place?  When will the audit program begin and end?
  • -Why are the audit verifications important for management and team members?  Why will a clean area benefit your organization?
  • -How will the verification results be posted or communicated to the team members?  How will team members be educated for increased cleaning compliance?  How will the cleaning audit fit into other infection control campaigns and hygiene programs?

Step 2: Develop a Tracking and Measurement Tool for Your Audit (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Etc.)

2. Develop a Tracking and Measurement Tool.  

Tracking tools can easily be created on spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft Excel or applications can be created for smartphones or other mobile devices.  Don't fret if you don't know how to or have access to electronic tools.  You can always use a lined piece of paper in the beginning to start tracking the results of the cleaning audit(s). 

Attached to this instruction is a Jpeg/PDF of an example tracking tool made in Excel.  Make sure the tracking tool is understandable and can be used by all potential auditors.  Creating an electronic version is ideal so reports and analyses can easily be compiled.
However, starting off with a simple paper system may be the best solution to begin with.

Example headings for the tracking tool may include:
  • -Area Verified
  • -Name of Auditor
  • -Date of Audit
  • -Results (i.e. Pass, Fail, Clean, Dirty or have a rating system)
  • -Audit Notes

Step 3: Have an Introduction Meeting With All Team Members Involved

3. Have an Introduction Meeting.  

Meet with your staff, students, auditors and other team members involved to introduce the audit and goals associated with the cleaning campaign.  Meeting with them about the audit will help eliminate rumors that management is "checking up" on the staff.  Make the meeting positive by talking about benefits, rewards and encouraging the staff to do their best.  The meeting should not be used to accuse, demean or threaten the team members.

Communicate why this program is important and the positive implications of having a clean environment.  Getting your team members excited will help them support the program rather than fight it.  You will naturally have team members that are cynics but the better you communicate and motivate, the more smoothly your campaign will go.

Let the team members ask questions and even see a demonstration of the Glo Germ Verification System.  Simply use the Glo Germ Powder or Glo Germ Gel on a desk and show how the black light illuminates the material.  Show how cleaning eliminates the simulation germs.  If the germs remain, then the area is marked as "Fail" and so forth.

Step 4: Conduct the Cleaning Audit

4. Conduct the Audit(s).  The basics for conducting the audits include:

A: When team members are not present, secretly place the Glo Germ powder,clue spray or gel. The gel works best on hard surfaces such as tiles, counters, metal equipment, computers (keyboards, mouse, pens, etc.) and other surfaces.  Placing a small amount on your finger and marking a line, number or other symbol is sufficient.  Ensure it can dry and not be too noticeable. 
The fluorescent powder can also effectively be used on hard surfaces or on cloth surfaces too.  Powder works great on carpets, cloth room separators, chairs or other soft surfaces. *It is recommended to replicate the way that germs and other harmful materials are spread in the respective areas. 
B: Allow the cleaning to take place (immediately after placement or as the cleaning schedule indicates).  Do not share the spot locations or the amount of areas tested with those that are cleaning.  
C: As developed previously, conduct the audit after the cleaning has been completed.  Glo Germ shines under a UV black light which makes it easy to check whether the simulation germs were cleaned up or left in the areas.  According to your tracking sheet, indicate whether the area has passed or failed, date of audit and who conducted it. 
D: Compile the report(s) for management.  Gathering information is not helpful unless you use the data for improvement.  Compile the results in accordance to the audit goals that were established in an earlier step. Look for correlations that would be helpful in designing. We trainings and standards going forward.
E: Give out rewards or negative consequences based on results.  In order to maintain the integrity of the campaign, punish and reward

Step 5: Retrain Team Members Based on Cleaning Results

5. Retrain Team Members

Based on the goals of the cleaning audit, use the information gathered from the verifications to train and retrain your team members.  If your tracking method is working correctly.  You will start to see who is cleaning the best and the worst.  You will also see which areas are not being cleaned as much as others. 

The information gathered is very valuable because you no longer will lose precious training time with your staff talking about duties they are performing well.  You will be able to focus in on the areas that need the most improvement.

Step 6: Reward or Punish According to the Results

6. Reward or Punish According to the Results

In order to make the audit effective and have lasting impact, make sure your rewards and punishments are in line with the goals established in step 1.  Tying consequences to the audit will make it more meaningful for the team members involved. 

In order for the audit to maintain a positive reputation, you need to reward or punish quickly.  Some organizations are quick to punish but slow to reward.  This will ultimately hamper the motivation of your team members.  Make sure the rewards and punishments are visible so that other groups and departments can regroup and perform well for the next audit/verification.

Step 7: Repeat Until Optimal Results Are Reached

7. Repeat Until Optimal Results are Reached

Repetition of the cleaning audit will ultimately set up long term results for your organization.  Only conducting the verification once or twice will not get your team members in the habit of superior cleaning.

Teaching your employees that verifications will be the norm sets up better cleaning habits.  It will also be a great tool as you introduce new team members into the organization.  If the cleaning standards are set high as new people come, they will continue the great habits and likely won't have the same learning curve as tenured team members.

Again, your team members may arch their backs and may complain about being audited.  However, as standards are put in place, they should start seeing the benefits of having a cleaner environment. 

Good luck with your cleaning audits!  Together we can OUTFOX infection to avoid illness and disease!

Education Contest

Participated in the
Education Contest