A cleaner and more organised facility is proven to be a far more safe and effective work environment. With floors clear of debris and products ordered efficiently, it also creates a professional atmosphere for staff, suppliers and customers.

As part of our series on effective warehouse processes, this post outlines the importance of keeping a tidy storage space, and a few helpful ways to keep on top of the cleaning duties.

What are the benefits of a clean and tidy warehouse?

1. Create a safe and happy place to work
Any area where materials handling equipment is operating, it’s vital to reduce the number of hazards. Rubbish, spills and products left in aisles or walkways become an obstacle that can cause a trip or fall, or obstruct the line of vision of those operating a forklift. Keeping the warehouse clean and tidy will reduce these occupational safety risks, and help keep your staff safe and happy.

2. Promote professionalism
A messy warehouse gives the impression of sloppiness, which is not a quality of a professional organisation. A clean storage space, promotes a diligent and effective work environment that encourages staff members to maintain a high level of professionalism. It also gives a good impression to any suppliers or clients who walk through the warehouse.

3. Improve business processes
Getting more done in less time is the ultimate aim of all businesses. One way to increase productivity is with a clean and organised warehouse.

Keeping warehouse aisles and walkways clear will mean there is more room to move in the warehouse, reducing the time it takes for forklifts and manual pickers to navigate the space. Organising your products will also make it much faster to locate and pick products from the pallet spaces.

Additionally, allocating a clear space for packing products (and keeping it tidy) creates an orderly space where packing can be done correctly, and consistently.

How to make light work of the warehouse clean up

When it comes to getting stuck into the cleaning, there are a few ways to reduce the time and impact this has on you and your staff. Leaving everything for the annual end of year clean up is simply not going to be effective in the long run.

However, with a little encouragement, you can incorporate cleaning duties into the regular day-to-day processes for you and your team and have a neat and tidy warehouse all year round. Here’s how:

1. Create a cleaning roster

The sheer size of some warehouses makes the task of cleaning quite onerous. Instead of tackling one massive cleaning job, it can help to focus one aspect at a time, and regularly rotate through a set range of tasks to help stay on top of the overall space. Make a list of all the cleaning tasks (or use our list – click here), and allocate a couple of achievable tasks to each week or month.

2. Check and tidy up pallet spaces

Ensuring pallets are packed correctly will make it easier to pick products later. And sorting small parts within your shelving will make it easier to find items for an order or any given job. This will also help to identify any slow moving stock or out-of-date stock.

3. Make the clean up part of the process

Cleaning up excess packing materials, as well as metal or wood shavings from the warehouse floor shouldn’t be left for the next clean up. This should be a clean as you go task. For jobs that are known to create a mess, build the clean up into the regular process. A job then isn’t considered finish unless the final clean up task is complete.

4. Clear waste bins regularly

This may sound like a no-brainer, yet an overflowing bin isn’t an uncommon sight. Not only can items thrown onto the trash heap easily fall onto the floor and become a tripping hazard, it can clutter up the space making it feel disorganised. Rubbish bins should be emptied regularly – before they start to overflow.

5. Assign responsibilities

There are some tasks that can’t wait until they are scheduled on a roster. Things like emptying bins when full, sweeping the floor, picking up rubbish, cleaning up spills, as well as keeping an eye on the pallet racking and reporting any hazards should be tended to immediately. Giving each staff member, or team, the responsibility of looking after a specific area of the warehouse will help manage the daily cleaning needs.

6. Make it easy

Keeping cleaning equipment and supplies readily accessible encourages staff to get on top of the cleaning duties as required. Larger warehouses may require several sets of brooms and mops, etc. to prevent staff from having to walk a few hundred metres to find something to clean up a spill. And having several bin locations will help ensure all rubbish ends up in the right place. It means there are no excuses, and no wasted time tracking down everything needed to clean up after a job or any other incidences in the warehouse.

7. Make it clear

Communicating the cleaning duties is just as important as doing them. Holding a staff meeting and following up with an email and posters with instructions can help promote a cleaner space. Regular reminders will help stay on top of your cleaning plan, and it’s also important to lead by example.

8. Review and repeat

As with any plan, it’s important to regularly review your checklist of cleaning responsibilities to find if there are any improvements to be made. Don’t forget the office too – sorting out the paperwork will help ensure clearer communication and better outcomes out in the warehouse.

Download our checklist of warehouse cleaning duties.