What Does a Hospital Cleaner Do? (Plus How to Become One)
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Hospital cleaners provide cleaning services to hospitals and other healthcare settings, where they ensure a safe and hygienic environment for staff and patients. Through expert knowledge of cleaning products, procedures and equipment, they maintain the cleanliness of hospital floors, rooms, bathrooms and furniture. If you're interested in an entry-level job and wondering where a cleaning career can take you, you may like to learn more about what hospital cleaning involves. In this article, we answer the question 'What does a hospital cleaner do?', detail their daily duties and describe skills that may help you flourish in this role.
What does a hospital cleaner do?
To answer the question 'What does a hospital cleaner do?', a hospital cleaner uses products and specialised equipment to ensure that hospitals are clean and comply with infection control standards. They may work alongside a team of other cleaners and may complete tasks in all areas of a hospital. This could include waiting rooms, surgery and examination rooms, bathrooms and public thoroughfares.
Their duties may extend to removing bed linen and other waste and replacing necessary items, such as towels. A hospital cleaning role involves regular manual handling tasks and a good level of physical fitness. You may expect to spend much of your time standing, walking, bending and lifting. As cleaning typically requires minimal formal training, it can be a great entry-level job.
Daily duties of a hospital cleaner
Your duties as a hospital cleaner may vary between healthcare settings, but most require manual labour and a strong attention to detail. You can expect to undertake any of the following tasks:
Selecting cleaning products
A key role of hospital cleaners is to select the most appropriate cleaning product for each task. This may be essential for areas which require a high level of sanitation, such as surgery rooms. Choosing the correct disinfectant may ensure compliance with safety and health standards. They may also use specific sprays to achieve clean windows and bathroom mirrors.
Sweeping and mopping floors
Hospital cleaners are likely to vacuum, sweep and mop floors in all areas of a hospital. This requires them to remove all debris and then use hot water to wash and disinfect floors. They may also follow necessary safety procedures, such as using coloured cones to alert staff and patients of potentially slippery floors.
Operating cleaning equipment
Alongside basic cleaning tools such as vacuums, some hospitals may provide cleaners with specialised cleaning equipment. Cleaning staff develop a thorough knowledge of their purpose and typically learn how to operate each piece of equipment safely. For instance, hospital cleaners might use ride-on sweepers or scrubbers, which can clean floors without leaving wet and hazardous surfaces.
Cleaning patients' rooms
Hospital cleaners may also maintain comfortable and clean wards. They might wash and change bed-linen and ensure bathrooms are sanitary and well-stocked. They may also empty bins, dust and disinfect surfaces such as bedside tables and clean windows. Hospital cleaners may clean vases and remove old flowers and ensure they address any patient spills quickly.
Disposing of waste
To ensure safe and hygienic working standards, cleaners can expect to clear waste from many areas of a hospital. They might empty bins from patients' rooms, waiting areas or around canteens and food service machines. Hospitals may also train cleaners in how to dispose of hazardous materials, such as needles, from examination and surgery rooms.
Replacing hospital supplies
Another typical duty of hospital cleaners is to replace supplies. These might be bathroom items in patient rooms, such as towels, toilet paper, tissues or soaps. It might also include patient conveniences such as water cups in waiting rooms.
How to become a hospital cleaner
While hospital cleaning roles don't typically require formal training, these six steps may increase your chances of securing a hospital cleaning role:
1. Complete your high-school education
While you may find hospital cleaning roles with no formal education, some recruiters may prefer candidates who've graduated from high-school. This may show potential employers your ability to work independently and to follow and perform instructions. It might also demonstrate a strong work ethic and the ability to communicate effectively with other staff and members of your team.
2. Find casual cleaning jobs
You may gain cleaning experience while you finish your high-school studies. Prior experience is likely to impress recruiters and show them your knowledge of cleaning products and your compliance with certain standards. These jobs may not be in a healthcare setting. You might find part-time work cleaning private homes, local supermarkets or public conveniences.
3. Ensure a good level of physical fitness
Cleaning often involves spending large amounts of time on your feet. It may require you to carry heavy items or bend regularly to clean floors and bathrooms. Maintaining a good level of physical fitness means you may perform your duties with energy and stamina. You might highlight your fitness in the skills section of your application.
4. Write and update your resume
To show recruiting teams your experience and cleaning knowledge, include prior cleaning jobs on your resume and keep it updated. Recruiters are likely to look for recent cleaning experience and knowledge of cleaning products and processes. For each previous cleaning position, be specific about what products you used and key skills you may have gained. You might also list skills which apply to cleaning, such as an excellent attention to detail and strong time management.
5. Apply for hospital cleaning jobs
The last step is to submit your updated application to advertised cleaning roles. You may search online job boards to find full-time or part-time positions in your local area. Create a shortlist of jobs that interest you and customise your resume to match the position's keywords and professional requirements.
6. Consider a management role
As you gain experience as a hospital cleaner, you might take on greater responsibilities. For instance, there may be opportunities to manage cleaning teams in your hospital or across multiple hospitals. To enhance your application, you may consider formal leadership training, such as a Certificate IV in Leadership and Management. This course may give you the confidence and skills to lead and manage teams of cleaners.
Hospital cleaner skills
To maintain a hospital's high standards of cleanliness requires stamina, organisation and interpersonal skills. The following qualities might help you succeed as a hospital cleaner:
Hospital cleaning requires you to spend many hours on your feet and undertake a variety of manual tasks. Displaying physical stamina means you can perform each task to a consistently high standard. Activities such as cleaning bathrooms or mopping floors may also require some level of physical agility.
Attention to detail
Hospitals require cleaners to maintain a very high standard of cleanliness. Having an excellent attention to detail helps you uphold hygiene standards in all areas of the hospital. This might involve noticing a hazard, such as a spill on the floor or attending to a bathroom that requires fresh towels.
As a hospital cleaner, you may communicate regularly with other colleagues, patients and a range of hospital staff. Strong communication with team members ensures everyone is aware of their duties and that all areas of the building remain clean. You might also interact with doctors and nurses, who require accurate information on what cleaning tasks you have or haven't completed.
Displaying organisational skills can help hospital cleaners prioritise tasks and use their time efficiently. As a hospital cleaner, you may face unexpected duties, such as cleaning spills in waiting rooms. Strong time management may help you decide how long to spend on each task and which is most urgent.
While you may be under the direction of a senior staff member, cleaning often requires you to work on your own. Being able to follow instructions and perform them accurately is key to hospital cleaning. The role requires you to take initiative and solve any problems which may arise.
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