You wouldn’t neglect to clean inside your office, factory or home as it’s well known that a clean interior is impressive to potential customers and clients, and helps to keep employees happy and productive.
Don’t neglect the outside of your commercial premises too; it’s just as important. A dirty and neglected building is unlikely to attract the best people for you to work with (in fact it may even drive people away!) and you want to portray the best possible image to all of your customers and staff. You may think it’s costly to clean the exterior of your building but neglecting to clean and maintain your building’s exterior could cost you a lot more in the long run.
Here’s why it is so important to clean the exterior of your building and how you can put together the right cleaning programme for your business premises.
Table of Contents
- Is it Important to Clean Your Building Exterior?
- Creating a Great First Impression
- Cleaning Will Protect Against Degradation
- Improves the Value of Your Property
- Provides a Better Working Environment
- Keeps Your Tenants Happy
- Spot Any Structural Issues Before They Worsen
- Keep Good Relationships With Your Neighbours
- How Often Should You Clean Your Building’s Exterior?
- Areas You Should Focus on When Cleaning
- Footpaths, Walkways and Stairs
- Windows and Doors
- The Roof
- Car Park
- External Signage
- What Types of Cleaning do You Need?
- Pressure Washing
- Render Cleaning
- Gutter Cleaning
- DOFF Cleaning
- TORC Cleaning System
- Window Cleaning
- Gardening and Grounds Maintenance
- What Cleaning Methods Should You Use?
- Brick and Stone
- Who Should Clean the Exterior of my Building?
- Hire a Professional Cleaning Company
- How to Select the Best Company For Your Cleaning
- How to Clean Your Building’s Exterior Yourself
- How to Clean Stone
- How to Clean Glass
- How to Clean Wood
Creating a Great First Impression
People tend to judge a company based on their first impressions of their building. After all, it is the first thing they see upon arrival and it, therefore, represents your business. Cleaning the exterior of your building, including the windows and facias, is crucial to guarantee a great first impression for your business. You should want your building to look aesthetically pleasing and for it to become a reflection of your brand values.
You’ll want to make a great first impression on anyone arriving at your commercial premises; partners, clients, customers and even potential staff members. Your building should be a representation of your business and your level of professionalism. A clean building façade sends out the right message, helping you to maintain a great reputation and therefore attract more customers. Your building is part of your brand message and having it regularly cleaned will show your attention to detail.
If you have customer-facing premises, like a shop or retail outlet, having a scruffy and dirty exterior could confuse your customers. It may look as if your business is closed or run down and so they could be deterred from coming through the door.
If it’s a residential building which you’re trying to sell or rent out, it must appeal on all levels, including the exterior. You’re not just selling an apartment or house; you’re selling a lifestyle and you want the exterior to look like the kind of place where someone would want to live.
Cleaning Will Protect Against Degradation
If you don’t carry out external maintenance on your building you may start to experience extensive structural problems which will take longer and cost more to fix in the long run.
Algae and mould may start to grow on your surfaces if you neglect the cleaning of your building and this may start to cause issues. These can be acidic and are especially damaging if you have wooden elements to your building’s exterior. If your building is by the coast, you may find that salt deposits from the sea damage your building’s surface coatings, and so these will need to be cleaned off as soon as possible.
Premature ageing problems like cracks, peeling paint, mould and dry rot can be prevented by regularly maintaining your building’s exterior and this will help to save you a lot of money in repairs further down the line.
With the dirt and debris on your building’s façade, algae and mould could be hiding and growing underneath. This could cause a health risk to your staff or visitors, especially those who already suffer from allergies or underlying health problems.
Inhaling damp and mould fragments or spores can cause respiratory issues causing wheezing, chest tightness and coughing and may even reduce the function of the lungs and cause chronic health conditions like asthma.
If the outside of your building is dirty, it could be harbouring harmful germs. Germs can cause illnesses which can be easily and quickly spread throughout your workforce and cause people to be off sick. This can harm your business’s productivity and cause inconvenience, so it’s something that would be better avoided.
Moss, algae and plants on the ground and pathways of your premises can also become slippery or cause trip hazards which could cause an injury to a staff member or a customer, which would be far from ideal and could even land you in legal trouble. Again, this could end up being very costly for you and your business so it’s something that you should try to prevent.
Improves the Value of Your Property
If you are considering moving to a different business premises and you need to sell yours first, it’s definitely worth investing in having the outside of your building professionally cleaned before you put it on the market. This will show prospective buyers that you have taken care of the building and will increase its curb appeal and therefore your selling value.
This works in the same way for residential properties and so you should ensure that you clean the exterior of your house if you considering putting it on the market. This will give the impression that your street is a great place to live and prospective buyers will judge a house on their first impressions and curb appeal could become a big factor in their decision to buy.
Provides a Better Working Environment
Your staff’s productivity levels are directly affected by the environment in which they are working. Clean and tidy surroundings will create a more positive atmosphere, helping to increase the amount and quality of work completed as well as improving the attitude of your workforce.
A clean outside space is also beneficial to your staff when they take breaks outside during good weather. If you have outside space, ensure that this is kept clean and tidy and that there is somewhere for staff members to sit and have a break from their work. Having a proper break is crucial to staff wellbeing.
Keeps Your Tenants Happy
If you own a block of flats or another residential property, or even an office block or co-working space which you rent out, keeping the exterior of this clean is likely to keep your tenants happy. If they’re happy then they are more likely to stay in their rented accommodation long term which provides you with regular income and no need to search for new tenants.
Spot any Structural Issues Before They Worsen
Keeping exterior surfaces clean will mean that it’s easier to spot any structural issues with the building’s exterior. Once identified, you’ll be able to arrange to get them fixed while they are minor and before they become more costly.
Keep Good Relationships With Your Neighbours
Your building is part of the surrounding environment, rather than a standalone structure. If your building’s exterior is poorly maintained, you may stand out from the neighbouring buildings for all the wrong reasons.
Having an untidy outside space makes the premises look scruffy and, if you have close neighbours (say, for example, a shop situated on a high street), this will reflect poorly on your neighbours as well as yourself and may begin to irritate them. Keep a great relationship with your neighbouring businesses by ensuring that outside spaces and your building’s exterior is kept clean and tidy.
This also works the same way with your own house or residential property. There’s nothing worse than a neighbourly dispute and so keeping the outside of your house neat and tidy will ensure that you stay on the good side of your neighbours and help to give a great impression of your street. This will be especially important to your neighbours if one of them decides to put their house up for sale.
Make sure you keep your front garden mown, with hedges neatly trimmed and free of rubbish and debris. As well as this, you should have your windows cleaned at least once a month. It’s usually quite cheap to hire a professional window cleaner to do this for you and eliminates any health and safety concerns which arise with the need to use a ladder for second storey windows.
For all of these reasons, you should keep the outside of your property clean at all times.
So now you know the reasons why it’s important to keep the outside of your building clean. But how do you go about putting together a programme for cleaning? These top tips will help you plan and implement a regular and effective cleaning regime.
How Often Should You Clean Your Building’s Exterior?
The answer to this question depends on several factors including what materials the façade of the building is made from, your budget and where your building is situated. If your building is in the countryside with little surrounding it, you may find that it can go longer without cleaning than one situated on a main road which will need frequent cleaning.
Increased exposure to various pollutants in the atmosphere like exhaust fumes from cars and acid rain will mean that your building will need more regular cleaning. If your building is in a busy city centre, for example, it will probably start to look dirty quickly because of the increased traffic passing by.
Some buildings may just need one or two deep cleans per year, whereas others may need a more regular monthly or even weekly clean. It’s much easier and, in fact, cheaper, to clean some aspects of your building than others (windows, for example), so you should concentrate on doing these more frequently.
You should take advice from a commercial cleaning company on how often each aspect of your building should be cleaned, as they will have lots of experience in this. They will be able to chat through bespoke advice which will suit both you and your business.
Areas You Should Focus on When Cleaning
It’s safe to assume that all external areas of your premises will need to be kept clean but there are some areas which will definitely need more attention than others.
Try doing a walk-through of your premises to replicate your customer’s journey (a bit like you would do online, with user experience testing on your website) and note down all of the areas and surfaces that you notice, especially if they’re looking a little scruffy. This will help you to step away and see things from your customers’ perspective and will help you to prioritise which areas you need to keep clean and maintained.
Ask yourself if the windows are clean and clear, are there leaves or rubbish lying around in doorways, and if the paintwork on your building looks clean and fresh.
It can sometimes be difficult to notice things when you are used to seeing them every day and so this will help to give you a more objective opinion. If you’re still finding it difficult to notice dirt during your walk-through, you could ask a member of staff or a family member or friend to do this for you. This will just help to get an outside opinion of what needs to be prioritised.
Here are some of the areas that you should check and focus on when creating your exterior cleaning routine.
Footpaths, Walkways and Stairs
Anywhere that people are expected to walk will need to be kept clear of rubbish and debris. This not only looks untidy but can also cause a tripping hazard and you don’t want to be responsible for a workplace accident.
Also ensure that there are no overhanging trees, bushes or plants which could obstruct someone’s way or cause them injury.
Windows and Doors
Making sure both windows and doors are clean will improve the appearance of your building overall. Keeping them free of smears, smudges, mineral deposits and bird droppings will give your building a more professional appearance. A view from a window and natural sunlight will also boost the morale and productivity of your workforce.
If you have a shop, retail outlet, bar or restaurant, keeping windows clean and transparent is doubly important as you want to ensure that potential customers can see what’s on offer inside. This will hopefully encourage them to come in and will show that you’re serious about creating a welcoming and pleasant environment for them.
You will also need to keep door handles disinfected to prevent the spread of germs amongst your staff and customers.
It’s important to keep your roof clean as debris, moss and mould could cause more serious problems with the structure of your building in the long term. Debris can attract birds to nest in your roof, which could cause tiles to dislodge. This could cause damp and water to enter your building, not to mention the mess from bird droppings around your building.
If you have any damage to your roof, this could encourage bats to roost there. Bats are protected and so are very difficult to remove from buildings and will cause damage to your building and mess inside the roof from their droppings. Regular cleaning of the roof will help to prevent this.
Car parks need to be maintained to prevent damage being caused to the cars of your staff, customers or clients. Costs for damage could be claimed against you at worst, or at best, it would just give someone a bad impression of your business and call into question your professionalism. People also walk from the car park to your business entrance so you will need to be aware of any trip hazards present here.
Ensure that rubbish and debris is removed and popped into the relevant bin, or recycled, any uneven surfaces are fixed, potholes filled, and that all hedges and trees are neatly trimmed so that they don’t hang over the cars.
Often trees and plants can drop pollen and leaves onto cars, causing them to look dirty. Also, trees attract birds and so anyone parking underneath a tree may find that they return to a car covered with droppings. Bird droppings can cause damage and rust to a car’s paintwork if they are not cleaned off as soon as possible.
Car tyres will often bring dirt and waste into your car park, especially if it is used frequently by customers and staff, and so a regular pressure wash is needed to keep the space looking tip-top.
Any exterior signage should be kept clear of cobwebs, and bird and animal droppings so that it is easy to read from a distance and, again, gives a great impression of your business. Your signage will also be vulnerable to the weather and dirty, unsightly signage gives the impression that you don’t care about your premises. And if you don’t care about your premises, why should you care about your clients?
Your external signage is another advertisement for your business. If it is visible from the road for passers-by both on cars and on foot, then it may encourage people to visit or check out your business online.
Over dry, summer periods your signage will build up more dirt and dust and so it’s important to keep it cleaner during these months. When it rains, surface dirt will be washed from your signage which will make it look cleaner, however, it will be more at risk to mould.
Also, ensure that if your building number or address is displayed anywhere externally, that this is clean, visible and readable. You will need to ensure that any delivery drivers can find you easily. This is relevant not just for your business premises but for your own home as well.
What Types of Cleaning do You Need?
How your building needs to be cleaning will very much depend on its features and, again, the materials that the building is made out of. The location of the building and what the building is used for will also determine what cleaning methods are most appropriate.
However, here are some types of cleaning and maintenance which will suit the different materials on your building’s exterior.
Pressure washing is a great way of keeping facades (façade refers to the front of the building, including windows and signs) and cladding clean and is probably the preferred method of exterior cleaning for most building owners because of its effectiveness.
It’s relatively quick and will thoroughly clean a range of surfaces such as aluminium, stone, marble and brick to name a few. It’s also easy, there’s no need for scrubbing or wiping, the powerful stream of water will clear away almost any stubborn stain or debris.
It’s also environmentally friendly. Harsh chemicals used in cleaning can damage the environment. No chemicals are needed for it to work as the stream of water is powerful enough to clean most things. It also uses less water than a garden hose; really!
Maintaining the right amount of pressure for washing each of these different surfaces is essential so as not to cause damage which is why it is usually better to hire an expert, rather than trying to do this yourself. An expert will also know not to saturate the area, ensuring that it will dry quickly.
High level and rope access pressure washing is often the quickest and most effective ways of cleaning a building which is higher than just one storey. Pressure washing is great for removing stains, dirt and atmospheric pollution. Rope access cleaners will use equipment and techniques like cherry pickers and abseiling to get to hard to reach places.
Pressure washing will also help to ensure that your building lasts as long as possible as it can help to prevent elements that lead to damage, deterioration and rot, all of which would require extensive and expensive repairs.
Wear and tear plus weather conditions will soon dull the shine of most buildings. Render cleaning can help to restore the look of the building and get it back to what it looked like when it was first built. Clean, shiny and fresh.
Soft wash techniques can clean dirt and stains and a biodegradable chemical wash will kill bacteria and prevent the growth of algae, fungi and moss for a while.
Drainage and guttering systems need to be regularly cleaned and maintained to remove debris and check for any damage. Debris such as leaves, rubbish and even dead birds can block pipes and gutters causing issues like damp in your building which are likely to cost a lot to fix.
DOFF is a method of cleaning which is similar to pressure washing, but the water is heated to 150 degrees turning it into steam, rather than water. This means that the pressure can be decreased without compromising on cleaning quality. You will need to look into this method of cleaning if you have a heritage or listed building as it is gentler on fragile properties.
DOFF is an effective cleaning method for stubborn stains such as graffiti or even chewing gum, where it can be used to soften stains before they are wiped off. It will also remove algae, bird droppings and can kill off bacterial spores which eliminates the need for chemical biocides.
TORC Cleaning System
Another safe and effective cleaning system to use on historic or fragile buildings is TORC. This system of cleaning creates a gentle swirling vortex with a mixture of low air pressure, low water volume and fine granules.
This system is used for more targeted cleaning, rather than a whole façade, and it is great for removing heavy stains, graffiti, limescale and carbon. It can also remove some types of paint from stone, bricks, metal, wood and plaster.
Window cleaning is one of the most cost-effective methods of ensuring your building is looking sparkling, especially if you have a lot of glass or windows on your building’s exterior. Dirty windows look ugly and unpleasant and they prevent natural light from getting into the building.
Commercial window cleaners are safe, non-obtrusive, and low cost, leaving your windows crystal clear. If you have windows on the second storey of your building or higher, again you may need to employ rope access technicians to clean these.
Regular cleaning can also increase the life of your windows. Environmental pollutants like acid rain, hard water and oxidisation are removed when your windows are cleaned, helping them last longer and saving your business the money you’ll need to replace them in the long term.
Gardening and Grounds Maintenance
It’s not just the walls of your building that need to be kept clean, if you have any outside space then you’ll need to ensure that this is kept clean and tidy too as this adds to the impression of the whole premises.
The grass will need to be neatly mown so as not to look unkempt, hedges and trees neatly trimmed and concrete or paving kept free from rubbish and debris and then pressure washed clean.
What Cleaning Methods Should You Use?
You will want to choose the type of cleaning that you go for based on the material of the surface that you would like to be cleaned. You will need to ensure that equipment and cleaning materials are used which won’t damage your building’s façade during the cleaning process, especially if you have a delicate heritage or listed building.
Here are some recommendations for the types of cleaning that should be used on each surface.
Wood is prone to staining from dirt, mildew and rust. If the dirt isn’t deep-set, a clean with a mild detergent and water before rinsing and then drying should be effective. You should coat cleaned wood with a preservative to protect it for the future.
Heritage and historical buildings often have wooden window frames and sills. It’s important not to allow dirt, leaves and foliage to rot on them as this stops rainwater from draining off the sills as it should. This will start to rot the window frames and sills, causing the need to replace them which may prove to be costly.
Wooden windows will require biannual cleaning and depending on condition, they may need to be repainted to help to protect from weather damage.
Polished marble outside of your business premises should be cleaned with a pressure washer and a mild alkaline and then rinsed thoroughly with warm water. Marble should be washed from the bottom up with overlapping strokes before rinsing. Once rinsed, marble should be dried with a chamois or cotton cloth.
Brick and Stone
Brick and stone can be cleaned with low pressure and a fine sand cleaning solution. Acid or sandblasting techniques should not be used, as these may damage the stone.
If you have a heritage or listed building you will need to be doubly cautious as these fragile buildings can be easily damaged. High-pressure washing is not advised as it can cause damage to any stone carving detail and also remove the natural waterproof membrane from your stone and leave them vulnerable to the rain.
This can cause a lot of problems including dislodging pointing, affecting joints, and also cracking as the water freezes and thaws.
Who Should Clean The Exterior of my Building?
There are two options for you when looking into a long-term plan for cleaning your building’s exterior. You could clean the outside of your business premises yourself or you could look into hiring a professional cleaning company to do it for you.
You could even use a mixture of both a professional cleaning company and carrying out the work yourself, depending on the types of jobs that need to be done.
Hire a Professional Cleaning Company
Although it is possible to clean some parts of your building’s exterior yourself, the best way to keep the exterior of your building clean and maintained is to hire a professional cleaning company.
They will have the specialist expertise needed to ensure a great job is done and this won’t distract you or your staff from the other things that you need to do when running your business. They’ll be able to advise on which cleaning methods will work best for your building.
They will also be able to get to hard to reach places easily with their specialist equipment which you may be unable to do safely by yourself and they will take care of the health and safety implications meaning you won’t have to worry about potentially injuring yourself or even damaging your building’s facade. The end result will be a lot better than that which you could achieve yourself.
Ensure that you add the costs of a professional cleaning company into your monthly budgeting and shop around, comparing different companies to find which will work best for you and your needs.
How to Select The Best Company For Your Cleaning
There are lots of commercial companies to choose from, so it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. It’s best to consider several factors before you choose your cleaning company to ensure that you won’t have any unexpected problems in the future. Here’s what you should consider when you’re choosing a company for your building cleaning contracts.
Ensure that they have the right equipment for the job. You should ask the company to explain what equipment they will use for each job and this should give you an idea of whether they know their stuff or not. A cleaning company may also carry out a pre-cleaning assessment where they will look around the building and evaluate what work needs to be done and what the best way of completing the work is.
Make sure that safety is their top priority. Cleaning the exterior of a building often requires working at height, either using a cherry picker or by abseiling, and this can come with associated risks. You should make sure that your cleaning company has relevant safety qualifications to ensure their safety and that of you and your workforce. Ask to see the risk assessment that they have carried out. This will need to be one that is specific for your building rather than a generic document.
If the cleaning company is going to be working at height, they will need to follow the Working At Height Regulations (WAHR) and ensure that their staff are well trained in various things including the use of safety harnesses, using elevated work platforms (IPAF) and ladder training.
Ask about their staff COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) training. Reputable companies should be providing suitable, regular training for their employees as they will be bringing chemicals onto your premises. Ask to see proof of this training before you make a decision.
Ask about their insurance. You should also ensure that they have the correct insurance in place and that it covers the building that will be worked on, should any accidents happen or damage occur to your building. You want to be fully covered as you, as the building owner or tenant, are fully responsible for all works carried out.
Legal issues could arise for you if shortcuts are taken by your cleaning company. These could include fines or court appearances and in very extreme cases could lead to a criminal record.
You should look into the reputation of the cleaning company you are considering, to ensure that you don’t receive an inferior clean. Read customer reviews of the business on review sites such as Facebook, Trustpilot and Google My Business. This will help to give you a better idea of what the company are like to work with, and how well they will carry out the job.
Find someone to work around your schedule. You don’t want your business to be interrupted by cleaning, so you’ll need to work out preferred timings with your cleaning company.
How to Clean Your Building’s Exterior Yourself
If you do decide to add cleaning the outside of your building to your task list, here are some ways that you can leave a good finish and clean safely, without the need for professional cleaning equipment.
Please be aware that, if you do choose to clean the exterior of your building yourself, the incorrect use of chemicals can cause irreversible damage to your materials. When trained operatives work with chemicals, they will ensure that all health and safety standards are adhered to and will ensure that they, you and members of the public are all kept safe.
How to Clean Stone
Mix a dash of vinegar or washing up liquid with warm water to make a mild detergent. Use a sponge or a brush with soft bristles and scrub the stone with this and the detergent. Rinse the stone with clean water to remove any soapy residue which may be leftover.
How to Clean Glass
Add an appropriate cleaning solution or a natural detergent to water and mix. Use a cloth or squeegee to apply the mixture to the glass in even strokes, applying gentle pressure. Once clean, rinse thoroughly and then remove any residue left over by lightly polishing the area with circular motions.
How to Clean Wood
Before you start cleaning, you’ll need to remove any moss or algae which might be present on the wood. Once this has been done, mix washing up liquid with warm water. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the wood. Pay particular attention to areas which are more soiled and remove any dirt present. Rinse the area with clean water and then repeat this if necessary.
Now that you know how important it is to keep the exterior of your building clean, don’t forget to add cleaning to your monthly to-do list and investigate professional cleaning services to create a professional-looking business image which will attract customers, partners and staff members. Investing in cleaning your premises now is an investment in your business’s future.
We wish you all the best with your new cleaning regime!