How you keep yourself organized can tell a client a lot, so what does your janitor’s closet say about your business?

Like most storage spaces, a janitor’s closet can quickly become disorganized. This is especially ironic, though, since the job of a commercial custodian is to keep things looking clean and tidy. And just as you probably wouldn’t want to go to a dentist who had bad teeth, your customers probably won’t want to be customers very long if you can’t keep yourself organized.

That’s not to say organizing a janitor’s closet is easy. After all, there are a lot of supplies and tools to keep track of, and despite so many advances in technology, it seems as though that list grows larger every day. Fortunately, there are tools and techniques you can use to make sure your storage space stays as spiffy as the other areas you tend to every day.

Janitors Closet

Order in the closet

Acclaimed sculptor, special effects artist, and Mythbusters co-host, Adam Savage, wrote a few years back about how frustrating it is when he couldn’t find the tools he needed at the time he needed them. He ended up spending an entire weekend fashioning new toolboxes with the idea of “first-order retrievability” in mind. The concept is simple: you shouldn’t have to move one tool to access another.

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This principle is easy to apply to a janitor’s closet. No matter how many things you have, it will save you time, energy, and even money to thoroughly organize your tools and supplies. Once completed, you should never have to move one thing to get to another, which significantly decreases the likelihood of future disorganization—as long as you put things back where they belong.

Janitors Closet

Planning for perfection (or at least convenience)

There’s no single layout that allows for first-order retrievability, but there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is that you’re going to need shelving units or modules. Many people prefer to use modules that can be adjusted to different heights and even shapes to accommodate their inventory in ways that make sense to them. Whatever layout you choose, remember that the key is to have everything accessible—you don’t want to store one type of cleaning supply in front of another.

A second thing to consider about layout is safety. Some of the chemicals you use are no-doubt hazardous, and some of them probably shouldn’t be stored too closely together in case of a spill or other accident. We highly recommend making a list of all the chemicals and tools you use and order them according to their hazardousness. You can then figure out which ones you can store together and which to keep as far apart as possible.

You might also think about organizing according to need. It makes sense, for example, to have disinfectant and all-purpose cleaner at the forefront of your janitor’s closet because you’ll use those every day. Other products, like stain removers, can be stored on higher shelves or deeper into the closet since they are only used occasionally. The same goes for the tools you use.

Janitors Closet

Expand your storage space

In addition to using shelving modules, we also suggest investing in plastic bins or other units that will help your janitor’s closet stay organized. Keeping things in bins minimizes the temptation to haphazardly plop something onto a shelf where it doesn’t belong.

If you’re able to install things on the walls, a mounted rack for mops, brooms, and cords can be useful, especially for keeping things from getting tangled and dirty. And if you can afford them, custodial carts are an excellent way to take organization on the go with you.

Janitors Closet

Tracking and protecting inventory

Staying on top of your inventory will help keep your janitor’s closet clean and organized. Dispose of expired products or tools that are too ragged to use any longer. Stack like boxes on top of each other, such as green cleaning supplies, and open only one box at a time. You might also want to empty your custodial cart and return the day’s supplies to their place, so you know where all your supplies are when taking inventory.

Finally, and perhaps most important, keep your janitor’s closet locked! You can put all the effort in the world into keeping things neat and tidy, only to have it all mucked up by someone who comes along and unwittingly interferes with your organizational system. Not only will locking the closet help keep things in the order you left them, but it’s a good idea anyway to prevent theft or unauthorized access by someone who may not know the dangers of the products you use.

One final note: Be sure to make rounds at least once a week to make sure all your client work sites have similar closet setups, and to make sure that tidiness is maintained. The last thing you want is for your clients to think you can’t keep your supplies and tools clean and in order!

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