Serious software
for people serious about business

Cleanliness is next to godliness

One of my favourite cartoons of all time is a Peanuts episode where Linus proclaimed to Pig Pen, "Cleanliness is next to godliness", to which Pig Pen replied, "Cleanliness is next to impossible". When was the last time you were proud to have a visiting peer into your workshop?

There is more to cleanliness than just keeping your mother happy.

I referred to it in a tangential way in my January blog post about lubrication, but keeping a neat and tidy work area has a number of benefits.

  1. Organisation. "A place for everything and everything it its place" is the first step to organisation, and the launch pad for efficient procedures. When everyone knows where the widget is stored (and everyone returns it there after use), time is not lost looking for it, and it's less likely to get broken because it was not stored properly.
  2. Contamination.  Greasy tools, dirty floors, filthy rags. If the work area is clean it reduces the risk of contamination, and it improves safety.
  3. Professional. Speaking about greasy tools and dirty floors - No one likes using them, and it makes the place look incompetent and unprofessional.
  4. Profitable. If you present a clean, professional image, people will not only assume you are good at your job; they will tell others. If you are dependent on a stream of customers walking through your door, you want every advantage you can get over your many competitors.
I once visited an auto mechanic workshop that was spotless from top to bottom. The floor was sealed with a polyurethane coating that looked polished when it was clean (and it always looked clean). I asked the mechanic how such a high level of cleanliness was maintained. He told me that they started with the building spotless each day, and did their best to keep it that way while they worked. Any cleaning at the end of the day was minimal. The pride displayed by the people who worked there was evident.

It is not easy being clean and tidy, particularly in a busy workshop environment, but we do not have to live like Pig Pen and settle for sub-standard working conditions. 

Start today and make up a plan.
  1. Set a place for everything. Re-arrange shelving and work benches if you need to.
  2. Task every workman with the responsibility to leave things clean when he is finished using it. This includes tools, parts, machines, work area - everything.
  3. Throw away old rags and replace them on a daily basis.
  4. Repair any tools or machines that leak or cause a mess when used. It might just be a case of replacing a washer, a gasket or seal; something small that reaps big benefits.
  5. If money is available, have the workshop floor steam cleaned.
  6. If money is available, and you are serious about cleanliness, seal the newly cleaned floor with polyurethane. This will make cleaning much easier.
If all the work you and your people do is on-site and you cannot control the conditions, issue a rubber mat to each of them that can be hosed off at the end of shift, or at least cleaned in some way to afford a better working area.

Cleanliness might be next to godliness, but it is also next to successful.

Posted by Mark Chimes
Powered by Kentico CMS