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Messy college students room

Originally appeared in the Winter 2007 edition of "The Sig House."

One of a house corporation’s important tasks is to perform various types of repair and maintenance on the chapter house. Painting, carpeting and roof replacement fall in this category. One critical task that is often left up to Active Chapter is cleaning. The theory is if you rent a house, you are responsible to keep it clean. Great theory.

Older alums remember the days when regular house cleaning was mandatory and often a team building event for actives and pledges. While the results of these exercises weren’t always stellar, when performed weekly (not weakly), the results were tolerable.

But as most of today’s house corporations can attest to, the standards of cleanliness at chapter houses often leaves something to be desired. In some cases, the level of sanitation borders on toxic. One chapter house actually had an incidence of the highly infectious ebola virus. There may have been dire consequences if the house corporation had not taken immediate and intensive remediation measures.

But plague conditions aside, overflowing garbage cans, unswept floors, unvacuumed carpets and unwashed windows are common. The condition of kitchens and bathrooms often gives rise to mold and bacterial conditions that cause real health problems.

When it comes to cleaning, some things are more important than others. Keeping the kitchen and bathroom germ and mold free is at the top of the priority list. But knowing how to clean these areas is of critical importance:

Use Commercial Cleaning Products & Equipment.

Treat chapter houses like commercial space and shop at janitorial supply outlets. Not only will the distributor be able to give expert advice on proper technique and products, the products come in large quantity containers that will save money. Many of these products are designed for janitorial professionals so having proper equipment (rubber gloves, rags, mops, etc.) is important.

Establish a Regular Schedule.

Kitchens and bathrooms need thorough cleaning at least weekly, no exceptions. Bathrooms need tubs, shower walls, sinks, toilets and urinals to receive a proper cleaning with bacterial and mold killing products.

List of Supplies.

Have the right products and tools makes the job easy and more effective:

  • Dusting: Cleaning Cloths, Dust Mop,Furniture Polish
  • Trash Supplies: Trash Cans, Trash Can Liners, Baking Soda (Odor Control), Recycling Bins
  • General Surface Supplies: All-Purpose Cleaner, Kitchen/Bathroom Wipes, Sponges, Paper Towels, Rubber Gloves
  • Special Surface Supplies: Liquid Hand Soap, Automatic Dishwasher Detergent, Oven Cleaner, Wood Polish, Toilet Bowl Cleaners, Soft Scrub Cleaner, Air Freshener, Window Cleaner
  • Floor Cleaning Supplies: Broom,Dustpan, Vacuum Cleaner, Mop &Bucket, Floor Wax/Polish

Assign Responsibility.

A statement like “All the brothers are required to clean the house” translates into “Nobody lifts a finger to clean”. The House Manager needs to be held accountable for the results.

Spot Checks.

Regular inspections by the house corporation is essential to good results. Set up a schedule and keep it. If the cleaning is not getting done, have it done professionally and charge the cost to the chapter. If it does get done, recognize the effort.

Maintaining a clean chapter house is more than just a healthy thing to do. It demonstrates pride and helps in recruiting brothers with high standards. Help the brothers help themselves and all of Sigma Chi wins.

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