CORONAVIRUS

Eastern Iowa cleaning companies 'extremely busy' during coronavirus outbreak

Clients want added disinfectant, prevention measures

Claire Emery-Wootton wears gloves as she fills a grocery order at New Pioneer Co-Op in Coralville on Friday, March 20, 2
Claire Emery-Wootton wears gloves as she fills a grocery order at New Pioneer Co-Op in Coralville on Friday, March 20, 2020. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, commercial cleaning companies in the Corridor are busy. And some are looking for more workers.

“We have been extremely busy in providing extra cleaning for our existing customers,” said Phil Decker, director of business development for Midwest Janitorial Services, which covers Eastern Iowa and western Illinois.

“Many of our clients need to stay open to serve patients, play critical roles in infrastructure and are deemed critical facilities.”

ServiceMaster, which has approximately 800 ServiceMaster Clean and more than 1,000 ServiceMaster Restore franchises across the country, also is seeing an increase in demand.

“We’re definitely responding to more customers than normal,” said Steve Zimmerman, director of health care service for the company. “Our customers definitely have a need and we’re happy to meet that for them.”

Decker said they’ve been able to meet the demand for cleaning services due to some of their clients working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak and no longer needing services. Decker said the company is “always hiring” and is offering temporary assignments to those who have been laid off from their other jobs.

“We currently have opportunities for part-time temporary workers to assist our permanent staff with extra disinfecting,” Decker said.

Zimmerman said clients have shifted the type of cleaning services they want for their facilities.

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“There’s definitely an ask for added disinfection and infection prevention measures,” he said.

Some companies are having to turn down cleaning opportunities. Malinda Gronewold has operated Scrubs Cleaning Services in North Liberty since 2007. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Gronewold said she’s taken calls from potential clients that are just too large for her staff of 15 employees.

“I have a lot more phone calls coming in,” Gronewold said. “I don’t have enough people to take on that kind of clientele at this time.

“The demand is so large. I don’t have the staff ... to be able to provide at that scale.”

In addition to offering cleaning services, Zimmerman said ServiceMaster is making sure their clients are properly equipped and educated on proper preventive measures to resist the spread of COVID-19. The company recommends the same measures as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which include washing hands with soap and water, cleaning “high touch” surfaces with a hospital grade cleaner and using disposable wipes to disinfect surfaces.

“It’s similar to washing your hands ... . If you do it multiple times a day, you’re creating a safer, healthier environment,” Zimmerman said.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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