How to clean a garbage room floor: improve safety and stop reek

Reasons for cleaning the floor

Clean floor

Cleaning the floor in the compactor room is important for the upkeep of the building. It protects the surface, reduces bacteria, reduces rodents, limits trip and fall hazards. Of course it also stops odours that go up the chute. For more about cleaning read Discover Why the Chute Room Smells Disgusting… it’s physics. or Is there a link between bad smells and mood? and Evaluating degreasers: what you need to know.

To save time and effort, always clean top to bottom

The order of cleaning tasks is really important. Always start at the top and work down. That way you don’t have mess or dirt falling on an area that you just cleaned. For floors, this means wash the chute first (if doing), then the compactor, then the bins and finally the floor.  And, of course, always read the labels on your cleaning products and use the recommended PPE. In general this will be gloves, good non-slip or safety shoes hearing protection (unless the compactor is turned off) and eye protection.

Start big and go small

Next, pick larger objects off of the floor.  This saves time in the long run as it means you never have to look around for tools, cleaners and other objects. In particular, using a hose hangar prevents pin holes that occur when metal bin wheels drive over them. In addition, tidying reduces clutter that attracts rodents and pests.  Items rarely moved provide an ideal breeding ground. Once you have cleaned the large items off of the floor, it is on to step three which is to give the floor a sweep.


 Sweeping the floor with a high quality push broom makes it easier to pick up medium sized pieces of dirt and garbage. It allows the degreaser to come into contact with all areas of the floor. If there are items covering it they will absorb the degreaser.  Once you have swept items into a pile, pick up the debris with a wide bottomed shovel (known as a grain shovel). This reduces the number of times you need to bend as the shovel holds a lot. It also protects against cuts from broken glass. In addition, sweeping prevents larger pieces from going down the drain to prevent clogged drains. 

After the floor is swept, apply the degreaser following the instructions.  We find it best to use an applicator that mixes the degreaser in the correct concentration. This saves product and time since you don’t have to measure and dilute product.  There are applicators that foam the degreaser as well. This makes it easy to see where it has been applied and where it still needs to be sprayed.  Depending on the degreaser being used, you may have to take time to scrub the floor using a brush so be sure to check the instructions.

Foam on floor

Finish the job

We are now on the final steps of cleaning a garbage room floor. First,  wait the appropriate amount of time (as per the degreaser instructions) for the cleaner to work. A good degreaser designed for specialty tasks will not require scrubbing. Once the time has passed, rinse everything down the drain.  Using a good nozzle and the standard water pressure you should be able to push the dirt and grime off the floor and into the drain with water.  Once the whole floor has been rinsed it is time for the last step: using a  squeegee to dry the floor. 

The squeegee is important since it pulls the remaining dirty and grimy water and puts it down the drain.  Think of it this way, we don’t wash our hands by putting soap and them, rubbing them together, and letting them air dry.  We use water to rinse the soap off.  So if we put degreaser on the floor and let it air dry, we have lifted the dirt off of the floor only to deposit it right back where it was, effectively doing nothing.  

Drying the floor also protects it from damage. Coated floors keep the water from leaking down to other levels. However, they are expensive and can wear down from acids and sitting mixtures of water and grease. They are also expensive so worth protecting. Floors are never perfectly flat, so while a hard squeegee lasts a long time, it leaves the lower areas damp. An acid resistant double foam squeegee will leave them dry.

When it's all done, what happens? Nothing!!!

smiling man

There is no lingering odour to waft around the parking lot, lobby or wherever the air handling system moves the air after leaving the compactor room. The room will not attract  rodents and flies. The surface is protected and not slippery. The best compactor room could just be the one that you can walk by with your eyes closed and have no idea it is there

Pro-Active Odor Control