Operating a cannabis facility consists of an intricate lattice of processes and procedures. With cannabis cultivators and manufacturers striving to meet state regulations while protecting public health and safety, cleanliness and sanitation are paramount. And when operating a cannabis business, it can be difficult to make time for a much-needed deep clean.
With the fall and winter holidays approaching, it can be a challenge to maintain a full complement of staff while employees are making plans to travel and spend time with family and friends. This period provides the perfect opportunity for cannabis operators to reflect on the year and improve their standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Plan for Deep Clean December
Developing a game plan for Deep Clean December should include encouraging employees to recover from a year of hard work, analyzing your business fail points, and sanitizing every inch where mold, bacteria, and viroids could be lying in wait. Although including a deep clean at the end of the year is prudent, we would highly recommend sanitizing your entire facility twice a year. For now, let’s discuss how to take advantage of Deep Clean December.
In this guide, we’ll lay out several steps cannabis operations can use to kickstart their annual deep-cleaning and sanitation protocols, as well as review the tools and supplies you’ll need to have on hand.
Step 1: Familiarize Yourself With Local Compliance Regulations
To gain the confidence of society as we usher in a retro form of natural medicine, focusing on public health and safety plays a key role. Commercial grows can’t cut corners or turn a blind eye towards buds in their crop that are infected with mold or fungus. For commercial cannabis to become a trusted medicinal remedy, products must be consistently absent of contaminants and organisms that could cause patients harm if inhaled or consumed.
In states where cannabis has been legalized (medicinally, adult use, or both), mandatory health and safety inspections are conducted. As such, it’s important for facility managers and their staff to be comprehensively trained in their local and state regulations surrounding cleaning and maintenance. This is the best way to ensure that your cannabis operation passes both scheduled and unannounced inspections and remains compliant.
Step 2: Planning Your Deep Clean
During the autumn and winter holidays, you may find it difficult to maintain a full staff in your cannabis facility. Before your lead grower, lab technicians, and other employees take some time off, get everyone together and develop a sanitation plan that makes sense for your business.
Your plan should include:
- Taking inventory of your cleaning, sanitation, and PPE supplies.
- Planning a sanitation route that makes sense for your business and employee schedules.
- And of course, scrubbing every inch of your facility. Every doorknob, window, worktop surface, storage surface, every machine — everything!
Once you’ve had a chance to review the maintenance requirements for your location and have a plan for your cleaning schedule, it’s time to open the maintenance room doors.
Designing a Sanitation Route
To effectively execute a deep clean of your entire facility, you should have a room-by-room path for your cleaning crew. Working against limited time and staff availability during the holidays while minimizing production slowdowns requires a bit of strategy.
Consider the following while planning your maintenance route:
- Initially, plan a route that greatly minimizes the need to enter a “dirty” room and then directly enter a recently sanitized or clean room. Taking this into consideration can help prevent the immediate spread of microbes by tracking mold from a room with a high concentration of contaminants to a room that has been freshly disinfected.
- Take your employee vacation schedule into account. It may be easier to clean and sanitize your primary grow room when your lead grower is on vacation. And it might be easier to detail and disinfect your lab equipment while your scientist and lead technicians are away.
- Whether you’re growing or manufacturing cannabis, you’ve no doubt honed your SOPs to reduce downtime. It will likely seem strange to temporarily sabotage your well-oiled machine to allow for a deep clean. Plan on strategic pauses in your production line when you can shut down a room, clean and sanitize, and then get up and running as quickly as possible.
- Make sure everyone is on the same page. Unless you have the time for a quick, facility-wide shutdown, print and post a schedule and sanitation route so everyone working at your facility knows exactly when each room will be shut down and cleaned.
Life is unpredictable, and having a sanitation route in place before the holiday season can greatly reduce the complexity and stress of cleaning while operating your cannabis facility.
Step 3: Take Inventory of Your Sanitation Supplies
Having a plan to sanitize your cannabis business is only as good as the supplies you have on hand. Make sure you are stocked up, and that the appropriate staff know where to find your janitorial cleaning arsenal. And we can’t emphasize enough the importance of training staff on cleaning procedures/SOPs. If each staff member is cleaning and sanitizing differently, it creates room for error.
And remember, you’re not just taking inventory of your cleaning supplies — strategically positioning commercial storage is essential to keep all your gear organized, accessible, and secured in your maintenance room.
Must-Have Supplies to Clean and Sanitize
There are many supplies a cannabis facility needs to carry out effective daily maintenance tasks and deep cleanings. These chemicals and supplies are essential for cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing everything from irrigation lines to worktables. Let’s review the equipment and supplies you’ll need for routine maintenance and for Deep Clean December when you sanitize every crevice of your facility.
Cleaning and Sanitation Supply Overview List:
- Sanitation Foundation Furniture
- Cleaning and Sanitation Supplies
- Chemical Application Equipment
- Hand Tools and Supplies
- PPE Equipment and Employee Safety
Sanitation Foundation Furniture
Proper, commercial furniture is the cornerstone of your sanitation regime. Some chemicals may require specialized materials to withstand chemical dripping and corrosion and be engineered with a strong backbone to hold the weight of cleaning soaps and chemicals.
When you have a couple 55-gallon drums of SaniDate to store, placing them on the bottom rack of a shelf won’t end well. Enter the dunnage rack. These pieces of storage equipment can easily handle two 55-gallon drums of liquid or anything else up to 1,500 lb. Sturdy, rust and corrosion-proof, and easy to clean — dunnage racks are a must for every maintenance room.
A couple of these low-standing racks will provide the nearly indestructible storage you need for cleaning chemicals and other heavy pieces of cleaning equipment.
For storing typical cleaning and sanitation supplies, commercial shelving is the way to go. We offer shelving manufactured from chrome-plated steel that is attractive and easy to clean. We also offer polymer shelving that boasts equal strength and will never corrode or rust.
Polymer shelving such as MetroMax Q shelves is manufactured with Microban, which endows anti-microbial protection on the shelves. This makes the commercial shelving great for storing tools and supplies in between cleanings.
Additional Maintenance Equipment
Your cleaning supplies won’t wheel themselves around and some are very heavy to hand-tote from room to room. Having a sturdy and reliable utility cart can be useful by reducing employee fatigue while improving the efficiency of your cleaning process. Fewer trips to the maintenance room will result in completing your sanitation tasks quicker and getting the room back up and running sooner.
Stainless Steel Sink
If you’re already in the cannabis industry, you know commercial stainless steel sinks are both popular and required. Before installing a sink, don’t hesitate to consult our team to ensure the sink’s installation is compliant with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).
The two primary sinks you’ll likely need are hand sinks and 3-compartment sinks — both should be NSF-listed. Be sure to keep track of what rooms you currently have sinks installed in, and which rooms may need an additional sink. Check with local regulations to be sure you purchase and install the correct type.
The Ultrasonic Washer
The last piece of maintenance equipment we’d be amiss to leave out is the ultrasonic washer. You may already have one of these cleaning machines available for your cannabis gear that tends to get sticky due to the trichomes resin. An ultrasonic washer makes quick work of removing the residue from your tools.
Especially if you are a cannabis lab operator, processor, or manufacturer, having an ultrasonic washing machine in your facility will ensure your staff’s ability to thoroughly clean and sterilize equipment and supplies.
Cleaning and Sanitation Detergents and Supplies
In order to truly deep clean your trimming room, lab, or manufacturing facility, you’ll need more than household dish soap. We offer specialized cleaners and sanitizers that are highly effective at breaking down dirt and oils. What’s more, these cleaners allow cannabis operators to reduce how much bleach they use when cleaning.
GreenClean® Alkaline Cleaner
GreenClean® Alkaline Cleaner is a great example of a cleaning agent that can emulsify grease and oils — perfect for cleaning trimming worktables, floors, distillation rooms, and pretty much anywhere in your facility.
GreenClean® Alkaline Cleaner’s autofoaming properties allow you to easily see where the detergents have been sprayed so you don’t miss a spot. Start your deep clean with a cleaning solution that kills mold while lifting away deposits of organic material. After you’ve performed a proper cleaning of the room or area, it’s time to sanitize.
As we mentioned above, after cleaning your surfaces and equipment it’s necessary to sanitize them. Unlike cleaning, the process of sanitizing and disinfecting kills bacteria, fungus, and other pathogens that pose a health threat.
SaniDate® 5.0 sanitizes and disinfects a wide range of pathogens including Escherichia coli (E. coli), Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica, various types of bacteria, and the Human Coronavirus. If an inspector asks what you’re using to sanitize your room, there is a good chance they’ll breathe easy knowing the effectiveness of this popular commercial disinfectant.
Chemical Application Equipment
Having the right tools for the job can greatly speed up the application of your cleaning detergent and sanitizer. For your convenience, we have a couple suggestions — the BioFoamer® and BioSprayer® by BioSafe Systems. To make cleaning easier and more efficient, the BioFoamer® pairs nicely with GreenClean® detergent.
Using the BioFoamer® makes quick work of covering the surface areas in your room completely and thoroughly. Then, to apply your sanitizing solution, the BioSprayer® comes in quite handy.
Both the BioFoamer® and BioSprayer® are available by contacting your Omega representative. We’d certainly recommend integrating both devices into your array of maintenance equipment.
If you’ve dealt or are dealing with mold remediation and want to ensure you apply disinfecting chemicals to every tiny crevice, we also offer the BioSafe Systems BioFogger®
These three tools are available by contacting your Omega representative. We’re happy to discuss your sanitation plan or even help you create the framework for one. We’ll help you decide which chemicals and applicators are best for your cannabis facility.
Hand Tools and Supplies
As you’re canopy-deep in your sanitation process, you’ll find that one of your most used cleaning tools will be… your hands. You can save a lot of time and cover a lot of ground with mechanical solutions, but some areas and pieces of manufacturing equipment require a more personal touch. Grab a sponge and spray bottle and let’s jump into it.
Essential Handheld Supplies
The following is a list of common supplies that allow you to get down and dirty during Deep Clean December.
Deck/Floor Scrubber – It’s the 1600s again, and much like the crew of a tall ship, it’s time to scrub the deck. We mean, really get down to it with a wooden block brush and be sure your cleaning and sanitation chemicals penetrate every nook and cranny. Designed with polypropylene bristles, these brushes can hold up to commercial use, solvents, or acids.
Utility Scrub Brush – Having a handheld scrub brush is great for cleaning trimmers, storage shelves, processing equipment, and most anything else that still needs debris removed. A utility scrub brush also allows you to clean areas where space and size can be difficult to clean with larger brushes.
Mop and Bucket – A staple in the janitorial and maintenance ensemble for what seems like forever. Sometimes what you really need to clean up a mess is a mop bucket and mop. We have commercial mop heads and buckets that are used in the foodservice industry and are perfect for cleaning the floors of your cultivation, manufacturing, or retail facility. This is a must-have for any cannabis business.
Spray Bottles – Sometimes a BioFoamer is overkill for the area you are cleaning. Always have an ample supply of spray bottles and disinfecting packs handy for smaller spaces or areas in your facility that might need a second round or touch-up of cleaning.
Hand Sponges – Sponges often go hand-in-hand (literally) with spray bottles. Hand sponges allow you to apply extra pressure and friction to surfaces that require some good old-fashioned scrubbing. Be sure you’re stocked up on sponges before you start your deep clean routine.
Paper Towels – There will no doubt be a lot of handwashing as you work through your sanitation route room by room. And well, paper towels are your friend. Even outside the bathrooms, sometimes you need a quick cleanup fix, and paper towels are notoriously useful in such situations.
PPE Equipment and Employee Safety
During the cleaning, scrubbing, and sanitizing of your facility, you’ll need to ensure the protection and safety of you and your staff. Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) protects your eyes, your lungs, and your body from the adverse effects of various chemicals that could cause irritation and stains.
While spraying, foaming, scrubbing, and detailing — there’s always the chance some chemicals can splash around. Protecting your eyes with safety goggles is the definitive solution to mitigate this risk. While we’re protecting our faces, let’s not forget to pick up masks and face shields. In this instance, masks are mutually beneficial. They help protect your rooms from contagions, and they protect you from mold and other debris that may go airborne as you are cleaning each room.
Next up are Nitrile Gloves. Nitrile is popular in the cannabis industry for its puncture and chemical resistance. Even if you have several boxes on hand already, don’t underestimate how many pairs are used during a facility-wide deep clean. And between rooms, before breaks and lunches, we recommend changing gloves and washing hands. This helps prevent the spread of a pathogen that may be hitchhiking on your gloves after sanitizing, especially if you’re hand-scrubbing equipment and floors.
Coveralls truly support maximum effort sanitization. Much like face masks, the coveralls are worn to protect you as much as they protect your various rooms from outside contamination. And let’s complete the PPE package with non-skid shoe covers. From head to toe, you’re protected and ready to tackle your rigorous cleaning and sanitation plan.
Maintenance Supply List Run-down
Having added some context and use cases for the chemicals and supplies you’ll be using while deep-cleaning and sanitizing your facility, let’s review the list of chemicals, tools, and equipment we covered above for your convenience:
- Dunnage Racks
- Commercial Shelving
- Utility Cart
- Stainless Steel Sinks
- Ultrasonic Washer
- Cleaning Detergents
- Sanitizing Chemicals
- BioFoamer® – Check with your Omega Representative
- BioSprayer® – Check with your Omega Representative
- BioFogger® – Check with your Omega Representative
- Floor Scrubber
- Handheld Scrub Brush
- Mop Bucket
- Mop Head
- Spray Bottles
- Hand Sponges
- Paper Towels
- PPE (Overall Supplies)
- Safety Goggles
- Face Masks
- Nitrile Gloves
- Non-Skid Shoe Covers
Once you’ve completed your sanitation route, having thoroughly cleaned and disinfected each room and all surface areas, you can resume your daily and weekly maintenance SOPs. Performing a facility-wide deep clean may take some extra time and elbow grease, however, the payoff is significant. You’ll be making your inspectors happy, decreasing the spread of mold spores and fungi, and taking another step towards future-proofing your cannabis business from increasing regulations.
Recover. Analyze. Sanitize.
The fall and winter holidays are a great time to recover and relax with family and friends. And as we’ve discussed, it’s the perfect time to follow your cleaning and sanitizing route through every room of your cannabis facility. During a time when your staff (including lead growers and lab scientists) are taking some time away from the office, it’s tempting to cut a few corners in your SOPs.
Unfortunately, microbial threats don’t take a vacation. In addition to posing a threat to public health and safety, they can also cause real damage to your financials and your brand. One of the best ways to mitigate these hazards is to take advantage of Deep Clean December. Methodically examine where mold and fungus may be infiltrating your operations, and then professionally clean and sanitize every inch of your workspaces.
Together, the industry can continue to build on public and political trust by ensuring we bring only the highest-quality products to market while maintaining reputational excellence among regulators and health inspectors.