Housekeeping schedule

Using this document

The Housekeeping schedule provides a method for planning all cleaning activities at the museum. It is relevant to both display and storage areas.  You can download the document (PDF or WORD) under Resources to the right of this page which includes the template schedule form. 

A separate form should be completed for each distinguishable storage and display area of the museum. For example, if the museum consists of five display buildings and has two storerooms, a schedule should be developed for each display building and each store room. Depending on the size of buildings and the complexity of the collections, it may also be appropriate for schedules to be developed for specific areas within buildings.

The schedule form is designed to allow recording of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual tasks that guide what and how cleaning needs to bedone, in which locations, and with what frequency. It can also be used to plan integrated pest management activities (see separate Help Sheet for information about integrated pest management).

The number of tasks in each section will vary depending on the museum’s environmental conditions, types of collection items and resources available.

Each table can be lengthened as required.

The footer at the bottom of the page should be deleted or altered to reflect the date that the template was developed for the museum.

Housekeeping schedule

Planning housekeeping tasks

  • What needs to be cleaned?

Look carefully around every space for which a schedule is to be developed. Consider the entire space, including floors, walls, windows and ceilings and the types of items that are on display.

Identify the types of items that are most sensitive to dust and/or that are located in display areas most prone to dust access. These items are likely to require more frequent cleaning.

  • How often do the museum spaces need to be cleaned? Take note of factors that influence the need for cleaning and the frequency of cleaning.  Factors include:
  • the types of items on display
  • how many items are on display
  • display furniture (eg whether or not items are in cases, covered shelves)
  • environmental conditions, such as dust access
  • frequency of use of spaces

For example, depending on visitor traffic and dust access it may be necessary to vacuum the floor every week, but only necessary to clean the window sills every month, and the walls and ceilings every one or two years.

  • How often do items on display need to be cleaned? There are a number of factors that influence the appropriate frequency for cleaning different types of collection items, including:
  • the types of items on display
  • how many items are on display
  • display furniture
  • environmental conditions, such as dust access, or access by pests such as birds or mice
  • frequency of use of spaces

Consider what types of items are displayed in any one space. Are items mostly paper based, textiles, leather, ceramic, wood or metal? Are most items on open display or located on covered shelves or in display cases? 

Consider which collection item types will be most adversely affected by accumulation of dust or other pollutants. Items on open display will generally require more frequent cleaning than items in display cases.

Also consider any risks to items through the cleaning process, as it may be better to move an item to another display location or to storage rather than clean it as often as would be required.

Undertaking housekeeping tasks

  • Who will do the tasks and how will they be done? Consider who will undertake each task. For example, the museum may employ a cleaner who is responsible for the regular cleaning of floors, doormats and display case exteriors, but require that only appropriately trained workers undertake the cleaning of collection items.
  • How will cleaning be done? Decide and record an appropriate method for undertaking each task. For example, display case glass should be cleaned with water applied to the cleaning cloth, rather than to the case, or specify that furniture collection items should be dusted every quarter but polished only once per year. 

For each cleaning task, identify the most appropriate, least time consuming, least risky and most effective method to get the task done (refer to the CMP help sheet Cleaning in Museums for specific information about appropriate cleaning techniques).

Consider safety and provide appropriate equipment for doing tasks above head height (such as taking down light fittings for cleaning or cleaning them in situ).

Safe handling is critical in the cleaning of collection items as it is a high risk activity in terms of potential damage. Either specify safe handling guidelines or refer users to the museum’s storage and handling guidelines (see the help sheet Storage and Handling).

Recording housekeeping tasks

  • How will records of housekeeping activities be recorded and kept? For example, the museum may keep a log of cleaning activities, which is checked regularly against the scheduled tasks. Such a log could be manual or electronic. 

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