The Cleaning Manager’s Role in a Pest Free Retail Food Experience

Retail businesses face constant threats from pests from multiple sources, putting cleaning managers right at the forefront of not only pest control, but a store’s reputation.

Ultimately, it is the cleaning manager who is responsible for maintaining and enhancing the retail space. In order that nothing detracts from the items on sale, the cleaning manager ensures that all areas are clean, tidy and sanitary, and that customers feel comfortable and are suitably impressed they are shopping in a dirt-free, hygienic and well-maintained establishment.

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Unfortunately, however, all it takes is the presence of one small pest to undo all this hard work and spoil the pristine shopping experience that’s been created – and if this happens, the consequences can be very serious indeed.

The presence of pests can quickly ruin a retail store’s reputation, leading to customers defecting to competitors and subsequent loss of revenue. Pests also cause property damage and create unhealthy conditions for both workers and customers. If pests damage products, financial losses are incurred when paying for replacements.

The business may also face fines and prosecutions by public health and regulatory authorities if pests are found to be present, and, in severe cases, will be shut down. All of this makes pest control a number one priority for cleaning managers.

Pests that Threaten Retail Establishments


Rats and mice can cause untold damage to buildings, fixtures, machinery, and food containers and packaging. They can also contaminate food with urine, droppings and filth picked up from the environment. They often carry disease and bacteria – such as salmonella, toxoplasmosis and leptospirosis – and parasites, including ticks, fleas, lice and mites.

Both species tend not to venture very far from their nesting sites, so even if just one rodent is spotted, it is likely there are more close by, and that indeed a nest isn’t very far away.


There are number of different species of flies that can be attracted to a retail site, including house flies, drain flies and fruit flies.

Flies will walk all over food sources and other surfaces, picking up and spreading bacteria as they go. They feed by vomiting on food to break it down, and will then suck up the resulting liquid – a process which contaminates the food with bacteria from their guts and feet. Flies have a short lifecycle, but they multiply rapidly. Areas around waste storage and drains are particularly attractive to flies – especially if cleaning and hygiene practices are inadequate.


Cockroaches are more common in the UK than many people think. They hide in small, often inaccessible places, emerging at night to look for food and other places for shelter.

They breed rapidly, and feed on decaying matter, mould, animal carcasses, bird and rodent droppings, as well as fresh food that may be on sale in a retail outlet. As cockroaches forage around, they contaminate food, surfaces, utensils and anything else they come into contact with, so infestations must be controlled.


Due to their minute size, ants can enter and infest buildings, food preparation areas, shelving and food storage with ease. They cause damage to packaging and foodstuffs, and are particularly attracted to waste and sweet food.

Though not vectors of diseases, ants can nonetheless pick up disease-causing organisms on their travels and spread them wherever they go. They will often form multiple nests, meaning that infestations can spread very quickly and be difficult to control.

Pest Birds

The most common pest birds are pigeons, gulls, sparrows and starlings. Crows, rooks, jackdaws and magpies can also cause problems. All types of buildings provide safe areas for birds to roost and make nests, and can cause much physical damage by dislodging roof tiles and blocking guttering with feathers.

Birds, of course, produce substantial amounts of droppings, which not only look unsightly, but can transmit human pathogens, including viruses and bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli. They may also sometimes make their way inside buildings, where droppings, nesting materials and feathers can contaminate equipment, surfaces, and food products.

What Cleaning Managers Can Do to Improve Pest Control

The presence of pests of any nature can cause retail businesses to lose customers, sales and profits. With so many threats to deal with, cleaning managers need a solid pest control strategy in place to protect their retail sites from unwanted visitors.

Work with Pest Control Professionals

The very best and most reliable way to manage pests is to work with a professional and experienced pest control company that can deal with the multiple threats the business faces. The company will know exactly what to look for, and precisely what preventative and/or corrective measures to take. As part of the pest control service, the company will examine the retail site from top to bottom, locate any potential entry points and nesting areas, and create a working strategy with the cleaning manager to control infestations.

Maintain a Clean Environment

Keeping all areas clean and tidy is one of the best ways to manage pests. Ultimately, pests are attracted to environments where they can safely forage food and nesting materials, so nothing short of a scrupulous cleaning routine is required to keep them out. All debris from both the exterior and interior should be routinely removed, all rubbish should be regularly cleared away and placed in adequate bins, and all areas swept and mopped efficiently.

Remove Entry Points

Any openings along the building’s exterior can provide an entry point for pests, including windows and doors. In addition, openings around pipes and wires, roof vents, and gaps around plumbing lines, gas lines and sewer lines all leave a site vulnerable to invasion. All gaps, cracks, and holes should be sealed no matter what size they are – insects can fit into the tiniest of spaces, and even mice, who are expert contortionists, can squeeze themselves through the smallest of gaps.

Employee Training

Pest control is an ongoing process – a daily endeavour – requiring all employees to be involved. Staff members need to know what measures should be employed in order to prevent pests, what signs to look out for that indicate pest presence or infestation, and what actions to take if there is a problem.

Cleaning managers need to ensure that adequate pest control training is given to all members of staff and should employ the services of a professional pest control company to provide it.

Safeguard Pest Control

If you’re a cleaning manager and are looking for a quality and professional pest control solution for your retail site, get in touch with Safeguard Pest Control today. We have over 30 years’ experience designing and implementing bespoke pest control strategies for commercial clients, and will work in full support of you and your business’s precise needs.

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