A while ago, when I first started working for Initial, I took a trip with Rentokil’s pest control supervisor Bafana Nhlapo. The purpose of the trip was to experience a day in the life of a pest control specialist. Before the trip started, I had some preconceived ideas of what qualities a pest control specialist should possess. I had always envisioned the practice involving getting down and dirty without fear, and that good hygiene would be the last thing on your mind when dealing with pests. I was in for quite a shock.
On my trip, it was quite evident early on that pest control and hygiene go hand in hand. Bafana was just as passionate about hygiene as he was about pest control. I remember silently noticing hand sanitizers in the cupholders of his car. He was well groomed, and everything was neatly placed in his car. It was at that moment that I realized that the impressions I had previously formed may have been wrong.
As the day progressed, going from customer to customer, I watched him meticulously uncover pest problems. Throughout this experience, I felt like Dr Watson watching Sherlock Holmes methodically uncovering crimes, although in this case, it was crimes committed by rodents and their fellow pest cohorts.
With each establishment we went to, I started to notice a pattern developing. Bafana always asked about and took notes on the client’s hygiene practices. He was continually advising his clients to keep foodstuffs in metal or glass containers with tight-fitting lids, to tidy inside the house/business and around the garden, noting that less clutter meant fewer places to hide. He’d further advise clients to place outdoor rubbish bags in metal bins with securely fitted lids to stop pests feeding on the contents, to clean up pet food and bird seed debris, and store pet food in robust containers with fitted lids. He also suggested keeping gardens free from debris and if you have a compost heap not to include organic food waste.
After every inspection he’d wash his hands thoroughly and with great care, even roping me into doing the same. At the end of the day, when we finished our visits, we stopped at a fast food establishment to have lunch. Bafana then he told me something quite interesting that I have remembered to this day, and that is “always check a restaurant’s bathroom cleanliness and hygiene offerings before eating there”. He went on to explain that a lack of hygiene in the bathrooms usually means that pests aren’t too far away, going as far as to say that after years in the pest control industry – seeing countless horror stories – he only eats at establishments that have an external hygiene and pest control company servicing them. That moment summed up everything I had learned and experienced during the day about the importance of good hygiene practices in supporting pest control.
Looking for more advice on hand hygiene? Download our Handwashing Guide.
It’s important to note that good hygiene – be it bathroom, kitchen or office hygiene – plays a big role in rodent and general pest control, and that just like washing hands the two go hand in hand.