Growers, manufacturers and others operating in Alaska’s legal cannabis business have to keep their operations super clean. Failing to do so can bring their long investment of heart, time and money crashing to a crippling halt.
Leta Belardi and her Wasilla-based Clean Getaways are here to help.
“That’s what had me open up Clean Getaways — seeing that there was quite a need in that industry and no one doing it,” Belardi said. “There’s quite a difference cleaning a residential and commercial building compared to a cannabis facility.”
Clean Getaways serves all aspects of the cannabis sector, whether its cultivation, manufacturing or retail. Though the business has only been open for one year, Belardi has years of experience in the cleaning business, working to spruce up residential and non-cannabis commercial properties.
Cleanliness, she says, is essential for a cannabis operation.
“Especially in between grows, it’s really important to have a clean facility for a product,” Belardi said. “You get an infestation and it can ruin your whole crop.”
While some states have established services similar to Clean Getaways, such as Colorado’s “Cannabis Clean” in Denver and California’s “360 Janitorial” in Sacramento, Belardi’s business seems to be the first Alaska effort to provide cannabis businesses with the cleaning services they need.
At only two employees — Belardi is one of them — and a pool of on-call workers who can help if needed, Clean Getaways isn’t the largest operation. But she has cleaned homes and businesses from Talkeetna to the Kenai Peninsula.
“Ninety percent of my residential customers are return customers, but for cannabis facilities, it’s just kind of starting,” she said.
Not every cleaning job is the same, especially in the cannabis industry. Large facilities, small facilities, retail versus manufacturing versus cultivation, for example. “There’s stuff you’re going to take out of a cultivation facility compared to a manufacturing or retail facility,” she said.
“You’re cleaning the facilities out so you don’t have any spores, no molds, no infestation of insects. Especially in the process of how you clean, make sure that you get debris out, any water, anything that can hold or sustain any kind of life.”
Since cannabis is meant to be consumed, Belardi makes sure to use non-toxic products or methods. For example, one fairly safe method is to do what Belardi calls a “bake-out phase” in which a room is heated to a level to kill spores, mildew, mold or anything susceptible to high temperatures. Additionally, pressure washers are also efficient ways at quickly and thoroughly hosing down a facility.
Time is important for growers. Having to stop and clean a processing facility when other work needs to be done can be a detriment.
“Especially between crops, people are usually in a hurry to get it cleaned out and get the next crop in, and having someone come in with the equipment and the products to clean it up — not having to worry about that makes it a lot easier,” Belardi said.
David Jones is a freelance writer living in Fairbanks. Comments about this story? Email editor@AlaskaCannabist.com.