How to thoroughly clean high-traffic floors
Thursday, August 13, 2020
If you work in a facility that experiences a lot of traffic, there are safety concerns that could pose a threat to the health of your staff, business partners and customers. Inevitably, foot traffic can track in debris, germs and microbes that can spread throughout the facility.
Therefore, it is important to keep your floors as clean as possible. In this article, we will discuss what should be considered when looking for appropriate flooring and cleaning solutions that are both functional and help promote a safe and healthy environment.
What Makes Floors Harder to Clean?
When looking for an appropriate flooring option, it’s important to keep in mind that certain physical attributes of flooring can make them harder to clean and stay clean. These include:
- Flooring that comes in multiple pieces.
- Flooring that creates crevices (for example joints or where the wall and floor meet).
- Flooring that is porous.
- Flooring with too much texture.
Flooring that is installed in multiple pieces, has exposed joints, or is porous, can create the perfect environment for bacteria and other pathogens to grow and flourish. Spilled liquids can puddle in cracks and crevices and porous flooring can absorbs liquids.
Unfortunately, porous flooring can also discolor and stain, making it difficult to appear clean. Some flooring options allow for additional texture to be added. However, too much texture can make it almost impossible to clean effectively and keep it looking clean. That’s why it’s important to keep these factors in mind when looking at flooring options.
Choosing the Right Flooring
Some of the most common flooring choices include vinyl, laminate, tile, concrete and resinous flooring (also known as epoxy and urethane flooring).
Vinyl and laminate flooring: Both vinyl and laminate flooring come in a wide variety of colors, looks and feels and can be cost-effective. However, it typically involves the flooring to be pieced together. These flooring options tend to be easy to clean with a mop of broom on the surface, but the small cracks between the planks or tiles are what create those pesky bacteria promoting havens.
High commercial traffic areas may also result in excessive wear and tear. It is not as chemical resistant as other flooring options either. Meaning that continuous exposure to cleaning products could lead to premature deterioration over time.
Tile flooring: This type of flooring is also available in a variety of textures, looks, colors, shapes and sizes. Similar to vinyl and laminate, it too can be easy to clean on the surface. However, some tiles have natural divots and cracks in them to provide a more realistic stone look. These types of textured tile offer the perfect place for dirt and liquids to accumulate. Another aspect to consider with tile are grout lines.
Grout lines are porous and also trap dirt, debris and absorb liquids, thus creating the perfect home for pathogens. Have you ever looked at lighter tile and seen black little dots in it and in the grout? That’s dirt and debris that unfortunately is almost impossible to completely clean with regular mop cleaning. Not only can this prove to be unsanitary, but it also makes it extremely difficult to achieve a clean look.
Concrete flooring: Concrete flooring is popular because it’s already there and installed! No need to buy additional flooring to put down. Just use the concrete slab itself. It may seem durable and aesthetically pleasing however it is porous.
Therefore, liquids and spills can turn a nice-looking concrete floor into a multicolored stained mess. It is important to have it sealed or polished; yet these options do not provide full protection and can still absorb liquids and create light staining and infection control issues. Sealed or polished concrete also requires frequent maintenance of resealing or polishing to keep its luster and the light protection it offers.
Resinous flooring: This is one of the most sanitary flooring options on the market today. Epoxy and urethane flooring systems are considered seamless flooring, as it can cover an entire floor to eliminate cracks and crevices. A cove base can even be applied in the joint area where the wall and floor meet to eliminate any crevice that can hold water or bacteria.
One thing to note about resinous systems is that they can be applied to walls, creating an easy and efficient way to wash down. This makes it extremely easy to clean dirt, grime, and other unsanitary messes. There are resinous systems that are chemical resistant and can withstand frequent and rigorous cleanings. Resinous flooring offers the option to add additional texture to help prevent slip and falls, however, as discussed earlier, an extreme amount of texture can make it difficult to clean.
Anything with divots and high and low areas will create habitable environments for pathogen, so when it comes to cleaning, how do you determine what type of supplies and/or equipment to use? Here are some factors to consider:
- Flooring type
- Square footage
- Tight locations (such as bathroom stalls or under large equipment)
- How often you need to clean the floors
- What chemicals you need to go with the equipment
The good old mop and bucket always seem to be at the forefront of cleaning supplies. These can be the most inexpensive options to purchase; however, depending on the square footage of an area, it can take a lot of manual labor.
The mop and bucket method makes cleaning easier in smaller spaces, such as bathroom stalls or underneath large equipment. However, it may not be the best cleaning solution in terms of disinfecting, as mops do not always get washed between uses and bacteria can start to grow. Therefore, you are cleaning a floor with a dirty mop, potentially spreading pathogens across a floor.
If time is of the essence and you are looking to clean more effectively or cut down on manual labor costs, there are many cleaning equipment options and sizes that can sweep and scrub floors. These machines certainly do a better job cleaning crevices, removing dirt and other debris compared to a mop. From small to large equipment options, there is something for everyone and every facility.
Smaller machines can help get around small and hard to reach areas and are manually operated. For larger areas, such as walkways and industrial facilities, there are two options to choose from: a walk-behind machine and a ride-on machine.
Walk-behind equipment is where a person can push and guide the machine. For larger facilities with more square footage, a ride-on option may be best. This means a driver can sit and drive the machine rather than walking behind it. Not only does this help cut down on cleaning time but it does not physically exhaust the operator.
There are also hybrid equipment options. These hybrid options are typically similar in size to a walk-behind, but they allow for the operator to stand on the back rather than walk behind it.
Fortunately, in today’s ever-evolving world of technology, many cleaning machines are now AI operated, meaning no driver necessary! This can allow you to continuously clean your floors without the added headcount!
Small, medium or large cleaning equipment … manual or AI operated … there are so many choices to choose from depending on the demands of a facility and the square footage that needs to be cleaned and maintained. A local retailer or distributor can help you determine which equipment would best serve your facility needs.
Ensuring Clean Floors
Ensuring clean floors in any facility, especially one with high traffic, requires both the right type of flooring system as well as the right cleaning program. Without the right flooring system, floors can easily begin to degrade due to the high demands of heavy traffic or constant cleaning. Without the right cleaning program or equipment, floors can become breeding grounds for bacteria and other pathogens within the facility. Keep in mind, a seamless flooring option — such as resinous flooring — paired with mechanical cleaning equipment can help provide the cleanest floor maintenance program available today.
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