Addressing COVID-19 & your floors
The ongoing outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to dominate headlines and infect thousands of new people per day around the world. Here in the U.S., States are closing all non-essential facilities such as offices, schools, restaurants and hotels in order to assist in social distancing. Property owners as well as local and state governments are ramping up cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces in an effort to curb the spread of the infection.
During this time, Scher Flooring Services (SFS) recommends that facilities not overlook the importance of proper floor maintenance. Being mindful of the differences between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting will help facility managers and property owners best protect occupants and visitors, as well as their flooring investments.
Cleaning & Sanitizing vs Disinfecting
While there is not yet published research available on how long COVID-19 lives on surfaces, the World Health Organization notes that “coronaviruses may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days.” Thus, it’s critical that property decision makers pay attention to their textiles as well as their hard surfaces. In addition, facilities managers and property owners want to be able to assure those who enter their properties that everything that could be done, has been done to ensure their safety.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), carpet installation is often recommended for facilities like schools and healthcare facilities, as carpet “acts as a reservoir for dust, dirt, pollen, mold spores, pesticides and other materials.” While carpet helps to improve indoor air quality (IAQ), it is important to thoroughly clean carpet on a regular basis to remove the build-up of soil and other potentially harmful particles that settle deep into carpet fibers.
To properly clean carpet, Scher Flooring Services incorporates Whittaker’s low-moisture encapsulation cleaning, which relies on less water and allows carpet to dry faster. This system utilizes a two- or three-brush machine that lifts the carpet pile and agitates the chemistry into the carpet fibers to achieve a top-to-bottom clean.
How to Sanitize Carpet
Hydrogen peroxide and Anti-microbials can assist in sanitizing carpet. For sanitizing carpet, SFS first uses Whittaker’s Crystal® Quick Restore™ chemistry, which has 1.75% hydrogen peroxide. Our crews often double up on the solution. This will increase the percentage of hydrogen peroxide to 3.5%. SFS then applies MediClean Disinfectant Spray which offers protection against dangerous and destructive microorganisms. This heavy-duty cleaner is a disinfectant and deodorizer. EPA registered as a fungicide, virucide, disinfectant, sanitizer, and mildewstat, MediClean has demonstrated effectiveness on non-porous surfaces against viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2 (as the surrogate for COVID-19).
It’s important to note that while hard, non-porous surfaces like Ceramic tile and VCT can be disinfected, according to the EPA, no product can claim to disinfect soft, porous, surfaces such as carpet.
Cleaning Hard Surfaces
In today’s market, hard surface coverings can be separated into two categories. Those that require a finish, and those that don’t. The similarity in most hard surfaces is their non-porous nature. This is an important aspect of this flooring segment when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting.
Whether the hard surface will receive an acrylic finish or not, Scher Flooring Services’ program initially utilizes a high pH (alkaline), low odor solution followed by machine scrubbing of the floor with 175 rpm buffers and scrubbing pads to break up the polish film and soil build up. This is followed by wet vacuuming and clean mopping the areas. Scher then adds high solids acrylic finish when necessary.
Disinfecting Hard Surfaces
By their very nature, most hard surfaces are non-porous. This distinction, according to the EPA, means that they have the ability to be disinfected. To achieve this, SFS applies MediClean Disinfectant Spray which offers protection against dangerous and destructive microorganisms. This heavy-duty cleaner is a disinfectant and deodorizer. EPA registered as a fungicide, virucide, disinfectant, sanitizer, and mildewstat, MediClean has demonstrated effectiveness on non-porous surfaces against viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2 (as the surrogate for COVID-19).
A Continued Focus on Coronavirus
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that coronavirus may continue to spread into 2021. With more infections and deaths being recorded each day, facilities need to have strategies in place to reduce its spread. Reviewing the differences between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting carpet and hard surfaces will allow facility managers to understand potential limitations of these processes, and select the best solutions for protecting employees, patients, students, guests and building occupants.
Then, adhering to ongoing maintenance and restoration cleaning schedules, using the right tools, machines and chemicals will ensure that facilities are addressing all soft and hard surfaces that may carry pathogens. Increasing the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing your floors during periods of increased illness can help curb the impact of outbreaks like coronavirus. Maintaining cleanliness even after the threat of an outbreak diminishes, is just as important to prevent future outbreaks from becoming widespread.
We at SFS recognize that you are facing increased pressure to clean during this stressful time. Please feel free to contact us directly at 301-444-4512 for assistance and advice. We value the relationship that we have created with you over the years and we wish to extend our expertise to you during these trying times.