How to keep a floor virus-free?

13th of November 2020
How to keep a floor virus-free?
How to keep a floor virus-free?

During the global pandemic, ECJ finds out how important it is to clean hard floors safely to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

The advent of Covid-19 has had a major impact on every aspect of cleaning. Hands and surfaces have been at the forefront of urgent new moves to improve cleanliness in a bid to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

But how important is it to ensure that hard floors are kept clean and virus-free as well? Are floors a flash-point for germs and if so, are cleaning companies seeing a greater demand for solutions that can remove viruses from floors?

The answer to the second question is a definite yes according to IPC communications manager Gabriella Bianco. “Cleaning has become a crucial factor in the fight against the pandemic and we’re experiencing a larger demand than ever for our cleaning and sanitising systems,” she said.

A combination of chemicals, machines and manual accessories will help to eliminate pathogens from floors, she says. “The mechanical action created by a scrubber dryer coupled with the chemical action of a detergent will ensure a fast and accurate clean, while a powerful vacuum will leave the surface dry,” she said. “However for specific applications where speed and accuracy of detail are essential, manual mopping is still a good option.” IPC offers a range of scrubber dryers and mopping systems.

Special care needs to be taken when cleaning the hard floors of a hospital, care home or clinic, she says. “People living in these areas are potentially at greater risk which means that all floor cleaning and sanitisation here needs to be targeted and thorough.”

The type of flooring used in these areas is generally porous and therefore more susceptible to contaminants, according to Bianco. “It is crucial to clean floors in the healthcare sector frequently and deeply to prevent them from absorbing permanent dirt, particularly in high-traffic environments,” she said.

New from IPC is the 4-in-1 Spraying System that may be retrofitted to IPC’s scrubber dryers and can also be used as a backpack sprayer. “This enables our ride-on scrubber dryers to wash, dry and sanitise in a single pass, while small to medium-sized areas can be sanitised using the backpack sprayer,” she said.

Filmop has received increased customer demand for its mopping systems over the past few months according to export area manager Paolo Scapinello.

Rise in demand

“The world is facing an emergency – one that requires us to keep environments strictly clean and disinfected,” he said. “As a result we have seen a rise in demand for disposable mops that facilitate effective floor cleaning while also reducing cross-contamination.”

He says it is now more crucial than ever to maximise hygiene by sanitising and disinfecting all environments – floors included. And he believes commercial floors should be cleaned every day and sanitised frequently. “Additional cleaning operations must be put in place promptly in case of specific needs,” he adds.

According to Scapinello, virus transmission may be prevented with the use of a new cloth for each area. “Disposable cloths will help to maintain high standards of hygiene,” he said. New from Filmop are Mono-Micro cloths designed for use on smooth interior floors. These are said to effectively remove germs and bacteria and may be used with the Unilav for spot cleaning and the ErgoSwing for deeper cleaning.

Healthcare facilities, nursing homes, schools and nurseries need to be cleaned particularly thoroughly to avoid the risk of contamination, he says. “In this delicate phase of the pandemic it is essential to rely on professional equipment that will ensure an efficient clean coupled with maximum hygiene,” said Scapinello.

During these challenging times, customers feel more confident when hygiene levels are increased across the board according to Kärcher’s floorcare product manager Christian Mrowka. He believes floor sanitisation to be particularly advisable in areas where closer contact with the surface is likely to take place such as in gyms, kindergardens and areas where people may walk barefoot.

A scrubber dryer will achieve a more effective clean than a mop in Mrowka’s view. “A machine will also save time, water and detergent while avoiding cross-contamination,” he said.

He adds that floors should always be cleaned before sanitisation takes place. “If the floor is not free of dirt, this could impede the disinfection process,” he said. Kärcher offers a sanitising kit that can be mounted on to B 150 R + B 200 R ride-on scrubber dryers. This incorporates a spray bar that applies a disinfection solution via spray nozzles.

When used in tandem with machines, microfibre mops can also achieve an effective floor clean according to Kärcher’s product manager for manual tools Kamila Dobler. “Microfibre will remove bacteria and offer a sustainable manual solution,” she said.

However, the type of floor in question will have an impact on the cleaning method, she adds. “Porous floors provide a more favourable environment for germs, while a non-porous hard floor that is well maintained will make cleaning easier and will therefore be more hygienic,” she said. “And the use of the room in question will also be relevant: for example, hard floors in a kindergarten or daycare facility may pose a risk since children often play on floors.”

Like other companies, Prochem has noted an increased demand for hygienic floor-cleaning solutions since premises have re-opened, says sales and training manager Phil Jones.  “Pubs, restaurants, cafes and other public venues need to carry out cleaning and disinfecting procedures far more frequently than they did before Covid-19,” he said. “And cinemas and gyms have been requiring sanitising products for all hard surfaces and upholstery.”

Prochem offers a range of viricidal cleaners including D500 Microsan, a multi-surface biocidal cleaner and B125 Clensan, a biocidal sanitiser.

Hard floors are among the chief transmission points for dirt and soil entering a building, according to Jones. “The main coronavirus risk is from cross-contamination from person to person or surface to surface, but the cleanliness of the floors is still an important factor in the hygiene of any building,” he adds.  “This means the floors should be cleaned with a suitable product that will kill the virus in conjunction with normal cleaning practices.”

The type of business and the level of traffic will dictate the cleaning regime, he says. “For example, food production premises should be constantly sanitised whereas busy retailers may only be able to clean their floors at the end of the day.

“And we at Prochem have been advising one of Europe’s largest gym chains which has opted to clean and sanitise their changing room and shower floors three times a day to protect their clients.” The gym chain has been using Prochem’s REB15 battery-powered back-pack sprayers for this purpose.

Cleanliness is of paramount importance in hospitals and care homes, he says. “Other high-risk environments include schools, colleges, coffee bars and large fast-food restaurants - and we have also received many requests from mosques and churches as they allow worshippers back into their buildings,” he said.

Rawlins is another company that has witnessed high demand for virus-busting floor-cleaning solutions, says managing director James White. “We have learnt that Covid-19 can survive on hard surfaces for hours or even days, so we must take that risk seriously,” he said. “With people walking across floor surfaces constantly the spread of bacteria is inevitable. And the fact that it is possible for the virus to spread from floors to other surfaces means it will remain in circulation.

“We must therefore adopt cleaning processes that not only kill the virus at source, but will also protect the area with a long-lasting barrier that reduces the risk of re-infection.”

Areas of risk

Rawlins uses a ‘remove, improve and protect’ system that involves the use of chemicals, machine cleaning and fluid extraction followed by an adenosine triphosphate test to ensure that the floors are germ-free. They are then treated with an antimicrobial protection product such as Zoono Z-71 Microbe Shield, said to reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses for 30 days.

According to White, any environment that sees a high footfall constitutes a potential risk. “People automatically think of hospitals and cares home as requiring extra attention because they house the most vulnerable but in reality, bars and restaurants are just as risky,” he said. “In these establishments, cleaning is often carried out by staff as an additional task alongside their main duties, and they often face pressure to turn the tables around quickly to accommodate more guests.

“These premises are also far less likely to have stringent cleaning methods in place whereas hospitals employ trained cleaning operatives dedicated to infection control. In fact the need to adopt a robust cleaning regime has never been more important - regardless of the setting - because hygiene remains one of our first lines of defence against Covid-19.”

So should virus removal now become an integral part of any floorcare regime?

Cleaning sufficient

According to Prochem’s Phil Jones, many of the company’s initial inquiries concerning hygienic floor-cleaning solutions were seemingly the result of a knee-jerk reaction. But that has since changed.

“Obviously there hasn’t been a pandemic like this in living memory and as time has moved on, it has become clear that this isn’t a short-term issue,” he said. “Businesses now realise that cleanliness is going to be paramount in defeating the virus which means they need support and advice from the cleaning industry to help them move forward.”

The events of the past few months have prompted a need for psychological reassurance, adds IPC’s Gabriella Bianco. “Fear is a natural reaction to an evil one can’t see, and scientists agree that rooms and floors should be regularly cleaned and disinfected in order to reduce the risks.”

The current crisis has been a wake-up call for us all, according to Rawlins’ James White. “It shouldn’t take a global pandemic for people to step up their cleaning efforts - but the fact that it has prompted such a reaction is a good thing,” he says.

However Kärcher’s Christian Mrowka feels that floors represent a relatively low infection risk in terms of Covid-19. “Nobody wants to make a mistake in the current climate, so it is important that we all react in the right way,” he said. “But floors generally pose a low risk of infection because there is no direct contact between the hands and the floor which means that in most cases, a thorough clean is sufficient.”


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