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Cleaning and Disinfecting Hard Surface Floors In The Age of COVID-19: What You Need to Know

Al Boulogne

Written by Al Boulogne, Vice President, Commercial Resilient Business at Mannington Commercial
Apr 24, 2020

Maintaining a clean work environment is more important now than ever. But, with ever-evolving information regarding COVID-19, how do you know what to do?

 

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Photo by pan xiaozhen on Unsplash

 

Mannington Commercial doesn’t purport to have all the answers – no one really does – but we can provide some guidelines to help you put basic protocols in place and provide some additional resources if you need more information.

 

While there are studies regarding how long the COVID-19 virus can remain potentially transmittable, to-date there are no specific studies conducted on floor coverings. However, there is research on the longevity of the virus on common hard surfaces published by the National Institute of Health and the New England Journal of Medicine.

 

Both highly reputable sources, the estimates still represent a wide range of possibilities from longevity of a few hours to a few days. These time spans confirm the important need for active, regular cleaning and disinfecting.

 

Basic Health and Safety Considerations

While we can offer guidelines, these are neither comprehensive nor final. Please consider your regional climate, facility type, staff capabilities, type and age of floorcovering as well as the type of soil and traffic volume when determining how to achieve the best results for your space.

 

Always start with safety when developing a plan.

  • Make sure to use Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) that is suitable and approved for the task. PPE is defined as devices worn to protect against environmental hazards. It prevents contact with a hazardous agent or equipment by creating a barrier between the potentially hazardous material and a person, substantially protecting him or her from risk. Examples include gloves and masks.
  • Carefully read and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturers when using any chemicals.
  • Make sure you have proper signage in place. Warning people about potential work areas should be a standard procedure.

 

Because Mannington floors are in place across a broad spectrum of commercial spaces, including healthcare, we are familiar with most of the major brands of commercial cleaners, disinfectants, and sanitizers used on our floors.

 

The company does not specifically endorse particular commercial cleaners, disinfectants, or sanitizers, but over time we’ve found most perform adequately when used specifically in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions. But, it must be noted that due to the sheer quantity of products in the marketplace, many others have not been evaluated. Please rely on the specific recommendations from the manufacturer for each product when creating your process

 

Cleaning Commercial Hard Surface Flooring

Cleaning your hard surface flooring is the only the first part of the overall process. In broad terms for these purposes, cleaning means to remove dirt while disinfecting. Sanitizing means to remove microbes/pathogens. Begin by thoroughly examining your space and realistically evaluate the cleaning processes you already have in place. Many of those will become part of a more intensive protocol.

 

  • Start by removing dust and grit by dry mopping. For tougher soil removal, use a microfiber dust mop. Make sure to remove the dust mop heads as needed when they become too dirty. A wet/dry vacuum can also be useful or a compact scrubber with microfiber rollers.
  • For light soiling, find a cleaner that is diluted around 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 oz. per gallon of water. Avoid cleaning with heavy fragrances. Perfume is not a cleaning agent and can provide a false sense of achievement based on the perception of a “clean smell.”
  • Agitation or a scrubbing action can be helpful to suspend the soil in the cleaning solution.
  • A rinse step, although optional, will help prevent potential residue buildup over time especially as you work through an increased cleaning regimen.

 

Disinfecting and Sanitizing Flooring

First, understand what it means to disinfect or to sanitize. A disinfectant is intended to free you from infection by destroying harmful microorganisms. To sanitize by cleaning or sterilizing is to reduce the occurrence of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Make sure to choose a product that does what you expect and is recommended for hard surfaces.

 

Once you’ve selected the proper products, here are some basic processes:

  • Be sure to clean and remove soil from the surface. Then disinfect/sanitize the surface with the appropriate chemical.
  • We suggest neutral disinfectants/sanitizers that have pH around 7.
  • Some disinfectants/sanitizers intentionally have a pH that is higher or lower than 7. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, if a rinsing step is required.
  • Read the product label carefully regarding the recommended dwell or contact time on the surface. Some products need time to activate.
  • Follow the dilution rate (how much chemical to use per gallon of water) to achieve desired results. This protects against an adverse chemical response.
  • Follow chemical label instructions. The chemical manufacturer must follow strict guidelines that have been validated by testing verification to make the disinfecting/sanitizing claims on the label; they are in place for a reason.
  • Do not create your own special formulation. You will do more harm than good and the mixture could be dangerous. This can’t be stressed enough.
  • If either the dilution or the dwell time steps are not followed exactly as instructed, your cleaning process will fall short of what you are trying to achieve.
  • Remember, once the surface is compromised by touching, walking on or any other type of contact, the surface is no longer considered to be disinfected. Take this into consideration when creating your protocol schedule and plan accordingly.

 

Resources for Additional Safety and Cleaning Information

Like everyone else, we’ve never dealt with handling a pandemic. We’re continually monitoring a variety of validated resources to help you determine the best processes for different situations. For your education and reference, here are some of the resources we’re using:

National Institute of Health

New England Journal of Medicine

CDC FAQ

CDC How to Clean

CDC

EPA List

Mannington Commercial Maintenance Instructions:

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Infection Control:

 

Please remember that we appreciate your business and want the best for everyone. If you have questions, our Technical Services Department will do its best to help: 800.241.2262.

 

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