By Jim Flieler, VP Sales Canada, Charlotte Products
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been receiving many very specific questions from concerned customers looking to improve the hygiene and safety in their buildings. One of the questions I’ve heard most frequently is, “How safe is my carpet?”
I always answer by reminding people that COVID-19 spreads via droplets. Once droplets are in the air, they fall to the ground. Carpet fibers absorb all sorts of bacteria, viruses and germs during normal times, so it is only natural to assume that the carpet will also absorb COVID-19 related droplets. That’s why it will be important to pay careful attention to the ways you are caring for your carpet during this pandemic and beyond.
Carpet Care Tips
Before COVID-19, the average facility would clean its carpets one time per year. The recommendations for how often you clean your carpets will increase in frequency as we think of ways to combat this virus and protect public health. As more and more facilities re-open, the public will expect more hygienic practice in all aspects of your building management. More frequent carpet cleaning will no longer be an inconvenience for building occupants, it will be an expectation.
Whether to disinfect or sanitize your carpeting depends largely on your facility type, if your facility has experienced an outbreak, and how vulnerable your population is. For facility types that are not hot spots for the virus, like a common office building or a retail setting, regular hot water extraction is a very thorough cleaning that will do a good job of keeping the carpets hygienic. When extracting a carpet, it is important to use a good quality cleaning product, whether it is surfactant based or encapsulating technology.
However, if you are caring for a healthcare facility, a nursing home, a facility with a known outbreak, food contact areas or schools, then disinfecting or sanitizing the carpet will be an important step in controlling the spread of COVID-19.
Reminders About Disinfecting and Sanitizing
Disinfectants and sanitizers are effective against COVID-19 because they attack the lipid membrane that surrounds the virus, breaking down the virus completely and rendering it inactive. When disinfecting or sanitizing, it is important to follow a few key steps to ensure effectiveness:
- Choose a product that is effective against your known pathogen. In the case of COVID-19, you can find a list of disinfectants that are effective from Health Canada or the U.S. E.P.A.
- Always clean the area first. It is important to remove all soil before applying the disinfectant or sanitizer to ensure efficacy. In the case of carpet care, this means vacuuming and then extracting with a cleaner or just hot water before applying the disinfectant or sanitizer.
- Follow the product label’s dwell time. The dwell time is the amount of time a disinfecting product will need to be wet on a surface to ensure efficacy against pathogens, including related COVID-19. To help ensure a carpet remains wet for the proper dwell time, the use of a hot water extractor is recommended.
The Carpet Disinfection or Sanitizing Process
The first step will be to vacuum your carpet to remove all dust and soil that would disrupt the disinfection or sanitizing process. Next, extract your carpet like you normally would, using hot water or a good quality cleaning solution.
Then, fill your hot water extractor with a neutral disinfectant as your extraction fluid. Apply the disinfectant by extracting the carpet again, making sure the carpet is moist enough to stay wet for the entire length of time listed as the dwell time on your disinfectant label. We recommend that you do a final water rinse after the dwell time to accommodate those in your building with sensitivities to chemicals.
Some sanitizers and disinfectants may be applied to a freshly vacuumed and extracted carpet using a pump-up sprayer. ES15, a new outbreak prevention disinfectant from Charlotte, can be applied using a pump-up sprayer. This ready to use product was specifically designed to immediately respond to the risk of an outbreak or virus transmission.