By Jim Flieler, VP Sales Canada, Charlotte Products
Right now everyone is paying very close attention to touch surfaces, and rightfully so. As COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe, public health experts have been reinforcing the need to disinfect all touch surfaces throughout all types of facilities. Doorknobs, countertops and lightswitches may never have been so frequently disinfected in recent—or living—memory. But, what about the surface that takes up the most space in your building?
Are you including a process for disinfecting floors in your building’s infection control protocol?
Floors are just as likely to harbor disease-causing germs, including viruses and especially highly contagious viruses like Covid-19. Because of the unique nature of this particular virus and its effect on global public health, facility managers are looking for many more ways to safely and effectively disinfect their entire buildings. After touch surfaces, the next most important surface to pay close attention to in an effort to create a healthy environment is the floor.
Below, some helpful tips to ensure your floor disinfection program is operating at maximum efficiency.
The good news is that coronaviruses are enveloped viruses, making them the easiest viruses to eliminate with the appropriate product (and following the product’s label directions). This frequently updated list from Health Canada includes all disinfecting products that are likely to be effective for use against COVID-19. The EPA, Environmental Protection Agency has a frequently updated list to reference disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). You can also check the technical brochures and documents provided by manufacturers to view kill claims associated with your disinfectant product choices. Any disinfectant you choose for your infection control program should have a broad kill claim. Ideally, the disinfectant should be able to kill bacteria, fungi and viruses.
When using products on flooring, it is also important to consider pH levels. That is because many more traditional disinfectants may have higher pH levels that could be corrosive to certain floor finishes or substrates. You will want to choose a disinfectant with as neutral a pH as possible to keep your floor finishes in good condition while also disinfecting them.
Another key consideration when using a disinfectant on your floors is dilution. Your chemical dispenser’s dilution control capabilities can be affected by a multitude of external factors, making them less accurate and thus not providing the most effective disinfection for your needs. If the water is too strong, your disinfectant may be too watered down and not effective at disinfecting. If the water pressure is too weak, your solution might be too potent, becoming harmful for the health of your cleaners.
One of the major factors that can compromise dilution control devices is water pressure. It is important to regularly check your building’s water pressure, and consider installing a water pressure gauge at your chemical dispenser to monitor water pressure levels. Water pressure can fluctuate throughout the day, so keep your eye on the gauge at various times. Speak with your distributor or manufacturer for solutions to troubleshoot water pressure changes while maintaining accuracy with your dilution control measures.
Equipment & Tools
In order to clean properly, one must ensure the tools they are using are clean, which includes mops, brooms, microfiber and any mechanized cleaning equipment. Equipment is like a custodian, it touches or comes in contact with a lot of surfaces throughout a facility, therefore it is paramount that they are cleaned regularly. Over this pandemic, many mechanized equipment have been sitting idle, most likely with dirty solution left in recovery tanks or lids closed on the solution & recovery tanks. This creates a great breeding zone creating a health risk due to possible growth of bacteria, viruses and certainly producing foul odours in any number of parts of the solution system. Equipment requires cleaning & disinfecting after each use or prior ro use if it has been idle to ensure the recovery tank, brushes, hoses, squeegee blade assembly, back hose assembly and floor pads are clean & disinfected.
Cleaning is always an essential first step in any disinfecting process. Quick reminder: There is a significant difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning is the process of removing soil and other substances from a surface, while disinfecting means killing the germs on a surface. After you have successfully removed all soil from your floor, then you may apply your disinfectant. On hard surfaces, a wet mop, flat mop or microfiber tube mop may be adequate. In larger facilities, the use of an auto scrubber is recommended for best results. On soft flooring and carpets, a steam extractor would do the trick.
Dwell times will be just as important when it comes to disinfecting floors as they are for any surface. As always, it is important to read your product label to find the dwell time that ensures total kill claims, and to leave your disinfectant alone for that amount of time. This is often up to ten minutes. Some more advanced disinfectants do have a shorter dwell time of five minutes to be effective against viruses.
Always check the recommendations from Canada Health, or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for the most up-to-date information regarding the proper disinfection of surfaces, including floors, to battle COVID-19 in your facilities. The situation continues to change rapidly, and we are all learning new information daily about the virus. Use that information as your primary guidance, because it is the most up-to-date.
Learn more about Charlotte Products’ selection of neutral disinfectants and multi-purpose cleaners that are safe to use on floors and are on Health Canada’s list of products likely to be successful against COVID-19. These products include: ES72, ES64, ES64H , ES364 and ES15.