Updates on chemical safety and cleaning products that will help you!

View All News
Disposable Microfiber - Cuts Infection RatesTuesday, February 26, 2019
Category: News

Acute-Care Facility Cuts Infection Rates With Disposable Microfiber Mops











Contributed by Contec, Inc.

The team at a South Florida acute-care facility was struggling to reduce healthcare-associated infection (HAI) rates and was experiencing operational challenges tied to efficient room turnover time. After reviewing their tedious in-house laundry system and processes, the team determined it would switch to single-use microfiber floor pads to help cut infection rates and improve cleaning efficiencies. 

Recent findings in a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control further validated this decision. In the study, 41 percent of hospital rooms had high-touch objects (both personal items and medical devices) in contact with the floor. Floors are a rich source of contamination due to procedures, mobile medical equipment and daily foot traffic from employees, patients and visitors. Floor-to-patient transmission of pathogens can happen in an instant. 

Unfortunately, laundered microfiber mops and wipes have been determined to add to — rather than reduce — this risk. In fact, ATP tests show that laundered microfiber mops and wipes don’t clean as well as new ones. They are engineered to grab and remove bioburden from hospital floors or surfaces effectively; however, that same technology keeps them from letting go of it, even in the best of laundering processes. 

To that end, each time microfiber mops and wipes are reused, facilities run the risk of redepositing dangerous pathogens back into patient critical areas, exposing them to infection. In addition, the built-up residues neutralize disinfectants, rendering them ineffective in eliminating the pathogens that endanger vulnerable patients.

By moving to Contec’s Premira single-use microfiber mops and wipes, the facility reduced the risk of cross-contamination and infection risk to patients left behind by laundered mops and wipes. Trapped bioburden and pathogens went into the trash, not into the laundry where they would become embedded in and spread by reusable microfiber. Moreover, because there was no built-up bioburden to render chemicals ineffective, the facility’s disinfectants retained the power they needed to destroy dangerous pathogens.

Operationally, the facility reported that eliminating the laundering cycle, and the time needed to produce an effective clean with reusable mops and wipes, improved room turnover time. Staff also reported feeling more confident about patient safety. Over time, the facility also realized decreased HAI rates. 

Cleaning managers at the facility summed the experience up by saying, “infection rates, room turnover time, and burnishing rates are all notably down since the transition.”

Proper Floor Care Starts With the Right Floor PadTuesday, September 11, 2018
Category: News
Proper Floor Care Starts With the Right Floor Pad

By Mike Englund

Having the right combination of equipment, chemicals, and floor pads is important to keeping floors looking their best in the most cost-effective manner possible. The correct floor pad for the situation gets the job done right the first time and saves time and money, while selecting the wrong pad can result in permanent surface damage and costly repairs.

Pad Types
Floor pads should be used according to the task at hand such as stripping, cleaning, scrubbing, buffing, polishing, or burnishing. Industry standards in floor pad colors for low-speed floor machines (175 to 350 rpm) help define the correct pad for the appropriate use and provide the best results. The general rule of thumb is the darker the pad, the more aggressive it is.

Floor pad color coding is best summarized as follows:

  • Polishing pads (white) are the lightest in color and are used for polishing clean, dry floors.
  • Buffing pads (red) are used for light cleaning and spray buffing and will remove light scuff marks.
  • Cleaning or light scrubbing pads (blue) remove dirt, scuff marks, and soiled top layers of floor finish.
  • Heavy-duty scrubbing pads (green) are great for removing heavy dirt and scuff marks as well as for light stripping.
  • More aggressive stripping pads (black, heavy-duty black and burgundy) remove wax, dirt, and old floor finish.

While an industry standard does not exist for color coding high-speed burnishing pads, these pads should be selected based on the condition of the floor in relation to the level of shine to be achieved without removing the floor finish. The type of finish—soft, medium, or hard—that needs to be burnished also should be taken into account.

Go Green
Floor pads are available in synthetic, blended, and natural fibers as well as microfiber. Synthetic pads are best used on low-speed jobs such as scrubbing or stripping with wet solutions, while blended or natural fiber pads are excellent for ultra-high-speed burnishing. Microfiber pads have become popular for daily cleaning and burnishing, and there are many specialty pads for nonchemical cleaning as well as marble, stone, and concrete floor care.

It’s no secret that many facilities are requesting green cleaning materials for their cleaning programs. With the availability of both synthetic floor pads made of 100-percent-recycled materials and natural fiber pads, it is easy to meet this requirement. And while microfiber pads are not green, they can reduce the use of harsh chemicals and are easily cleaned and reused.

Quality Pays
When preparing to start a floor care program, always use the highest quality floor pad available. They will last longer, perform better, and improve worker productivity, ultimately leading to cost savings. Studies have shown that a higher-quality stripping pad was able to cover upwards of 50,000 square feet, while a less costly, lower quality pad had to be replaced after 10,000 square feet of use. Floor care is a labor intensive process, and the majority of its cost (90 to 95 percent) is related to labor. Using the wrong, cheap, or inferior pad can add additional cost to the job.

Getting the Most Out of Your Pads
To get the most use out of your floor pads and maximize the return on your purchase, be sure to use both sides of the pad on double-sided pads. Floor pads are also made to be reused. Washing pads in a janitor’s sink, brushing gently during rinsing, or cleaning with high-pressure jets at a car wash and allowing them to air dry can allow you to use the same pad multiple times. Pads should also be removed from floor machines when not in use. Cleaning your floor pads after each use and using both sides of the pad can result in significant cost savings.

As you can see, many elements go into choosing the right floor pad. Taking some time to consider these factors before you start a job can help you save both time and money in the long run.

Carpets, Health, and Air QualityTuesday, September 11, 2018
Category: News
Carpets, Health, and Air Quality

By Robert Kravitz 

There have been a number of surprising studies throughout the years regarding the amount of germs and bacteria that can be found on office desks, cell phones, and the sponges we use to wipe down counters and wash dishes. However, one study that has gotten relatively little notice relates to carpets and concerns about indoor air quality (IAQ).

In that study, which was conducted by the University of Arizona several years ago, researchers asked a group of people to wear brand-new shoes for two weeks. They were to wear the shoes everywhere—to school, to work, shopping, etc. After two weeks, the shoes were returned to be tested for contaminants that might have collected on the shoe bottoms. What researchers discovered surpassed their expectations:

  • The shoes collected more than 420,000 units of bacteria, and all the shoes had varying amounts of bacteria on them.
  • Potentially hazardous levels of E. coli were present on about one-third of the shoes.
  • Greywater, food, drinks, grease, tar, and dust were found on all of the shoes to varying degrees.

These kinds of contaminants and bacteria all have the potential to negatively impact indoor air quality when they are walked into a facility on users’ shoes. However, in most cases, carpets act as an environmental filter, trapping soils, bacteria, and contaminants and stopping them from becoming airborne, which means healthier IAQ for everyone.

But the effectiveness of carpeting as an environmental filter is dependent on maintenance. Carpets must be properly cleaned and maintained at regular intervals in order to protect IAQ. And this typically begins with the creation of an effective and sustainable carpet maintenance program.1

Creating a Carpet Maintenance Program
According to Doug Heiferman, a textile specialist and trainer with The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC), the first step toward creating an effective, sustainable carpet maintenance program should be training and certifying the technicians in charge of carpet cleaning. “Certification cannot be stressed enough,” notes Heiferman. “(Cleaners and technicians) must possess the knowledge to properly maintain carpets as a first line of defense to foster good IAQ.”

Another step that must be taken before creating an effective carpet maintenance program is to study the amount of foot traffic and the number of people who generally use each carpeted area. This information will help determine the “soil rating” of the facility, which is the measure of the intensity of the soil load that can accumulate in the carpets. These ratings are designated as light, normal, moderate, heavy, or extreme. Soil ratings help determine the frequency of tasks such as vacuuming, interim carpet cleaning, and hot-water carpet extraction.

For instance, a facility with a moderate soil rating should be vacuumed two to four times per week to remove dust, contaminants, and particulates from carpets. Additionally:

  • Spotting should be performed daily or as soon as spots are noticed.
  • Heavy traffic areas should be cleaned using either interim or restorative carpet cleaning methods every six months.
  • All carpets should be cleaned using hot-water carpet extraction at least once per year.

Unfortunately, determining the soil rating of a facility and how frequently carpet cleaning tasks should be performed to help protect IAQ can be determined only on a case-by-case basis. “Facilities vary in traffic, soiling rates, and usage,” explains Heiferman. “Additionally, climate and the desired appearance level of the carpet are considerations that must be evaluated in order to build an effective maintenance program.”

Controlling Soil Ratings
While the soil ratings for a facility must be determined on an individual basis, there are steps all facilities can take to help control their soil levels—and it all begins outside the facility. Parking lots and walkways should be cleaned and maintained regularly to help prevent dust and contaminants from entering the facility and damaging IAQ.

According to JoAnne Boston of Crown Mats and Matting, high-performance matting systems play a crucial role in keeping indoor facilities and their air healthy. Far beyond a simple welcome mat on which visitors can wipe their feet, a true matting system involves three different types of mats, all performing specific duties:

  • Five feet of scraper matting placed outside the building entry. This is designed to scrape larger particulates and soils off the bottoms of shoes.
  • Five feet of scraper/wiper matting placed directly inside the doorway. This removes remaining larger soils and collects and traps moisture from shoe bottoms.
  • Finally, five feet of wiper matting placed inside the facility. “This is referred to as the final line of defense,” says Boston. “The wiper matting is designed to capture any remaining soil and moisture, preventing it from entering the facility.”

The Importance of Carpet Extraction in Protecting IAQ

Earlier we referenced the role of “interim” cleaning methods as part of an overall carpet maintenance program. Typically this refers to carpet cleaning methods that remove soils found on the top surfaces of the carpet. These include vacuuming as well as shampooing and bonnet cleaning methods. According to Mark Baxter, an engineer with U.S. Products, while these methods can be effective, the key thing to remember is that they are, as the name implies, only interim or short-term measures.

“Interim methods can only do so much. In order for carpets to serve as a filter and protect IAQ, they must be thoroughly cleaned using restorative methods.”

Baxter takes this a step further, advising that carpets should be cleaned using hot-water carpet extractors that heat the water or cleaning solution to more than 200°F. “[Heat] improves the effectiveness of cleaning chemicals so that less chemical may be necessary. This makes the entire carpet cleaning [process] greener and more sustainable and helps protect IAQ,” says Baxter.

The Mold Issue
The presence of moisture in carpets can foster microbial growth such as mold and mildew, which can have a definite negative impact on IAQ. Even conditions such as high humidity and stagnant air can create a welcome environment for mold growth in carpets. Fortunately, an effective carpet maintenance program can minimize or even eliminate this problem. To help prevent the growth of mold and mildew, cleaning programs should include regular inspections for water intrusion that can lead to mold growth.

Along with hot-water extractors, low-moisture extractors can help prevent the growth of mold resulting from restorative carpet cleaning. Low-moisture extractors typically release less water into carpets and have more powerful vacuum systems to extract moisture. The goal of low-moisture carpet cleaning is for the carpet to dry within approximately two hours (instead of the six or more hours it can take after using a conventional carpet extractor). This reduced drying time means that low-moisture extractor systems can significantly reduce the possibility of mold growth.

Unfortunately, many facilities both large and small do not have a carpet maintenance program in place. Yet having such a program is so important that many cleaning consultants recommend this information be put in writing to formalize it and ensure that all steps are implemented as scheduled.

“A program that addresses all of these cleaning and maintenance issues, beginning with the proper training of cleaning technicians, promotes sustainability and protects IAQ and the health of all building users,” says Baxter. “It also ensures that soils and contaminants are removed from carpets, which not only enhances their appearance but increases their longevity as well.”

Iowa Web design & development by Visionary Services