CLEANING SAFETY FLOORING: TIME TO FACE FACTS

By Peter Daulby, Technical Services Manager of Altro

Since its invention by Altro back in 1947, safety flooring has become indispensable, providing slip resistance and preventing accidents in buildings across the world. Over the years, however, various misconceptions have grown up around how to clean it, and the myths and mumbo jumbo (not to mention the unsubstantiated claims about different detergents) have obscured the facts. So here is a practical, no-nonsense guide to the cleaning of safety flooring.

Altro2The right kit

The most common mistake is the use of cotton mop heads. This is a bad idea because the surface profile of a safety floor differs significantly to the smooth surface of an ordinary vinyl floor. It incorporates surface aggregates which increase grip between foot/shoe and the floor, reducing the potential to slip. The surface aggregates are of sufficient size and number to break through contaminants reducing the risk of a slip to one in a million. This means, however, that if safety flooring is cleaned with a cotton mop, small fibres from the mop head can snag on these surface aggregates and be left behind after mopping. This increases the likelihood of dirt and contaminant build-up on the surface of the flooring, giving the flooring a disappointing finish and reducing its slip resistance.

The solution is to substitute the cotton mop head for one of the recommended mechanical, manual or steam cleaning processes (step-by-step guides for each of these methods can be found on our website). A deep clean is advisable first, to ensure that any mop head residue has been removed before moving to the new cleaning regime. If you decide to move to a microfibre mop head, look for one with an abrasive aspect which will collect soil without becoming torn.

Spotlight on soil

Another tip is to understand what causes the soiling of your floor. Effective cleaning does not lie in the magical properties of any product or piece of equipment. The key is to identify the nature of the soiling and to choose the most appropriate cleaning regime to tackle it. You can identify key characteristics of soiling as follows:

  1. Is it organic or inorganic?
  2. Is it soluble or insoluble?
  3. If it is insoluble, is it greasy or particulate?
Organic Inorganic
Material that is alive: bacteria etc common where there is food waste (such as kitchens and canteens) or human waste like skin, faeces or blood, (such as bathrooms or hospitals). Materials that are not carbon-based such as glass, salt, rust and brick dust.
Material that is part of a living thing, such as food or sawdust.
Man-made materials such as plastics, mineral oil, paints and glues, common in factories or where building work is underway.

 

If soil is organic it is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and will need disinfecting or steam cleaning.

Soluble Insoluble
Soil that will dissolve in water such as sugar, salt or detergent powder. Soil that won’t dissolve in water, such as oil and skin, that will need detergent to remove it. Other insoluble materials such as plastic fragments or wood shavings can be removed by first stage cleaning, by sweeping or vacuuming.

 

Different types of insoluble soil will demand different cleaning methods.

Insoluble and greasy Insoluble and particulate
Soil which sticks to surfaces and smears when touched. Likely wherever there is food, but also carried on foot into other areas. Soil in powder form, such as sand, skin, washing powder and broken fibres.
Insoluble greasy and particulate soil are typically found together as the powdery soil will stick to any grease it comes into contact with. In this category you may also encounter abrasive soil, which can scratch surfaces, and stubborn/tacky soil which sticks to the surface such as syrup, wax or glue.

Detergents

If the soil requires a detergent, which do you choose? Altro manufacture their own detergent and there are alternatives from other manufacturers, but the crucial factor is the dilution ratio. If cleaning teams are using the ‘glug glug’ method of unmeasured detergent use then you will get a disappointing finish and spend more than necessary on cleaning chemicals. This method can also leave a residue on the flooring which undermines both its slip resistance and its aesthetic impact. A build-up of detergent residue on the surface of flooring can also attract contaminants and encourage bacteria growth. If this is the case, you can carry out a deep clean to remove residue and then introduce a method which ensures correct dilution.

In conclusion, the ‘magical key’ to cleaning safety flooring already lies within the powers of every facilities manager and cleaning professional. One mop head does not fit all. The ‘glug glug’ method of handling detergents does more harm than good, and knowing what you are dealing with in terms of soil will make all the difference. Armed with these facts you can achieve a much better result.

For more information why not visit www.altro.co.uk

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