Overnight, facility and property managers across the country have had to become cleaning experts. The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a new urgency to cleaning and disinfecting that simply wasn’t there before. Facility managers are studying guidelines from the C.D.C., following strict cleaning protocols, and partnering with their building service contractors to ensure their buildings are safe and healthy.
One thing they all have learned is that different surfaces require different cleaning methods. Carpet care can be particularly challenging to clean even during non-pandemic times: Muddy feet trample all over it, coffee gets spilled on it, and food crumbs settle into it. Worst of all, bacteria and viruses get trapped in them.
Despite the challenges, carpet can be part of a healthy environment with the proper care. Here are four things facility managers should keep in mind to ensure their carpets are cleaned as thoroughly and safely as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carpet cannot be disinfected, only sanitized.
Taking note from our previous article, we learn that cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfection are not one and the same. And the fact is, carpet cannot be disinfected, only sanitized. As a porous surface, carpet contains small pores, or holes, that can collect dirt and germs. Porous surfaces are less hospitable to viruses and bacteria, they become trapped in the holes of the surface and are less likely to transfer to other surfaces and therefore don’t survive for very long.
Whether sanitizing or disinfecting any surface, the first step is always to clean it. This prevents pathogens from hiding under layers of dirt and dust. When it comes to carpets, this involves removing loose soil and other substances before deep cleaning and sanitizing.
The right vacuum makes all the difference in carpet care.
A vacuum is essential for keeping carpet clean and healthy, but it is important to select the right one for your needs. A dual-motor upright vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration system can be a vital tool for fighting COVID-19 in any facility. These powerful tools are extremely efficient, allowing the user to thoroughly vacuum a space in a single pass. Some prefer upright vacuums because the weight of the vacuum sits directly over the surface being cleaned, making it easier to suction out dirt and debris buried deep in the carpet. Others may choose backpack or canister models with HEPA filtration for ease of use and mobility. HEPA filters trap airborne dust, allergens and pathogens—including viruses—instead of releasing them back into the air.
All products are not created equal.
Choosing the right cleaning product for carpets isn’t always easy, but it’s crucial. The wrong product can at best be inefficient and at worst damage the flooring or harm human health. When deep cleaning, we make sure to use a pre-spray that is certified by the EPA.
To sanitize, we apply an appropriately diluted product included on the EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 using hot water extraction while the carpet is still damp from the pre-spray. The disinfectants on this list have been thoroughly tested and vetted to ensure they demonstrate efficacy against either the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 or a similar pathogen.
Employee comfort should be top of mind.
If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has made crystal clear, it’s that cleaning for health is more important than cleaning for appearance. But that doesn’t mean appearances don’t matter. In fact, in many ways, they matter more than ever. Today there is a heightened awareness of the importance of cleanliness, and employees are paying close attention to how their workplaces look. It doesn’t matter how often a carpet is vacuumed and sanitized if the muddy footprints and coffee stains remain; employees will take one look at the carpet and consider it dirty and therefore unhealthy.
As managers focus on fine-tuning their facilities’ cleaning regimens and finding the right services, it’s easy to overlook the perspective of the very people working in those buildings. By prioritizing employee peace of mind and keeping an eye out for cleaning inconsistencies, facility managers can improve the health of their buildings and help employees breathe easy.
For more information regarding this topic please visit the CDC website.