Monday, August 22, 2011

Facility Type Vs. Level of Clean

For the past few weeks, we have been talking about what “clean” really means, how it is defined and what components make up a cleaning program. Regardless of these factors, the type of facility ultimately defines the standard of “clean,” and can vary between using water-only cleaning or different detergent solution strengths.

Most facilities’ standards of “clean” for porous floor materials would require that the cleaning solution be able to penetrate the small spaces where soil accumulates. Water alone, because of its surface tension, actually sits on top of porous flooring. Porous flooring types—which include grouted tile, terrazzo, vinyl composition tile (VCT), concrete and rubberized track surface—require a cleaning agent called a surfactant that breaks the surface tension of the water, allowing it to get into cracks and crevices.

Let’s visualize this. Healthcare facilities or food processing and preparation areas require bacteria to be reduced to a safe level. This sanitizing level of cleaning requires a chemical disinfectant such as a phenolic or carbolic that gets into cracks and crevices where viruses reside.

On the other hand, facilities with an emphasis on cleaning for appearance, such as retail stores and grocery stores, might choose water-only cleaning methods for frequent cleaning procedures. However, it should also be noted that if the local water supply delivers mineral-laden water, these minerals can leave deposits that make floors look dull over time—perhaps even worse than they looked before cleaning.

The bottom line? Assess your facility’s cleaning needs before you define your level of “clean.”

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