To Use Chemicals or Not to Use Chemicals, That Is the Question
By Ryan Greenawald
August 12, 2019
There has been much debate around cleaning floors with chemicals vs. without chemicals. With winter quickly approaching, a season during which floors face additional abuse, it’s important for facility managers to understand different approaches to floor care, best practices and essential tools to properly maintain and rejuvenate floors.
Containing Winter Contaminants
Floors must stand up to year-round foot traffic, and some, like those in retail stores, are subjected to shopping cart wheels and dollies carrying heavy products. Meanwhile, floors in airports and hotels must deal with constant rolling luggage. During the winter, which in some parts of the country can stretch on for six months, floors face additional problems.
While ice-melting products are ideal for reducing slip-and-fall risks on walkways, these salt mixtures can easily become stuck in shoe treads. Many local governments also opt for salt and sand to improve traction on roads and in parking lots, which can be carried from the outdoors into a building. Plus, shoes stepping in mounds of snow and melting puddles track in excess water that can puddle on floors.
During the winter, many facilities opt to install entrance matting that can scrape solid contaminants and moisture from shoes and contain liquids so that they don’t spread beyond the mat. While taking this precaution helps improve cleanliness and safety, shoes can still deposit salt, sand and water onto floors after moving past mats. Whether a building has carpet, tile, terrazzo or concrete floors, it’s important that they’re given extra attention during these colder and rougher months.
A Floor Care Approach for Every Preference
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to floor care, as today’s innovations make it possible to clean floors with or without chemicals. Whichever option your facility prefers, there are best practices to follow to ensure that floors always look their best during the winter.
Cleaning and maintaining floors with chemicals: The traditional route, which many facilities still follow today, is to protect, clean and maintain floors with chemicals. Depending on the type of floor, facilities often keep cleaners, floor finish maintainers, finishes and sealers in their supply closet to uphold the appearance of floors.
When using chemicals, it’s essential to make sure that products are suited to the floor type. For example, look for a durable waterborne finish specially designed for athletic wood floors and a hardwood winter floor cleaner that neutralizes salts. For carpet, stock heavy duty presprays for tough soils in traffic lanes and an extraction rinse to remove white marks caused by salt.
For hard substrates like terrazzo, concrete and marble, invest in a stone floor protector to enhance gloss and limit scuffs from heavy winter boots. Use a daily cleaner to remove dirt, salt, sand and more. For vinyl composition tile (VCT), facilities can apply an ultra-durable hybrid urethane coating that can be repaired and removed with ease. This type of finish offers double the durability, which is essential during winter months, and a consistent appearance with just three coats.
Train employees so that they understand when to apply each product and how to do so. It’s important that workers measure chemical correctly. Using too much is wasteful and too little means that floors won’t be fully cleaned on the machine’s first pass.
Cleaning and maintaining floors without chemicals: Increasingly, facilities are opting to lessen their reliance on floor care chemicals to reduce costs, improve sustainability and safety, and simplify cleaning. This is possible through the use of diamond floor pads that clean and polish floors at the same time. Employees only need to add water to an autoscrubber and attach the pads. The power of the machine combined with the diamond pad helps remove dirt, maintain floor gloss and reduce the appearance of scratches.
Because the pads also polish floors, this can reduce or eliminate the need for more intensive periodic maintenance that can be costly and disruptive. By prolonging the lifespan of floors, organizations can also decrease the need to replace them more frequently, which is better for budgets and the environment.
To address all floor care needs, equip your supply closet and staff with an array of pads for different uses. For instance, some pads are best for daily maintenance while others are reserved for deep cleaning or even restoration. Look for color-coded pads to make it easier to distinguish which should be used.
As employees are already accustomed to using an autoscrubber and floor pad to clean floors, training is extremely easy. Organizations should communicate that a chemical-free environment is safer for workers and facility visitors, more environmentally friendly and better for the bottom line. The cleaning routine remains the same and employees just need to understand the use for each colored pad and the sequence of use.
The Choice is Yours
Whether you prefer to use chemicals for daily floor cleaning or remove them from your floor care program entirely, it’s important that these surfaces remain clean and safe for the residents, guests, customers and employees who utilize your facility. The above best practices will ensure that floors maintain their gloss, stand up to daily foot traffic and are free of unsightly marks and stains.
Ryan Greenawald is the Director of Floor Care Marketing for Diversey, a leader in smart, sustainable solutions for cleaning and hygiene, including chemical-free Twister pads, Wood Care by Diversey. Powered by Bona®, and TASKI® floor care machines. To learn more about cleaning solutions from Diversey, visit www.diversey.com.