The following is sponsored content from 3M.
With the onset of the Covid-19 virus, the processes and standards for disinfecting surfaces have changed. Previously, disinfecting floors was considered wasted effort due to little known data showing infection transmission from floors, coupled with constant use and high foot traffic. The common thought that prevailed was: Why invest product and time on a surface that isn’t seen as a risk and could quickly become dirty again?
Now, there is growing awareness that dangerous pathogens can occur almost anywhere. As a result, healthcare facilities, schools & retailers are implementing disinfection procedures for their floors to minimize adverse effects on building occupants and the costs associated with harmful viruses.
To ensure a facility is following best practices, it’s important to understand how contamination can occur and the products that can help prevent it.
The Overlooked Culprit of Cross-Contamination
Most cleaning staff disinfect high touch items (light switches, doorknobs, counter tops, and railings) to reduce cross-contamination. However, floors become contaminated through contact with shoes and other solid objects, spills and residual airborne bacteria. As pathogens can occur anywhere, it’s important to recognize the many ways they can be transported from the floor and spread to other critical surfaces.
Wheelchairs are a prominent source of cross-contamination in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. (1) Ultimately, a patient’s hand will touch everything the wheels pick up as they move throughout the facility, causing the spread of potentially harmful germs or superbugs. Visitors to a facility also contribute to the spread of germs when handbags or other personal items are placed on the floor and then moved to a table or other high-touch areas.
Although these are two of the most common contributors to cross-contamination, it’s important to remember that pathogens can be transferred through the air and by contact. In consequence, even though floors may not be considered a high-touch surface, it’s still a potential hotbed of bacteria if not disinfected.
Floor Disinfection Toolkit
There are a few core products that every facility manager should use in order to achieve optimal results.
Dusting should be the first step in any floor cleaning routine. When selecting products, cleaning staff should use tools that trap, collect and discard dirt, dust and hair as opposed to products that simply redistribute debris. 3M™ Easy Trap™ Sweep & Dust Sheets are designed to trap and hold up to 800% more dust, dirt and sand than a conventional flat fringed cotton dust mop and are double-sided to maximize efficiency.
For a disinfectant, 3M™ Quat Disinfectant Cleaner Concentrate (#5) (3 min Covid-19 dwell time) is EPA approved to help reduce the risk of exposure to Covid-19(2). It provides an easy way for cleaning staff to quickly disinfect high traffic areas.
Other pathogens that cause havoc in facilities include Norovirus, MRSA, VRE, Hepatitis B & C, Acinetobacter baumannii and Influenza A Virus. In cases where C. diff may be present, 3M™ C. diff Solution Tablets are a proven and effective alternative to bleach and peracetic acid disinfectants.(3)
For the actual act of cleaning and disinfecting floors, the Scotch-Brite™ Professional 2-in-1 Flat Mop from 3M is a versatile, comfortable and durable product solution. The mop includes ergonomic features to help with cleaning fatigue, has a chemical dispenser to easily and accurately apply cleaner and disinfectant onto the floor. It’s compatible with nearly any disposable mop pad using a hook and loop fastening mechanism.
An effective floor cleaning and disinfecting program will incorporate all these components to achieve surfaces that not only look clean but are safe for contact. For more information on how to implement an effective cleaning and disinfecting floor program, access free online training courses at www.3m.com/cleaningacademy.
-  US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools and Homes. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html