Is the 5-Second Rule a Myth? Warning: You May Never Look at “Dropped” snacks the same way again!

Is the 5-second rule a myth? Warning: You may never look at ‘dropped’ snacks the same way again.

By Chanie Kirschner Thu, May 30 2013

Everyone has heard of the 5-second rule. You know the one: if a food item drops on the floor and you pick it up within five seconds, it’s still perfectly safe to eat. Undoubtedly invented by a child or teenager anxious to eat the last bite of dessert he accidentally dropped on the floor, the 5-second rule has been accepted and employed by kids and adults just about everywhere. You’ll be dismayed to find out, however, that the rule does not have much scientific credence.

You read that right — that Hershey Kiss you dropped on the floor while you were reading this article? Not as clean as you may assume it to be after having picked it up and popped it in your mouth a mere three seconds after it fell on the floor. (Of course your floor is clean enough, right? Right?) In 2003, high school student Jillian Clarke disproved this rule while doing an internship at the University of Illinois. She found that food picked up E. coli bacteria as soon as it was dropped on a contaminated surface. (Interestingly, but not surprisingly — at least to me — she also discovered that women are more likely than men to eat food that fell on the floor.) The motivated student’s research earned her an Ig Nobel Prize at Harvard University in 2004, awarded to scientists whose research “first makes you laugh, then makes you think.” In 2007, researchers at the University of Clemson at South Carolina took the research a step further to determine if leaving food on the floor longer actually meant more germs would attach to its surface, and if different types of floors carried more or less germs.

Their findings? Not pleasant. They found that bacteria such as salmonella can thrive on floor surfaces like hardwood, tile and carpet for as long as four weeks! They also found that food dropped on these surfaces can pick up anywhere from hundreds to thousands of bacteria. When left for an even longer period of time, say a minute? The number grew to 10 times that amount. Enough to make you stop and think before eating that precious potato chip. (This article is making me hungry …)

Another interesting (and particularly unsavory) point to note: Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, found in his studies that 93 percent of our shoes contain fecal bacteria on them. That’s because we’re walking everywhere in them — in the grocery store, the parking lot, even the public restroom. And if you wear your shoes in your house, where do you think that fecal bacteria is landing? You bet — right on your kitchen floor. Yet another reason to toss that tasty snack that landed on the floor, no matter how good it’ll taste. Bottom line: Though you may not like it (and you may hear your mother in your ear telling you not to waste food), better to toss the fare from the floor into your garbage can than into your mouth.

Top Five Things To Consider In Infection Control, by Richard DiPaolo

Top Five Things To Consider In Infection Control

Are you looking in the right places to prevent disease outbreaks in your facility?

By Richard DiPaolo, editorial director, CMMOnline
Hot spot cleaning and high touch point cleaning are common phrases used in the professional cleaning industry.

This type of cleaning is universally understood by in-house cleaning departments and building service contractors (BSCs) as strategically identifying areas in a facility that building occupants often “touch” the most, including door knobs, faucets, levers and handles.

While targeting these areas with disinfection processes is a sound practice, cleaners, facility managers and BSCs should realize that more should be involved with hot spot cleaning.

Here are five things we have identified to consider:

  1. See colors with updated equipment. Color-coding equipment, cleaning tools and information is nothing new to the professional cleaning market. Color-coded tools can help workers easily identify where and how to use products and equipment. Red, for instance, is universally used for disinfection or cleaning high-risk areas. Implementing a color-coded system with modern cleaning equipment, such as microfiber cloths, can help all workers, even those with language barriers, from spreading infection from one area to another.
  2. Develop a system to keep dirt, bacteria and germs out of the facility. Especially in an era where doing more with less is the workplace mantra, you must continually assure sick workers and building occupants that it is ideal and in everyone’s best interest for these workers to stay home and heal when sick. In addition, a high performance matting system that consists of 15 feet of matting inside and outside the facility is an effective way to enhance your infection control strategies.
  3. Focus on the floor and other hot spots. Ask people outside this industry where a facility’s most contaminated spots are and many will mention the toilet, urinal or garbage areas. And, while these areas can in fact harbor disease-causing microorganisms, our research shows that cell phones, keyboards, computer mice and desks are in the running to top that list as well. The floor can also be a key contributor to cross-contamination. One would be surprised to learn how many times people have direct and indirect contact with a floor that can continue the chain of cross-contamination.
  4. Use signage and effective hand-washing steps. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still cites effective hand-washing as the number one defense against cross-contamination. Use proper hand-washing techniques, train workers in this area and post signage for building occupants to follow while in wash areas. “A proper hand-washing protocol is necessary to be followed in every location in a facility,” notes Felicia Roy trade advisor for Cascades Tissue Group. “Some obstacles can keep employees from adopting proper hand-washing habits; [for example,] tools are unavailable or inconveniently located; no clear signage or reinforcement exist; the schedule includes high turnover rates; [and] health risks are not understood or recognized by employees due to lack of education. A lot of obstacles can, therefore, be simply addressed by employers.”
  5. Train workers. Our industry has evolved from simply mops, buckets and brooms and, as a result, cleaning workers’ level of education and technical know-how needs to keep pace. There are many training options available in the industry to invest in. Effective cleaning and advanced equipment and products teamed with educated workers will help to lower your facility’s infection risk.

“And, consider the use of newer or more advanced cleaning technologies that are proving to be more effective at removing germs and bacteria from surfaces that can harm human health,” adds John Richter, technical director for Kaivac Inc. “For instance, floor care studies by Dr. Jay Glasel concluded that ‘spray-and-vac’ [no-touch] cleaning methods were 60 times more effective at removing contaminants from floors than traditional or microfiber mops.”*

Cleaning Methods for Ceramic Tile Floors, published on “Controlled Environments,” April 2008.


Ten Tips for Cleaning Schools Over Summer Break from CleanLink News

Ten Tips for Cleaning Schools Over Summer Break

1. Prepare a written plan. Summer break cleaning shouldn’t be “hit or miss.” Have a written plan as to who will tackle which projects and when.

2. Address floor care specifics. Big summer cleanup projects usually involve floor care; before doing any floor-care work, divide the facility into those floor areas that will be stripped/refinished; those that will only be scrubbed; and those that need only detail cleaning.

3. Attend to closet maintenance. Go through janitorial closets and properly discard of any chemicals or other products that have not been used in six months or longer; typically, chemicals should never be stored for more than a year.

4. Go green. For those facilities transferring to a green cleaning strategy, the summer months are an opportune time to start making this transfer. Special green cleaning training may be required during this transition, and summer break can provide that extra time.

5. Equipment issues. Evaluate all cleaning equipment; determine which machines are running properly, which need servicing, and which should be replaced.

6. Evaluate furniture condition. Flag those items that need repair or should be replaced.

7. Tile and grout. The summer months are a perfect time to clean tile and grout floors using floor machines with brushes such as cylindrical brush or “mutitask” systems.

8. Evaluate cleaning protocols. To improve cleaning efficiency and help lower costs, use a workloading program to evaluate all cleaning tasks and frequencies.

9. Replace lightbulbs. Replace all conventional lightbulbs with low-voltage bulbs that not only use less energy but also last as long as a decade.

10. Train, train, train. Summer break is the perfect time for extra training for cleaning professionals.


Stephen Ashkin-Green Cleaning Action Plan

Lights, Camera, Action! Your Green Cleaning Action Plan

By Stephen Ashkin, The Ashkin Group

It is becoming more clear that our economy and environment are inextricably linked: now is the time when we, as a nation and planet, need to come to terms with the fact that this is no longer the world that our grandparents knew.

So, for just one moment, please put your beliefs aside and consider a simple reality of our world, and the world that our children will inherit in 40 years.

The world and changes

My grandparents immigrated to America around 1900.

At that time, there were approximately 1.7 billion people sharing our planet. Today, there are approximately 6.4 billion people, which represent a 375 percent increase in just 100 years.

And in 2050, when my children are my age, there will be approximately 10 billion people sharing our planet.

While it took mankind thousands of years to get to 1.7 billion, we are now adding another billion people approximately every 15 years.

According to the United Nations and the World Resources Institute, the population of developed countries, such as the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, along with other developed countries, remains relatively stable, while most of the global population growth is coming from developing countries such as India, China and from the African continent.

Here is the challenge: Just 100 years ago, when there were just a couple billion of us, there seemed to be plenty of resources for all to share. But when global population climbs upwards to 10 billion people at the same time developing countries become more affluent, this confluence of events will force us to rethink how we do things.

As these developing countries work to provide better housing, schools and hospitals for their people, the global demand for steel, concrete and other minerals will increase, as will the demand for other products and the natural resources needed for construction.

As their people become more affluent, they will desire many of the same comforts that we take for granted, such as indoor plumbing with hot water on demand and electricity to light, heat and cool their homes, as well as all the gadgets and gismos ranging from computers and cell phones to refrigerators and cooking stoves.

And with these comes the demand for energy and materials to make all this stuff.

Today, in many of the developing countries, people customarily ride bicycles to work or take buses or other means of public transportation. But as they become more affluent, they are likely to be no different from those in developed countries by desiring personal cars, especially when commuting long distances in the rain or snow. And with this comes an increased demand for materials to build the vehicles and the fuels to power them.

And as global population grows to 10 billion, the demand for food and water will increase. If we want to feed all the planet”s people (which all governments in both developed and developing countries desire), we will need to produce more food and to do so using less water as the competition between water for drinking and farming goes global.

Clearly, our world in 2013 is different from that in 1900 due to global population growth and the competition for limited natural resources. This is an inevitable consequence of the increasing population growth.

And the world we are leaving our children and grandchildren will again be different than today because of global population and even greater competition for resources, some of which may be diminishing.

The simple facts

What has changed is not politics or ideology.

Rather, it is the simple fact that there are more mouths to feed, people to clothe and shelter and other basic needs that our children and grandchildren will have to address.

They simply cannot follow the same path for constructing buildings and manufacturing products that previous generations had done when there were so many less of us. Nor can they follow our path for energy use, food and other products.

That is the challenge for our children and grandchildren. The good news is that there are many things that we can do today, both in our businesses and in our own lives, which can really make a difference.

And much of it is good business — good for entrepreneurs.

That”s right. As we reduce our consumption and reduce waste, and use products that have less of a negative impact on the environment, we are making important environmental improvements and saving money.

And at this time in history, these are both terrific goals regardless of politics or ideology.

The rest of this article is your action plan, several specific steps you can take to not only care for the environment, but to create a better business for yourself.

The type of company you run and its size will have an impact on how many of the following points you can implement.

What you can do with your business

Reward sustainable behavior when choosing suppliers. In the end, companies that are taking sustainability seriously and eliminating inefficiencies and waste in everything they do will be better, more financially secure suppliers in the long run.

Use green products and equipment. These can be simple and easy opportunities. Your supplier, no doubt, has a selection of green products and equipment you can choose from, along with marketing materials to help get your message out to your customers.

But be sure to try to reduce consumption of all products and materials. It is not enough to just use “greener” products.

Increase maintenance on equipment so they perform optimally and last longer. For many operations, there are large savings that can be found in these areas, and when equipment lasts longer there are significant environmental benefits as well.

Conserve water in the cleaning process through low-moisture cleaning.

What you can do with your vehicles

Trucks and other vehicles have huge cost implications, as well as environmental impacts in terms of the materials used to make, operate and dispose of them at the end of their life.

Better route planning to eliminate excess mileage and idling and improving maintenance, including easy things such as insuring proper air pressure in tires and alignment, can save money, improve efficiency and extend the life of vehicles.

Many businesses operate a variety of vehicles. If this is your situation, match the size, capacity, performance and other characteristics with the job at hand. Using a vehicle that is larger or smaller than necessary will waste resources, time or both.

Your business “footprint” technically should also include the vehicles operated by your internal personnel as they commute to work, as well as the vehicles used by sales people — even if they are their personal vehicles.

To reduce this footprint and the associated environmental impacts, consider a program to encourage the use of public transportation, carpooling, ride sharing or buying/leasing high-mileage hybrid vehicles.

Another opportunity is to allow some employees, such as those involved in sales or those that have office duties, to periodically work from home. Don”t forget to measure, track and report on these efforts. Not only do they help the environment, but many employees will appreciate these programs, as it increases their job satisfaction and will leave more money in their pocket.

What you can do with your people

What makes sustainability different from an environmental program is its inclusion of issues affecting an organization”s people, and among the first and most important issues in the United States is training, with a focus on effective processes that improve performance and eliminate waste.

So get people involved, empower and motivate them. Share the responsibility, as people want to make a difference. To help them do this, make sure to measure, track and report on at least a monthly basis so they are getting feedback on their performance. For example, report on your vehicle or equipment consumption of fuel. This will encourage employees to conserve.

Beyond training, consider issues including diversity in hiring and equal opportunity for advancement, along with pay and benefits (a growing issue will be a “living wage”).

Most businesses are also good community citizens, and these issues include philanthropy by both the company and by individual employees, volunteerism and similar acts. These should all be measured, tracked and reported.

What you can do with your green marketing

Get involved and get started. Remember that you are attempting to sell your company as an environmentally-friendly option.

Don”t just join and pay membership dues to organizations, such as the U.S. Green Building Council, but participate actively.

Set a goal to join a committee, board of directors or other opportunities to serve.

Look for opportunities to speak about green issues during monthly meetings, as well as opportunities to publish in trade journals, local newspapers and magazines, as these are good ways to build credibility and to prospect for new customers.

From a sales perspective, begin by focusing on green buildings, as these building owners and facility managers understand the issues and have already made the commitment to be green.

Organizations to look for include the members of the U.S. Green Building Council and buildings in their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system (

In addition, there are other “green” organizations representing almost every building segment including homes, schools, hospitals, hotels, restaurants and more. A simple online Internet search will likely help develop an extensive prospecting list. Join local chapters or groups and get involved and get noticed.

When developing your green sales pitch (your position in the marketplace), make sure you don”t intentionally or even inadvertently “greenwash”, which simply means that you are exaggerating the environmental bene-fits that your company or service offers.

To avoid greenwashing, just make sure you can document your claims. So if you say that your service uses X percent less water (or fuel, or whatever) than your competitors or traditional services, have the proof to back up your claim.

When developing your actual marketing literature, consider using recycled paper or, better yet, paper from sustainably managed forests and, of course, print everything two-sided.

And for the pictures to decorate your brochures, consider using people rather than waterfalls or deer leaping through the forest.

After all, the real species we are ultimately trying to protect is human and to make the planet a better place for our children and grandchildren.

Making a difference

The most important takeaway from all of this is that, due to global population growth, our way of doing things must change or we will leave extraordinary burdens for our children and grand- children.

Regardless of political or ideological inclinations, as carpet cleaning, remediation and restoration professionals, making a difference in the world by reducing wastes of all kinds (energy, water, chemicals, vehicles, equipment, people, time, etc.) not only helps to create a better future, but it can help create a better and more profitable business today.

Hand Dryer Location and Paper Towels Influence Hand Washing, CleanLink

Hand Dryer Location Influences Hand Washing

By SM Editorial Staff 
In this article, industry manufacturers answer common questions asked by members of the industry

Does the placement of hand dryers in a public restroom promote hand washing? Where is the best placement?
Yes, it does promote hand washing. Customers recognize high-speed hand dryers that dry their hands effectively and efficiently. The best placement is on the way out of the washroom in a similar location to where the towel dispensers were mounted. This allows for continuous flow in and out of the washroom. Hand dryers in restrooms do promote “hand washing” if placed in the correct spot in the restroom, the best place is closest to the door near the location of the faucets.

— Kevin Knapp, director of sales and marketing, Palmer Fixture, Green Bay, Wis.

Our hand dryers were designed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which defines the accessibility requirements for U.S. washroom spaces. In addition to these requirements, the best placement of hand dryers as well as paper towel dispensers in a public restroom is as close to the sinks as possible. This helps to keep the bathroom safe by limiting the amount of water that is tracked on the floor.

— Rob Green, engineer, Dyson, Chicago

Proper placement of the hand dryers will make it easier to flow traffic through the restroom. It is best to avoid narrow walkways and passages in compliance with ADA requirements. Keeping the dryers closer to the sinks is always best.
— Michael E. Robert, vice president sales and technology, American Dryer Inc., Livonia, Mich.

Placement is definitely a consideration. Hand dryers should be placed convenient to the sink to eliminate unnecessary steps and the chance it won’t be used.

— Dan Storto, senior vice president, sales and marketing, World Dryer, Berkeley, Ill.

Hygiene is crucial these days; no one wants to touch extra restroom surfaces if they can help it, you want to remove as many “touch points” as possible. Installing hand dryers in reasonable proximity to the sinks is certainly key in making sure they are easily accessible.

Also make sure to consider the application: are your restroom patrons primarily adults, teenagers or young children? Considering restroom demographics will make a difference not only in installation (i.e., how high the dryers should be mounted on the walls), but also in product selection. If your restroom serves a teenaged population, you may have to consider whether your appliances are vandal-proof. Some trough-style dryers become a target for foreign substances being stuffed or poured into the dryer’s basin and not user friendly for small children or people with a handicap.

— William Gagnon, vice president of marketing and key accounts, Excel Dryer, East Longmeadow, Mass.

Is there a place for both hand dryers and paper towels in a restroom?
We see more and more facilities offer both towel and dryers. This offers the customer the choice between paper or hand dryers and minimizing their impact on the environment. 

— Kevin Knapp, director of sales and marketing, Palmer Fixture, Green Bay, Wis.

Drying hands is just as important as washing them: damp hands can spread up to 1,000 times more bacteria than dry hands. The best way to ensure hands are dry is for facilities managers to provide a drying method that is fast and hygienic. Our machine is hygienic as paper towels, but without the associated drawbacks of high running costs and paper waste. 

— Rob Green, engineer, Dyson, Chicago

Hand dryers are the preferred method due to their lower cost, environmental impact and better hygiene. However, there will be a need for paper towel in some applications. For example, a shop my want paper towel to wipe off greasy hands.

— Michael E. Robert, vice president sales and technology, American Dryer Inc., Livonia, Mich.

A good hand dryer can eliminate the need for a paper towel dispenser altogether but for some environments, a preferable installation can include hand dryers near the main exit for hand drying and one paper dispenser for drying your face (or near a changing table in family restrooms). This cuts waste as well as the expense of stocking and maintaining the dispenser. The savings made possible by an energy-efficient hand dryer is quantifiable: for example, high-speed hand dyer models deliver a 95 percent cost savings when compared to paper towels. If you calculate what you would have to spend on paper and dispenser maintenance vs. a one-time installation, you’ll always come out ahead with a good hand dryer. It is also a great source reduction alternative.

Quality hand dryers are virtually maintenance-free, except for a recommended annual cleaning.

— William Gagnon, vice president of marketing and key accounts, Excel Dryer, East Longmeadow, Mass.
posted on: 5/11/201

Asthma Friendly School

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children under 15 years of age, and the leading cause of absence in school.

One school in Duval County decided to try to do something about it and today they were awarded for it.

John Love Elementary is the first school in Duval County to be honored as an Asthma Friendly school by the Florida Asthma Coalition.

The staff, teachers and students with asthma participated in the Asthma 101 program, to learn how to help students with asthma and to prevent and respond to asthma emergencies.

America’s Lung Association, Ciera Walton said, “What we are trying to prevent is for them not to miss school days, so they can be in school for them and get the education they need.”

Principal Laura Bowes has a son with asthma and was instrumental in starting the program. She realizes it can help keep kids in school, with asthma attacks being the leading cause of school absences.

“It educates parents, students, and teachers about the triggers of asthma so they are fully aware of what to look for and how to prevent flare-ups,” said Bowes

Monica Sorrels, a parent with an asthma child, learned things she didn’t know.

“Air freshener, that can cause it, and I did not even realize that a fragrance could flare up asthma,” said Sorrels.

Third grader Kenneth Geddes said it can be rough at times living with asthma.

Geddes said, “they gave us prizes every time we answered questions and I was good at it.”

Bre-nay Jones, second grader, “I thought it was fun. The best thing is I learned a lot. I learned key words about asthma and I learned how not to have an asthma attack.”

“Awesome, awesome, awesome, it is always good to be number one. We are glad to be the model for the district to follow,” said Bowes

First Coast News





Redefining The Value of Cleaning

By David Frank  

The cleaning industry finds itself struggling to sustain the core principles that are valuable to its customers and the final consumers of cleaning, the building occupants. Many people will assume that we only dump the trash, clean the restrooms and dust the blinds. This may be reality for some of the market, but others are looking for more than this tactical perception of cleaning from our industry.

The first step is to understand that cleaning is viewed by the public as a “health product.” Many companies have identified that cleaning is good for business: a facility with a clean image and high level of hygiene attracts and retains tenants, and enhances the customer experience. In other words, clean buildings help generate revenue for corporate America.

Our purpose
With a better understanding of our role as owners, managers and leaders in the cleaning industry, we can redirect, educate and elevate the awareness of the value we provide as an industry.

Consider the four cornerstones of cleaning:

  1. To enhance the image and appearance of buildings: Whether the customer is a visitor of a hotel, a student selecting a university, or a tenant seeking an office, their decision to do business within the building is affected by its appearance. Dirty buildings do not sell well. Explain to your customer organizations how they can use their clean buildings as a marketing tool to grow their business and reputation.
  2. To protect and preserve assets: Floors, carpets and other surfaces must be cleaned regularly and properly. Failure to protect and preserve these surfaces through cleaning only leads to higher costs later when building owners or managers have to replace worn, damaged and soiled surfaces. It is important to help your customers understand the implications of cutting back on cleaning frequencies and reducing the life cycle of building assets.
  3. To improve health and hygiene: Cleaning businesses will not make money performing basic, tactical cleaning. We must focus on best practices in cleaning in order to clean for health and hygiene. Using a better vocabulary to describe our industry will generate value and increase margins. Enhancing hygiene and focusing on occupant well being is worth more than “we clean your building.”
  4. To increase safety and reduce risks: A good cleaning program includes best practices to protect occupants from not only the risk of infectious disease and cross-contamination, but also the risk of slips and falls. Cleaning contractors can help reduce risk and liability, and also enhance the safety program for the building manager.

It is easy for an industry to lose its way. As leaders and industry stewards, we all must identify the core principles of the service we provide. We must redirect our message as an industry. Our message must be consistent, direct and clear. We must work hard to promote the value of cleaning.

Dave Frank is a 30 year industry veteran and the president of the American Institute for Cleaning Sciences, an independent third-party accreditation organization that establishes standards to improve the professional performance of the cleaning industry.

Aqueous Ozone Cleaning

Learn about Ozone:
Ozone (O3) is a powerful cleaner-sanitizer that:

Effectively deodorizes, disinfects and destroys fungi, mold, allergens and bacteria

  • Is made up of three oxygen atoms and is readily found in nature
  • Has long been used in water treatment, food sterilization and medical therapies for its remarkable anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties
  • Rapidly oxidizes bacteria it comes in contact with, then converts safely back into Oxygen (O2)
  • Lotus Cleaning System transforms ordinary tap water into the world’s most effective chemical-free commercial cleaner by infusing it with ozone. This ‘Aqueous Ozone’ eliminates germs, odors, stains, mold, mildew and other contaminants on any item or surface before changing safely back into water and oxygen.

Benefits of Ozone technology:

  • Requires minimal safety training – converts back into water and oxygen when done
  • Quickly kills odors, stains, viruses and bacteria including E.coli, Salmonella, MRSA,
    C-Difficile, and hundreds of other common germs
  • 3000 times faster and much stronger than bleach and chlorine-based cleaners
  • 100% chemical free – no toxins, carcinogens or chemical residue
  • Can be used on any surface, from toilet bowls to bedspreads
How Aqueous Ozone Works

Trifecta of Hard Floor Care


The Trifecta Of Hard Floor Care

It is said that all good things come in threes, the process of caring for hard floors not excluded.

By Ann Nickolas

April 5, 2013

Turn on any do-it-yourself channel and you’ll find a professional teaching you how to do something.

Whether it’s cooking a breakfast frittata or renovating your kitchen, show hosts proudly display the final gorgeous product, assuring that you too can achieve that result if you follow their process.

Failure to follow the suggested steps — for example, adding the egg after baking the frittata or laying new floors atop the old tile — will likely result in a final product less desirable than that which you hoped.

Floor cleaning is no different; if you want to maintain clean and safe floors that look inviting to guests, you need to follow the proper steps in order to achieve the desired results.

The floor care trifecta — the three essential steps to any program regarding ongoing cleaning and maintenance — encompasses:

  1. Deep cleaning
  2. Protecting
  3. Maintaining.

Neglecting to follow these essential steps will leave you with lackluster floors — those that are unfit for showcasing.

Why Doesn’t Cleaning Alone Work?

When a large national quick service restaurant chain headquartered in Southeast Texas began testing a new floor cleaning program, they knew they wanted a system that would provide clean and safe floors throughout their 230 locations.

The goal was to have floors that not only looked clean but stayed clean — and remained safe even after heavy use.

When testing a potential floor care program, they focused trials on 12-year-old flooring — large ceramic tile in dining areas and quarry tile in kitchen areas.

After mopping and cleaning the floors, testers identified the wet static coefficient of friction (WSCOF) on all floors using standards established by the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI); this established baseline measurements for the program.

Testers then deep cleaned the floors, measuring the WSCOF at the same location they measured previously and added a traction treatment application to help enhance floor safety.

The WSCOF was measured periodically over the course of the next three weeks to identify the overall condition of the floors.

Floors were only maintained during the course of this testing period; soiling was not prevented and the floors were not protected by a comprehensive matting system.

On the day of the benchmark test, testers found a substantial improvement in the overall traction of floors in the dining room areas — from .46 before deep cleaning to .60 after the deep cleaning.

In kitchen and food preparation areas, floor traction increased from .70 to .80 following deep cleaning.

And, after the application of the traction treatment, WSCOF in the dining and kitchen areas increased to .80 and .81, respectively.

Following the three-week trial, testers measured the WSCOF in the same areas.

The floors had been regularly cleaned throughout the testing period; however, the audit revealed that the overall traction of the floors had actually declined, particularly in the dining areas.

The floors in the dining room showed a WSCOF value of .55, and the floors in the kitchen and flood preparation areas showed .70.

To improve floor traction in the dining room — the area showing the largest decline in overall floor traction — testers suggested integrating a matting program into their floor care process.

Mats would be placed around beverage stations and buffet bars, as well as in transitional areas like those between food preparation stations and the dining room.

In addition, it was recommended that floors be deep cleaned more frequently to keep floor appearance high and to further reduce the opportunity for slip-and-fall accidents.

The Trifecta Revealed

As the study shows, comprehensive hard floor care should involve three primary steps.

Deep cleaning, protecting and maintaining floors — and consistently following the process in that order — helps ensure that the WSCOF levels remain high regardless of the current stage in the program.

        1.  Deep clean

The first step of the hard floor care trifecta is to deep clean.

The initial task when revitalizing a floor surface is a thorough deep cleaning, which should be completed on all hard floor surfaces.

Daily vacuuming and mopping reduces surface-level particulates, but often fails to capture and remove all contaminants.

As a result, floors become worn over time, and white grout lines become black from grease and other organic buildup.

Periodic deep cleanings revive floors to enhance the image of the business and protect staffs and patrons.

In addition to making floors look better, deep cleaning helps improve hard surface traction, effectively making them safer for use.

When combined with a traction treatment, particularly with natural substrates like quarry tiles, deep cleaning increases the traction by removing surface polishing of the tile due to foot traffic and rejuvenating the naturally rough surface.

Selecting a deep cleaning provider that is certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) or a service certified by the NFSI can help guarantee superior levels of clean.

        2.  Protect

The second step of the hard floor care trifecta is to protect.

Once floors are restored, the next step is to protect them from indoor and outdoor contaminants that could create conditions conducive to a slip-and-fall accident or that could mar the floor’s finish.

Mats act as the first line of defense in buildings by capturing dirt and water before they enter the facility.

Strategically place mats throughout your facility to capture dirt and water and reduce slips and falls.

At entrances, combine rubber scraper mats outside of the building with carpet mats inside to reduce the amount of water, dirt and contaminants tracked into the building.

Limit the tracking of interior soil by placing matting in critical locations like exposition areas or in transitional walkways such as those leading from the kitchen to dining areas.

This can be the last line of defense to help prevent common materials such as grease, oil or other organic matter from building up throughout guest areas, thereby improving image and limiting hazards.

Transitional mats can also be effective in areas leading into restrooms — a frequent site of water buildup.

The NFSI tests mats in laboratory and real-world settings to ensure they meet the highest safety standards.

Select mats that are certified to provide “High Traction” by the NFSI to reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls.

        3.  Maintain

The third step of the hard floor care trifecta is to maintain.

Possibly even more so than other locations, daily floor maintenance is essential to a clean and safe foodservice operation.

Dedicate one mop to each area within a restaurant — kitchen, dining and restroom areas — to further reduce the chance for cross-contamination.

And, while it might seem like common sense, make sure all tools and equipment are sanitized before any cleaning is completed.

A dirty mop fails to remove soils and increases the risk of cross-contamination — essentially nullifying your efforts.

However, damp or wet mopping by itself doesn’t clean a floor: Agitation using deck brushes or other tools that work with a mop, such as an autoscrubber for larger areas, is important to keep surfactants and soils from building up on flooring.

In addition, proper dilution is essential to ensuring floor care chemicals work properly.

Many cleaning professionals use wall-mounted dispensing units that accurately dilute chemicals to ensure there isn’t an excess or lack of chemical concentration.

Provide ongoing training so employees know how to properly clean floors, remembering to reinforce cleaning frequencies with checklists so other team members know exactly when the floors were last cleaned.

The Final Product

Whether you want to develop a hard floor care program for a new substrate, to restore an old one, for protecting building occupants against slip-and-fall incidents or to simply keep your floor care program in line with industry best practices, following the three steps of the floor care trifecta is essential.

Adhering to the three-step hard floor care process of deep cleaning, protecting and maintaining will help ensure that your floors remain in top condition so you can showcase the final results with pride.

Protect Your Floors With Matting

Consider the following four areas for matting placement to help limit indoor contaminants from slips, trips and falls:

  • Entrance zones

These areas include front and back entrances and peripheral doors that lead to the outdoors.

  • High-risk zones

Zones of increased risk include transitional walkways between risk areas.

For example, spaces between the kitchen and front-of-house areas or offices and hallways leading from restrooms to dining areas are particularly susceptible.

  • High-traffic zones

Most hallways and corridors in restaurants are considered to be high-traffic zones and should be protected with a matting program.

Also, consider cashier and check-out stations, as there is often increased foot traffic in these locations.

  • Productivity zones

Areas where staff members or patrons frequently stand, such as work stations, check-out counters or produce kiosks, are considered to be productivity zones that can benefit from the placement of matting.



Ann Nickolas is director of foodservice for Cintas.

“The future is won by those creating the future…and not the ones trying to maintain the status quo.”