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.

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