Why effective floor cleaning is vital in healthcare

While keeping floors clean is a clear priority for any infection control program, it needs to be done well, and with the right commercial cleaning equipment, if it is to be effective, writes Conquest Equipment's Ben Mathews.

We all know how important it is to wash our hands to prevent the spread of germs. Equally important in hospitals, however, is effective floor cleaning. In fact, it is a key control measure in any clinical risk management framework as it significantly reduces the spread of healthcare-related infections.

Catharine Paddock PhD for Medical News Today states that although hospital flooring surfaces are not classified as high touch areas, they frequently come into contact with objects that are, such as call buttons, blood pressure cuffs and even hands. This contact can cause contamination and assists in the spread of infectious diseases, highlighting the importance of thoroughly cleaning all floors throughout healthcare facilities.

Thorough environmental cleaning is important for the prevention of transmission of infectious diseases within healthcare settings. This is backed by studies conducted by University of Arizona microbiologist Dr Charles Gerba, who found cleaning is the only intervention that can reduce the spread of viruses by up to 80 to 90 per cent.

A safe, clean and welcoming environment also reflects positively on the healthcare facility. It puts patients at ease and provides them with a sense of dignity, comfort and trust in a setting where they are likely to feel unwell, uneasy or anxious. Proper and regular cleaning of surfaces can also help prevent deterioration, which means money that would be otherwise spent on renovations can instead go towards improved healthcare services or life-enhancing technology.

How, then, can healthcare facilities ensure they are maintaining a clean environment that meets the strictest of hygiene standards?

The right floor cleaning equipment is a huge factor in this process.

Oscillating machines are an excellent option for cleaning non-slip and tiled areas.  High speed oscillating heads use side to side and front to back motions to scrub deep into porous surfaces removing dirt and grime that becomes lodged in hard to reach places. The powerful orbital action also reduces water and chemical usage by up to 70 per cent while still achieving a thorough clean.

With quality machines available on the market that feature a square shaped scrub head, operators can reach up too and along walls and edges ensuring a full clean and removal of maximum amounts of bacteria.

An additional benefit of oscillating machines is that with the scrub head only moving in very small circular motions there is almost no splashing of the solution on the floor or adjacent walls and equipment. This is critical in health applications as germs can be transported in the solution and cross contamination can occur.

Scrubbing machines with adjustable weight pressure are also recommended for use in areas to assist in the control of infection. By increasing the weight on the scrub deck the bristles from the brush or pad are pushed deeper into the flooring surface where traditional machines may not reach.

As technology advances, floor cleaning machines are also becoming more advanced with features suction as Zone Programing to optimise water and chemical use for set applications.

Clever machine innovations and cutting-edge vacuum technology have significantly reduced machine noise, allowing for nighttime operation or cleaning around patients and guests without causing any disturbance. This is especially beneficial for time critical clean ups of spills or contaminants to reduce the spread of infection.

Whilst having a powerful floor scrubber is important maintaining high hygiene standards, equally as important is correct operator training. Once the operator receives adequate training, they understand how to maintain strict cleaning standards to prevent the spread of infection and are able to maximise the machines effectiveness.

Training should always include understanding the correct chemical dosage to use to eliminate bacteria without overuse as this may cause damage to the machine and flooring surface as well as overwhelm the air with strong chemical fumes.

It is also important for the operator to have a sound understanding of matching the correct pad with each application. This guarantees that all bacteria are removed leaving thoroughly and hygienically cleaned.

The correct cleaning and storage of the floor cleaning machine itself is equally as important to prevent cross-contamination from dirty recovery tanks or pads/brushes.

In order to achieve and maintain the necessary hygiene standards partnering with a trustworthy and reliable floor cleaning expert is essential. A true floor cleaning expert will always conduct a site evaluation prior to the sale of a machine to ensure that the correct machine is being recommended to suit the application and achieve the desired outcome.

Including suggested chemical dosage and pad type. Companies that offer extended warranties and comprehensive guarantees should be highly regarded when researching potential floor cleaning equipment providers.

When investing in floor cleaning equipment it is important to consider not only the capabilities of the machine but the back up support that will be provided by the supplier. Companies should offer full after sales support including technical advice, scheduled servicing and a full spare parts inventory order to minimise machine downtime.

Most repairs and servicing can be carried out onsite, however, for extensive machine repairs where the machine must be removed, quality machine suppliers can often provide a similar machine to be used in the interim. This is particularly of benefit in the healthcare industry where cleaning must be frequent and thorough.

*This article first appeared in INCLEAN magazine

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