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The best offense is a good defense when it comes to floor care

September 19, 2010
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As many professional cleaners know, often the most costly and intrusive part of floor care is stripping and refinishing.

To keep costs at a minimum, a logical goal is to implement a floor care program designed to lengthen the time between major floor restorations.

Not surprisingly, the efficacy of a floor care program begins with the floor finish.

It is important to choose a finish that provides outstanding, lasting shine, resists soiling and wear and has exceptional rubber heel mark resistance.

The right finish also will improve productivity, as the need for frequent stripping and refinishing — not to mention burnishing and buffing — is reduced, thus saving the end user time and money.

The work doesn’t stop once the finish is applied.

Floor care can be considered a comprehensive program that demands continual evaluation to maintain the finish’s life.

Experience suggests professional floor cleaners can deliver on the client’s appearance goals and save an estimated $15,000 per 100,000 square feet of flooring in the first year alone if a quality finish is used that does not need frequent stripping and refinishing and that finish is maintained properly.

Now that’s a true win-win proposition.

The importance of the daily floor maintenance program can’t be overstated. As with the old football adage, “The best offense is a good defense.”

Mats and dust mops
While perhaps not the most exciting components of the floor care program, proper matting and efficient dust mopping play an important role.

Too often, this maintenance step is forgotten or quickly completed, even though ISSA estimates that each building occupant can track as much as seven pounds of soil into a facility each year.

According to ISSA, the cost of removing this soil can be as high as $3,500 per year, per occupant.

These soils, over time, are significant culprits in floor wear and yellowing.

Mats are the first line of defense, preventing at least a portion of soils from reaching the floor.

Placing, cleaning and rotating mats properly will ensure that many of the soils tracked into a facility don’t make it past the front door.

In the case of soils that make it past the threshold, dust-mopping is effective in preventing damage to the floor.

Removing the particulate matter before damp mopping is important because wet soils can affix to the floor and become harder to remove.

Not all employees understand matting and dust-mopping techniques.

Integrating these tasks into employee training can maximize the life of a facility’s finish because the employees play an important role in preventing ground-in particulate soils.

Mops and scrubbers
Some particulate matter will make it past the matting and dust-mopping won’t be enough to remove it.

Dealing with this remaining soil necessitates more aggressive treatments.

While daily damp mopping is generally effective, an auto-scrubber or less expensive alternative like a walk-behind wet vacuum is often a smart investment.

These tools pick up grit and grime instead of spreading it around like a damp mop often does.

This is especially important prior to buffing and burnishing. If the floor is not completely clean before buffing and burnishing, particulate soils can be further ground in, thus shortening the life of the floor finish.

The right products
As is the case with the original finish, choosing the right products for the daily cleaning regimen is vital in the overall context of the floor care program.

Several rules should guide product decision when it comes to selecting a daily cleaner:

  • The daily cleaner should work together with the finish. This will maximize the life of the shine and minimize the frequency of buffing and burnishing and, ultimately, recoating and refinishing.
  • The cleaner should be powerful enough to remove the tracked-in particulate soil that can abrade, dull and darken finish.
  • To minimizing the need for rework, the daily cleaner should be powerful and help increase employee productivity.
  • Daily cleaners well suited for both automatic scrubbing machines and mop and bucket applications are ideal especially if they are safe and versatile for use on virtually all finished floors.
  • When specified or needed, hospital-grade disinfecting cleaners that are neutral to finished floors should be used. These cleaners allow for no-rinse cleaning and disinfecting while being effective against a broad spectrum of bacteria, are virucidal and fungicidal, and inhibit growth of mold and mildew.

Professional cleaning operations that choose products and employ defensive tactics will limit the intrusion of particulate matter on their flooring.

This will enhance all other areas of the comprehensive floor care program, and can result in extending the life of the floor finish and the realization of significant labor and chemical cost savings.

Understanding the preventive measures, buying the right products, conducting the proper training, and maintaining vigilance are the keys to a good offensive and provide finished floors with an outstanding defense against frequent stripping and refinishing.

Mike Weber is principal scientist for products research with P&G Professional in Cincinnati, OH. Weber, who has worked for Procter & Gamble for 27 years, helped to develop the P&G Pro Line brand of commercial cleaners, with a focus on consumer products research. He can be reached at (513) 271-7222.

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