Part 4: Carpets in medical facilities. Are they really a playground for germs?

July 16th, 2018 | Infection Control

What is the most effective carpet cleaning method?

In high-traffic hospitals and health care facilities, it is important to make sure carpets are cleaned in the most effective and safe ways possible. The two different methods of cleaning carpets are outlined below, they both have distinct pro’s and con’s and are best used in combination.

Encapsulation cleaning system:

Encapsulation cleaning eliminates the requirement for a wet extraction rinse when cleaning carpets and upholstery. To achieve this, the encapsulation cleaning solution contains specialty, brittle dry-down polymers. A professionally formulated encapsulator will emulsify the oily soil particles and dry down to a totally dry, brittle structure which will not attract other soils and be easily released to vacuuming. The Actichem Encap Plus & Perox combination, provides the additional benefit of containing a high activity Hydrogen Peroxide which effectively destroys bacteria, viruses and other germs.

These interim cleaning encapsulator products are normally diluted 1:32 with water and spray applied to the carpet or fed through a solution tank. The solution is then worked into the carpet with a rotating brush or pad. After thorough agitation, the area is allowed to dry (30 – 40 minutes) after which time the area can be re-opened to traffic.

After 24 hours the encapsulator will be cured and the encapsulated soil will be dry and brittle. The area can now be vacuumed to remove the encapsulated soil. This system is ideal for high-use areas and is significantly easier, quicker and less equipment-intensive than hot water extraction.

It is important to note that these products are designed for interim cleaning. Because you do not have the advantage of the flushing action of hot water extraction where high quantities of soil can be removed, these products are to be used within a cleaning program where hot water extraction is periodically used to deep clean the carpet. Hot water extraction is also needed if the application of a carpet protector is required.

Hot water extraction cleaning:

The hot water extraction (steam) cleaning process involves spraying a detergent and Hydrogen Peroxide combination onto the carpet to destroy germs, emulsify and release soils. The carpet is then sprayed with high temperature water and rinse solution while simultaneously being extracted with a carpet extraction machine. The distinct benefits of this method of cleaning are that the carpet is left sanitized, clean and entirely free of soiling. The major consideration to make however, is that this process takes longer and drying times are longer. It is recommended that this process be used in conjunction with an encapsulation cleaning regime.     

How often should the carpets in health care facilities be cleaned?

Benjamin Franklin’s famous adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” holds true for carpet maintenance as well. Carpets can trap pounds of dust and other unwanted allergens, but they need to be cleaned regularly to avoid wear and tear and to keep them fresh so they can serve their valuable role as air filters. As a rule of thumb, if you begin to see soil collecting in the traffic lanes, you’ve waited too long. Using the correct steps to prevent carpet damage is not only the safe thing to do for residents and patients, but also is more economical. Regular carpet cleaning will be far less expensive than carpet replacement.

At minimum, carpets should be professionally deep cleaned and sanitized with a hot water extraction process every six months. Interval cleaning using encapsulation methods should be conducted every two months. All carpet should be on a regular maintenance schedule. Additionally, areas with heavier traffic, such as entryways and hallways, should be cleaned more frequently.

Minimizing damage and extending carpet life

The most important maintenance step for carpet longevity is frequent cleaning. This involves three steps:

  • Regular and thorough vacuuming. Use a commercial grade vacuum with an adjustable beater bar/brush and a microfiltration system. Good vacuums are well worth the investment. Depending on traffic levels, vacuuming should be done several times a week, especially in high-traffic areas. Typically, bag-style vacuums work best and the bags should be disposed of when they are two-thirds full.
  • Spot cleaning/surface cleaning: Spills and spots are bound to happen. Typically, the sooner you treat the spot, the easier it is to remove. When spots occur, clean them up quickly using Conquer O2. The best initial treatment is simply spray the spot with an encapsulating spotter and blot up a new spill or spot with a clean, white cloth to remove excess fluids and prevent them from penetrating deeper into the carpet fibers.

Making sure your medical facility has safe and clean floors is essential to providing the best customer service and creating a healthier living and working environment. With these techniques, not only will you ensure that your medical residence is as clean as can be, but you will also be protecting your flooring investment and providing your residents and patients with a safer, healthier, more pleasant experience.


Related articles:

Part 1: Are carpets in medical facilities making us sick?
Part 2: How should we be cleaning carpets in medical facilities?
Part 3: How often should we be cleaning carpets in medical facilities to reduce the spread of infection?





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