Using The Wrong Cleaning Product Can Create Safety Hazards

Cleaning: Floor Care Chemicals

A reader writes: “I am new to the cleaning business and when a customer demanded I shine their wood floors I used a high quality polish that gave it a great shine but also made it very slippery. Now the customer is complaining that I created a slip/fall hazard although no one has fallen yet. Any suggestions?”

Upon review of the product you used, an aerosol oil-based polish designed for tables and other flat surfaces, but not designed for any walkable surface such as wood or other hard floors. In reading the label it stresses NOT to use on any surface that is going to be walked on due to the fact that it contains polishes, including silicone that can create a distinct slip/fall hazard. This area should be restricted to foot traffic until you can return it to a no slip surface. I highly recommend you immediately remove the layer of polish and find the appropriate product for wooden floors that will have an established slip resistance.

Remember that wooden floors can be sensitive to minute amouts of water so you must be careful in mopping the floor with a mop and bucket system. Do not flood the floor or allow water to stand for any length of time since this will only increase your liability. My suggestion is to test a small area first to determine what will safely neutralize/remove the oil based polish without damaging the wood or any sealants on it. This might be a time to try a microfiber flat mop that is by nature low moisture.

The first thing I would test would be a mild mix of neutral detergent mixed in water. Wring out the mop to where it is only lightly damp; then using a scrubbing motion, go over the test area in different directions. Allow plenty of time to dry and then try the same process again. You can use a slip meter or simply your own hand to determine progress. Under pending OSHA guidelines you may need to document that the floor has been restored and is safe to walk on.

Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or