For more than 100 years, vacuum cleaning equipment only featured upright or canister models and was used solely on floors, until now. Cleaning professionals are now taking this traditional floor cleaning technology and using it to clean cubical and partition walls.

"If you want your partition walls to last longer, you have to maintain it," says Steve Hanson, president of and ISSA Certification Expert (I.C.E.). "Vacuuming is probably one of the best procedures we can use."

Problem with Partition Walls

Cleaning professionals will agree that often business owners give little thought to cleaning partition walls used to configure work cubicles. Usually, cubicles are not a part of the office cleaning strategy and cubicle occupants are responsible for cleaning their own areas. And since custodians rarely clean these offices, dirt and grime on partition walls and upholstery are often overlooked.

These "cube farms" can become a cleaning staff's least-expected and also least-cleaned germ bed.

"It's really surprising," says Hanson. "Partition walls are not something you see on the list of specifications for the cleaning staff to do and dust and contaminants will continue to fester."

Keith Schneringer, marketing manager for Waxie Sanitary Supply in San Diego, Calif., agrees, noting that he's been present at vacuum cleaning equipment demonstrations where business owners are amazed at the color their fabric walls take on after a good cleaning.

"Over time, the dust has settled so uniformly, they realize, ‘Oh, that's not dark beige after all,'" he says with a laugh.

More cleaning departments, however, are putting the task of cleaning partition walls on their to-do list, and for good reason. Improved health, fewer sick days and better quality indoor air are all benefits of clean partition walls. It has been documented that quality indoor air contributes positively to the well being of employees and helps increase employee productivity.

"It all goes hand-in-hand," Hanson explains.

Chris Portera, president of Ocean Janitorial Supply in Islip Terrace, N.Y., says there is strong rationale for tackling partition wall cleaning. Using vacuum cleaning equipment pulls out the dirt and raises the fibers. He then suggests a thorough cleaning, followed by another round with the vacuum.

"It really goes back to maximizing the life cycle of the fabric," he says. "You have to do it all if you want to do it right."

A good time to implement partition wall vacuuming is during cleaning process reviews or when seasonal or specialty cleaning projects are being entertained. Once partition wall and upholstery cleaning has made it onto departmental to-do lists, work with distributors to identify proper vacuum cleaning equipment or attachments, techniques and frequencies relative to maintaining these surfaces.

A Team Effort

Regardless of the cleaning application, industry professionals all agree that finding a good distributor to partner with is a necessity. Cleaning professionals also should look for support from both manufacturers and distributors when it comes to training, mixing chemicals and using vacuum cleaning equipment. All products are different, as are the guidelines for using them.

Utilizing this guidance will help departments make the most of their vacuum cleaning equipment purchases and keep soft surfaces clean.

A vacuum is "absolutely the right tool," says Schneringer. "It's something that's going to clean, trap and contain the dirt rather than spreading it around."

He would agree, then, that more heads are better than one when it comes to researching the best vacuum technology for fabric cleaning needs.

For information on vacuuming furniture and other soft surfaces, click here.
For information on using vacuums to combat bed bugs, click here.

JENNIFER BRADLEY is a freelance writer based in East Troy, Wis.