Cleaning is the process of removing dirt or unwanted matter. Dirt is any unwanted substance that winds up on a surface resulting in poor sanitation, possible slip problems and of course, poor appearance. 

There are three main types of dirt: Loose soil, atmospheric soil, and spills. 

The vast majority of the dirt we combat in buildings is loose soil which is easily dealt with so long as it does not become wet or contaminated with oils. The Carpet and Rug Institute estimates that over 80 percent of the dirt in a building is loose soil - most of which is tracked in on people’s feet. This dry, gritty soil is the enemy of all floor surfaces. It scratches and dulls the floor finish. If left unattended, it can scour off the finish, just like a fine grade sandpaper. This soil can be very small. It is often measured in microns.  The dot on this “i” is about 500 microns. A good HEPA vacuum filter will tackle particles down to .3 microns. While this soil can be very small, the damage it can do is great.

The second kind of soil is atmospheric, or airborne soil. This comes from things like pollution, auto fumes, and cigarette smoking. It is an oily type carbon based soil that clings to surfaces and is more difficult to remove. When combined with moisture and sunlight it can form harmful chemicals that will attack all the surfaces in your building. It is particularly harmful to floor finishes.

The third major source of dirt is spills. This can be anything from a tenant’s morning coffee to a workman’s shoes tracking in oil stains. Spills need quick attention to keep them from attacking your floor’s finish coat since extended exposure will only damage the surface and require more effort to remove.

In the next articles we will take a more detailed look at maintaining hard floors. 

Your comments and questions are always welcome. 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