Industry experts have said for years that the first thing people notice when entering a building is the cleanliness of the floor. It’s especially true now considering the pandemic. Visitors are looking for the socially distanced signs/footprints and/or arrows designating where to walk.

Having clean floors in any building today is paramount. Not many visitors will tolerate dirty or unkempt looking floors, and certainly not clients. This emphasizes the importance of a strong floor maintenance program. It not only helps with perception, but clean floors add to improved health and safety of building occupants and visitors.

“Most people, whether they realize it or not, look at the flooring when they enter a building,” says Phil Carrizales, director of the jan/san division for Acme Paper & Supply, Savage, Maryland.

If the floors look dirty or run down, people have the perception that the rest of the building follows suit. Experts agree that facilities only get one chance to make a good first impression and clients are relying on their building service contractors to make it a good one.

People expect ultimate cleanliness as the new normal, says Jon Hill, CEO of LaserClean Systems, Richmond, Virginia. In many cases, the building occupants don’t see the disinfection and sanitizing taking place, so they only have the appearance of the floor as their gauge to the cleanliness of the facility.

“If the facility looks clean, people’s perception is that it’s been properly disinfected and sanitized,” says Hill. “When possible, we run our floor scrubbers during the day not only to actually clean, but also to give our customers the perception of clean.”

Where To Start

Maintaining a positive perception will be easy if floors are cleaned properly. A strong program starts outside the building. If workers can keep dirt from entering the facility, then they save both time and money by keeping the flooring inside in optimal condition.

Some dirt can be eliminated with walk-off mats, both outside and inside entrances. Hill estimates that mats can trap 30 percent of the debris headed toward the inside of a building. Yet while mats may help keep debris out, experts stress the benefits of a comprehensive cleaning program.

Aside from mats, Carrizales recommends sweeping or power washing the 50 feet leading to the main entrances. This will reduce the soil people carry in on their shoes. These tasks can be offered as add-on services performed every one or two months.

“Inside, clean the hard flooring with a good neutral cleaner,” says Carrizales. “If a good hard floor program is adhered to, then a full-blown strip and finish may not be needed.”

Scheduled maintenance also keeps the flooring looking its best. Carrizales recommends burnishing hard floors on a regular basis and scheduling a top scrub and recoat as needed, depending on the amount of foot traffic moving through the building.

For carpeted floors, daily vacuuming is paramount. BSCs should also schedule low-moisture/encapsulation work for entrances and areas that transition from hard to soft flooring. That interim cleaning step will protect carpets, but eventually, restorative cleaning must be done, which means extracting the carpet.

As for the social distancing “footprint” decals mentioned earlier — the manufacturer should provide specific guidelines for cleaning their product. If no special treatment is needed, the same process being used to clean the rest of the floor will suffice.

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