Facilities may not have magical vacuums to aid in pest control, but they do have the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval/Green Label vacuum program to help restore carpets to a more sanitary, bug-free state.

“Our vacuum cleaner program defines the following three parameters for testing equipment,” says Werner Braun, president of the Carpet and Rug Institute, Dalton, Ga. “First is the level of soil and other extraneous things like dust mites or dust mite parts that the vacuum removes. Second, how efficient is the vacuum cleaner at containing everything vacuumed out of the carpet and keeping it in the bag or canister. And third, does the vacuum cleaner do all that without destroying the carpet.”

Using a vacuum that meets CRI’s criteria is paramount for pest control — as is the proper disposal of vacuum bags and canisters.

“You want to use a vacuum that doesn’t exhaust back out into the air,” says Migliore. “Vacuuming isn’t going to kill these pests, so if you have a pest problem, you want to make sure you dispose of vacuum bags right after you vacuum, and dump them somewhere outside, like in a dumpster. Don’t throw them in a wastebasket in the same space because surviving pests can get out.”

In high-rise buildings, immediate disposal of vacuum bags in outside dumpsters may not be an option, in which case Rathey recommends double-bagging.

“Dispose of paper filter bags by dropping them in a plastic liner,” he says. “It creates another barrier between whatever’s in that dust and your nose so you don’t breathe it in.”

Similarly, Rathey encourages custodians to keep a plastic bag handy when emptying backpack vacuums. By removing the backpack liner and emptying it into a plastic bag, you contain the dust rising off the emptying process, he explains.

In addition to taking extra precautions when emptying vacuum bags and canisters, managers should train janitors to change filters and bags frequently.

“Maintain equipment so it can function properly,” advises Pearson. “Just having well-maintained equipment can go a long way in removing debris.”

When vacuuming, custodians should also pay attention to upholstered furniture, as food crumbs can work their way into cracks and crevices, attracting unwanted pests.

“If you’ve got a sofa with a bunch of crumbs in it, then you can have the same scenario where pests are coming up looking for food,” says Pearson. “A lot of times you can address those with a good vacuuming by taking the cushions off and getting the crumbs out of the crevices.”

KASSANDRA KANIA is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, N.C.

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