Taking Care of Business: Odor Control
Baby Boomers are people born between 1946 and 1964. Currently, Boomers are between 41 and 59 years old and 76 million strong. They make up 29 percent of the U.S. population and are the most significant numerical and economic demographic.
All very interesting, but what does this have to do with the cleaning industry? Good question. As Boomers near retirement age, they will experience failing health, and demand for long-term care facilities will explode.
Skilled nursing facilities (nursing homes) are an important market for most distributors already, and opportunities will increase as more open.
Savvy jan/san companies can capitalize on this trend. One way is by understanding the unique cleaning challenges the nursing-home industry faces and offering effective solutions.
Almost every nursing home has trouble with severe urine odor in resident bathrooms — most often, those used by male residents. Most homes have restrooms that serve two resident rooms, with each room housing two men. The source of the problem is obvious — four octogenarians trying to hit one small target 15 times during the night.
Over time, urine is absorbed into the grout, or if the floor is a VCT (vinyl composition tile) floor, it can work its way under the tile, forming a bacterial colony that constantly spews noxious odors.
Additionally, urine splash covers the walls, and since it is not easy to see, housekeepers fail to clean it. Bacterial colonies then grow on the walls and compound the problem.
The old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” rings true in this situation. Preventive measures such as sealing a VCT floor with at least four coats of high-solids sealer is a good start. Sealers are designed to invade the microscopic pores of tile and form a barrier to repel urine, keeping it from forming bacterial colonies in and under the tile. Floor finish may be added for additional protection and gloss.
Grouted floors also need sealer. Most grouted tiles are made of ceramic and are not porous. Grout itself is cement-like and very porous. Do not use an acrylic seal like the type used to seal VCT; rather, employ a sealer made specifically for grout.
Water-based fluoropolymer impregnators are preferable since they penetrate deep into the grout and repel urine. Impregnators are pricey, but they often last up to five years without a reapplication and work very well.
VCT and grouted floors must be properly prepared for sealing. Both types should be stripped with an emulsifying finish stripper. Grouted floors also require a product to brighten the grout after stripping. Rinse thoroughly and allow the floor to dry completely before sealing. Placing a bead of caulk around the commode also helps keep urine out.
Cleaning procedures in these areas should include a powerful deodorizing hospital-grade germicidal cleaner. Check with your suppliers for one that has a high parts per million of “quat” (quaternary ammonium chloride) in order to aggressively attack this bacterial breeding ground. Teach housekeepers to clean the walls daily. Be sure to allow the bathroom floor to remain wet for a minimum of 10 minutes since most disinfectants need that much time to be effective.
Apply a good bacterial enzyme to the floors and walls before exiting the room. Enzymes provide residual protection between cleanings, and literally eat away at the proteins found in urine.
Please share your ideas for solving this problem. I would like to see them and share them in future articles.
Louie Davis Jr. is a 23-year veteran of the jan/san business, having worked on the manufacturing and distribution sides. He is currently director of sales for Central Paper Co., in Birmingham, Ala.
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