Mops, brooms and buckets come in a variety of hues, but those colors are not merely aesthetic choices: they are safety backstops designed to prevent cross-contamination wherever germs, dirt and pathogens are carried from one surface to another — often on a mop or cloth. “Avoiding cross-contamination is very important in our industry, particularly in healthcare and food service,” according to Jerkins.

Color-coding is an easy way to segregate tools and keep potentially dangerous restroom pathogens in the restroom. Because it’s based on color, the system works even if cleaning crews don't speak or read English. While there is no true universal standard, there are some basic color-coding guidelines distributors should pass on to end users.

“The hotter colors are usually associated with higher risk areas,” says Schneringer.

In general, that means:

  • Red: Use for restroom floors, toilets and urinals
  • Yellow: Restroom sinks and mirrors
  • Green: Food service settings
  • Blue: General, low risk areas

Be aware that this list is not written in stone. “Some hospitals use yellow for clinical settings while other institutions use yellow for food service,” says Schneringer. Plus, individual building service contractors (BSCs) may use their own, unique color-coding system.

“The right answer is the one that that works for the organization. What is important is that everyone knows the system and sticks to it,” he adds.

Ready To Assist

Aside from questions about these cleaning basics, distributors are answering all kinds of inquiries, particularly around the best ways to clean for COVID-19. “I get a lot of questions about disinfection,” says Jerkins. “People want to make sure they are doing it correctly.”

Schneringer mirrors this statement, saying customers are overwhelmingly asking about cleaning for pathogen removal and they are looking for products and equipment that will help achieve cleaning goals. Far from being bothered about the increasing inquiries, Schneringer is bolstered by the spotlight.

“We are in this business for that very purpose,” he says. “We have the tools and resources so our clients can lean on us for assistance. The industry is ready for our close-up.”

Still, some issues cannot be solved with a phone call or extra training. “People want to know why some products are unavailable or have a long lead time,” laments Silverman. “But the supply chain is still disrupted, and people are ordering more to make sure they have stock.”

While each facility will have unique questions and needs, distributors can and should be the go-to resource for all consulting on ergonomics, selecting optimal equipment, providing a thorough color-coding system and more.

Amy Milshtein is a freelancer based in Portland, Oregon.

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Choosing Between Cotton And Microfiber Mops