High angle view of business people arriving at office lobby

Vacuuming hasn’t lost its importance, but in a COVID-centered world, many professionals feel it has lost its focus. Here’s how jan/san distributors are helping their clients press reset.  

In a world demonstrably altered by a global pandemic, touchpoint cleaning is king. It makes sense that facility managers, desperate to entice people back to their properties, prioritize attention to touchpoints. Surveys consistently show that the public demands and expects more visible cleaning and sanitation to feel safe. This has driven in-house facility cleaning managers and building service contractors (BSCs) to focus on wiping, sanitizing and disinfecting the most highly used surfaces. 

But what about the carpet? Thankfully, carpets do not play a huge factor in the transmission of COVID-19. The flooring’s porous fibers are inhospitable to all viruses. Even if someone could catch COVID-19 from the carpet, the material can only be sanitized, not disinfected.  

That said, carpet does play role in the overall health of a building’s interior, especially when it comes to indoor air quality (IAQ). Those fibers trap irritants like dust mites, particle pollution, mold spores and more. Just the act of walking across the surface kicks these particles back up and degrades the IAQ. Vacuuming with a poor-quality machine also propels these irritants up into the air to circulate 

Leaving the particles in place is also not an option. Over time, those bits of soils abrade the carpet fibers and make the surface appear dirty, worn and uninviting — not a good look when everyone wants their interiors to appear as fresh, clean and safe as possible.   

This all means vacuuming is just as important as ever. But who will do it? There is already a “significant strain on the workforce,” according to Nick Spallone, CEO, Tahoe Supply Company, Carson City, Nevada. “Currently there are nearly twice as many available jobs to the number of unemployed people.” 

Luckily, distributors have answers to help ease these pain points. Here’s what they are seeing in the field now, as well as what they predict is looming over the horizon.   

Team Cleaning vs. Zone Cleaning 

To counteract the labor shortage, many cleaning departments and BSCs have moved from zone cleaning, where one janitor is responsible for one area or “zone” of a space, to team cleaning, where each janitor specializes in a specific task.  

“This allows you to maximize the efforts of staff already in place,” explains Bill Allen, territory manager, Fagan Sanitary Supply, West Elizabeth, Pennsylvania.  

The strategy also justifies purchasing better (and more expensive) equipment. Zone cleaning requires a lot of redundancy, with everyone using their own set of tools, including in many cases a lower quality, upright vacuum.  

“With zone or task cleaning it makes sense to invest in one bigger, more efficient vacuum that can service the entire building,” says Allen. “But you can’t just make a purchase without altering the way your team cleans. You must integrate the approach.” 

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