What’s In Your Janitor Closet?

I was out on an estimate the other day and noticed a very scary sight–the janitor closet. However, this isn’t the first time I’ve come across an alarming janitor closet but, it did get me thinking I should write about it.

When you look in your janitor closet what do you see? The most common equipment is a mop, mop bucket, vacuum, and cleaning cloths.What does the equipment look like?

  • Is the mop a conventional cotton loop mop?
  • Is the mop bucket dirty and black on the inside?
  • Is the vacuum a traditional upright that does not have a HEPA filtration system?
  • Are the cleaning cloths cotton and look stained and dirty?

This type of equipment was the standard 10 years ago and for many commercial cleaning services it still is.For a healthcare environment it can be deadly.A conventional loop mop is made of cotton fibers; it is heavy and therefore can be very labor intensive. Conventional mopping techniques require janitors to change the mop solution after mopping every two or three rooms in order to help control cross contamination. That mop solution (including both chemicals and several gallons of water) is frequently being disposed of and replenished each cleaning day (a large waste). However, many janitors get lazy and tired of consistently changing the mop water and in turn don’t change out the water as frequently if at all. As a result this is the cause of the mop bucket being black on the inside. The cleanliness you were looking for from mopping is now being replaced with high levels of cross contamination and dirty mop water.The solution is microfiber.

Microfibers are made of polyester and polyamide (nylon) fibers that are approximately 1/16 the thickness of human hair. The density of the material enables it to hold six times its weight in water, making it more absorbent then a conventional loop mop.Microfibers are also positively charged and therefore attract more dust (which has a negative charge), and the fibers are able to penetrate a surfaces deeper than a conventional mop.In fact, a case study done by the University of California Davis Medical Center (UCDMC) found that after using a microfiber mop showed a 99% reduction in bacteria where only a 30% reduction was found with a conventional loop mop.Another benefit in using a microfiber mop is the savings you will see in both monetary and in labor. A microfiber mop holds more water therefore making its cleanable surface area larger. Microfiber is also guaranteed by the manufacture a minimum of 500 washings and they can be added to your laundry service. In an effort to eliminate cross contamination you can simply replace the “mop head” after cleaning each room (as long as you don’t put a dirty mop head back into the mop water) this will also eliminate the waste of gallons of water and floor disinfectant. This saves time, money! The same concept applies to using microfiber cloths for cleaning vs. cotton fiber cloths. All around microfiber is the best cleaning tool your facility should be utilizing.

A traditional vacuum for everyday cleaning is important. However, if it doesn’t have a true or absolute HEPA filtration system you are allowing cross contamination and poor indoor air quality. A true or absolute HEPA filtration system is effective enough to trap 99.97% of particles .3 micron or larger (such as bacteria, yeast, mold, dust, pollen, etc) and not allowing the particles to be re-circulated back in to the environment. True or absolute HEPA filters must pass a test to be considered HEPA worthy. True or absolute HEPA filters may be more expensive than other HEPA filters, but they must perform at a certain standard to receive the distinction of true or absolute.In a healthcare environment a vacuum with this high of filtration quality is extremely important.

Having the proper equipment for cleaning your facility is essential for our healthcare industry and in helping reduce the spread of HAIs. Check your janitor closet, if you notice any of the concerns I’ve mentioned talk with your cleaning service to see if they offer a higher standard in cleaning equipment.You will notice a difference in cleaning!

Written by: Chanel Schonert, MediClean