Why Cleaning Professionals Must Pay Attention to Floor Drains

By Robert Kravitz

  • Why Cleaning Professionals Must Pay Attention to Floor Drains
Why Cleaning Professionals Must Pay Attention to Floor Drains

For most cleaning professionals, floor drains, especially those in commercial kitchens, only come to mind if they get clogged and stop working.  When this happens, cleaning them can be a messy, very unpleasant job.


However, according to Dr. Dale Grinstead, a food safety microbiologist, we must pay considerably more attention to floor drains because they can be the source of numerous pathogens, most specifically listeria.


Listeria, which multiplies by feeding off organic soils, is a bacterium that can find its way into food.  It has no taste, smell, or appearance.  Nearly everyone infected with listeriosis is hospitalized, and about 20 percent of those infected die from the disease.  It can be found just about anywhere in a commercial kitchen – on equipment, in coolers, on counters – and very often, in floor drains.


Because they are all too often not cleaned in the commercial kitchen cleaning process, organic soils can collect in floor drains making them a perfect target for listeria.


You might be asking yourself, if it’s in the floor drain, how can listeria spread and cause health problems?  There are actually several ways.  Among them are the following:

•       Kitchen staff rolling carts, equipment, or pulling bags of food ingredients over the drain can come in contact with listeria and contaminate these items.  If touched by the worker who then touches food or areas where food is prepared, cross contamination can occur.

•       Sometimes cleaning workers do clean floor drains, especially if they become clogged.  If listeria is present and they do not properly clean their hands (or remove gloves), the bacterium can also spread and contaminate food.

•       Flies and cockroaches love uncleaned floor drains.  Once again, if listeria is present, these bugs can fly and land or walk over counters spreading the disease. 


Fortunately, there are ways to test if listeria is present in floor drains.  Once identified, the big concern is eliminating the bacteria, and this is where cleaning professionals come in. 


According to Dr. Grinstead, floor drains need special cleaning attention to help prevent organic soil buildup, requiring the following steps:

•       First the drains need to be cleaned.  Select cleaning solutions that cling to any traces of organic soils in the drain so they can be loosened and released from the drain’s sides.

•       Flush the drain; this will flush the soils down the drain.

•       With the source of the problem removed, sanitizers can be used to help kill any remaining bacterium.


According to the doctor, brushes and pads are usually not needed.  “An effective cleaner can work with a no-touch cleaning [system] that can greatly reduce the risk of aerosolizing soils from the drain.  The no-touch process is also simple enough [that it] removes enough of the unpleasantness associated with floor drain cleaning.”  This makes it less likely the floor drains will be ignored.  See it in action.


Once the drains have been cleaned and sanitized, there is only one way to prevent the possibility of listeria from developing.  That is to make the above cleaning process a regular part of the cleaning routine.  How frequently this is performed depends on how often the kitchen is used.  However, a weekly cleaning program should keep them clean and healthy.


For more information on-touch cleaning, contact Kaivac.


Image source: Flickr

Robert Kravitz

Robert Kravitz

Robert Kravitz is a former building service contractor, having owned, operated, and then sold three contract cleaning companies in Northern California.

He is the author of two books about the industry and continues to be a frequent writer for the industry. 


Robert is now president of AlturaSolutions Communications, which provides communications and marketing services for organizations in the professional cleaning and building industries.


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