Summer may feel endless but we know it’s not. The weather will turn, days will shorten and students will come back to school, tracking in dirt, grit and debris. After a season of deep cleaning, extraction shampooing or stripping and refinishing, your school’s floors look great. But for how long? Good floor maintenance extends that summer clean through fall and beyond.
Clean schools are undeniably important. An article by Dr. Linda Lemasters in published in the Education Facilities Clearinghouse notes dirty facilities are a distraction at best and health risk at worst. She notes that nearly 22 million school days are lost to the common cold each year, while 38 million are lost to influenza. Elementary students are especially susceptible as they contract between eight to 10 colds or the flu each year. This high level of absence can lead to a higher number of dropouts.
Take Dirt to the Mat
With the stakes so high, proper floor maintenance is important. One of the easiest and most effective ways to keep floors clean is to stop dirt and debris at the door with walk-off mats. “Mats need to be 15 to 25 feet in length,” says David Gurwell, assistant director of facilities at Iowa City Community School District in an article in American School & University. “After four steps with each foot, the mat loses its effectiveness.” He notes that gravel and other grit carried in on shoes can scratch and deface flooring surfaces.
Don’t Sweep It Under the Rug
Carpet is a popular choice in education, especially in elementary school settings. Teachers like carpet because it creates a comfortable environment that absorbs noise. Carpet in the most heavily trafficked areas—think classrooms and corridors—should be vacuumed every day. Less busy areas can be vacuumed every other day. Liquid spills should be blotted up immediately to prevent staining and mold growth.
Making the Hard Choice
Most schools have a variety of floors in their facility: terrazzo, vinyl composition tile, hardwood and specialty floors, along with carpet. Auto scrubbers are popular devices used to maintain these surfaces, as they’re faster than a mop and bucket and dry the floor as they go. But take care to remove dirt and debris before using one. If you don’t, grit can be buffed into the floor surface or dragged by the squeegee
An autovac offers an effective alternative to floor maintenance. Light and easy to use, an autovac’s powerful vacuum sucks up grit and dirt, so there’s no risk of scratching the finish.
Click here for more ideas on how to extend that summer clean.
Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.