Cleaning Tips for Foodservice Floors

Restaurants and foodservice facilities are held to a high standard of cleanliness. And rightly so: food safety and customer satisfaction are at stake. Health department requirements make it clear how clean floors need to be, but getting them spotless is up to business owners. Cleanliness is also important for safety. Foodservice floors can easily become unsafe from grease, spilled ingredients and other hazards. A proper cleaning regimen will keep your foodservice floor clean, hygienic and safe.

Using effective bulk cleaning products to maintain your foodservice floors is essential. Using them properly is even more important. Use this list of tips as a guideline for maintaining a clean and safe foodservice floor:

  • Make sure floor drains are clear and in proper working order before cleaning food service floors. Clogged or dirty drains should be addressed before you put them to use with water and other cleaning products.
  • Seal food ceramic service floors with low or anti-slip coating. This type of coating fosters proper sanitation and reduces accidents.
  • All floors in food service spaces should be cleaned before food handling and processing equipment is cleaned. Soil, debris and other contaminants can land on workstations and equipment when floors are being cleaned.
  • Clean or change mops and mop buckets on a daily basis. Dirty mops and buckets are breeding grounds for bacteria and other germs. Using dirty mops and buckets will effectively spread contaminants across the foodservice floor, making your food preparation space dirtier than it was before.
  • A long-handled squeegee can be used to usher wetness and moisture into floor drains to speed up drying time. Puddles or standing water can also become safety concerns if left standing in high-traffic areas.
  • Use a floor buffer at least weekly to aid in the removal of dirt, grease, and oil on foodservice floors.  Smaller machines are better for cleaning around counters and cooking areas in kitchens with hard-to-reach areas.
  • Store mops, buckets, squeegees, chemicals, and all other floor care equipment on rack and shelves that are off the ground. Keeping them up will help them stay clean and will prevent pests from gathering in or on them.

National Purity supplies a full line of bulk cleaning products for the food service industry. Our family-owned company has been supplying high quality and effective cleaning products for nearly 90 years. Contact one of our representatives today to discuss your foodservice cleaning needs and to determine which National Purity products are right for you.

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Infection Control: Tips for Preventing Cross-Contamination

cross contaminationIf you’re a cleaning professional in a hotel, office building, healthcare facility or any high traffic arena  — you need to take special precautions to help control the spread of infection. Below we’ve listed some quick and ways to make your facility less vulnerable to cross-contamination.

Choose the right products. Certain viruses can survive on surfaces for more than eight hour — so it’s important to have the right products on hand. Soaps, detergents and water can do a good job cleaning soiled surfaces, but disinfectant is necessary if you really want to prevent cross-contamination.

Start color-coding. Using a color-coding system for cleaning equipment, tools and information can help all custodial workers (even those with language barriers) identify when and how to use your facilities specialized products and equipment to prevent cross-contamination.

Focus on common touch points and hotspots. Door handles, faucets, keyboards and other high traffic areas around your facility. These areas are the most likely to harbor and spread harmful bacteria and germs.

Clean and disinfect regularly. Daily and weekly cleaning schedules are the best way to prevent the spread of harmful infections.

Encourage hand washing through signage. Regular hand washing is still the most effective way to prevent cross-contamination. Your facility should already have a hand washing protocol in-place for new employees. Adding signage to restrooms will encourage your staff to follow-up on their training.

Make sure your employees receive proper training. Cleaning is more than brooms, mops and buckets. To do the job right, your employees need specialized training and education. An educated staff that has access to necessary products and equipment is the best way to minimize the risk of infection at your facility.

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How many germs are lurking around your office?

germ-hotspotsWhen it comes to spring cleaning, we always say better late than never. A thorough cleaning not only freshens up your office space, it reduces the risk of germ-related infections for your employees.

According to a research study conducted at the University of Arizona — that tested hundreds of surfaces to calculate average total bacteria counts, per square inch — you should keep an eye (and throw in some extra cleanings) on the following germ hotspots:

  • Dish sponges: Easily the dirtiest object in your office (and home), the average dish sponge contains a whopping 775,460,560 germs per square inch. Most sponges are more likely to contribute to the mess than actually clean it up. And it’s pretty difficult to clean a soiled sponge, so we suggest just tossing it out weekly, or after you use it to wipe down surfaces contaminated by raw meats or vegetables.
  • Kitchen faucet handles: The average kitchen faucet has more bacteria (approximately 228,854 per square inch) than the average toilet flush. Keep germs at bay with regular cleanings. Sanitary wipes are one of the easiest and most effective ways to eliminate harmful germs.
  • Keyboards/Mouses: Most custodial staff will steer clear of personal spaces, so it’s up to the office staff to keep their workstation clean and tidy. Sanitizing wipes are the best way to wipe down keyboards and mouses (which contain more than 61,500 germs per square inch). Weekly cleanings should be performed — or daily if you’re feeling under the weather.
  • Cellphones: How many seconds, minutes, hours a day to you spend touching and talking on your cellphone? A lot. As a result, most cellphones are pretty dirty — averaging about 11,000 germs per square inch. To prevent germs from spreading to your face and mouth, you should sanitize it daily.
  • Doorknobs: Most of us have a fear of touching doorknobs and handles — and for good reason — but in actuality, they aren’t as dirty as you might think (probably because we’re all avoiding them). The average doorknob contains about 8,643 germs per square inch, which means it still needs a good cleaning at least once a week.

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4 Things You Should Know About Restroom Cleaning

restroom-cleaningHow a business maintains its restroom is a direct reflection of its overall dedication to the customer experience. Nobody likes a dirty restroom. And a company that doesn’t maintain a clean restroom is likely to suffer in the long run.

If your cleaning routine needs a quality upgrade, we suggest starting with the basics. Below we’ve outlined four things you need to know about restroom cleaning:

1) Know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. It’s a common misconception that cleaning and disinfecting are the same thing. In actuality, they serve two very different purposes. Cleaning removes unsightly soil, dirt and debris. Disinfecting eliminates viruses, bacteria and germs.

2) Identify your restroom touch points. Before cleaning a restroom, you need to identify all “touch points.” Touch points account for surfaces that people touch frequently. To prevent the spread of infection, they should be cleaned and disinfected on a daily basis. Common restroom touch points include:

  • Door knobs and handles — including those used to get in and out of restroom stalls
  • Balance rails
  • Toilet seats
  • Toilet flushers
  • Faucets and knobs
  • Soap dispensers
  • Paper towel dispensers — including levers and knobs
  • Hand dryer buttons
  • Light switches

3) Always clean before you disinfect. Cleaning and disinfecting go hand-in-hand, but order is still incredibly important. A thorough cleaning with soap (or detergent) paves the way for a strong disinfectant.  It also reduces the spread of germs and infection prior to killing them with disinfectant.

4) Pay close attention to hazard warnings and directions on product labels. Most cleaning products require the use of gloves and/or eye protection. Common cleaning chemicals can easily cause irritation to the skin, nose and eyes if you aren’t properly prepared. You and your staff should read and understand all appropriate uses before diving into the cleaning process.

What’s the dirtiest room in your office building?

office-kitchenIf you think the public restroom is the dirtiest room in your office — you’re wrong.

According to the results of a new study, the office kitchen is probably a lot dirtier than the restroom. The study, which took 280 samples from 70 kitchen appliances in eight different offices, revealed that half of all surfaces in workplace kitchens are contaminated with high levels of coliforms — a bacteria present in fecal matter.

The swab results revealed that 75 percent of all kitchen surfaces contain more bacteria than the average feminine sanitary bin.

So which kitchen surfaces were the biggest offenders?

  • Chopping boards: A quarter of chopping boards tested were found to have four times the safe level of coliforms.
  • Fridge handles: A third of fridge handles were carrying high levels of coloiforms.
  • Microwaves: Thirty percent of shared microwaves were shown to be contaminated around the handles and buttons.

Initial Washroom Hygiene, who carried out the study, had this to say about the results: “Shared office kitchens can be very busy areas with a heavy footfall, making this space a potential hazard for cross-contamination when good hygiene practices and hand washing aren’t encouraged.

“As workers prepare their lunches on the kitchen surfaces, it’s vital to ensure these surfaces are sanitized on a regular basis and that, as a minimum, towel dispensers, soap, and hand or surface sanitizers are available to mitigate the risks.

Other Contaminated Surfaces in Your Office

Shared kitchens aren’t the only offenders. Researchers at the University of Arizona have also confirmed that office telephones, desktops, table tops, door handles and photocopiers are hotspots for harmful bacteria.

Fortunately simple interventions like regular hand washing with foaming hand soap and water — can drastically reduce the risk of employees’ contracting harmful infections. Thorough cleanings with disinfectant are also necessary to eliminate dangerous pathogens that might be lurking around the office.

Hand Washing: Discerning Fact from Fiction

hand-washingMyth #1: You should only wash your hands with hot water.

Soap and warm water have long been said to prevent the spread of disease and infection — but is hot water really more effective than cold?

Surprisingly, the answer is no. A 2005 study (published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine), asked participants to wash their hands in temperatures ranging from 40 to 120 degrees. What researchers found was that water temperature didn’t really matter when it came to eliminating germs.

Temperature might not matter, but time certainly does. Another study at Northwestern University found that participants who washed their hands for just five seconds did nothing to eliminate bacteria on their hands. While people who washed their hands for 30 seconds killed nearly everything.

So what’s the moral of the story? Feel free to wash your hands at a comfortable temperature, just make to be as thorough as possible.

Myth #2: Hand sanitizers work just as well as soap and water.

Though hand sanitizer might seem like a quick and easy alternative to getting your hands wet, it’s not as effective. Numerous studies, including a recent one at the University of Maryland have shown that regular old hand washing is still the best way prevent the spread of disease and bacteria.

If you’re in a pinch, hand sanitizer is better than nothing — as long as it’s alcohol based (at least 60 percent) and you allow it to dry for at least 15 seconds.

Myth #3: Frequent hand washing promotes healthy skin.

When it comes to your skin, hand washing is a necessary evil. Yes it prevents the spread of disease and infection — but too much can wreak havoc on your skin. In fact, contact dermatitis (a red, itchy rash) can develop as a result of frequent hand washing.

If you want to keep your skin soft and supple, we suggest limiting hand washing (to a point). The main goal of hand washing is to remove or reduce the number of organisms on your hand normally, as well as those picked up from the environment.

To avoid over or under washing, the Mayo Clinic recommends these guidelines:

Always wash your hands before:

  • Preparing food or eating food
  • Treating wounds, administering medicine or caring for a sick or injured person
  • Inserting or removing contact lenses

Always wash your hands after:

  • Preparing food, especially raw meat or poultry
  • Using the toilet or changing a diaper
  • Touching an animal or animal toys/leashes or waste
  • Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • Treating wounds or caring for a sick or injured person
  • Handling garbage, household or garden chemicals or anything that could be contaminated.

Note: These guidelines should be more stringent if you work in the food or health care industry.

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World Hand Hygiene Day

hand washingHand washing is the easiest, most effective way to prevent the spread of infection and disease — especially in healthcare settings.

Despite this, millions of patients around the world still suffer with healthcare-associated infections (HAI), which can lead to debilitating physical and psychological problems, and sometimes death. And what’s more — over half of these infections could have been prevented if healthcare workers and caregivers had simply practiced proper hand hygiene.

According to the World Health Organization, “The most common infections are urinary tract and surgical site infections, pneumonia and infections of the bloodstream. Of every 100 hospitalized patients, at least 7 in developed and 10 in developing countries will acquire a health care-associated infection. Among critically ill and vulnerable patients in intensive care units, that figure rises to around 30 per 100.”

To put a global spotlight on this issue, the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are celebrating World Hand Hygiene Day to encourage better hand hygiene practices in healthcare settings.

So far, more than 15,700 health facilities in 168 countries have registered their commitment to good hand hygiene as a part of the WHO global campaign: “SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands.” The program has been up and running since 2009 and 12 new countries have joined in the past year.

When should healthcare workers wash their hands?

The WHO’s Clean Care is Safer Care Program states that when working with patients, hand hygiene should be performed using an alcohol-based rub or by hand washing with foaming hand soap and water. There are a number of situations when healthcare workers should be washing:

  • Before touching a patient
  • Before clean and aseptic procedures (e.g., inserting devices such as catheters)
  • After contact with body fluids
  • After touching a patient
  • After touching patient surroundings

As we mark Hand Hygiene Day, it’s important for all of us to spread the message of hand hygiene at home, at work and in healthcare facilities.

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75% of Americans Use Cellphone on Toilet

toiletWe can probably guess where some of you are reading this right now.

The results of a new survey have revealed that nearly three-quarters of Americans are guilty of pulling out their cellphone while sitting on the toilet. That figure jumps to 91 percent for those born between 1977 and 1993.

Conducted by the marketing agency 11mark, the survey (called “IT in the Toilet”) asked 1,000 Americans about their bathroom habits.

Of those polled, 25 percent said they wouldn’t even go to the bathroom without their mobile device. And while 63 percent admitted to answering calls, 41 percent have talked to someone else (at least knowingly) who was also on the toilet.

Interestingly enough, professionals also admitted to using their phone on the toilet while working. Twenty percent of men have even joined a conference call from the toilet (and 13 percent of women).

So which mobile users are the worst offenders?

Android users — by far. A whopping 87 percent admitted to talking, texting and surfing the web while in the restroom. BlackBerry users were the most likely to answer (75%) or make a call (48%) while in the loo, and iPhone users were the most likely to use an app (57%) or engage in social media (52%).

Keeping Public Restrooms Clean Is More Important Than Ever

America’s unhealthy devotion to constant communication means restroom cleanliness is more important than ever. Though it’s unlikely that cleaning professionals will be able to convince restroom users to wash their hands (unless they’re willing to put up signs) — they can do their best to make sure restroom surfaces are clean and sanitary.

Cross contamination, in particular, is one biggest concerns with restroom cellphone use. Touch-free hand washing (i.e., foam hand soap dispensers and automatic hand dryers), along with periodic sanitizing is the best way to keep your restrooms safe and clean for users and their phones.

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Nominations Open for “America’s Best Restroom Contest”

restroomIt’s that time of year again — America’s annual battle of the bowls!

Soon porcelain thrones across the country will be competing for a winning spot in “America’s Best Restroom Contest.”

Projecting a Clean Image

How a business maintains its restroom reflects its dedication to the customer experience.

Despite this, finding a restroom that’s both clean and stylish is a true rarity. When asked, most people would probably describe their trip to the public restroom as fairly unremarkable — or worse — incredibly unpleasant.

Exceptional experiences don’t happen often, but when they do — they’re a real treat. And to honor these customer-oriented experiences, work apparel company Cintas is once again sponsoring it’s annual competition.

The competition began 12 years ago and aims to raise awareness of the importance of restroom hygiene and to salute businesses that strive for excellence in both restroom function and design.

Nominate a Restroom

Last year Buc-ee’s, a convenience store in New Braunfels, TX won the honor, but this year’s winning spot is still up for grabs.

Do you own your own establishment? Or have you recently patronized a particularly memorable facility? You can nominate your favorite restroom online at www.bestrestroom.com.

The contest is open to any non-residential public restroom in the U.S. Once submitted, entries will be judged on several key points:

  • Cleanliness
  • Visual appeal
  • Innovation
  • Functionality
  • Design

Cintas will then round up a list of the “top 10 places to go—when you’ve got to go.” The ten finalists will be announced in August, at which time public online voting will ensue. The winner will be announced this fall, securing a permanent place in the contest hall of fame.

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The Debate Continues: Antibacterial vs. Regular Soap

antibacterial soapWith the latest superbug scare sweeping the nation, the Centers for Disease Control is pushing for more stringent hand washing policies, especially in healthcare settings.

“The hands of healthcare workers are the way this spreads,” Dr. Tara Palmore, deputy hospital epidemiologist at the National Institutes of Health, said in a recent statement.

And from previous studies, it’s clear that Americans don’t care about hand washing as much as they should. While this is especially hazardous in healthcare settings, it’s also become a problem for regular old consumers.

Antibacterial Liquid Hand Soap Sales on the Rise

According to research firm Mintel, the U.S. market for shower, bath and hand soap (not including hand sanitizers, face wash and industrial cleansers) is expected to surpass $4.6 billion in sales this year, up 9 percent 2008.

With so many options available, it can be hard for anyone to determine which soaps are the safest and most effective. And a lot of controversy still surrounds the antibacterial debate (and the possible hazards associated with triclosan).

Many proponents feel there isn’t enough evidence to support antibacterial products, while the American Cleaning Institute, on the other hand, maintains that antibacterial hand soaps eliminate germs better than cleansers without triclosan — especially in healthcare settings.

“They are part of common-sense hygiene routines in homes, office and healthcare settings every single day. Of all places, there’s probably the greatest need for antibacterial soap in healthcare settings,” says Brian Sansoni, a spokesman for the American Cleaning Institute.

Despite ongoing controversy, antibacterial liquid hand soap sales are up by more than 25 percent since 2008.

The CDC’s Recommendations

The CDC is currently conducting research on antibacterial chemicals such as triclosan. And as of right now, they do not recommend antimicrobacterial soap over any other kind of soap because there’s no actual proof it’s more effective.

What they do recommend however, is to purchase liquid hand soap instead of soap bars because there is less exposure to bacteria. To get the most out of your hand washing routine, the CDC also recommends washing your hands with warm water for 15 seconds or longer.

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