Cleaning is Still the Most Important

A Flooralytics Discussion on Cleaning & Covid-19

By: Greg Hadfield, CEO of Flooralytics Testing Lab

While Wyzenbeek abrasion testing is still all the rage as it relates to wear and tear – most facilities struggle more with cleaning issues, rather than upholstery fabric that has worn out.  With today’s demands during the Covid-19 virus outbreak, cleaning and disinfecting has never been more important.  

In general, you can blame it on untrained professionals or the executive housekeeper at your local hotel – where many have focused on cleaning floors and changing beds, the public upholstery surfaces suffer.  Most cleaning professionals don’t really understand how to clean soft surfaces.  The ACT (Association of Contract Textiles) group has really taken this task head-on and have determined some really important facts to consider.  A few years ago, they undertook a cleaning survey that looked at the complex range of fabrics, coated materials, finishes and environments. The information gathered is notable and worthy of discussion.  Understanding textile cleaning and what disinfectants are safe and effective are of the most importance today with Covid-19.  Here are the findings from ACT:

1. The vast majority of textile manufacturers do provide some level of cleaning recommendation for their end-users, and they typically communicate this information via the specifier. Most members incorporate the cleaning symbols W, W-S, S and X into their recommendations. 

2. End users rely on a number of resources, including mills and finish suppliers, to develop cleaning recommendations. Some use 3rd party testing to evaluate stain removal and validate claims. 

3. The two biggest challenges in the field are lack of regular cleaning or maintenance and improper cleaning. Members pointed out that they have little control over whether or not cleaning is conducted by end-users, or how it is conducted. Improper cleaning leads to damage and/or premature wear—resulting in claims that are difficult to resolve. 

4. The survey clearly indicated that end-users expect detailed cleaning recommendations, stain removal instructions and guidance on what cleaning products and methods to use, particularly in healthcare. 

5. In the healthcare environment, environmental service personnel are challenged by intensifying cleaning requirements that include harsh chemistries such as bleach, ammonia, and other acids to accommodate CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommendations. 

6. A new significant trend is customer interest in water-based and/or green cleaners due to concern about indoor air quality and toxicity. 

7. Effective stain removal continues to be a concern—especially food, beverage and ink stains. 

8. The survey also indicates that reverse crocking has become a significant issue. Recent trend of dark migrating dyes from clothing (mostly jeans) are permanently staining upholstery.  Additionally, over-dyed goods at mills that end up in finishing plants where high temperatures dry fabrics on a tenter frame tend to open up dye sites to allow crocking to lighter colored clothing as well.

Our Thoughts:  We agree with the 3rd party testing idea.  We believe that it may be best to have a testing facility completely test a fabric for staining & cleaning issues BEFORE making it a brand standard!

U.S. Patent Pub No. 2007/0254544   Method for Disinfecting A Non-Porous Textile Fabric

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