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The new cleaning regime

Do we now need to see what is usually referred to as ‘deep cleaning’ as simply part of enhanced sanitisation protocols rather than a date on the calendar?

We’ve talked a lot in recent issues about how the often ‘invisible’ side of housekeeping has taken centre stage, but traditional deep cleaning activities are usually carried out away from guests’ eyes. Now elements of this cleaning practice are creeping more into view, making regular appearances in the theatre of cleaning. The other thing guests are watching is evidence on hotel websites of reassuring cleaning initiatives.

Let’s take a look at how we can strike a balance in all this, starting with regular cleaning of curtains, carpets and soft furnishings. Donau now have five decades of service to London’s top-quality hotels, dealing with not only the dirt and grime created by a regular flow of guests in and out of the building, but also allergens which attach themselves to carpeting and upholstery.

During the 2020 lockdown Donau operatives used their specialist skills in hotels

Donau’s steam cleaning process on soft fabrics not only removes stains which quickly became visible to guests but helps to maximise the ‘looks new’ lifespan of fabrics and carpeting where dust and dirt could become ground in, causing fibres and threads to break up and weaken.

Curtains are often made with delicate materials and need careful handling and often a drycleaning process is required to protect against damage. Donau offer a full take down, dryclean and re-hang service, usually with very quick turn-around times. They are also experts in refreshing guestroom mattresses, dealing with even deep stains and odours.

The UK lockdown which began in March last year saw many clients use the closures to call in Donau’s experts during what was a useful learning curve for all involved. For instance, the Donau staff went through refresher training on use of cleaning materials, disposable cover suits, masks and gloves before contracts started.

Then it was on to the likes of West End hotels to clean carpets and upholstery in public areas as well as disinfecting fogging in some rooms, while adhering to each premises’ own health and safety protocols. One prestigious hotel requested that Donau thermally disinfect duvets, pillows, blankets and bedspreads and this was all done off-site with potential cross-contamination minimised.

Technological advances in and the versatility of modern steam cleaning equipment have made it an established part of daily cleaning, says Mike Osiadacz, sales director for Matrix Cleaning Systems: “Superheated (at temperatures up to 180°C) dry steam not only dissolves grease and grime, it sanitises surfaces – in contrast with mopping, which tends to spread bacteria and leave the floor wet, with the risk of slips and falls.”

It’s not just floors: Matrix Cleaning Systems’ machines can handle a host of tasks

“At these temperatures, the residual moisture left after steam cleaning rapidly evaporates. The versatility factor looms large in importance in hotels, spas and resorts. Steam cleaners can tackle both indoor and outdoor applications, cleaning small cracks and driving dirt from crevices that other machines cannot reach. That includes cleaning chores such as tiling grout in bathrooms or kitchens.”

Then there is the advantage of being able to clean many soft materials in situ, as well as mattresses and carpets and the use of dry steam cleaning to leave glass and mirrors streak-free. Bathtub bottoms and shower floors are well suited to steam cleaning, Osiadacz points out, ensuring bacteria and other micro-organisms are destroyed, even in the pores of a contaminated surface. Any minimal residue left behind can be removed by the simultaneous use of microfibre or vacuuming.

It’s not all about looks, but we can say that Kärcher equipment, with its classic anthracite colouring and stylish design, is aesthetically pleasing. Final results top the list of course, but also impressive is the low operating noise levels as it ‘whispers’ through tasks.

As Colin Stokes of Kärcher says: “Thanks to soundproofed motors and optimised flow channels, the eco-efficiency range of tub vacs has been reduced to a whisper-quiet 56 dB(A). This allows the machine to be used in noise-sensitive areas or during normal business hours.”

When it comes to state-of-art design he highlights the Karcher microfibre roller accessory as unbeatable on fine stoneware tiles, achieving exceptional results on all smooth or lightly textured floors. Kärcher’s extensive range of machines and cleaning agents with the eco!efficiency rating offers reduced energy consumption, high-performance internal-combustion engines, lower cleaning agent consumption and highly concentrated cleaning agents, to reduce packaging.

Quiet but effective: Kärcher equipment ‘whispers’ through its tasks

They recommend a carefully planned and co-ordinated PDIR (Preventative, Daily, Interim and Restorative) care cycle to reduce staff and material costs and save time. Preventative cleaning begins outside as hotel foot traffic is significant, so a clean outside means a cleaner inside. Outdoor sweepers or vacuum sweepers and high-pressure cleaners are ideal, while regularly changed indoor and outdoor mats will collect incoming dirt and prevent it spreading.

Daily maintenance cleaning prevents lasting damage, particularly when it comes to floors. “Any area larger than 200m² would benefit from a scrubber dryer as it’s far more effective than cleaning by hand,” says Stokes. “A disc brush or roller brush should be used depending on floor surface, which is especially important in spa and fitness areas to ensure a slip-resistant floor.” Intermediate cleaning ensures ongoing high standards, and a scrubber dryer can be used to implement this with minimum effort. Roller technology is much more efficient than disc technology due to high contact pressure and high rotational speed.

Deep cleaning is essential to restore floors as closely as possible to their original condition. Carpets should be washed using a spray extraction machine and cleaning agent, and hard floors using the two-step method and a scrubber dryer with cleaning solution.

The power of ozone to destroy viruses is now well established and at the forefront of developing the concept of using it to sanitise rooms and larger areas since 2005 is Ozone Clean.

Based in North London, the company has become an international award winner, the top UK manufacturer and supplier of ozone machines, and now serves over 300 clients, with eight million rooms per year being treated with their equipment. With operating costs starting from 40p per day, Ozone Clean believe users should expect a return on their investment within 12 months. While ozone occurs naturally in the air, its use for infection control requires excluding all persons from a room that is being cleansed with ozone. All Ozone Clean units are programmed to produce a rapid concentration of ozone for a specified time after which it rapidly and completely destroys any residual ozone, converting it back to the oxygen we all normally breathe.

Following this programmed cycle, the generator can easily be moved to another room where cleansing might be needed. The efficacy of ozone depends on easily regulated factors, such as the quantity used, and humidity. The ozone generating equipment can be managed by an adult with little more than around 30 minutes instruction and training on average.

A recent project at Japan’s Nara Medical University led to them announcing the world’s first result of research which confirmed the inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 (Novel coronavirus) was achievable by exposure to ozone gas.

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