Numerous factors must be taken into account during the planning phase with regard to the selection and subsequent cleaning and care of floor coverings in hospitals:
• In areas where patients are treated, floors should be unstructured, washable and polishable as well as resistant to disinfectants.
• Structured flooring or coverings with unsealed joints are more difficult to keep clean and should therefore be avoided as far as possible.
• The use of textile floor coverings in clinical areas should be avoided as far as possible. These are extremely difficult to clean and almost impossible to disinfect.
This is why PVC and vinyl flooring as well as linoleum are frequently used. The first-mentioned materials are synthetic elastic floor coverings that are extremely durable as well as water, alkaline and acid resistant. However, linoleum, a natural product, is also often used. This type of floor covering is therefore only alkaline resistant to a limited extent. This must be taken into account for deep cleaning in particular.
At first glance, synthetic floor coverings and linoleum look almost identical in terms of colour and structure. The so-called “paperclip test” is therefore recommended prior to deep cleaning (stripping). In this way, damage can be prevented.
Deep cleaning: cleaning in sections is recommended
Prior to deep cleaning an elastic floor covering, remove any loose dirt with a brush or vacuum cleaner. The stripping agent can be applied either with a low-speed single disc machine at 180rpm using circular motions with green pads or a compact scrubber drier with roller scrubber head and green roller pads in a straight line with minimal overlap. Dosage is between 10 and 25%. It is important to ensure that the cleaning agent does not dry during the process. Cleaning in sections is therefore recommended: Allow the stripping agent to work for about 10 minutes and continue to treat the same section repeatedly. Apply extra cleaning agent as necessary. It is recommended to use a hand pad for edges that cannot be reached by the machine.
Once the coating has completely dissolved, the dirty water must be removed one section at a time using a wet or dry vacuum cleaner or scrubber drier. The floor covering must subsequently be rinsed with clean water. This takes place by going over each area again with a roller brush machine, applying clean water using the one step method.
How does this test work? Heat the tip of a straightened metal paperclip in the flame of a cigarette lighter for about five seconds. Firmly press the heated metal tip into an inconspicuous area of the floor covering for about 3 seconds. Subsequently pull the paperclip slowly out of the floor covering. The results differ: with PVC or vinyl, a small hole is visible that extends almost to the base of the floor covering. The hole has a bulging edge formed from the melted synthetic material. This is very hard and can be felt when touched. When the metal tip is pulled out of the covering, a small thread is formed. There is no visible burn mark.
If the floor covering is linoleum, the hole is scorched or charred when carrying out the same test. A strong smell of linoleum is also noticeable. And: the puncture site remains smooth.