Winter Is Coming. Are Your School’s Floors Protected?

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Winter is just around the corner (for some places, like Montana, it’s already here), and if the Old Farmer’s Almanac’s predictions are correct, the 2019-2020 season is going to be a doozy!

They’re predicting the country will see at least seven snowstorms this winter, with “a parade of snowstorms” hitting the northern states, “deep powder” across much of the west, and “snowy, icy, icky” in parts of the midwest. Great for skiers (well, not the “icy, icky” bit), but not so great for school custodians, who will struggle to keep school entryways clean and prevent salt and ice melt from damaging indoor flooring.

Source: The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Your floors are a big investment, and the better care you take of them, the longer they’ll last. Here are some tips for protecting your school floors from damage caused by salt, chemicals, and sand.

1. Use multiple mats in the entryway

Rather than just one entrance mat, place multiple mats near the doors. In the image below, the mats closest to the door will catch most of the snow, salt, and sand, while the mats will dry students’ shoes before they reach the hallway. 

Renting or buying mats can be expensive, but it’s still cheaper than restoring or replacing hard floors or carpets.

2. Put up signs reminding students, staff, and visitors to wipe their feet

The best way to stop salt, sand, and ice melt from damaging your floor is to prevent them from reaching the floor in the first place. Encourage everyone who enters your facility to wipe their feet on the mats.

3. Change your entrance mats frequently

If your mats are soaking wet or become loaded with salt or sand, they won’t do their job. Change them as frequently as necessary, especially on a snowy day.

4. Don’t vacuum wet mats

Water will ruin your vacuum. Use a carpet extractor or wet-dry vacuum instead.

5. Vacuum your carpet daily

Sand, salt, and ice melt can damage your carpet quickly, especially sand, which is abrasive. A high-quality commercial-grade upright or backpack vacuum will last several years, even when collecting abrasive materials.

6. Use a carpet extractor for periodic deep cleaning

Even with regular vacuuming, carpets in high-traffic areas need periodic deep cleaning. A carpet extractor performs this job quickly and efficiently, while also removing the chemicals that can become bonded to carpet fiber. Look for a commercial-grade machine with a low-moisture extraction feature. If you need to perform the extraction when students, staff, or visitors are in the building, select a carpet extractor that operates silently. Or, for maximum efficiency, use an all-in-one carpet care system that can perform both daily and restorative cleaning.

7. Add a neutralizer to your floor scrubber’s clean water tank

Harsh chemicals can leave a white, chalky residue on your hard floors. Adding a pH neutralizer to the clean water tank of your walk-behind or ride-on floor scrubber will get rid of this residue. Your jan/san distributor can recommend a good neutralizer for your machine.

8. Use air movers to dry entrance mats and floors

Schools are busy places! If your floors don’t have time to dry on their own before the next wave of traffic, use an air mover. These are particularly effective at entryways for drying entrance mats.

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