With flu season beginning, thoughts of being more diligent in sickness prevention begin to rise. We use antibacterial wipes, we wash our hands more frequently, we keep that bottle of sanitizer close at hand, we carry a mop and bleach for the places we must walk .... wait, what?
Of course we all don’t carry our own mop and bucket to pave our way. Maybe that’s because we don’t realize how dirty those surfaces can be. Floors can be a safe haven for germs, deadly germs.
While there are many forms of bacteria, we’ll put a spotlight on two here.
In a study by researchers from the University of Houston, 40 percent of samples from individuals’ home doorsteps were contaminated with C. difficile bacteria, and so were 39 percent of shoe soles.
C.diff, as it’s more commonly known, isn’t easy to treat, with several strains being resistant to antibiotics. An infection can leave you with watery diarrhea, even progressing to dangerous colon inflammation, in some cases.
While this type of infection is more common in a hospital setting, it can happen anywhere.
The infection can be transmitted from shoes to floors. Floors we share in public settings. If the rate of contamination of a household doorstep was 40 percent, I’d hate to think what a business doorstep or the floors inside might contain.
And once C.diff spores land on a surface, they can live for months.
Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona, joined forces with shoemaker Rockport to see what kinds of microorganisms are transported by footwear. A group of ten people were given a brand new pair of shoes. They wore those for two weeks before having them tested for bacteria.
At the end of the two-week test, more than 420,000 units of bacteria were found on the outside of the test shoes. Deadly E. coli made up 27% of that bacteria.
Bacteria has been shown to live longer on our shoes than in other places. We are constantly picking up new debris as we walk and that feeds the growth of more bacteria.
While germs will be found on our shoes and we can’t do much about that, we can be vigilant in cleaning the floors with which all those shoes and all that bacteria comes in contact.
The type of floors you are cleaning will have an impact on your treatment of them. Floors in a drier environments such as airport security areas and the average office area don’t contain as many germs as wetter environments or carpeted areas (gym floors, showers, etc.), but they do still offer a home to germs.
Regular cleaning and sanitizing of the floors with the proper chemicals will go a long way toward keeping your customers, your employees, and you healthy.
And after you’ve cleaned floors, you can keep from tracking germs further by regular washing of your shoes or wiping them with disinfectant.