Infection Control Expert Asks: Your Home Looks Clean, But Is It?

CHICAGO -- There's more to cleaning than meets the eye -- improperly cleaned hard surface floors could make you sick. For example, cleaning hard surface floors with a mop and bucket or a sweeper with pads might not be cleaning at all.

"If people could see what's on surfaces after they think they've really cleaned, they would be surprised," says Terri Rearick, RN, manager of infection prevention and control at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. "The mop head is a very porous material. It's often stored in dark, moist places and continues to grow and harbor bacteria. And it's reused repeatedly. So the mop head itself can become a method of moving bacteria and viruses around the household," says Rearick.

To help solve the problem, the floor care experts at Hoover developed the FloorMATE hard floor cleaner. It forces clean water and cleaning solution through the rotating brushes every time, so the floor always can be cleaned with clean water and solution. Dirty water is vacuumed up into a separate tank.

"The major health benefit I perceive, as a parent and healthcare professional," says Rearick, "(is) a product that can clean, remove soil and have a separation of clean and soiled water; that would mean a reduction of the infections in your household members."

Children are more affected by dirty floors covered by toxins dragged in from outside. "The dirtier the floor, the more children are going to ingest whatever is on that floor, making it more likely that they are going to develop infections," says Rearick.

With warmer weather, more dirt is tracked inside. Experts agree, to help keep a healthier home environment, proper floor cleaning is crucial.

"Disposable cleaning pads smear dirt around instead of picking it up," says Rearick. "There is interaction with hands to change the pad after each use. Unless you wear gloves, your hands come in contact with microbes you picked up from the surface," says Rearick. "If you touch your mucus membranes, especially your eyes, nose and mouth without washing your hands, the chance of picking up an illness from this process is great."

Specially-formulated Lysol and Old English brand cleaning solutions were created for use with the FloorMATE hard-floor cleaner.

"Any time you can separate clean and dirty water and minimize the transfer of germs from one space to another, you are really cleaning properly and preventing the spread of infections," concludes Rearick.

Health experts agree that when it comes to hard surface floors, knowing you have removed dirt rather than just pushing it around will not only give you peace of mind but could help contribute to a healthier home environment.

Source: Hoover