Maintenance and cleaning are a focus in August as schools get ready for students. One school reached out to “Ask Nancy” for advice on cleaning of the weight room and athletic equipment.
Is there a policy schools should establish on cleaning the exercise/weight room equipment?
Athletic areas and locker-rooms need special attention. Surfaces need to be cleaned and then disinfected after each use. Do not use products that “fog” – we are not trying to disinfect the air – and such products don’t work. Neither should schools use ozone or UV for disinfecting. Those are specialty products that are not safe in schools. Some marketers try and convince schools that they will save time – you will not. Surfaces still need to be cleaned of organic matter and a safe disinfectant applied with the required wet/dwell time on the label.
I recommend that schools move to safer disinfectants that have the EPA Design for the Environment designation. There will be a session this fall at the School Environmental Health and Safety Workshops on this!
For other products I recommend that schools source 3rd-party certified green chemicals – Green Seal, EPA Safer Choice, or ECOLOGO. For hand soap, choose fragrance and dye free. California’s Cleaning for Asthma-Safer Schools, CA Department of Public Health has excellent guidance for schools and suggested policies. Also the Cleaning for Healthier Schools – Infection Control Handbook 2010,
Here is an efficient checklist:
- All surfaces need to be intact and cleanable – no cracked/ripped plastic.
- No ozone or UV – these are very dangerous and do not remove organic material that hides microorganisms.
- Daily clean and then disinfect all surfaces that come in contact with skin – including wrestling mats wall padding.
- Use separate mop heads/buckets (microfiber preferred) for each activity area, locker room, and restrooms. Wash and dry them after each use.
- Towels/linens laundered on premises are washed at a minimum of 160oF and dried thoroughly in a hot dryer.
- Students should not share towels or personal items like razors. They need to take home and wash their athletic clothes regularly.
Are there reasons to replace older weight room equipment?
It is very important that mats and athletic equipment be intact and cleanable – no cracked/ripped surfaces. Tape can hide microorganisms so it should not be part of wrestling mats/wall padding.