Locker rooms in swimming pools, gyms, high schools, colleges, corporate work out facilities and fitness centers need to be cleaned proactively, properly and professionally following a custom designed frequency schedule. Many of these institutions are constantly fighting budget battles. Where is the best place to allocate financial resources? You have to protect the users of these facilities by instituting efficient and effective cleaning practices.
What is cleaning? It is the collection, control and removal of unwanted pollutants from environments where they do not belong. Given the right conditions unwanted pollutants can create micro-environments in a very short amount of time. Some of these can be seen as minor blemishes in appearance while others stake their claim silently, invisibly with the ability to transfer to other uncontaminated areas.
Foul odors are dead giveaways for polluted unsanitary surfaces. These contaminated musty smelling areas can be located in many different places throughout an athletic facility. Odors can be just as bad on your hockey glove, in your soccer cleat or on your moisture wicking under garments as in a poorly maintained bathroom shower drain.
Many believe that staph infections only come from direct contact. A pimple is a staph infection. MRSA is a more severe type of staph infection. The issue is when staph pierces your skin it can affect your immune system. Some staph infections are transferred from wound to wound but staph infections can also come from poorly maintained athletic clothing, synthetic fields, playgrounds or sports equipment.
If a facility looks bad and smells bad, it probably is bad! Remember bacteria thrive in moist, steamy, stagnant dark areas like locker rooms, hampers and closets. If you have any doubt about the cleanliness take the following steps:
- Use your own shaving products and towels.
- Have your own personal cleaner to disinfect hard surfaces in question (lockers & Benches).
- Clean and protect shared mats & sports equipment.
- Wash hands frequently and shower after training
- Wear flip flops to shower facility
- Keep cuts bandaged up and treat with antibiotic ointment.
- Wash your uniforms, towels and work out clothes frequently with products that stop odors typically associated with bacteria and mildew
- If you get some kind of rash have a doctor look at it ASAP. In many MRSA cases time is of essence for treatment.
- Be proactive when you can. Use premium cleaning products like BactiBarrier® to disinfect and protect hard/soft surfaces and equipment. OdorBalance® is a unique line of products that clean and protects your gear and apparel from odors and its sources.
There is no substitute for proper cleaning and maintenance. Cleaning products can vary in performance so proper specification of them on focus areas can make a huge difference how clean something really is and how long it will stay that way. Many think that one product, cleaning system or cleaning frequency will work on everything. This is far from the truth. Premium cleaning products along with conscientious facility service providers and a properly designed cleaning schedule are what make the difference.
Immediately after state of the art equipment has been installed or distributed a cleaning maintenance program should be instituted. Some products have some type of antimicrobial protection built in, others have none. A growing business is the after market application of products that address odor and its causes. After market treatment of odor protectors and antimicrobials makes sense when you look at the replacement costs of expensive sports wear, gear, facilities and fitness equipment.
Lets take a look at 3 different areas in a typical mid-to-large sized fitness gym. The locker room/bathroom, the fitness equipment/gym & yoga stretching mats and then a laundry room.
- Locker rooms can be the nerve center for any sports team. This is where many of the pep talks, pre-game planning, gear storage, bathing and decontamination occur. Bathroom stalls, shower rooms, steam baths, whirl pools and training rooms all should have premium cleaning programs instituted to protect the fixtures but much more importantly the users.
Inhibiting the multiplication of microbial growth contamination is usually accomplished by spraying, mopping or wiping on a disinfectant. Within 10 minutes (if the cleaner is allowed to dwell for 10 minutes) 99.9 % of all of the pollutants should be inactivated or removed. Here is where the problem lies.
If another contaminate is introduced a day later there is little or no protection. BactiBarrier cleaning system has a second step to their cleaning process. This step adds a long-term bonded protector that keeps on working for days, even months after application.
- Fitness equipment and mats have been the focus of contamination in a gym for years. Immediately after use the standard code of good gym ethics is to wipe down what you used. Have you ever watched someone do that? Not very comforting, right? If I am the next person on that stretching mat I may be concerned. Now if the equipment or mat had been protected with BactiBarrier, you probably would feel more at ease.
- The laundry room in most fitness facilities is where all of the towels and uniforms get cleaned. You know what a towel or high performance moisture wicking shirt smells like after a standard wash. Many times a few minutes into the next work out it smells again.
- It is important to use a premium laundry detergent or equipment gear and footwear cleaner (for gloves and body protective padding). Remember the objective is to remove the causes of odor like soil, sweat and bacteria. OdorBalance® has built a line of premium textile and gear cleaning products specifically designed to remove odors and staining typically associated with bacteria and mildew. Then as your clothing or gear dries an eco-friendly bonded protector built in to the cleaner protects from future odor for up to 25 washings. Of course intensity of use may require more frequent use but the point is you are being proactive.
A proactive approach always makes sense when there is liability associated cleaning. Take time to understand who your client is and what they are looking for. In the end your facility will be rewarded for the professional approach you take in protecting the environment and its occupants.