Peter Sheldon brings more than 17 years of experience in the building services contracting industry to his position as vice president of operations of Coverall Health-Based Cleaning System. Sheldon works closely with the Coverall Health-Based Cleaning System’s sales force to spearhead initiatives that further the company’s strategic objectives and help the company develop the most efficient cleaning processes available. In recent years, Sheldon has been instrumental in developing Coverall Health-Based Cleaning System’s alliances with Procter & Gamble, Minuteman and Kaivac Cleaning Systems. Sheldon also was a key contributor to the company’s expansion into the health care market and developed many of the processes that make the company’s dedicated health care cleaning system unique to Coverall Health-Based Cleaning System. For more information on Coverall Health-Based Cleaning System, visit www.coverall.com.

People go to the gym to work out, look good and be healthy. But could all that healthy living be making members sick? We all know that gyms can become breeding grounds for germs. With one person after another sweating on the weight machines, the treadmill, the bikes and the mats, it makes keeping the spread of disease and infection under control a daunting task. New super germs like treatment-resistant staph infections have caused illnesses—and even fatalities—in school locker rooms across the country, and it is only a matter of time before we hear stories about local gyms having the same troubles.

So, what can your facility do to reduce the risk of spreading these dangerous diseases? In the past few years, several large commercial cleaning contractors have brought practices typically used in the health care environment, such as cleaning for infection control and cross-contamination elimination, to mainstream facilities across multiple markets. By conducting extensive research and developing strict cleaning guidelines and procedures, these companies are revolutionizing the commercial cleaning industry, including cleaning in health clubs.

Health-based cleaning programs utilize state-of-the-art cleaning technology that is far from the traditional methods of dirty mops and rags. With traditional cleaning tools like string mops and cotton cloths, gym equipment, locker rooms and bathrooms may look clean but may not actually be clean. When using the spray-and-wipe method—which is utilized by many gyms—some germs may be killed, but they are never fully removed and are simply spread around from area to area, turning them into a rich food source for new organisms. Health-based or hygienic cleaning focuses on cleaning at the unseen microbial level to actually kill, contain and remove germs and pathogens and to keep gym-goers safe and healthy.

Implementing a health-based cleaning program may seem complicated and might mean upgrading your cleaning services to a larger, more technologically advanced cleaning contractor. But that doesn’t always mean those services will be more expensive. Health-based cleaning technology actually increases production rates, allowing the service provider to deliver more value for your money.

The central components to any effective health-based cleaning program should include:

  • Hospital-grade viruscide/germicide disinfectants to kill harmful pathogenic organisms that lurk in the unseen world.
  • Color-coding methodology in all cleaning tools to avoid cross contamination. Often, a gym’s cleaning crew will use the same cloth to wipe down the bathroom as they do to wipe down your rowing machine, spreading the germs from the bathroom to the gym equipment.
  • Microfiber technology in all cleaning cloths and mopping programs to increase soil and matter containment and removal. Microfiber is 99 percent more effective at soil and matter retention than traditional cleaning tools.
  • Flat mopping technology to increase efficiency, improve soil removal and further eliminate cross-contamination. Flat mops are lightweight and easy. The super-absorbent fabric allows the user to trap dead germs and contain them in their place of origin.

A gym owner or manager wishing to evaluate whether their cleaning contractor is cleaning for health in their facility should look for the following elements in a facility’s cleaning program:

  • Each cleaning process should be designed for and focus on soil/matter containment and removal.
  • A neutral odor should exist throughout the facility after service, especially in the restrooms. There should be no foul odors indicating bacterial presence or heavy perfumes attempting to cover it up.
  • Proper and effective cleaning chemistry should be used, which includes hospital-grade disinfectants on all high-touch points.
  • Microfiber technology is in use to increase soil retention with an active color-coding system to reduce/eliminate cross contamination.
  • High efficiency, multi-filtration vacuums are in use, contributing to improved indoor air quality.
  • Hard-surface flooring is cleaned using color-coded, microfiber flat mop technology with a single dip method to eliminate contamination of clean mop water.
  • Proper hand washing and glove-changing protocol is being followed.
  • No-touch spray and vac systems are used whenever possible.

Cleanliness of the facility is a major concern of today’s gym-goer. Potential gym members read headlines about methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Staph infection outbreaks, and they want to know what gym owners and managers are doing to minimize their risk of contracting infections at the gym. Adoption of a health-based cleaning program is not only crucial to the health of gym members but also to a gym’s bottom line.