For most business owners, snow is an inconvenience, but for ski and snowboard lodge owners and operators, snow is their financial lifeblood. According to the Atlantic, the white stuff fuels a $3 billion business with a cumulative 60 million ski and snowboard days annually in the U.S. Along with enjoying the slopes, those 60 million skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers and sledders will visit the lodge to warm up, eat and use the restroom. All of that foot traffic will bring in water, snow, sand, dirt and salt, making restroom cleaning particularly challenging.
Restroom cleaning professionals in snowy climates understand the toll harsh weather takes on floors. To fight back, they recommend a preseason regime to get floors primed and in their best shape before the assault begins. Some professionals strip the floor and then refinish, applying up to eight coats of finish over two nights. Others strip the floor, apply sealer and top that with two coats of wax. However, some professionals choose to strip and rewax after the snow season, as rock salt can melt through wax. Either way, the best prevention starts at the door. Owners and operators should use walk off mats to trap as much water, grit and salt as possible. Mats should be changed regularly as they lose effectiveness when wet.
Salt is a tried-and-true method for melting snow and ice. It's cheap. It keeps roadways safe and parking lots clear. But salt's high pH makes it very difficult to remove. It leaves unsightly white stains and the crystals can abrade the surface. Enough of it concentrated on your floor will begin to eat through the finish.
Effectively removing salt requires more than just mopping with regular cleaning supplies. In fact, traditional cleaning supplies will just smear the salt around, leaving a sticky residue that attracts more dirt and ultimately damages the floor. To effectively remove salt, restroom cleaning professionals have to lower its pH. This can be done with either plain white vinegar or another industrial grade neutralizer mixed with water. No matter which neutralizer is chosen, all the liquid must be vacuumed up. Leaving the floor to air dry will not get rid of the residue.
Water Works and True Grit
Even if walk-off mats are changed regularly, snow, ice, sand and other debris will make its way into the lodge, making restroom cleaning that much harder. Snow and ice require immediate removal to reduce slips and falls. Sand, dirt and grit should be attended to as needed. Brooms will do the job, albeit slowly. To speed up the process, some professionals prefer using an autoscrubber or autovac.
Click here to find more winter floor cleaning solutions.
Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.