For people trying to keep their New Year’s resolutions, choosing the stairs over an elevator makes great sense. Studies show that walking up and down stairs not only keeps your legs and lungs in good shape but also boosts brain power. There is a flip side, however. Stairs can be dangerous, adding to the millions of slips, trips and falls that occur each year.
Non-slip stairway treads help curb those accidents but these bumpy, textured surfaces also trap and hold dirt and soils. This makes stairwell cleaning one of the most difficult jobs in any facility but particularly problematic in schools where stairs get heavy use.
Stairs are a given in older school buildings. But they are not going away in new construction either, despite their potential risks and maintenance difficulties. Building up rather than out always made intuitive sense. Now a study reported in School Planning & Management Magazine by Grimm + Parker Architects proves the point. This study shows that lifecycle costs and environmental benefits are better for a multi-story structure, as long as the school is 60,000 square feet or more.
A Challenging Climb
Several factors make stairwell cleaning difficult. As mentioned, textured surfaces on the treads keep people safe from falls by gripping shoe bottoms. But they also scrape off and hold dirt, soils and pathogens. Sweeping the treads is an inefficient cleaning method as it leaves much of the debris behind. Sweeping also kicks up a significant number of dirt particulates into the air, degrading air quality for the entire facility.
Following with a wet mop only makes the problem worse as mopping spreads soils around instead of removing them. Once dry, an extra layer of dirt is now left in place. Even worse, the textured tread damages regularly used mop heads, prematurely aging equipment.
Reaching the Top
A no-touch cleaning system is a better way to clean stairwells. This technology allows maintenance personal to dry vacuum soils up completely, even in the nooks and crannies of textured treads. Doing this task daily keeps the area clean without kicking any dust or dirt back up into the air. The same system can be used to pressure wash staircases for a deeper clean. As no-touch technology leaves surfaces dry, the staircase is safer and ready to use faster.
Maintenance personnel should also pay special attention to hand rails, walls and any stairwell surface people put their hands. These touchpoints should be wiped daily with a disposable wipe or microfiber towel to remove dirt and pathogens.
Click here to learn more about stairwell cleaning.
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.