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Cleaning and Maintenance: Best Practices for Schools and Universities

Schools and universities can present unique challenges when it comes to employing effective, sustainable maintenance programs. Safeguarding the safety and health of those on campus is of critical importance but completing maintenance and repairs while students attend school can present a variety of challenges. Tight budgets, pandemic lockdowns and restrictions relating to Covid-19 can further complicate things. Here are a few best practices to help keep school maintenance routines running smoothly and minimize the need for costly repairs and replacement.

Make spaces as attractive and easy to maintain as possible

When it comes to maintaining a sanitary space, appearances count. A well-stocked, clean space encourages tidy behavior from those who use it. Research has shown the reverse is also true. Messy restrooms seem to inspire users to dirty them further, especially for grades K through 12, which can contribute to illness and detract from a positive learning environment.

Frequent maintenance is critical, so it should be as easy and efficient as possible. Having hard surfaces sealed and maintained properly is a major part of accomplishing that.

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Maintain floor and wall sealants and/or shields

Moisture is the enemy. Because cementitious grout is naturally porous, tiny holes allow contaminants and foul liquids to soak into grout lines when they are not sealed and protected properly, resulting in deep soiling and foul odors. By their nature, grout lines act as mini water troughs, allowing wastewater and contaminants to collect.

As stated in a CMM Magazine article, “Grout sits below the surface of the tiles; water finds the lowest point and brings any soils with it.” Unsealed grout lines are an invitation to odor, staining and bacterial buildup. It’s a good idea to contact tile and grout restoration professionals about the best ways to seal and protect your school’s hard surfaces because different environments and materials may require specific products and solutions. An effective maintenance program is never a one-size-fits-all solution, but a sealed or restored surface can significantly reduce the burden of daily maintenance when properly maintained.

Make time for appropriate maintenance

Routine maintenance practices should include the following:

  1. Removal of surface debris.
  2. Application of the appropriate cleaner and allowing for any necessary chemical dwell times.
  3. Agitation of the surface with the appropriate tool.
  4. Disposal of wastewater, preferably with a vet-vac.
  5. Rinsing the surface with clean water and removing the resulting wastewater.
  6. Allowing the surface to dry.

Routine, light-duty cleaning is not enough, though. More intensive cleaning is needed periodically. How often will depend on the surface and level of soiling. Tile and grout restoration professionals can help when developing a schedule for more aggressive cleaning, refreshing floor shields and sealants, and to address any necessary repairs.

Avoid cross-contamination

Restrooms and locker rooms are often full of bacteria and contaminants that can negatively impact the health of students and staff, so avoiding cross-contamination is very important. It doesn’t make sense to clean restrooms and then use those same tools to clean a food prep area. Dedicate specific tools to certain spaces like restrooms, kitchens, classrooms and dorms, and make sure they are also stored in separate areas.

Opt for restoration over replacement whenever possible

When budgets are tight, delaying improvements and repairs can seem like the only solution, but maintenance issues only get worse (and more costly) as time goes by. That’s why it’s wise to address necessary upgrades or renovations with cost-effective solutions that can be installed, repaired and restored relatively quickly, since a lot has to be done over student breaks, which are fairly short. 

Opting for restoration over replacement makes this easier. It doesn’t just save money, installations and repairs can be performed a lot quicker, a valuable attribute when it comes to school maintenance. As a FacilitiesNet.com article advises, “Take advantage of low-occupancy times: Low-occupancy times, like summer, are ideal for conducting inspections and updates in restrooms.” A quality tile and grout restoration can transform the style and appeal of a space without the disruption of rip-out and replacement and can be completed in a fraction of the time.

Jacob Sluis - VariGLAZE - Midwest Floor Restore 1


Carter Rosenbloom

About Carter Rosenbloom

Carter serves as the General Manager of SaniGLAZE International. He has taken on numerous roles in the company such as marketing and logistics. If there is an area that needs assistance, he is there to help. As a Rosenbloom, working with his Father, CEO, Percy Rosenbloom III, and brother Hoyt, he is proud to be a part of the SaniGLAZE family business.