In a Post-COVID World, the Link Between Carpets and Indoor Air Quality Is More Important Than Ever
Facilities managers (FMs) have long recognized the value of focusing on indoor air quality (IAQ) in commercial spaces. Now, amid a global pandemic, that value is even greater. As employees gradually return to workspaces, COVID-19 will be top of mind. FMs should know that they have the opportunity to create safer spaces and peace of mind for those returning to work.
Research from Harvard University shows that decreasing airborne irritants may reduce severe COVID-19 complications. That means, when it comes to maintaining the health and safety of occupants, IAQ should be a top priority for FMs — and improving IAQ begins with carpets.
Carpets and IAQ
Carpeting acts as a filter, absorbing dust, dander, pollen, soil, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). However, without regular cleaning, those same particles can become airborne and recycle throughout a closed interior.
Sending bacteria and pollutants into employees’ breathing space escalates the possibility of workers developing respiratory and allergic responses such as coughing, wheezing, eye irritation, and asthma. And that’s even before symptoms of COVID-19 enter into the mix.
Keeping carpets as clean as possible not only creates a fresh-smelling, aesthetically appealing space — it could also mean the difference between a healthy workforce and one more vulnerable to illness.
4 Ways to Help Tenants Feel Safer Returning to Your Buildings
If you’re responsible for making sure your indoor spaces are pristine, focus extra attention on carpets, as well as other filtering surfaces such as those covered with textiles or upholstery. An added bonus: This extra attention can also help you get the most function and longevity out of those surfaces.
But don’t stop there. If you want your tenants to trust that you’re doing everything in your power to help them stay healthy in your spaces, you’ll need to be transparent and communicate regularly about what action you’re taking.
The following steps can help you keep your carpets clean, improve your IAQ, and give your tenants some peace of mind:
1. Deep clean using dry methods.
In addition to routine vacuuming, consider hiring professional technicians that specialize in cleaning carpets using dry polymers, not wet extraction. Water-based cleaning not only wastes energy and resources, but it can also leave carpets slightly damp and more likely to breed mold and develop unpleasant odors.
Compared to wet extraction methods, dry carpet cleaning causes less stress on delicate carpet fibers, reduces as much as 99% of typical airborne pollutants, and reduces downtime by leaving carpets ready to use almost immediately.
2. Concentrate on limiting carpet re-soilage and debris tracks.
Carpets will absorb debris not only from the air, but also from the bottoms of visitors’ shoes. By paying attention to other areas of the building, including the entryway, you can avoid problems related to rapid carpet re-soilage and debris buildup.
Our three-stage entry cleaning system aims to improve the efficiency of your entryway floors to scrape unwanted items off footwear. The more attention you pay to keep your entryway floors working at optimum capacity, the easier it is to keep outside dirt, silica, and sand from making its way into your building — and your building’s circulating air.
3. Communicate often and transparently.
The people who work in your building may not realize how important clean carpets are to their overall health, particularly at a time of COVID-19 concerns. Sharing information about why you’re making carpet cleaning a high priority to improve IAQ will establish trust and transparency between you and those you serve.
Not sure how to start this conversation? At milliCare, we offer a variety of expert materials you can utilize to facilitate communication and awareness. For example, once we’ve cleaned your space, you can display a Clean Work Area card to let building occupants know it’s taken care of.
4. Establish carpet cleaning frequencies.
Each part of your carpeted space has a different traffic pattern and flow. You’ll want to map out appropriate frequencies for vacuuming, spot cleaning, deep cleaning, and restorative cleaning.
Again, milliCare can help by working with you to determine cleaning schedules and solutions for all your spaces. We can also evaluate other soft surfaces like textile-covered cubicle panels and upholstered furniture, providing feedback on how to keep those items from becoming so overly soiled that they release, instead of collect, pollutants.
Everyone’s trying to reclaim a sense of normalcy in a world shaken by COVID-19. As an FM, you can play a significant part in fostering healthier work zones with excellent IAQ. All you have to do is start from the ground up — literally.