Color-coded microfiber mops and cloths are essential for safe and efficient facilities maintenance.
The rise of Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs) is prolific amongst the elderly, sick, and young. The New England Medical Journal reports that in healthcare facilities alone 721,000 HAIs are reported annually contributing to 75,000 mortalities. Hospitals schools, daycares, nursing homes, and even the hospitality industry are implementing color-coded microfiber systems to combat this.
What colors are used for each cleaning task?
There is no defined answer other that you designate a specific color for a particular job. When I train a group, I try and use four colors in the wiping system and two colors in the moping systems. I try to make it as easy as possible to remember so that after a few days after implementing the program it becomes natural. Here are the colors I recommend designating for specific tasks but you can always change it to fit your plan.
Yellow – Dry Dusting and polishing.
Red – Restrooms area such as toilets and urinals, hazard areas.
Blue – Glass, and mirrors.
Green – General areas such as desks, tables, kitchens, sinks, water fountains.
Red – Restrooms & hazard areas.
Green – General areas such as classrooms, hallways, patient rooms.
How do we prevent cross-contamination?
Use a specific mop for each room. Unlike traditional cotton mops, microfiber flat mops take up little space and can be stacked so you may use a mop for every room. Never take the mop that we just used in the restroom and bring those germs out into the general areas and hallways. Clean the bathroom, take off the mop, put it in your laundry bag, and start fresh with a new mop as we move into a new area. This will make sure whatever the germs are in a particular area are contained.
So why not just use a clean cloth or mop of the same color?
I recently implemented a color coding system at a local university. I was explaining to the group you should never use a red towel outside of the bathroom. Somebody asked, "Why don't you just use a clean red cloth?"
I told to the team that you may be using a brand new clean red cloth to clean a water fountain in the hallway, but a person may have just seen you using a red cloth cleaning a toilet or a urinal. We don’t want the person that is observing the situation going to your supervisor complaining that you used the same cloth to clean the fountain right after you cleaned the bathroom. They have no idea you changed to a clean cloth and will assume the worst. We need to keep up the color coding procedure to ensure our customers that we are cleaning properly.
But my team will be resistant to change…
I have done color coding microfiber training many times, and it’s not always easy breaking the employees cleaning routine. I hear comments like “you don’t know what it’s like cleaning 25,000 square feet a night. We don’t have time to worry about the color towels we are using.” As I try and sympathize for the employee, I explain the potential of spreading harmful germs from one area to another. I let them know as they get used to the system they will feel more comfortable and it will get easier as they break the usual routine. Eventually, the team will appreciate and embrace using new microfibers for each room. It's more sanitary for them too.
Clean smarter, save lives. That should be the rallying cry of every aspect of your facilities maintenance team.