Hand Sanitizer Damaging Your Floors? What To Do!?

You've probably seen the words 'Hand Sanitizer' more times in the last six months than you have in your whole lifetime! It seems like suddenly everyone is selling some variation of hand sanitizer. (Yes, even us). While the "recipe" for creating hand sanitizer is quite easy, the method of mass delivery to the end users has had companies back at the drawing board recreating new floor stands, dispensing systems, and personal use bottling applications that may be a bit different.

Since a lot of these newer stands are temporary solutions, they're being placed in areas and on floors that aren't necessarily protected against the chemical impact of consistent drips. (I mean if it can kill germs on your hands, just think about what it does to floor finish).

Most common floor finishes on the market today can be categorized based on their overall polymer makeup, with the majority of floor finishes using acrylic based polymers as the main ingredient. Other options include urethane-based finishes, hybrid finishes (acrylic-urethane), and 2-part urethane based floor finishes as well.

When an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is left to soak on an acrylic floor finish, it quickly digs through the top layer and damages where the finish is adhered to the floor. This causes the floor finish to swell up, which weakens the cohesive forces in the floor finish and diminishes the ability for the finish to adhere to the floor. This whole process can occur in as little as 3-5 minutes, with even more damage occurring over time if left unprotected and unmaintained.

While some flooring options available today are able to defend against the alcohol based hand sanitizer, most common floor finishes do not offer the same protection. Granted stripping and repairing your floors may already be part of your maintenance schedule to ensure the aesthetics and safety of your facility, but the time and money required to repair these floors isn’t something you want to invest every week.

Whether you're dealing with a permanent sanitizing station, or a temporary high-use station in an entryway; here are a couple of products we recommend to keep your floors maintained even AFTER you've gone through your normal cleaning processes.

In recent lab studies provided by 3M, they’ve shown that alcohol based hand sanitizers can have adverse effects to acrylic floor finishes (the most common floor finish solution available). In the images below, the bottom images show the swelling and bubbling that hand sanitizers can do to your flooring when using a standard acrylic based floor finish. In the top image, we can see the same results are when applied to flooring with 3Ms Protect & Shine floor finish.

Top Image: Hand Sanitizer damage after 15 minutes of dwell time using 3M Protect & Shine Floor Finish.

Bottom Images: Hand Sanitizer damage after 15 minutes of dwell time on a standard acrylic floor finishes.

3M has done an excellent job at being proactive during these times by providing resources and knowledge for advanced floor care solutions. Read more about 3Ms Advanced Floor Care System here.

Common Floors

VCT (vinyl composite title), VLT(Vinyl Laminate Tile), Tile, etc are all common flooring options being used today. If you're using one of these flooring options, the best advice to protect and maintain your floors is to follow your normal floor maintenance procedure with extra emphasis on those areas where temporary sanitizer stations are being used.  With all of that in mind, here are a couple of recommended products to keep your floors maintained!

Stone Floor Maintenance - Concrete, Terrazzo, and other porous stone surfaces.

If your intended area of preventative maintenance is located on a stone floor...consider yourself lucky! Most stone flooring today will have the ability to protect against mildew and sanitizer buildup, but doing your due diligence to clean and prepare the area for continued high use will save you hours and hours of work.

Here are a couple of solutions to use to help protect and maintain your stone floors against alcohol sanitizers:

3M™ Scotchgard™ Stone Floor Protector (MMM59379)

Scotchgard Stone Floor Protector is a must have to help seal and harden concrete, terrazzo, or any porous stone flooring you’re working on. This floor finish has been formulated to remain highly durable resulting in the need for fewer coats and lower maintenance costs overall.

Americo 16" Twister Diamond Coated Pads (435316)

If the best solution available to you is to refinish those floors, we recommend using a diamond coated floor pad to dig into those porous surfaces.


Other Considerations:

GOJO Drip Tray

Scotchgard™ Surface Protection Film 2200

SureStride Custom Cut Matting

Be sure to check out our blog for more information regarding facility maintenance and best practices for your role! If you ever have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us directly!

Aug 24th 2020 Kyle Jensen

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