During the global pandemic, cleaning professionals made it their mission to clean and disinfect almost everything in a commercial facility. However, there was one area in commercial facilities that were overlooked: drains. Yes, this includes floor drains and drains in sinks. Usually, drains are not something we pay much attention to unless the worst happens; they clog up.
But here is one more thing we need to know about clogged drains: They pose a health problem if overlooked.
When a drain begins to clog, it can cause stagnant water to build up. When this happens:
- The water can become a breeding ground for bacteria, germs, and other harmful microorganisms.
- These microorganisms can then spread through the air, where they are inhaled, causing various health problems.
- The situation is most acute in school cafeterias and commercial kitchens. In these locations, drains are often used as if they are garbage disposals. All kinds of liquids, debris, and food items are poured down the drain as if it were a garbage disposal.
- A clogged drain attracts flying insects (drain flies) that can spread disease to other surfaces.
As clogged drains are walked over, there is another concern. Pathogens can collect on shoe bottoms.
When someone removes their shoes, they usually touch the shoe bottom. If their shoes are contaminated from a clogged drain and they do not wash their hands immediately, they can spread those pathogens to other surfaces, even to consumed food.
So, what can facility managers as well as managers in commercial kitchens do about this?
ProNatural Brands, a leading marketer of citric-acid-based cleaning solutions, sanitizers, and disinfectants, recommends the following:
Install “Fine” Drain Covers
By fine, we mean the drain cover has narrower outlets for water to drain into. This type of cover catches debris before it ever enters the pipe below.
Install Mesh Drain Screens
As soiled water, debris, and other contaminants flow through the mesh screen, even smaller solids are caught before they go down the drain. These are tightly woven metals or textiles that can be installed directly under the drain cover, and they can be highly effective. The only issue is that they must be checked frequently. Mesh screens regularly become blocked, potentially causing all the health issues mentioned earlier. Fortunately, once removed, all they need is to be rinsed.
No Mop Water
When floors are mopped, the mop water quickly becomes dark and contaminated. We don’t realize that solid debris also collects in the mop water. This may include fibers from the mop head. If dirty mop water is dumped down a drain, the drain will slowly clog up. Cleaning professionals should pour mop water down drains in janitorial closets or outdoors. Typically, these have wider pipes below, so they do not clog as rapidly.
But what should we do if we are too late, and the drain has clogged? Here are some options:
· Use a plunger to clear the blockage. Just as it clears blockages in a toilet or urinal, the plunger can dislodge the obstruction, reopening the drain.
· Go to a hardware store and select a plumber auger made for do-it-yourselfers. These are more flexible, often plastic augers that drill openings in the material clogging the drain. Once the clog is augered, run tap water down the pipe to flush away the blockage.
· The best option is to prevent drain clogs by adopting a drain maintenance cleaning practice by using a handheld foaming device along with ProNatural Brand’s Liquid Disinfectant & Cleaner solution.
With this system, foam is released into clogged pipes below the drain with 360-degree coverage around the pipe.
The process includes dwell time, allowing the liquid disinfectant to eliminate the clog, dissolve biofilm, food waste, kill odor, and potential disease-causing bacteria. This process also helps prevent drain fly infestation and future clogs because the drain is now cleaner and healthier.
Hannah Jonasse is marketing director for ProNatural Brands, marketers of 100 percent naturally derived cleaning solutions, made from FDA-approved food additive ingredients. ProNatural Brands products are just as powerful as leading synthetic-based solutions, just safer.