How should rubber sports flooring be sanitised?
Surfaces made of vulcanised rubber (a uniform material, not a compressed rubber granulate) have always been used because they guarantee high hygiene levels, and are easy to clean and disinfect. Think, for instance, about the use of rubber in hospitals (from patient wards to operating rooms), or in schools (both classrooms and cafeterias). And then there's the flooring on trains, buses, and subway stations.
This material’s biomechanical characteristics mean that sports facilities with vulcanised rubber flooring are safe and offer excellent performance and easy maintenance.
The current emergency health situation gives rise to numerous questions regarding the cleaning and maintenance of the various types of surfaces, so we want to answer some questions regarding sports surfaces made of vulcanised rubber.
What make rubber flooring more resistant to bacteria?
To answer this question properly, it's necessary to understand that bacteria reproduces wherever it finds the right temperature, humidity, and food.
Vulcanised rubber floors are waterproof and non-porous, so they don't absorb sweat, liquids, or dirt. This breaks the bacteria proliferation chain as it eliminates humidity, making it quick and easy to remove the dirt that forms the food for bacteria.
Flooring in vulcanised rubber doesn't decompose and requires no antibacterial or protective finishes to maintain its waterproof nature.
But what about viruses?
A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine determined that the coronavirus can survive on various surfaces that it comes into contact with, and then if it's touched with the hands, it can be transferred to the mouth, nose, and eyes.
This scenario can be counteracted, however, because—as the virologists have shown—the virus can be easily rendered inactive (i.e., lose its ability to infect you) by thoroughly washing with soap and water or similar detergents.
So how should rubber sports flooring be cleaned?
Rubber sports flooring can have a smooth rubber surface, for example, what you find in gyms, but also an embossed surface, like prefabricated running tracks. Each type of surface needs to be cleaned with a specific brush, depending on its particular finish.
What doesn't change, though, is that routine cleaning can be done using just water and a detergent with a neutral pH (between 7 and 9) without the need for foaming agents or solvents.
This type of cleaning, if done properly and regularly, is enough to prevent any proliferation of bacteria and micro-organisms on the surface.
Can rubber flooring be disinfected?
While using chemical disinfectants on any type of surface is a way of chemically attacking any possible micro-organisms, it also presents a risk for the surface itself.
With rubber flooring, before using any non-neutral detergent, it's important to test it on a small part of the surface to determine how strong the detergent is and see if it produces any colour changes.
An excessively strong treatment might damage the floor, so use of it should be cleared beforehand with the flooring manufacturer.
Frequent routine daily cleaning is sufficient for keeping sports facilities hygienic for the people using them.