More custodial workers are returning to work as buildings and businesses around the country re-open. One of the things they should know – to protect their health and the health of others – is that their shoes can collect the germs that cause coronavirus.

When this happens, the virus can be walked onto different floor surfaces, and the pathogens that cause the virus can be touched when removing the shoes.

This was revealed in a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in April 2020. The study reported that healthcare professionals working in one of Wuhan, China’s intensive care units carried the virus on the soles of their shoes.

More telling, the report found that the floors of the hospital’s pharmacy were 100 percent contaminated with the virus. In this hospital, virtually all healthcare workers traveled into the pharmacy.

“Therefore, the soles of medical staff shoes might function as carriers,” the researchers wrote. “We highly recommend that persons disinfect shoe soles before walking out of wards containing COVID-19 patients.” 

This advice should be heeded by cleaning professionals as well. 

According to Matt Morrison, communications manager at Kaivac, here are some work shoe “best practices” cleaning professionals should follow:

  • Have one pair of shoes to wear just for work; remove them at the end of the shift. 
  • If leather shoes are worn, clean them each night using dish detergent and water and then spray and wipe clean with a disinfectant.
  • Wear shoes made of fabric because they can be washed in a washing machine, making the cleaning process easier.
  • Wear shoe covers. This way, only the shoe cover will need to be cleaned or washed.
  • Thoroughly wash hands after removing work shoes and before putting on another pair of shoes.

As to floors, Morrison says floors have always been reservoirs of pathogens, “but now those pathogens can be deadly.” 

Because we know floor mopping can spread contamination, “it’s more imperative now than ever before that we select floor cleaning alternatives. Mops should not be used.”

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