A variety of buildings have locker rooms on premises, from K-12 schools to higher education institutions to professional stadiums, as well as fitness centers, hotel gyms and spas. Keeping these environments clean is essential for protecting the health and well-being of visitors in addition to upholding the reputation of your organization. Facility managers should understand the risks associated with unkempt locker rooms and best practices for maintaining these high-traffic facilities.
Locker Room Risks
Locker rooms can be a breeding ground for various types of fungi, bacteria and viruses.
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (staph) is a type of bacteria that can spread easily in locker rooms, especially when equipment is being shared.
- Fungi often make their home in dark, damp, warm environments. Locker room users can catch fungal infections like athlete’s foot by walking barefoot in these environments if they aren’t cleaned routinely.
- Ringworm is another fungal infection that can spread from person to person in communal areas like locker rooms.
- Unclean surfaces can spread respiratory infections like the cold and flu to those using the locker room, especially between October and March when flu activity is elevated.
- Plantar warts may arise if you walk barefoot, including in wet shower areas of the locker room.
- Streptococcal bacteria that causes strep throat can result in unpleasant skin infections when compromised skin encounters it on gym equipment, water bottles, towels or other locker room surfaces. This can cause blistering impetigo or cellulitis, which can be life threatening if it spreads.
Maintaining High Levels of Cleanliness
No health club member, hotel guest or athlete, whether professional or amateur, wants to leave a locker room with a fungal, bacterial or respiratory infection. Thankfully, facility managers can ensure these environments are clean by adhering to the below best practices:
- Select a fast, effective, responsive and sustainable disinfectant – Look for a disinfectant cleaner powered by Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide (AHP®) and certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These products are gentle on surfaces and harmless to users, and have a realistic contact time. The active ingredient breaks down into oxygen and water after use, while still being tough on pathogens. Consider incorporating both ready-to-use and wipe options, all with dwell times of one minute or less and effective against a broad range of tough soils.
- Train workers on the order of cleaning tasks – To avoid re-soiling surfaces that have previously been cleaned, employees should disinfect from top to bottom. For example, start with shower walls, then clean drains. Or begin with mirrors, then move onto counters and finish with sinks, toilets and floors.
- Identify high-risk areas – Pay special attention to problem areas like shower drains where excess moisture can encourage the growth of mold and mildew. Floors and grout can harbor bacteria, especially if guests walk around barefoot.
- Clean around the clock – Locker rooms require near constant attention, as they typically see steady use throughout the day. For instance, fitness centers may have an influx of users in the morning before office hours, as well as during lunch breaks and in the evenings. Schools host physical education courses throughout the day which require students to use locker rooms, and sports teams schedule practice sessions and games at night and on weekends. Create a schedule that accommodates busier periods so that bacteria, visible soils and moisture don’t accumulate.
- Keep hygiene solutions stocked – It’s important that the right cleaning products and tools are easily accessible on an ergonomic cleaning cart. To prevent cross contamination, consider purchasing color-coded tools for different areas like locker room restrooms, changing areas and areas outside of the locker room. Facilities should also keep products like soap and hand sanitizer stocked so that guests can practice regular hand hygiene to reduce the spread of germs.
- Go beyond the locker room – Eliminating germs in other key areas of the building can reduce the spread of germs that can make their way into locker rooms. Task cleaning teams with disinfecting items like wrestling mats and fitness equipment on a regular basis, as many people come into contact with these surfaces.
Locker rooms are a place to prepare for a workout or spa treatment, or regroup after such activities. It’s essential to ensure these areas remain welcoming and clean for guests, not a source of bacterial, fungal or viral infections. By following the above best practices, facilities can continually maintain hygiene in locker rooms.
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