Home floor care started way back in the early 19th century. With the advent of lavish home furnishings and the beginnings of carpeted and tiled floor, the need for cleaning devices grew rapidly. The Industrial Revolution sparked a great increase in technology and new machinery. As expected, the first floor cleaning devices were very rudimentary and could be difficult to use. As the 20th century got underway, floor cleaning technology leaped ahead. The modern vacuum design we know today took shape in 1905 and was manually powered. The device was crude, but it helped to spark the home cleaning movement. Fast forward to today and one can find endless options in the floor cleaning genre. As knowledge of disease causing bacteria and viruses increased, the homeowner found an increasing need for devices that could efficiently clean and disinfect surfaces throughout the house. To meet the demand, the floor cleaning industry invented new methods of floor and carpet disinfection and cleaning. Current devices range from simple vacuum cleaners to complex steam generating apparatuses.
Testing Floor and Carpet Cleaners
With the increasing number of floor cleaning devices claiming some level of disinfection, it has become necessary for these companies to test their devices to back up their claims. In recent years, a handful of companies have rolled the dice and made false claims. Since device claims are not regulated the same as liquid disinfectants, some companies are able to market their devices with no supporting data. They may avoid notice for a short while, but the EPA and Federal Trade Commission eventually catches up with illegal claims and issue hefty fines. At Microchem Laboratory, we do not want that to happen to you! Why run the risk of penalty? Let us test your devices and generate data to support your claims!
The majority of floor devices we test have some method of hard surface disinfection. The method of disinfection varies greatly as new technologies are introduced. We have tested everything from steam generating floor cleaners to floor cleaners that use an already EPA registered hard surface disinfectant. Even if a device uses an already registered disinfectant, it must still be tested in the configuration recommended for use. Testing floor cleaners starts with a custom quote prepared by a member of the device team. Because the options for testing floor cleaners are numerous, the study sponsor is encouraged to work closely with one of our microbiologists to design the most effective study. A protocol may be written if requested by the sponsor. Our custom and device team may offer suggestions to improve study designs while keeping the sponsor's end goals in mind. Once the study is approved by the sponsor and lab, we get right to work on testing the device. We have a large selection of microorganisms to choose from although most floor cleaning studies need only a few common species to prove efficacy. We have pre-fabricated simulated tile floors modified to accommodate carriers inoculated with microorganisms. If the sponsor requires a different type of flooring for testing, the lab is always willing to craft a custom runway if possible. We find that our test flooring is usually accommodating to most tests. We have a standard sized room dedicated to device testing. We can adjust room temperature and humidly based on sponsor requests.
In addition to floor device efficacy testing, the lab can also perform custom testing in other areas of floor cleaning. For instance, we can run odor panels for a customer looking to verify their device's odor eliminating abilities. With our broad array of microorganisms, we can put together a highly odorous solution to impart odor onto carpet samples. The carpet samples are normally square swatches of carpet taken from a simulated runway. Once the carpet swatches are inoculated and dry, our team of UPSIT certified odor panelists will score the odor. The swatches are placed back into the runway, and the sponsor's device is used to treat the carpet. The swatches are removed and again scored by our odor panelists. The simple test can produce powerful data for the sponsor with regards to product formulation and strength.
The above example is a simple representation of the flexibility the lab has in regards to custom floor and carpet cleaning devices. Unlike other competitors, we are willing to go the extra mile to prepare a protocol for your device and setup the best study possible all while keeping cost down. We will take the time to help you understand custom testing as they pertain to the industry standards.
How is the Performance of Floor and Carpet Cleaners Determined?
There are a few primary strategies to evaluating the performance of floor and carpet cleaners depending on the device's mechanism of action:
Physical removal of microorganisms from hard surface by the device using a simulated floor to mimic real world application of the device.
Hard surface antimicrobial efficacy of steam or disinfectant used by the device. Steam and disinfectant may be in combination on some devices. In such a case, each may be evaluated separately and then in combination. Testing is normally done using a simulated floor as stated above.
For proof of principal testing, each device mechanism (i.e. steam, disinfectant, mop etc.) may be tested under controlled conditions. For example, a steam device can be fixed in place atop a surface inoculated with microorganisms.
Odor removal capacity of device from carpet swatches. For proof of concept testing, the odor removing solution may be tested alone without the device.
How are Floor and Carpet Cleaning Devices Regulated?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the primary regulator of chemical pesticides and pesticidal devices, though FDA and various US States also take part. EPA defines microorganisms as pests, disinfectants as pesticides, and disinfecting devices as pesticidal devices. Pesticidal devices are not subject to pre-market approval by EPA, though EPA does require data supporting efficacy to be held on file. Companies that make floor cleaning devices must register with the Agency, then report how many units are sold each year thereafter.
EPA does not generally review or approve data supporting performance of floor cleaning devices before they are sold, so the onus is on consumers to ensure the devices have legitimate laboratory testing to back up their antimicrobial claims.
Visit our foggers and misters page and the EPA's page for more regulation information. Also, visit the EPA's page on FIFRA.