Three tips for keeping facilities clean, athletes healthy

You know the drill at private health and fitness clubs. First, you use the machine. Then, you clean the machine. Keeping equipment clean and germ-free is important in these facilities because of high traffic.

Likewise, dozens of athletes walk through a school’s athletic facilities, such as the weight, athletic training and lock rooms, each day. Yet the, “first you use it, then you clean it” principle is not always enforced.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a common problem in athletic facilities is MRSA, a contagious staph infection. MRSA is spread through contact, both person-to-person and person-to-object-to-person. Other diseases that are commonly found in athletic facilities are athlete’s foot and warts.

These diseases are treatable, but more importantly, they are preventable. Here are some tips to implement in your athletic facilities to prevent the spread of disease.

1. Provide proper cleaning supplies.

Detergent-based cleaners that are EPA registered should be readily available. This type of cleaner kills MRSA and other fungal diseases. Stay away from bleach-base cleaners, because they irritate skin and aggravate symptoms of asthma. Fresh towels or paper towel also should be available to wipe down machines, benches and other equipment.

2. Teach athletes and staff about the cleaning protocol.

Different machines have different cleaning instructions. Some machines tolerate being directly sprayed with cleaner. Other machines, typically those with built-in electronics, have more delicate cleaning instructions.

Hanging signs in athletic facilities is a great way to remind users to clean machines, as well as identify the proper instructions for machines requiring special attention.

3. Schedule consistent janitorial cleanings.

Having athletes and staff take part in the everyday maintenance of facilities is a great way to prevent the spread of disease, but janitorial personnel take it one step further. They deep clean the facilities and have the tools to clean larger areas like floors, showers and bathrooms. Set up a schedule and adjust it depending on the amount of traffic the facility gets.

Making this a habit may be difficult at first. Some athletes might resist, and others might forget. So, give them the facts about the diseases are spread through athletic facilities. Most importantly, remind them that these are simple steps that keep everyone in the game.

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