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What Every School Should Know About Sanitizing Sports Equipment

What Every School Should Know about Sanitizing Sports Equipment

Public awareness of the spread of bacteria, germs, and viruses is higher today than ever before. With that awareness comes increased concern about which items and surfaces are likeliest to attract those contaminants — and how to sanitizing sports equipment to lower the risk.

Schools are facilities where the risk of breeding and spreading viruses and infections is quite high, especially where physical education and competitive sports take place. It’s crucial to ensure that these areas and the sports equipment kids use are routinely disinfected and sanitized, now more than ever.

Germs Love Gyms

Bacteria thrive in moist conditions; the warmer the better. School gymnasiums are natural environments for germs and viruses to grow and spread, and gym equipment is where that process often happens.

A startling laboratory study revealed some eye-opening facts about the prevalence of germs on exercise and weight-training equipment found in many school gyms:

  • Free weights used in bodybuilding house 362 times more bacteria than a toilet seat
  • Treadmills have 74 times more bacteria than a water faucet
  • Exercise bikes contain 39 times more bacteria than a plastic cafeteria tray

Your average high school gym probably doesn’t have a full complement of professional weight-training or exercise equipment, but it has plenty of objects that endure just as much contact from multiple people: wrestling mats, balance beams, barbells, dumbbells, shared benches, and seats. We’re not even counting the extremely bacteria-friendly confines of the locker room.

Other studies tested gyms for the presence of germs and found that 28% of all germ surfaces were contaminated with bodily fluids. The sheer number of students — many of them barefoot — who pass through a high school gym every school day should make administrators aware of the possibility for germ-spreading.

Infections Are Common in Contact Sports

Sports researchers found that kids who compete in contact sports — including football, basketball, and wrestling — are especially susceptible to a vast range of bacterial infections. These conditions include skin infections, conjunctivitis, herpes simplex virus, scabies, and more. In rare instances, they can include life-threatening illnesses like hepatitis C.

The study specifically addresses administrators and educators in charge of school athletic activities. They’re advised to be aware of the easy transmission of germs and viruses in high-contact sports. Researchers maintained that these supervisors must practice “appropriate management” to prevent outbreaks, including keeping equipment sanitized and clean.

Authorities Are Increasing School Sanitization Standards

Especially with the COVID-19 pandemic still in effect, medical authorities and agencies continue to stress the need for extra steps in every-day sanitization. As a precondition for eventual re-openings, many localities are increasing the requirements schools face for thorough cleaning and decontaminating of school equipment.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) specifically recommended “routinely cleaning and disinfecting equipment” used in youth sports to restrict the spread of COVID-19. They particularly cited “balls, bats, gymnastic equipment, and protective gear” as items that should be fully cleaned and disinfected in periods between use. They also stated that these items should be shared among different people as little as possible.

It’s Not Always Easy to Determine Which Sports Equipment Needs Sanitization — Nor How to Do It

Even with all the official advice and recommendations school administrators have received in the last few months, the types of sports equipment and athletic spaces most likely to house germs and viruses seem limitless. Although the COVID-19 pandemic will be under control at some point, it will still be necessary to ensure that school sports equipment is sterile and safe for all who use it.

Also, no matter how great a school’s custodial service may be, they’re not always up to date on the latest recommendations for sanitizing sports equipment. Even the most competent janitorial staff may not have the full complement of equipment and supplies they need to keep their school’s gyms, lockers, and sports gear as disinfected and germ-free as possible.

Outside cleaning services have exacting standards for cleanliness that they must maintain to stay in business and are always a sure bet for keeping school sports equipment. The kids who use it — as clean, sanitized, and safe as possible.

If you’re in need of a commercial cleaning service that doesn’t skip over any of the details, contact RJC today.

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