Blog, Cleaning, Facilities Management

School Floor Cleaning and Maintenance Best Practice

Keeping school floors clean and well maintained is a key element of effective school facilities management. But knowing the best practice for different flooring types and areas can be a minefield to the uninitiated. So we have compiled this best practice list to ensure school floors are kept in perfect condition.

School floors are heavily used and as such specific attention needs paying to them when delivering a school cleaning service.  Defining the condition that is acceptable to the school is the first step before maintaining floors.  When agreeing on what constitutes an acceptable condition it is important to take into consideration the type of floor covering, its age and the standard of repairs.

Floors should be repaired before being cleaned and polished.

If school floors require sealing or floor dressings e.g. polish, they should be protected at all times by the use of approved products. All floor dressings must be used in accordance with the manufacturer instructions.

Hard Floors, Polish and School Floor Maintenance

Floors need to be kept free of all types of markings, excessive scratching, unsightly build-up of floor dressing and present a good appearance.

Floor dressing, which has powdered, discoloured or is ingrained with soil and therefore has lost its good appearance, must be removed by an appropriate method. Next, the floors must be thoroughly chemically cleaned, prior to a fresh application of floor dressing. All chemical products used for cleaning floors must be approved products and must be used in accordance with the manufacturer instructions.

Floor dressing (polish maintainer, seals and removers) which are compatible with the existing dressing may only be applied if the older floor dressing (polish) has been completely removed and the floor has been chemically cleaned and prepared. All chemical products used for cleaning floors must again be approved products (and must be used in accordance with the manufacturer guidelines).

Where possible the identification of the previous floor dressing must be established prior to any fresh dressing being applied. Once correctly identified the manufacture instructions must be strictly adhered to. Floors with non-slip properties must not be treated with floor dressing – otherwise, there is a real danger that somebody will injure themselves!

The edges of all areas containing hard floor surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned by wet mopping to avoid any build-up from dirt generated as a result of buffing. Wax polish dressing must not be used in the re-treatment of floor surfaces.

School Cleaning – Skirting Boards and Door Furniture

Schools are often very busy places, it is important to ensure that no soiling of skirting boards, bottoms of doors, door frames kick plates or furniture etc takes place during the maintenance and re-treatment of floors. This also applies to the unsightly build-up of floor dressing. It is often best to treat floors out of hours either early in the morning or ideally after the school day has finished. Longer floor procedures should be undertaken in the school holidays or at weekends.

white metal framed glass building

Polishing 10 School Floor Types

The following floor types should be treated with the appropriate water emulsion floor dressing (polish) and maintained with a compatible floor polish maintainer.

  1. Wood (previously treated)
  2. Wood composition (if sealed)
  3. Concrete
  4. Granolithic
  5. Quarry tiles (if previously treated)
  6. Asphalt
  7. Linoleum
  8. Thermoplastic
  9. PVC
  10. Flexible PVC

Maintaining Specialised School Floors

Advice must be sought from the school’s designated officer before work begins on the maintenance or re-treatment of specialised floors e.g. sports halls. Work carried out on specialised floor surfaces must be completed in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions. The school’s designated officer must be consulted where there is any doubt about the treatment of any floor.

Burnishing, Buffing and Spray cleaning School Floors

Burnishing/buffing or spray cleaning should incorporate the use of a vacuum dust control unit or impregnation/static mop sweep unless otherwise agreed with the school.

Spray cleaning of floors must be with an approved floor polish maintainer and should remove all scuff marks and bring floors to a good appearance.

Burnishing/buffing areas with a floor care machine, the final finish must include an impregnated static mop sweep, except where the machine used has a vacuum dust control unit.

Attention must be paid when sweeping and damp mopping to sides and backs of cookers, refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, Dexion shelving, filing cabinets, work units, sink units fixed furniture or equipment etc. which must remain free from dust or other debris.

Any temporary changes to the treatment of floors must be authorised by the school and must be recorded on the agreed contract.

brown-red-and-black wooden toys on a clean school floor

Dusty Areas

Floors should be swept using a sweeping compound or an appropriate approved vacuum unit. Floors should be mop swept with an impregnated/static dusting applicator or vacuum unit. Non-slip floor surfaces need one of the damp/wet moppings or spray cleaning operations to be substituted by a machine wet scrub with a neutral detergent and the scuff marks removed.

Stairs, Landings

Non-slip floor surfaces should have one of the damp/wet mopping or spray-cleaning operations substituted by a wet scrubbing with a neutral detergent and the scuff marks removed.

Sports Hall

The surfaces of sports halls can vary significantly. Some are concrete-based, wooden sprung floors or specialist performance materials. As such, floors must be cleaned in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions.

yellow and black soccer ball on field

Floorcare Maintenance of Carpets and Textured Floor Coverings

Carpeted floor areas are to be maintained in a condition that is satisfactory to the school by the use of an approved vacuum cleaning unit.

Marks due to spillages e.g. chewing gum, mud, food, paint, body fluids should be removed daily. Carpets should be vacuumed; marks and stains due to spillages and other causes should be treated for removal by an approved method. Strict precautions shall be taken at all times to prevent the degradation of the carpets. Stains, which do not respond satisfactorily to daily treatment, must be reported to the Designated Officer.

Carpets and mats must be deep cleaned using a water extraction floor care machine and an approved carpet agent to remove any soiling from textured floors. Carpets must be vacuum swept prior to cleaning by water extraction.

Particular attention is to be paid to ensure that colours are fast prior to carpet cleaning. Tests must be undertaken in a small section in a discrete rear corner of the room. Strict attention is to be paid to ensure that detergents and spot/stain removers are only used in accordance with the manufacturer instructions. The correct water temperature must always be used for each carpet type.

Other Floor Surfaces

All appropriate floor surfaces are to be kept in a polished condition unless otherwise instructed by the school. Strict precautions must be taken at all times to prevent slippery floor conditions.

The school should conduct random checks on floors to ensure that cleaning, polishing and nonslip standards are being maintained.

assorted-colour lockers metal furniture

Moving Furniture when Cleaning School Floors

Arrangements must be made to ensure that furniture, which is too heavy to move, is fully protected when cleaning carpets.

Under no circumstance must metal furniture be allowed to become wet as this may lead to rusting and subsequently the staining of the carpet.

Strict precautions must be undertaken at all times to ensure that there is no damage to carpets, furniture or other finished surfaces. The designated officer may deduct, without prejudice to any other rights of the school under the contract, the cost of any damage (repair or replacement) from any sum(s) due to the contractor for work completed under the contract. Only approved cleaning chemicals should be used.

Keeping School Floors Safe and Clean

An effective school FM provider should ensure that all concerns and complaints about floors and specifically slippery floors are investigated immediately and appropriate action is taken to return the floor to a safe condition.

Details of all concerns and complaints, notes of the subsequent investigation and the actions taken must be passed to the school’s designated officer as soon as possible.

Disputes and Responsibilities for Floor Care

In the event of disputes over the safety of floors the designated officer should have full power to have any floor re-treated at no additional cost to the school. Should a dispute over the safety of a floor result in a loss of income for the school e.g. through the cancellation of a letting, the lost revenue should be recovered by a reduction in the cleaning cost for the period that the safety of the floor was in question.

Bradford Park PRU logo

Case Study: Park Primary Pupil Referral Unit

Park Primary PRU is a 50 placed KS1- KS3 Pupil Referral Unit. To ensure a safe and clean environment RFM Group were selected to provide a full cleaning service for the primary school. RFM Group provides cleaning services to many schools and pupil referral units across the North of England.

FAQ about School Floor Cleaning and Maintenance Best Practice

Q: Why is it important to maintain clean floors in schools?

A: Maintaining clean floors in schools is important for several reasons. It helps create a safe and healthy environment for students and staff, reduces the spread of germs and illnesses, and helps prolong the lifespan of the flooring.

Q: What are some best practices for school floor cleaning?

A: Some best practices for school floor cleaning include regular sweeping and mopping, using neutral pH cleaners, avoiding harsh chemicals that can damage the floor, using floor mats to trap dirt and debris, and scheduling regular deep cleanings.

Q: How often should school floors be cleaned?

A: The frequency of school floor cleaning depends on several factors, such as the type of flooring, the amount of foot traffic, and the level of cleanliness required. Generally, floors should be swept and mopped daily, and deep cleanings should be scheduled at least once a quarter.

Q: What types of flooring are commonly found in schools?

A: Common types of flooring found in schools include tile, vinyl, carpet, and hardwood. Each type of flooring requires different cleaning methods and products.

Q: Can students and staff be present during school floor cleaning?

A: Yes, students and staff can be present during school floor cleaning, as long as the cleaning products used are safe and non-toxic. If harsh chemicals are used, the area being cleaned should be closed off and properly ventilated.

Q: How can schools ensure that floors are properly maintained?

A: Schools can ensure that floors are properly maintained by implementing a cleaning schedule, providing training for custodial and other staff members, and regularly inspecting floors for damage or wear and tear.

Q: What are the benefits of professional school floor cleaning services?

A: Professional school floor cleaning services can provide several benefits, such as access to trained and experienced cleaners, the use of specialized equipment and cleaning products, and a consistent cleaning schedule. It can also help ensure that floors are properly maintained and prolong their lifespan, ultimately saving the school money in the long run.

A full glossary of cleaning terms can be found in RFM Group’s Industry Terms in Cleaning Glossary.

Speak to the Property Experts...

Whether you need advice on a new project or have an existing property or portfolio - We're always happy to help. Please call or 08000 277 262 email


Sign Up to our newsletter for all our latest news, views and insights.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.