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With COVID-19 Passing, Keep Your Eyes on the MRSA Threat


Stephen Steinberg, the founder of Vapor Fresh, shares why you should continue to prioritize cleaning post-COVID to fight against MRSA.

The standard of cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting in gyms and health clubs has been raised since the outbreak of COVID-19. While these processes are an essential part of your club’s day-to-day actions, what is more important is knowing the differences between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting.

“Cleaning is simply the act of removing sweat, dirt and debris from a surface,” said Stephen Steinberg, the founder of Vapor Fresh. “However, ‘cleaning’ by itself makes no claim whatsoever to killing germs and other harmful microbes. Sanitizers can kill germs, but they have the lowest testing requirement. Sanitizers are specifically designed for bodily use like hands, and most importantly, they are not designed or tested to eliminate germs from surfaces, although some sanitizing brands use deceptive marketing practices to try and convince you otherwise.”

If you’re looking to kill germs on the surface of gym equipment to keep the gym protected against tough strains like Influenza and MRSA, Steinberg said you must use a disinfectant — versus a cleaner or sanitizer — as they are regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and must pass much more stringent testing requirements strictly for surface disinfection.

As more people get vaccinated and COVID-19 cases continue to decrease, you may be tempted to lighten your cleaning efforts to cut costs. However, there are many other threats continuing to thrive in gym settings, so it’s vital to know the distinction of cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting so you can properly combat them.

“It seems like the COVID threat is more or less past us, and it was always more of an airborne threat than from touching infected surfaces,” said Steinberg. “This unfortunately is much different than threats like MRSA and Influenza, which are transmitted by contaminated surfaces.  MRSA specifically is a dangerous and deadly germ that has been an issue in fitness centers for decades and needs to be taken seriously. Studies show that there are more Staph germs found on medicine balls, treadmill handles and weight plates than on bathroom doorknobs and toilet handles. Sanitizers are completely inadequate for this application.”

MRSA is nothing to mess around with. According to the CDC, there are more than 80,000 cases of MRSA each year, and more than 11,000 people die from these infections annually. Not to mention the costs and reputation lost if a MRSA outbreak occurs at your gym. 

According to Steinberg, disinfecting gym wipes are a necessary part of an overall cleaning strategy. “Even if you have a dedicated cleaning staff, providing your members with disinfecting gym wipes is a necessary touchpoint in the battle against MRSA and Influenza,” he said. “You should be using every tool in your toolbox against MRSA and Influenza. Plus, disinfecting gym wipes keep your members feeling safe and comfortable, which directly translates to the bottom line of your business.”

An additional point to keep in mind when it comes to cleaning is not all disinfectants are made equally. As surprising as it may sound, if you look on the safety data sheet of quat-based disinfectants, many of them suggest or require the use of PPE during use. 

Obviously, it is impractical to ask your members to wear gloves prior to taking a wipe to clean the gym equipment. A great way to avoid this and to keep your members safe is by using products such as Vapor Fresh, with wipes that use citric acid instead of harsh quats. 

“By using a disinfecting wipe with citric acid as the active ingredient, you know you’re getting a clean safety data sheet with no PPE requirements, yet that’s just as effective — or sometimes more so — at disinfecting a surface,” said Steinberg. “And you’re also avoiding the health consequences of being surrounded by quats, which have known lung, skin, eye and reproductive health concerns — not necessarily something you want in a health and wellness facility.”

It’s hard for a gym to come back from any sort of MRSA outbreak. And it’s easy to try to pinch pennies when it comes to disinfecting products. However, by switching to a stronger, safer and greener disinfectant, you can use that as a selling point for current and prospective members — keeping them safe and keeping revenue flowing.

“People like to hear how you’re keeping them protected and it could be an extremely valuable point of differentiation for your gym compared to the competitor down the road,” said Steinberg. “That’s why we’ve been providing stickers to gyms that use our wipes to put on the outside of their dispensers to help get the message across to their members that they are using a top-quality gym wipe.”

Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor for Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com

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