Transport: A guide to cleaning and disinfecting fabrics and vinyls

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Cleaning and disinfection have become hot topics in the wake of Covid-19, with new emphasis on hygiene as an important way in which to help prevent the spread of the virus, especially on public transport. As the industry works to reassure passengers that it is safe to travel by bus, coach or rail it's important for operators to remember that cleaning and disinfection are not the same:

•  Cleaning is the process of removing dust, dirt and staining from the surface of a fabric or vinyl to maintain the material’s appearance and prolong its life
•  Disinfection is intended to kill germs – microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi – which can cause infection and spread disease

Some methods, such as using soap and water, bleach or steam – are effective at both cleaning and disinfecting, but certain methods can only be carried out on specific fiber/material types.
                                                           

Multiple fabric and material types in transport interiors
In coach interiors in particular there is often a mixture of different material types and compositions – for example, the seats may be upholstered in a plush wool moquette (such as Aura or Vigor), while seat backs could use the polypropylene Super Trim or Premier Trim, curtains might be in Trevira CS (Lucia CS) and the vehicle headliner material in polyester (Micro Trim). Moreover, combination seats are popular, comprising dual fabric and vinyl or fabric and leather. So it’s important to try and know the materials which are used to avoid using the wrong method of cleaning or disinfection. If you're unsure, click here.
Alternative  methods of cleaning and disinfection
We've seen an uptick in operators adopting alternative methods of cleaning and disinfection, including fogging and using UV light. What rail operators should bear in mind though is that there isn’t enough long-term test data to know how these methods will affect fabrics. Potentially, fogging or UV light disinfection could lead to the accelerated degradation of material strength, colour, and even – in the case  of vinyl – surface cracking. 

Our fabrics and vinyls have all been developed to withstand regular cleaning maintenance and as outlined above, this now extends to disinfection where reasonable regime protocols are adopted. For further detail regarding our recommended cleaning and disinfection methods, make sure to download our Transport guide to cleaning and disinfecting fabrics and vinyls.