What should health clubs be doing in their wet (barefoot) areas about COVID-19 / Coronavirus?

Wet (barefoot) areas of health clubs (poolsides, showers, spas and changing rooms) are both an environment where contamination and therefore germs can build-up, and an area where members’ skin will frequently touch surfaces (both bare feet and hands).


As such, they present a higher risk than other areas within a club such as reception areas or toilets, because of the sheer size of surfaces that could cause infection transmission, body fluid contamination, and the amount of skin contact.


Whilst government advice on how to deal with the virus can be slightly conflicting, it is clear that “all surfaces and objects which are visibly contaminated with body fluids” (Public Health England) are at risk of harbouring the virus. Because of the usage of wet areas, sweat and body fats are produced constantly.


Ensuring clean surfaces can help to prevent the spread of the virus: “A clean environment reduces the cumulative risk of transmission of infection posed by micro-organisms in that environment” (NHS).


It is also clear that for thorough disinfection and decontamination to be effective, surfaces need to be effectively cleaned first.


“Disinfection is a process that reduces the number of micro-organisms to a level at which they are not harmful and is only effective if the surface is thoroughly cleaned with a detergent solution beforehand” (NHS)


Often, for COSHH and other reasons, club staff only have sanitisers which also act as neutral detergents. These simply will not remove the dirt and, as such, nor will they effectively disinfect.


Unfortunately, partly as a result of the above, most clubs’ hard surfaces in these wet areas have ingrained contamination. Even if the appearance of the surface is even, it’s likely to be evenly dirty. For example:


My experience is that it’s almost impossible to fully remove this with either in-house or outsourced daily cleaning teams (for a variety of reasons including that mentioned above). Read about this on Linkedin here.


Now is not the time for a 17-year-old lifeguard, a sanitiser spray, a microfibre cloth, and some hope.


So, what should you do?



  • Consider some preventative deep cleaning. This will have a health benefit but also serve as a good member experience driver (given members are increasingly starting to stay away)
  • A thorough, effective deep clean of floors, walls and hard surfaces will help to mitigate the risk of germs remaining and multiplying
  • Following this, disinfection should take place


Response to a confirmed case:

  • If a member or colleague is confirmed as being infected, you may want or need to close and undertake a full decontamination process. This would need to involve an effective deep clean followed by disinfection
  • You should be able to open again almost immediately following this work
  • Thereafter, stay on top of your day-to-day cleaning to prevent the build-up of ingrained dirt
  • Continue to disinfect barefoot floors and skin touch points such as door handles, shower buttons etc


If you require help to undertake either a proactive or reactive deep clean and decontamination, we are happy to assist. Contact us now.

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