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Slip and Fall Accidents Can Be More Frequent with Certain Cleaners

Common sense tells us that a floor that is wet is more slippery. However, not many realize that a floor that has been cleaned with a floor cleaner may be more or less slippery than an unclean surface, even after it dries.

The National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) is a not-for-profit organization whose stated mission is to prevent slips, trips, and falls through education, research, and development. NFSI also retains a database of slip and fall accidents collected from government, industry, and insurance-related sources. Their research revealed that more than 50 percent of slip and fall accidents are caused by the condition of the flooring. The other half are caused by a combination of footwear, poor hazard identification, improper training, and fraud.

One of the NFSI studies investigated whether the type of floor cleaner used on a floor had any effect on a floor's slipperiness, more formally known as its coefficient of friction. A floor with a higher coefficient of friction is less slippery than one that has a lower coefficient of friction. NFSI tested 19 popular household cleaners and determined their effect on the coefficient of friction, or, in other words, slip resistance of a floor. Cleaners were purchased from local supermarkets, mixed according to manufacturer's instructions, and applied to residential-grade vinyl floors. The results showed that a cleaner could either increase or decrease a floor's slip resistance, sometimes drastically.

Several cleaners had little effect after one application. Brite® One-Floor Cleaner, Clorox® Ready Mop, Mop & Glo® Floor Cleaner, Pine Sol®, Pledge® Grab It™ Wet Floor Wipes, and Pledge® Orange Wood Floor Cleaner actually increased slip resistance by one percent. Murphy Oil Soap® Wood Floor Cleaner, Murphy Oil Soap® Squirt & Mop, and Clorox®Wet Floor Wipes had no effect. Armstrong® Floor Cleaner decreased slip resistance by one percent, while Parsons® Lemon Ammonia All Purpose Cleaner and X-tra® Pine decreased slip resistance by two percent and five percent respectively.

Several cleaners substantially decreased the slip resistance of a vinyl floor:

  • Spic and Span® - 12 percent

  • Clorox Clean Up® - 14 percent

  • Swiffer Wet™ Disposable Cloths - 25 percent

  • Lysol® Wet Floor Cloths - 25 percent

  • Mr. Clean® Ultimate Orange Cleaner - 27 percent

  • Lysol® One Step™ Floor Cleaner - 36 percent

  • Lysol® All Purpose Cleaner - 43 percent

If you are concerned about having a slippery floor in your house, this research is something to keep in mind. If you are injured anywhere due to falling on a slippery floor, contact a competent attorney to protect your rights.