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Data Center Cleaning Best Practices

All data centers require continuous maintenance.   Some may require extensive efforts to maintain a high level of cleanliness due to data center design, age, location and traffic. 

Hardware performance is an important factor contributing to the need for a high level of cleanliness in the data center.  All electronic and mechanical devices are sensitive to contamination.  Hardware exposed to excessive contamination for long periods of time will eventually result in a catastrophic failure.

Maintaining a high level of cleanliness will raise the level of occupant and visitor awareness and cause them to hold the controlled environment in high regard and are more likely to act appropriately.  Any environment that is maintained to a high level of cleanliness and is kept in a neat and well organized fashion will command respect from the room’s inhabitants and visitors.  When potential clients visit the room they will interpret the appearance of the room as a reflection of an overall commitment to excellence and quality.

To maintain a high level of cleanliness an effective cleaning schedule must consist of specially designed short-term and long-term actions.  The following activities are appropriate for all data centers with and without raised access floors.


Daily cleaning tasks include the removal of trash from the room.   Floor vacuuming may be required daily in rooms with a considerable amount of operator activity.


Floor surfaces should be vacuumed and in some instances damp mopped weekly.   During the week, the floor becomes soiled with dirt, dust and scuff marks.   The surface covering of a raised access floor system is designed to dissipate static electricity. When the surface is not maintained properly, the residual buildup of dirt and other contaminants inhibits static dissipation.   Furthermore, maintaining a clean floor surface will greatly reduce the accumulation of dust and dirt in the underfloor plenum.


Access floor systems covered with high pressure laminate should be professionally cleaned with chemicals and techniques appropriate for access flooring and data centers.   Such techniques eliminate mopping contaminated solution back into the floor and utilize cleaning chemicals that do not harm data center equipment.

Foot traffic embeds soil, dirt and dust into the high-pressure laminate and requires a more intensive and detailed cleaning.   The use of cleaners and equipment appropriate for high pressure laminate is necessary to remove the embedded contaminants.  Other blemishes such as scuff marks and stains are addressed with an intense monthly cleaning.  This process requires training and should not be considered a janitorial service.


All room surfaces should be thoroughly decontaminated including cabinets, racks, shelves and support equipment. High ledges and light fixtures and generally accessible areas should be vacuumed and/or wiped as appropriate.

The underfloor should be cleaned every 12 months depending on several factors such as the conditions of the underfloor plenum surfaces, the degree of contaminant accumulation on the floor surface and frequency of underfloor activities.

Over the course of a year, the underfloor is accessed to add, move and service hardware and equipment.  These regular activities all create new contamination.   Although the floor surface cleaning activities will greatly reduce the underfloor dust accumulations, a certain amount of surface dirt will migrate into the underfloor plenum.  It is important to maintain the underfloor to a high degree of cleanliness since this area supplies the data center with cool air. 

In an effort to maintain access floor integrity and room temperature, the number of floor tiles removed from the floor system should be limited. The underfloor structure should be thoroughly decontaminated, by vacuuming the loose debris from pedestal heads and stringers, followed by a damp-wiping, if appropriate.  Rubber gaskets, if present, should be cleaned as well.   Any unusual conditions, such as damaged or missing underfloor structural components, damaged floor tiles, and leaks should be reported and repaired immediately.


All data center cleaning activities, processes and techniques should only be conducted by experienced professionals.  A professional data center cleaning company: will be insured, have trained technicians, have standard safe cleaning practices specific to critical environments, and use chemicals and equipment safe for data centers.

Equipment and Chemicals

All vacuums used in the data center, for any purpose, should be equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration.  Anything less than HEPA filtered vacuums simply agitates smaller particles.  It is also important that mop-heads and cloths/wipes are lint-free.

The use of water is necessary however safety precautions and techniques should be incorporated into the cleaning process.

Inappropriate cleaning solutions used within a data center can cause damage to the hardware.  Such solutions include ammoniated products, chlorine based products, phosphate based products, bleach enriched products, petrol-chemical based products, floor strippers or re-conditioners.  It is also important that the recommended concentrations are used and that the solution is routinely changed.  Excessive applications should be avoided.

Activity and Processes

All unnecessary activity should be avoided in the data center, and access should be limited to necessary personnel only.  Periodic activity, such as tours, should be limited, and traffic should be directed away from sensitive hardware so as to avoid accidental contact.  All personnel working in the room, should be trained in the most basic sensitivities of the hardware and equipment.

Command centers, print rooms, or other areas with high levels of mechanical or human activity should have no direct exposure to the data center.  These areas should be accessible by routes that do not enter the main data center areas.

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