, FAQ, SHOU Solution


As a specialist in floor maintenance, SHOU receives a lot of questions on how to clean or disinfect aircraft cabin carpets and floors. Standard disinfection procedures do not apply for cabin carpet. In this article we will describe various techniques on what you can do to establish a safe, healthy and clean cabin carpet by discussing frequently asked questions.

Cleaning cabin carpets will result in healthier air quality.

1. Can we disinfect our cabin carpets?

The short answer is no!
According to both the European Environmental Agency (EEA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) no disinfectant can claim to disinfect soft surfaces such as carpet. While hard surfaces cán be disinfected. Carpet is porous and there is a lot of empty space surrounding the carpet fibers, making it harder to treat compared to hard flooring. In order to claim the title of disinfectant, at least 99,999% of all bacteria, yeasts and fungi needs to be eliminated and 99.99% of all viruses need to be eliminated. This process needs to be verified by an official authority before an official claim can be made. So far, no disinfectant is able to make that claim.

Even if a disinfectant would be officially approved there are practical challenges to deal with. To disinfect a carpet, it would need to be completely drowned into a non-flammable disinfectant. After this treatment all disinfectant needs to be soaked out with a wet vacuum cleaner. Then the carpet needs to dry up to 24 hours in a ventilated environment.

2. So, disinfecting carpets with a disinfectant is not possible. What cán we do to create a safe and clean cabin carpet for our passengers?

With the right carpet cleaning programme it is possible to eliminate up to 99% of all micro organisms and viruses. SHOU can train your cleaning crew and delivers all products, tools and machines that are essential to achieve a clean and safe cabin carpet. Click here to find out more about our three-step procedure.

3. How frequent should we clean our cabin carpet and what are the steps?

During the current Corona virus outbreak, or any other virus outbreak, we recommend to deep clean the cabin carpet at least once a week. The SHOU deep cleaning method takes about 45 minutes for a narrow body aircraft when performed by two persons. For daily cleaning it is advised to include vacuum cleaning and spot cleaning. All cleaning steps can be done on board of the aircraft. The three steps are easy to perform: 1) Vacuum cleaning  2) Spot cleaning 3) Deep cleaning. There is no drying time or odor.
Check this video for instructions.


According to the WHO micro organisms can remain present on surfaces such as carpet for up to several days. Vacuum cleaning is a first step in removing build up soil and potentially harmful micro organisms that settle deep into the carpet fibers.

It is essential to use a powerful vacuum cleaner with a microfleece filter. If not, there is a risk that some of the fine dust that is vacuumed out of the carpet will be blown back into the air (due to the fact that the filter is not precise enough). In that case there is a risk that the cleaning crew or other people that enter the room/cabin right after vacuum cleaning, will breathe this. Over time, Micro-fleece filters need to be replaced. This is crucial for the vacuum cleaner to operate at optimal performance. But because these filters can last a fairly long time, it is not uncommon that cleaning professionals simply forget to change them. In a commercial setting and used on a daily basis, it should be checked every three months. If heavily soiled it should be replaced. Otherwise, it should be changed once per year. When replacing the filter, users should contact the distributor where it was purchased or the manufacturer directly. It is advised to wear protective gloves and a FFP2 face mask. Deposit the dirty filter in a plastic bag and throw it away.

Furthermore it is advised to use a vacuum cleaner equipped with a rotating brush. This helps to lift up the pile and remove dirt and dust that is in the bottom or in between the carpet fibers.

5. What is the difference between Viruses and Bacteria?

It is important to note the difference between bacteria and viruses. Bacteria are microorganisms, viruses aren’t because they are classified as non-living. Viruses work by invading the host cell, taking over its cellular machinery and releasing new viral particles that go on to infect more cells and cause illness. Both bacteria and viruses can occur on different surfaces and materials. Bacteria can grow on a surface and multiply, whereas viruses lack the capacity to thrive and reproduce outside of a host body. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a so-called enveloped virus with a fatty outside layer. This structure is easily destroyed using regular surface disinfectants and detergents. To prevent a virus and bacteria from spreading, good hygiene is more important than ever. It is therefore essential to understand how to maintain your aircraft cabin carpet.

6. Our cleaning crew disinfects our cabin by fogging. Is that sufficient?

It is important understand that there is a difference between surface disinfection and space disinfection. Space disinfection is much more complex. It takes a lot of effort and expertise compared to surface disinfection. The duration of such a procedure lies between 12 and 24 hours and should be performed in a completely closed room.

Hard surfaces can be disinfected while soft surfaces cannot. Thereby it needs to be considered that a disinfectant has to have an approval to be used. In the Netherlands it needs to be registered at the authority Board for the Authorization of Plant Protection Products and Biocides (Ctgb).

A big number of disinfectants are not suitable to be used, for instance with fogging, due to the nature of the physical chemical properties. In case of a hydrogen peroxide-based disinfectant, the concentration of hydrogen peroxide in the room needs to be measured in parts per million (ppm). This should stay below 1 ppm before anyone is allowed to enter the space or cabin that has been disinfected.

7. Is steaming with a steaming machine a good alternative to disinfect cabin carpet?

No, not for aircraft cabin carpet. The use of a steam cleaner implies the use of water and steam, with a high risk of corrosion and damage to the cabin. At this moment there is no steam cleaner tested and approved for use on aircraft cabin carpet.

8. Would it be an alternative to use UV- C light to disinfect cabin carpets?

No, not for aircraft cabin carpet. The use of UV- C light on carpet comes with a high risk of (burn) damage on soft surfaces. At this moment there is no UV machine tested and approved for use on aircraft cabin carpet.

9. What is an anti-microbial treatment? Can we make our cabin carpet anti-microbial?

An anti-microbial surface contains anti-microbials that continuously prevent micro organisms to grow. Disinfection only works at the moment it is applied. Then 99,999% of all micro organisms are eliminated. In case you touch the surface one minute after the disinfection there is a possibility that the surface is already infected again. With an anti-microbial treatment this is not the case, as continuously micro organisms are eliminated. At this moment official legislation requires a guarantee of 99,999%, while anti-microbial treatment shows results up to 99,9%. Therefore, no disinfectant is approved and any kind of official claim cannot be made with respect to an anti-microbial floor or carpet. However, with the right cleaning programme for your carpet it is still possible to eliminate up to 99% of all microorganisms.

A lot of research is being done on this subject. We are following these developments closely so that we can  integrate this in the SHOU cleaning procedures as soon as it is available.

10. SHOU cleaning procedures are based on a patented crystallisation and encapsulation method. What is this?

The mist-sprayed solution crystallises the dirt, which capsulate it and makes it vacuum-able. This is a very fast procedure compared to regular carpet cleaning, which is more time consuming because the carpet needs to be moisturised and needs to dry. SHOU is a dry-cleaning system and doesn’t need these long drying times. No residues are left, while with soap, foam or shampoo, sticky residue attracts more dirt after cleaning.

11. Are SHOU products certified to be used onboard of our aircrafts?

Yes, absolutely. SHOU products are tested and approved according to BOEING, AIRBUS and LUFTHANSA Technik requirements.

12. Our aircraft interior cleaning is done by a subcontractor. How do we deal with this?

SHOU will provide training of the cleaning crew of your subcontractor and deliver all tools, products and machines. SHOU does not perform the cleaning procedures.

13. We have different locations where cleaning is done. How does this work?

We make sure that at all machines, products and tools are available on every location. We train the cleaning crews locally. Further quality checks and audits are part of the programme in order to guarantee a consistent quality.

14. Can you give me an idea about pricing?

Instead of simply selling products and tools, we aim for a longterm partnership. Having the right products, tools and products is just one part of the equation. The right use of it, is at least as critical. Therefore, we train your cleaning crew how to work with our products, tools and machines and for a monthly fee, the use of machines, products, training, advice, evaluations and audits are included. This also means, no big investment upfront. Experience from major airlines show that the return on investment is below 12 months as cost savings are significant, mostly due to the significant longer lifespan you can achieve for your carpets.

15. We are interested. Can we set up a demonstration?

Yes, we can. As soon as we are able to travel we are pleased to visit you in the comfort of your own hangar. In the meantime, we can offer you a live online demonstration. You can also send us a piece of your dirty carpet and we can show you how we clean it and make it look as new and healthy and safe again.