Cleaning up: Keeping graphics hygienic without damage

Anti-graffiti films are especially designed to tolerate intense cleaning.

Anti-graffiti films are especially designed to tolerate intense cleaning.

While it is important to ensure the printed design or message of a graphic remains undamaged by cleaning, in most situations,
it is the adhesive that is most crucial. Special care is required when cleansing the edges of graphics as disinfectants can weaken the adhesive’s bond to the surface of the graphic, or graphic to the surface such as a window, wall, or floor. Floor graphics, being in a horizontal position, are likely to suffer longer exposure to cleaning products, which may cause a loss of adhesive bond with the floor and, consequentially, result in a trip hazard. Therefore, it is essential to use the correct cleaning agents for the material, follow the instructions, and to avoid longer than necessary exposure. If possible, seal the edges of the graphic following application to prevent ingress of liquid and reduce the risk of weakening the adhesive bond.

Safe and hygienic

Wall and window graphics, while posing less of a safety risk in a tangible sense, lend themselves to more exposure to germs and viruses through hand contact—not to mention the occasional cough or sneeze. However, since they are installed in the vertical position, the duration of exposure to cleaning agents is usually limited, unless the surface is repeatedly saturated. If vinyl graphic edges or seams do begin to lift following cleaning or polishing, there are products on the market that are available to reseal them. Usually sold in pen form, this type of sealant is regularly used by vehicle graphic installers and for wall graphics on overlapping seams.

Take extra care when cleaning specialist applications and media. Laminated photography should be treated as if the laminate is PVC, with attention paid to the edges of the graphics and the duration of exposure to the cleaning agent. For unlaminated print media, check with the printer and/or ink manufacturer for guidance on the ink’s resistance to cleaning chemicals.

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Many consumer cleaning products are appropriate for use on professional graphics. Like with any new product or unusual situation, however, it is important to read the label for exact instructions. For instance, Clorox wipes and similar products will require air-drying for full sanitation. Some cleaning fluids may need to be mixed or diluted to achieve the recommended sanitizing solution, so follow those instructions carefully, too.

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