Something in the world of floating have you stumped?
How do you clean the inside of the float tank? Obviously, you wanna be careful given that you’re working so closely with your float solution. What precautions do you need to take? What sort of products do you use?
Graham and Ashkahn share their stories of cleaning tanks, finding proper cleaners, and how to use them without affecting your water.
Listen to Just the Audio
Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)
Graham: Today’s question is, “how do you clean the interior of the floating device, the pod tank or room itself, not the water? And what’s the best way to keep the mold out without contaminating the water?”
So wiping down the interiors of your float tank.
Ashkahn: Cleaning the inside walls and sealing.
Graham: Cleaning the wall, we’re cleaning the wall.
Ashkahn: So… this is important, cleaning the-
Graham: It’s very, very important.
Graham: And, I guess just to start with why it’s important, you have this float tank water that’s really salty that you’re treating and sanitizing, and then you have everything above that water, which is in a moist, humid environment that is not really being treated. It’s ideal growth for-
Ashkahn: It’s kinda like an incubator. It’s just one giant incubator.
Graham: So keeping that free of bacteria, and anything that might grow there. Ends up mold might be growing there, too. Anything that would grow there ends up being important.
Ashkahn: Yeah. Most commonly, if I’ve ever seen it happen in a place, it usually is in some sort of seam of the float tank, so those are definitely the important spots. And, almost beyond the kind of cleaning stuff that we’re gonna talk about, making sure that those seams are properly sealed with caulking and stuff like that. You really don’t want crevices on the inside of your float tank. Not just for mold and stuff, but a ton of salt will just start building up in those areas, too.
Graham: Yeah, pretty much anything that isn’t just a flat, curved surface that slopes down gently towards the water where nothing can gather is sort of a compromise. You have to have that in a lot of float tanks. There just has to be certain seams, and most of them have a door, for example, so you can get in, which naturally creates those. But the more you can caulk inside there when you’re setting them up, the more you can make almost a seamless surface out of it. That’s gonna make your job immediately easier.
Ashkahn: Yeah. Luckily a lot of float tanks are built with this in mind, to minimize stuff like this. I guess it’s worth noting, too, that we have a task that generates for us once every six months in our shop, for us to go and check all of the caulking lines in all of our float tanks, and the rest of our rooms as well. Because over time, small holes and stuff like that will just develop. You don’t have to do it every day, but it’s a good thing to keep an eye on stuff like that in some sort of routine fashion.
More times than not, we’ll find something and we have to go fix it.
Graham: So, as usual, we’ve started by answering a question that you didn’t actually ask.
Ashkahn: But you need to… the real answers, you know.
Graham: We’re professionals.
But, right, so much of cleaning and everything in a float center comes down to preparation beforehand, so these are the things that will make that cleaning the inside of your tank just easier and more worthwhile when you get to it.
Ashkahn: So, how do you clean the inside of the float tank? What you want is-
Graham: You’re asking and answering the question?
Ashkahn: Yeah, yeah.
Graham: I thought you were just asking me?
Ashkahn: I was just repeating their question, you know.
Graham: Go ahead.
Ashkahn: Okay, so what you want is a hard surface disinfectant. That’s a specific phrase. I’m choosing my words carefully when I say that, hard surface disinfectant, and it’s because those words mean very specific things in the context of cleaning.
Graham: Means not soft.
Ashkahn: There’s no carpeting on the inside of your float tank.
So when you go buy cleaning products, whatever, Windex bleach, Clorox bleach, all these brand name cleaning products you see in wherever you’re… the store…
Graham: Where do you people shop again?
Ashkahn: These things are usually… they’ve been tested and often certified, and usually registered with the EPA for certain things. And when they make claims of “hey, we can kill this, we can kill that”, and that sort of stuff, they’re basing those claims off of a certain usage, a way that you’re using it.
So when they say something’s a hard surface disinfectant, they mean that their tests and all the information they’re telling you about that product has been tested and is gonna hold true if you’re using this on a hard, non porous surface. And, the inside of a float thank is a hard, non porous surface, so that’s good. That’s what you’re looking for.
Luckily, this is pretty much the main stuff you’re familiar with out there. Most of these cleaners, like I said, Windex, stuff like that, that’s what they are. They are hard surface disinfectants. You can buy those, you can look at the information on them, and you can see what’s written on them, and those instructions are gonna apply to you.
The other nice thing is that there’s no salt water to deal with, in terms of all the other stuff we have to talk about when we’re talking about treating the actual water in the float tank, and test kits and salt messing everything up and the chemistry, and none of that applies here. This is just good old fashioned cleaning.
Graham: Yup. I was gonna say there is salt on the walls, technically, which is annoying, but it doesn’t affect the disinfection.
Ashkahn: It means that we can speak about this with some confidence in terms of how these products work.
Graham: What’s actually happening, yeah.
That said, choosing something again that’s EPA registered as that, as a hard surface disinfectant. Then within that category, things will probably be more or less useful for you personally and your float center, just based on the kill times that they have, and what they actually affect in your float tank. That’s the next thing you’re looking for in a cleaner.
Ashkahn: That’s an important concept, too. This is something that I didn’t know until reading about the deeper world of sanitation, and it’s really not apparent to you when you first look into cleaning things, is that these things that you’re using to clean need to sit on a surface for a certain amount of time to do their jobs. If you’re doing it like you see in the commercials, where they just spray something on… the mom sprays something on the kitchen counter, and wipes it off-
Graham: All the animated germs are terrified, and they’re running through the hills.
Ashkahn: Yeah, that’s not what’s happening in real life.
So if you’re just spraying something and wiping it off right away, it doesn’t actually do its job. Most of the time these things need to sit there for 30 seconds, maybe a minute, and often the longer you let them sit, the more stuff they’re able to kill. You can look this information up on any of these kind of brand name products, and it’ll tell you things like, after a minute they can kill pseudomonas, or disinfect, kill to a certain extent pseudomonas and E.coli, and maybe a list of other things. And if you leave it on for five minutes, it can start to maybe kill norovirus or something, and if you leave it on for 10 minutes, it can start to kill funguses and things like that.
Those numbers and the length of time that you’re leaving them on there can be important.
Graham: And one nice thing about cleaning the inside walls of your tank as opposed to just the surfaces in your room is that you don’t need to do it as often, right? You’re not hopping in the tank to clean out between every single customer. Whereas you need these kind of hard surface disinfectants that are able to have a really fast kill time just for the changeovers in your rooms, you’re allowed a little more leeway.
Certainly when dealing with the funguses and things like that, it tends to take longer, which is one of the things you’re targeting in your float rooms. So that’s a little convenient. You can actually leave it on the surface in there without worrying about a customer about to burst in and needing to wait for that to dry.
Ashkahn: Small disclaimer, I don’t know of anyone who has really been researching tank wall sealing growth and finding the optimal… if you need to do this daily, or twice a week, or once a week or something like that. It’s kinda just hunches and what makes us feel good in terms of frequency. We do it twice a week at our float center.
Graham: Yup, and that has seemed to work fine for us. Again, we don’t have definitive answers, but we haven’t seen any growth. Nor have we done really robust lab tests, or anything like that. But there doesn’t seem to be any issues arising as a result of us hopping in and actually doing a deep clean of the walls twice a week with this hard surface disinfectant.
Ashkahn: The way we specifically do it is… Actually the first thing we do is take a bottle that’s just half water and half distilled white vinegar, and we’ll spray that in a spray bottle along the walls, and that just really helps dissolve the crystallized salt that builds up on the walls from people splashing and touching the walls, and taking salt water in their mouth and squirting it out like they’re a fountain.
Graham: Yeah, the salt graffiti, putting their initials on the wall in salt water.
Ashkahn: So you do a pass with that, and that just really helps get all the salt water off the walls of the float tank.
Graham: I should, just to back up a second, too. We do it during deeper clean times. I like doing it if we’re going to be refilling the water in the float tank, the water and salt. Cleaning the surfaces of the interior before you refill that water and salt is a good idea, just because it means you can get a little closer to that water line, right? So if the water’s dropped half an inch over time, then wiping everything down before you put in that half an inch of water means you get a little below where the water line is right after you fill it, which is a good timing for it.
Go on. I just wanted to rewind a tiny bit.
Ashkahn: Then once we’ve kinda desaltified everything, then we’re actually going in to do this cleaning or disinfection step. Specifically what we like to use is a hard surface disinfecting wipe, and that’s just because you’re in this little box, and it’s not really enjoyable to be spraying a bunch of chemicals around you for our employees who have to breathe it in. And to try to reduce as much mist or whatever of that getting into the tank water at any point. These are just the same things that you’re imagining, these kind of Lysol wipes, or something like that. You can take those and you can just run them along the walls, the residue on those wipes will stay on the walls and be there for however long until you wipe them off, and in some cases you can just leave them on and they’ll evaporate off, and that’ll give it that nice kill time.
Graham: Before we were using those, we pretty much were making our own hard surface wipe out of a washcloth, because you couldn’t go into the tank and just spray these chemicals right inside that confined space. We were kinda like leaning outside the door and spraying it on a rag, and then bringing it back in and wiping it down. At some point we’re just like, oh, this is silly, they have a product that literally does this for us. We don’t need to be dealing with the sprays at all.
That said, it worked okay like that. You definitely don’t have to use just handy wipes, we just found it more convenient at Float On.
Ashkahn: Better. So you should do it.
Ashkahn: Yeah. There’s no reason you shouldn’t do it, so…
Graham: And… What else? We do that for all our float tanks.
Ashkahn: Yeah. It’s a little easier to do in the kind of cabin style than the tank or pod style. You’re going to take your pants off, sometimes more depending on which tank you’re getting into.
Graham: The tiniest tanks, I definitely just had to get totally nude, go in there, and I’ll just sit inside the tank and be wiping it down. You don’t even really crouch or anything, you’re just sort of taking a little salt bath, playing around in there, doing very serious disinfecting work.
No, I don’t think I have anything else on this. I do have something else on this side, which is… I just wanted to reiterate how actually important this is. I’ve talked to so many people who call with issues with their tank water. Something’s going wrong. After making sure that they’re changing their filters, and figure out what they’re using for their regular water disinfection, I ask about cleaning the walls, and it seems like that’s actually one of the main things that if everything else with their tank seems in line, they’re like “Oh, you know, I wipe down the walls once a month.” Or, “No, I’m disinfecting the tank, I don’t need to wipe down the walls,” or something like that, right?
Again, we don’t have scientific data to back this up, but I think that things are forming on there, and in some cases actually even falling off the walls into the float tank water, and making that go south, or keep it’s quality for less long. Again, just to say that, tracing back problems from conversations, this does seem to be one of the key ones that can affect your water quality.
Graham: In my personal opinion. Take it for what it’s worth. Clean your walls.
Ashkahn: There’s certainly no harm. It’s not gonna make anything worse to clean your walls. So, you know, there you go.
Graham: And if you want us to stumble our way through your question, you can go to floattanksolutions.com/podcast and send it in.
Recent Podcast Episodes
Any float center owner knows that these tanks and the rooms they live in are fickle creatures that need particular supplies to maintain. This Tank Topic is a great collection of practical tips and tricks for keeping tanks, showers and rooms clean and happy.
This is a simple two episode compilation about advice on building your own float tanks. The guys are pretty against the idea. Having built two of the 6 tanks at Float On in house, they personally know the challenges that arise with this and how many unexpected obstacles you have to get over to make it happen. In between their blanket condemnation of the idea, though, are really helpful tidbits of what to look out for if you absolutely cannot be dissuaded.
Something in the world of floating have you stumped? Show HighlightsIn the second of our Tank Topics episodes, we take a look at what starting a business looks like and how starting a float center is the...
Welcome back to DSP! We covered so many things over the course of 366 episodes, we thought we’d highlight some of the topics we covered in our new ongoing series of compilations: Tank Topics.
With our first Tank Topic, we’re covering how to choose a location and all the things to consider, from construction to hipness. Check it out now!
Our final episode of the Daily Solutions Podcast. Join us as we take calls from the float industry and Graham and Ashkahn answer your most pressing questions.
Watch the video on YouTube at https://youtu.be/wpTYbPAOg9E
or on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FloatSolutions/videos/267233400579454/
Latest Blog Posts
We've already landed in St. Louis, checked in to our AirBnb, and have been greeted by the warm embrace of our float family here for the Rise Float Gathering. The welcome party was wonderful. Drinks were had, stories were shared, and old friends greeted each other and...
A comprehensive breakdown of everything that we know as an industry about floating and PTSD.
Rise is coming up soon, May 3rd through 5th, and while many of you have probably heard about it, most of you probably haven’t been there. I’d like to talk about how it compares to other industry events, and what makes it so special. We’ve attended Rise every year, and...
A little while ago, Float On changed from a tiered membership system to single priced memberships. There’s a lot of debate in the float industry as to which one is better but there are clear and valid arguments for and against. We even did a podcast episode...