10 Data Center Cleaning Supplies & Tips

Data Center Raised Clean Flooring

Last Updated on June 28, 2022 by Josh Mahan

General Supplies & Tips for Effective Data Center Cleaning

The presence of dirt, dust and other airborne particles in data centers can lead to many potential problems, including system failures, fires, and eventual hardware damage that requires costly repairs and replacements to correct. Because of this, it’s essential that data centers either employ a regular, professionally trained cleaning staff or purchase the services of qualified outside cleaners to handle data center equipment. The following post explores several tips and tricks for general internal and external data center cleaning services, as well as a selection of top-quality products that can be beneficial during data center cleaning.

Related: Data Center Power: Best Guide to Efficient Power Management

Tip 1: Floors and Equipment Surfaces

Take the time to clean floors, other surfaces, and equipment thoroughly and regularly using data center cleaning supplies that can be used to clean surfaces, equipment hardware, and internal equipment components. Such tools can include ergonomic flat mop heads, bleach disinfectant tablets, swabs, and saturation wipes. Make sure that this is done at least on a quarterly schedule, if not more frequently. As previously stated, dust, dirt, and other contaminants can accumulate quickly. Due to this, data centers need to be cleaned routinely.

Tip 2: Raised Floors, Sub-Floor Planum, and Floor Supports

Raised floors, sub-floor plenum, and floor support structures should be carefully accessed and thoroughly cleaned annually, if not quarterly. These areas need cleaning to prevent the buildup of excessive amounts of dust and other particle contaminants, which could infiltrate the data center’s equipment and cause a significant amount of damage.

Tip 3: Don’t Sweep the Floors; Mop, or Vacuum Instead 

Don’t do any sweeping, especially around data center equipment, as it can cause larger dust and dirt particles to be pushed into cracks in the floor panels. Sweeping can also cause finer particles to become airborne, increasing the chances that they will end up inside the equipment. Instead, cleaning staff or services should use a dry mop or ESD vacuum with specialized HEPA filters to remove these particles effectively.

Related: Data Center Infrastructure: What You Need to Know

Tip 4: Dedicated Cleaning Equipment

Ensure that any cleaning equipment used is dedicated to cleaning the data center only, primarily if the equipment is used more than once. Bringing In cleaning equipment from outside the data center has the potential to bring in outside contaminants. Data centers should be treated similarly to cleanrooms and have dedicated wipes, swabs, mops, and other equipment that isn’t used anywhere else.

wiping down data center cabinet

Tip 5: Only Use Data Center Approved Cleaning Chemicals

The data center should specifically approve all cleaning chemicals used to ensure that nothing could potentially harm any equipment or areas surrounding the equipment. Data centers should develop a list of approved chemicals and other tools and provide them to both internal cleaning staff and outside cleaning services.

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Tip 6: Clean Floor Tiles Gradually

Data center cleaning crews should make sure not to remove too many floor tiles for cleaning at a single time, as doing so could cause a lower static pressure that causes equipment to overheat in other parts of the data center. Internal and external cleaning staff need to be informed of which floor tiles can be removed and how many should be removed at once.

Tip 7: Keep Cleaning Equipment Clean

All cleaning tools and equipment like vacuums, rags, and mops, should be rinsed and emptied after use and be checked before use to ensure that they are in appropriate working order. Please note that it’s essential to clean all vacuums outside of the data center to prevent tiny dust particles from being released where equipment may be exposed to them.

Tip 8: Designated Maintenance Outlets

Whether internally or externally hired, maintenance staff should be provided with designated maintenance outlets for cleaning usage. Staff should be carefully instructed not to plug their equipment into server outlets or other data center equipment outlets. Doing this could lead to severe electrical issues or even damage to the equipment. Maintenance outlets should be clearly labeled to prevent any potential confusion.

Related: Data Center Cooling 101: From Start to Finish

data center entrance

Tip 9: Equipment Surfaces and Internal Structures

Cleaning equipment surfaces or internal structures is best done with data center cleaning supplies like, damp, clean, disposable wipes used with light pressure to prevent potential equipment damage. Data centers may have specific wipes or other tools that they require for cleaning their equipment or particular components of their equipment. All cleaning staff, regardless of whether they are internal or externally hired, should be informed of the location of these tools.

Tip 10: Look Out for Zinc Whiskers

If your data center floor tiles are made of galvanized steel, the cleaning staff should look for any signs of zinc whiskers, which can cause severe problems for data center equipment if they become airborne. In-house cleaning staff should regularly be checking for the presence of these whiskers during their regular cleaning routine, as their presence can lead to critical electrical components being shorted out.

Data Center Cleaning Supplies – Final Thoughts

Whether a data center relies entirely on an internal cleaning service, contacts an outside cleaning service, or both, there are many essential steps, tips, and techniques that should be used to ensure that their equipment and surrounding areas are being maintained effectively. If these are not carefully adhered to, the data center won’t be cleaned effectively. Ineffective cleaning could potentially result in several critical equipment complications and failures over time.

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Why Do Server Rooms Need to Be Routinely Cleaned?

Dust, debris, and contaminants can accumulate and wreak havoc on your data center. A recent report found that neglecting to clean your data center can damage equipment, build up grime on server fans that reduce efficiency, and increase the temperature of your equipment by up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. This can potentially cause equipment failure or downtime and increase energy costs.

How Often Should a Data Center Be Cleaned?

At a minimum, your data center needs to be cleaned once a quarter to ensure your data center is free of dust, debris, and contaminants. Neglecting your data center can result in damaging your equipment’s lifespan and reducing your data center’s efficiency.

While four times a year is recommended, you should clean your data center based on the facility’s traffic. You may want to clean it weekly or daily if you have high foot traffic in your data center.

You’ll want to assess your data center’s dust and grime levels to customize an optimal cleaning schedule. You may find that you need to have some tasks regularly while others can be completed quarterly.

Approved List of Data Center Cleaning Materials and Equipment

When buying data center cleaning materials and equipment, you’ll want to select cleaning materials qualified by computer manufacturers or are considered equipment neutral. Some of these qualified or neutral materials and equipment include:

  • High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) or S Class Vacuum Cleaner
  • Lint-free Wipes
  • Particle-absorbent Dust Cloths
  • Lint-free, Non-shedding Mops
  • Floor Scrubbing Machine
  • Non-ammoniated Cleaners
  • Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Dissipative Chemicals
  • Canned Air

Create a Detailed Checklist to Ensure Proper Cleaning

The best way to ensure that the data center is cleaned thoroughly is to create an itemized checklist. When creating the checklist, you should include the specific supplies needed to complete each task. This checklist should include specific tasks for each of these categories:

  • Surface Cleaning
  • Subfloor
  • Server Cabinets
  • Hardware
  • The Data Center Support Area

Things To Avoid When Cleaning a Data Center and Equipment

Because the data center equipment is particularly sensitive, you should:

  • Avoid heavy chemicals that can age or damage the hardware. Only use certified chemicals to clean servers, racks, and other data center equipment.
  • Refrain from using a lot of solution. A little goes a long way, and too much solution can compromise the equipment.
  • Never spray surfaces directly. To avoid damaging equipment interiors, you should spray cleaning solution on wipes or cloths.
  • Do not use cleaning supplies or equipment that is used to clean other areas of your building. The equipment and supplies should be explicitly designated for the data center. Otherwise, you risk bringing in more contaminants.

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Related Link: 5 Reasons to Use Raised Flooring in Your Data Center

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