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NEWS Last modified on January 9, 2015

Gatwick melts away chewing gum problem

London Gatwick Airport has wiped the floor with one of its biggest facilities management problems by using ‘melt and blast’ technology to clean hundreds of thousands of pieces of chewing gum from terminal walkways.

The UK’s second busiest airport wanted to bring its external public areas leading to terminal buildings up to the same standard as those inside.

To achieve this, it commissioned CleanSafe Services to use a specialist technique that rapidly heats the chewing gum and removes it from the floor with a jet of water at 1,250 pounds per square inch.

The response of airport visitors has been highly favourable, as they see floors darkened by sticky grime and tens of thousands of blobs of gum, transformed to look brand new again.

Gatwick incident manager, Nick Henderson, says: “CleanSafe has filled a very niche and specialist function for us, to get our base cleaning standards to a higher and improved level.

“The CleanSafe team has done a fantastic job of giving the areas a cleaning facelift, to enable our core cleaning provider to perform their function.

“Now CleanSafe has established a good benchmark for external flooring, it helps our core cleaning provider to maintain that standard.”

As the world’s most efficient single-runway airport, Gatwick experiences some of the highest footfalls of any public space on the globe, as it caters for 36 million passengers a year, and millions more visitors.

Henderson says entrances to terminals – the “front door” for the airport – create a first impression, so have to be right, but they are the most difficult to maintain.

He adds: “Passenger behaviour results in gum being disposed of prior to entering the building. It often ends up on the paved areas, even though gum bins are provided at every entrance.


“This, combined with dwell areas where people smoke, often with a coffee or tea, provides us with a big challenge.”

Chewing gum mixes with cigarette ash and other daily grime, including spilt sugary drinks, to set rock hard, making it almost impossible to shift using conventional cleaning techniques.

CleanSafe managing director, Steve Broughton, says: “The external walkways at Gatwick are at the extreme end of this challenge. They have among the highest rates of dropped chewing gum and cigarette ends we’ve experienced anywhere in the UK.

“At the North Terminal alone, we cleaned 30,000 square feet, with an estimated 120,000 pieces of chewing gum.”

CleanSafe used its Aquila Triventek high pressure steam cleaner, which is heated to 150 degrees centigrade removes surface grime and begins to melt the chewing gum. Then a jetting lance is used to blast the chewing gum from the floor.

Henderson also adds: “Our core cleaning team is now investing in gum removal, with the use of new technology and chemicals, to prevent the build-up of chewing gum.”

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