Finally, A Cleaning and Sanitizing System for Escalator Handrails

HydraMaster has been manufacturing the TreadMaster Escalator Cleaning System for over 30 years. Throughout that time, many of the facilities and customers who invested in the TreadMaster System have asked us if there was a better and more efficient way than hand wiping to clean the most common touchpoint on an escalator – the handrails. Chris Thomsen, the founder of the Maestro Escalator Handrail Cleaning System was recently introduced to HydraMaster and together the two companies immediately recognized they needed to work together to build awareness, especially in light of the recent focus on sanitizing common touchpoints in buildings related to the COVID-19 pandemic. So Doyle Bloss, Vice President of HydraMaster recently had a chance to interview Mr. Thomsen about his handrail cleaning system and where he came up withe the idea.

Chris Thomsen

Question 1: Chris, what is the Maestro Escalator Handrail Cleaning System?

Answer: I created and patented the most comprehensive escalator handrail cleaning system because nothing else existed. Having spent 50 years in the escalator and elevator industry designing, operating, and maintaining these people movers for several companies (Kone, Schindler, Montgomery, Otis, Westinghouse) something needed to be done. The Maestro escalator handrail cleaning system cleans the moving escalator handrails with self-guiding handrail cleaning pads cleaning the entire face of the handrail from bead to bead-not just the top surface! The foam pad holders and cleaning pads are specially designed to fit the newel curve of the escalator handrail while the rubber pores are stretched open the most to maximize deep cleaning and the conditioning process. The cleaning, conditioning, and disinfecting solutions are formulated specifically for rubber and plastic handrails. Of great importance, all Thomsen’s solutions are certified by the manufactures of escalator handrails, as well as the European EU Reach SDS regulatory program.

Question 2:  What was wrong with the way facilities were dealing with cleaning escalator handrails?

Answer:  Two hands, rags, and non-certified chemicals simply was not working well enough or fast enough. The task is to always maintain low levels of bacteria on Plastic and Rubber escalator handrail surfaces. Unknown to most people (even industry experts), escalator handrail system return rollers can accumulate a heavy coating of debris, contamination, viruses and more. Soil and contaminants from the escalator handrail face swaps back and forth with the return rollers and then back to the handrail face. High levels of handrail surface contamination will be evident from the contact between the handrails and the rollers, thus an endless cycle of clean to contamination begins. The answer is simple, but widely neglected. While an escalator is being serviced for mechanical or routine maintenance, the rollers must be cleaned prior to reassembling for continuation of standard operation needs. Clean return roller systems and clean handrails can be maintained with Thomsen’s handrail cleaning systems. Thomsen’s goal is to provide safe and clean escalator handrails for the end user and break the cycle of swapping contamination from the rollers to the handrail face.

Question 3:  Why is better cleaning and sanitizing of escalator handrails so important?

Answer:  17,000 US citizens per year who injured while riding an escalator because the escalator handrail is not safe to touch and the Owner /Operator of the Escalator is the one that face the risks and potential liability because of it. An annual average 17,000 US citizens report an injury from riding on an unsafe, unclean, or poorly maintained escalator. 10,000 of those are emergency room required visits and 30 of those injuries fatal. Can an escalator handrail be safe to touch? The answer is yes, clean the escalator handrail regularly using Thomsen’s Maestro escalator handrail cleaning system (weekly is suggested by the manufacturers) and many of those 17,000 accidents can be eliminated. Proper riding instructions include standing in the middle of the escalator step, holding onto the escalator handrail, and facing forward. Studies show that less than 50% of escalator riders will use the handrail and the primary reason is lack of confidence in cleanliness.

Question 4:  Is there a scientific way to validate the effectiveness of the cleaning and sanitizing system for escalator handrails using the Maestro system?

Answer: Thomsen’s partners with Hygiena, a global leader in surface sanitation verification. Implementation of an ATP meter and test swabs specific for the escalator handrail surface is used to measure live bio-load on the handrail surfaces. The ATP meter will detect and measure contamination of the escalator handrail from normal ridership. Examples of contaminants include body oils from hands, mucus, dirt, viruses, fecal matter, and bacteria. Since the ATP meter is connected to a Cloud Server, all the data is collected and provided in easy-to-read reports detailing the time, place, and live bio count numbers. The number unit measure is in RLU – Relative Light Units. Hospital grade-level cleanliness for an operating room is less than 30 RLU’s. Using the Maestro system and the Thomsen’s cleaning solutions designed for escalator handrails, we have consistently obtained RLU’s of less than 10! With the use of our disinfectant, we can keep that count from escalating through normal ridership for up to 7 days. I call this comprehensive process The Thomsen Way! ™ Essentially, I have developed the Gold Seal for cleaning escalator handrails to assure riders that the handrail is safe to touch. Safe to touch reduces the potential for a rider accident dramatically. Operators of escalators now have the tools to clean, validate cleaning is being done, and documentation that the best cleaning results have been obtained. When all of that is put together the escalator is stamped with The Thomsen Way Gold Seal and the riders are assured the handrail is safe to touch.

Interesting Chris. The cleaning and restoration industry is familiar with the use of ATP measurements to validate cleaning and restoration processes. Thanks for enlightening us on why you developed this exclusive system. HydraMaster is convinced that when a facility has an escalator that is routinely cleaned with the TreadMaster Escalator Cleaning System and the Thomsen’s Handrail Cleaning System, they are doing everything they can to make riding the escalator safer and cleaner, and reducing exposure to unwanted substances. In our next article , we will focus more on specifically how the Thomsen’s System works. In the mean time, you can leanr more about these systems by visiting our website:

TreadMaster Escalator Cleaner:

Thomsen’s Escalator Handrail Cleaning System: