COVID: Escalator Cleaning and Use

With the current focus on preventing transmission of COVID on surfaces, escalator cleaning and use is a hot topic. This blog is a helpful guide...

With the spread of COVID, effective cleaning and disinfection on escalators and moving walkways are now more important than ever. Bacteria and dirt can hide and be invisible. Shoes can transfer dirt onto the escalator steps and hands can leave marks and grime on the handrails. It’s important to be mindful of the surfaces we touch, not only for our own personal safety but also for public health.

Escalator use

The guidelines for escalator and moving walkway use during COVID is similar to our tips on lift use. There are two basic principles:

  1. Keep your social distance

    Like elsewhere it’s important to keep your distance, leave 5 escalator steps (or 2 metres on a moving walkway) between yourself and another user. On both pieces of equipment disembarking slows travel speed, so it’s worth giving more space than less.

  2. Be mindful when touching the handrail

    We’d recommend you wear gloves when touching the handrail if at all possible. If you are unable to wear gloves, then avoid touching your face and sanitise or wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

As a building owner, we’d recommend setting up signage to remind users of the equipment to follow these principles. One possible option is to add blue safety feet, or similar tape signage to show feet placement. An escalator company, such as Stannah, can assist – it may look simple to do, but if not correctly done it could cause significant and costly damage. On both pieces of equipment disembarking slows travel speed, so it’s worth giving more space than less. 

There's also additional recommendations on handrail cleaning and disinfecting - see the section below on escalator cleaning.

Coronavirus lift & escalator upgrade solutions by Stannah

Escalator cleaning

For every lift owner, building owner and facility manager, cleaning of lifting equipment should be a regular escalator maintenance activity but it sometimes can be overlooked. However, cleaning an escalator doesn’t have to be a challenge if there is a plan and the right equipment is used.

  1. How often should an escalator be cleaned?

    Unless the escalator has never been cleaned before and is extremely dirty, the average escalator or travelator cleaning cycle is once or twice a month.

  2. What extra cleaning should I undertake during COVID lockdown?

    To help minimise the spread of infection we’d recommend wiping down the handrails regularly with a disinfected damp cloth or alcohol wipe.

  3. Is there an easier way rather than constantly cleaning the handrail?

    Yes! A UV disinfection unit retrofitted to the inside of escalators and moving walks will automatically kill 99.9% of bacteria. The installation is relatively simple for a qualified escalator engineer so if you’re interested in this type of retrofit please contact us and we can advise further.

  4. How do I clean an escalator?

    Often escalator and/or moving walkways owners purchase specialised escalator cleaning equipment (or use a specialist cleaning company) which uses a “dry” method for deep cleaning. Dry cleaning involves a machine positioned on the lift equipment whilst running. The movement of the escalator, in combination with the cleaning machine, helps to remove the ground-in dirt in the tread area that regular brushes miss.

If you also have lifts on your site why not check out lift cleaning - our step by step guide.


As one of the leading escalator companies in the UK, we know how to take care of your lifting equipment. There's also Government guidance on COVID-19 cleaning in non-healthcare settings.

We hope the blog was helpful. We’ve also got Lifts Your Questions Answered - Covid Edition which gives helpful advice on use and maintenance during the lockdown.

We wish you all the best during this unsettled period and trust by coming together we can quickly limit the impact of this virus. You can find out more about our support for our customers during the nationwide lockdown for corona virus here

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With nearly 50,000 installations across the UK and over 92,000 units in our service portfolio, we offer a wide range of lift solutions and services to move people and goods. Take a look at our product range or simply get in touch.

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