How to Clean and Sanitize an Elevator

March 5, 2021
In this post, you'll read:With the novel coronavirus COVID-19 still running rampant in many parts of the world, proper cleaning and sanitizing of all public areas has become an important issue.

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With the novel coronavirus COVID-19 still running rampant in many parts of the world, proper cleaning and sanitizing of all public areas has become an important issue. Customers will not likely ever forget this newfound importance that sanitation holds in modern society. In response, businesses need to have a functional plan for keeping their buildings clean and germ-free. 

One of the most complex pieces of equipment that are found in many office buildings is an elevator. Understanding how to clean and sanitize an elevator is crucial for employee health and client comfort. 

Parts of an Elevator 

Elevators have a lot of parts, many of which move in order for the elevator to function. If you are not sure about the function or safety of a part of your elevator, you should consult a professional elevator technician. An elevator technician can disable the elevator and lock it into place, which makes the cleaning and servicing of this dangerous piece of technology much safer. 

The parts of an elevator that riders see are all in what is called the elevator cabin. The cabin floor, doors, and walls are the parts that will need the most cleaning, as people track in all manner of things on the bottom of their feet and touch the walls and doors. 

The elevator panel is where all the controls are, usually in the form of buttons. Elevator buttons should be regularly cleaned and sanitized, especially now with the prevalence of COVID-19. Many elevators also feature handrails that add a component of safety and comfort to the elevator’s use. Sanitizing these is crucial for office health. 

The ceiling of an elevator cabin usually contains light fixtures, which can make it a little more challenging to clean. An elevator usually only has one source of light, which makes cleaning it all the more important. Wiping off a light fixture can ensure that the maximum amount of light fills the cabin. Few locations are creeper for customers than a dimly lit elevator. 

Parts of an elevator with technical names that you may be tempted to clean include the sills or tracks and the pit. The sill is the metal plate that serves as the bottom of the entrance. It often has grooves for the door. The pit is the area at the bottom of the elevator, where it rests when at the bottom. We would suggest not cleaning the elevator pit without the presence of an elevator technician, since it can pose a severe danger if the elevator is not entirely shut down and firmly locked into place. 


Elevators are almost always made out of sturdy metal to extend their lifetime and increase safety. Lift interiors often feature a variety of materials for decorative purposes. Materials can be cleaned, sanitized, or disinfected with varying techniques and success rates. 


Mirror finish stainless steel is a common feature of public elevators since the reflections make the small space appear larger. Mirrors on the walls and ceilings are also easy to clean if they are stainless steel; just remember to use a non-abrasive cleaner. Abrasive cleaning pads or sponges may scratch the polished surface or remove part of any extra coatings. For mirror-finished steel in a high-traffic area like an elevator, FTSSS always recommends adding an anti-fingerprint layer. Not only will this allow for more time between cleaning, but it also helps reduce liquids streaking and leaving unsightly residue. 


Many elevators feature carpeting, usually as a changeable floor covering that can be easily replaced over time. Soft surfaces like carpeting, curtains, and upholstery cannot be completely disinfected. Disinfecting a surface means 100% of bacteria and viruses are eliminated. However, they can be sanitized, which gets rid of up to 99.9% of problems. If your facility needs a surface that needs to be regularly disinfected to sterile conditions, try a hard, nonporous surface like stainless steel with a smooth finish. 


Wooden paneling, whether real or synthetic, is an excellent way to add more warmth to a space that is typically cold and metallic. Be careful with liquids while cleaning wood since it may absorb moisture or be scratched. A good alternative for real wood is laminated stainless steel. Laminated stainless steel is booming right now, especially in houses. It has all the durability and anti-bacterial properties of stainless steel while mimicking the grain of natural wood (or anything, really). 

Since most elevators are also decorated with different finishes of stainless steel, most of this guide will focus on those in more depth. If your elevator contains one of the other types of paneling or an alternative surface, make sure you follow any care instructions that the manufacturer recommended to you. 

Dangerous Parts of an Elevator

Besides the elevator pit, which we talked about already, there are plenty of “behind-the-scenes” components to an elevator. This guide is focused on the parts that can usually be cleaned by the average person. A good rule of thumb is that any part a customer is not able to see should probably be cleaned by an elevator professional. There is a risk of injury or death any time you enter an elevator shaft. Many of the moving parts may also need their coating of lubricant in order for the elevator to function. 

Cleaning Each Part of an Elevator

Taking the time to properly clean each part of your elevator is a great way to make a good impression on visitors to your building. Once you have trained staff on how to clean and sanitize each part, you can easily make a routine for regularly cleaning your specific facilities. These steps can be combined into a checklist for staff to use, and it can greatly reduce the lingering of infectious diseases, including COVID-19. 


If the flooring in your elevator is carpeting, disinfecting it is not an option. However, a high-powered vacuum cleaner, carpet steamer, and strong sanitizer can be a solid start towards improving the cleanliness and health of your carpeted flooring. In very high-traffic buildings, it is suggested to replace carpeting with a nonporous surface, now that the health risk of COVID-19 has become so clear and possibly permanent. 

Wet mopping the floor of an elevator is a poor choice since excess water can easily spread into the gap in the tracks and drip down the elevator shaft. 

Cabin Doors and Walls

Elevator cabin doors are often stainless steel, so they should be wiped clean with a non-abrasive cleaning spray and a soft cloth. Take care to disable the elevator before cleaning the doors, so you can avoid them opening and spreading cleaning fluid into the shaft. 

Lift walls are paneled with a wide variety of materials, so let’s focus on one that is becoming exceedingly popular in recent years. Stainless steel makes a great elevator wall, whether it is mirrored or has a brushed finish. Special stainless steel cleaners should be used for all forms of stainless steel. 

Currently, the most popular stainless steel finish for elevators is an etched surface. Etching metal is a chemical process that allows full customization of the pattern or design that is applied. Because elevators are frequently part of a business’ first chance to make a strong impression, etching the walls of your elevator can make a long ride up to the office a pleasant experience. 

Elevator doors can also be etched to give an aesthetic overhaul to your office’s lobby. A custom design can make your office stand out in a world full of simple, brushed finish steel elevators. Etched stainless steel has the additional benefit of keeping a flat, smooth surface. Other methods of customizing metal like engraving or stamping can sometimes create spaces on the surface that make cleaning and disinfecting much more difficult. 

Sills and Tracks

The sills and tracks of an elevator are one of the most walked-on surfaces and are typically covered in thin grooves. The grooves make sills a perfect trap for grime and garbage. Dust and spills also love working their way into the surface of elevator tracks. A strong vacuum cleaner, followed by a non-abrasive cleaner, should clean these out quickly. 

Elevator Panel and Light Fixtures

Cleaning the buttons on the elevator’s panel should be the last step. Be certain that the panel is disengaged before you wipe it down to prevent accidental button-pushing. An antibacterial cleaning spray, applied to a soft cloth, is the best way to reduce germs on this hotspot for contact. 

Microfiber cloths can also be used to remove dust from any light fixtures in the cabin. Dust buildup is a good indicator that it is time to clean again. 

What Next?

Once you have designated a routine for cleaning and disinfecting your elevators, the best practice is to regularly follow it. Many bacteria and viruses do not live for long on hard, nonporous surfaces, but since elevators are not well-ventilated, thorough care is important. 

If you are looking to upgrade the style or functionality of your elevators, check out the FTSSS products. Or, contact FTSSS staff directly and let them work with you on the best solution. Send us an email at or call me, Linda, directly at +86-1379-868-6781. The sales support staff can also make you a custom quote and make your designs and patterns into a reality. 

Hi, I am Linda, FTSSS blog writer . I have been working on stainless steel  since I graduated from university. How time flies!  13 years have slipped away from me. ‘Stay hungry, Stay foolish.’ I am walking steadily on the road of seeking knowledge every day.

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