Choosing the Mop to Meet Your Needs
- Mops that Minimize Cross-Contamination
- Proper Cleaning Keeps Equipment Costs Down
Floor care is regarded as one of the most labor-intensive, time-consuming cleaning tasks in the industry. Fortunately, advances in equipment and technology have eased the burden of maintaining hard-surface flooring.
One example of this is the union of microfiber and mopping equipment, which has allowed cleaning staff to address ergonomics and improve productivity. And while the upfront cost of microfiber tools rivals traditional cotton mops, the longevity and performance characteristics of microfiber ensure that facilities see a return on their investment.
Indeed, microfiber has proven its worth as an effective cleaning tool for decades: Not only is it absorbent — holding up to seven times its weight in water — but it acts like a magnet to attract dust and dirt, making it suitable for both wet and dry mopping applications.
“Microfiber is generally a blend of 50 percent polyester and 50 percent polyamide, which is nylon,” explains Shari Solomon, president of CleanHealth Environmental LLC, Silver Spring, Maryland. “Because of the nature of the microscopic fibers, it has more surface area and therefore more ability to clean surfaces. Microfiber also has positively charged polyester fibers and negatively charged nylon fibers that attract whatever is on the surface you’re cleaning.”
As a result, microfiber’s abrasive action and negative charge can effectively clean a surface with little-to-no chemicals or water — another plus for facilities’ budgets and sustainability goals.
Choosing a Mop
According to Dave Frank, president of the American Institute for Cleaning Sciences, Highlands Ranch, Colorado, microfiber mops are best suited for lightly soiled floors of 300 sq ft or less. These tools are also a good choice in facilities where cross-contamination is a primary concern.
With a plethora of microfiber mop types and configurations on the market, choosing the right one can be daunting. Frank recommends facilities consider the following to aid the decision-making process: vertical market, cleaning application, production rate and flooring type. Identifying these variables will help facilities zero in on the appropriate tools. Some common types of microfiber mops include the following:
Flat mops. These mops can hold enough moisture to clean up to 150 sq ft at a time. According to Frank, they are best suited for lightly soiled floors.
“The majority of flat mops are used in hospitals, because in healthcare you’re cleaning a surface that’s already clean,” he says.
Dust mops. These mops trap a lot of soil quickly and come in a variety of configurations. Cut ends are an economical option for general dusting, while looped ends reduce fraying for better durability. Twisted loop ends are highly effective at capturing dust and resist fraying and unraveling during cleaning and laundering.
Tube mops. A replacement for cotton string mops, these tube mops effectively pick up debris and spills. They are suitable for almost any type of floor and can hold enough moisture to clean 400 to 500 sq ft at a time. Not only do tube mops last longer and perform better, but they do not harbor odor-causing bacteria like natural fiber mops can.
In addition to mops, microfiber cloths are the preferred method for cleaning and disinfecting a variety of vertical and horizontal surfaces. Frank recommends purchasing clothes that are 16 by 16 inches so that custodians can learn proper folding techniques to avoid cross-contamination. Piping around the perimeter of the cloths also ensures that they withstand commercial laundry applications.
Facilities should also keep in mind that not all microfibers are created equally. The best products are made with extremely fine fibers, some measuring about 1/200th the width of a human hair, or .33 microns. These can effectively remove 99 percent of bacteria and some viruses without the use of chemicals, notes Solomon.
“Floors are not known to be a high-touch surface, but there have been a lot of studies that show there is potential transfer of infection through floors,” she says. “I think it’s best to get the highest efficacy of microfiber that you can.”
Mops that Minimize Cross-Contamination