Kicking The Bucket And Ringer To The Curb
Mopping a floor is a monotonous and laborious task. Whether it’s swinging a heavy cotton loop mop at the end of a wooden handle across a floor, wringing it out, or walking to the janitor’s closet with the mop bucket in tow to dump out and replenish the water, custodians sure have their work cut out for them each shift.
As of late however, manufacturers of mopping equipment have heard and answered the cries for relief by front line workers. During the last couple of years advancements in technology rolled out by manufacturers has allowed custodians to eliminate certain fatiguing processes when mopping a floor — which has led to labor savings and higher productivity.
No longer are custodians forced to wrestle with changing messy mop heads and lugging around heavy mop buckets. In fact, the traditional method of mopping a floor is now being challenged by the emergence of microfiber flat mopping systems.
Canning The Bucket
Although any facility can benefit from the implementation of a microfiber flat mopping system, healthcare facilities are more often the ones reaping the benefits, says Chris Pratt, sales manager, E.A. Morse & Co., Middletown, N.Y.
In an effort to reduce cross-contamination between patient rooms, some state laws require custodians to change out the mop head and mop water after cleaning each room. By replacing their traditional mop and bucket system with a rather new innovative technology — a bucketless microfiber flat mopping system — Pratt says healthcare facilities can easily lessen the threat of cross-contamination.
With a bucketless microfiber mopping system, custodians can stand at their janitor cart and easily change the soiled flat mop’s microfiber pad after cleaning a restroom or before moving on to clean another patient’s room — a vast improvement over the lengthy and messy battles custodians used to have with dirty loop mops.
“You can change it easily once it’s soiled,” says Fernando Rivera, national sales manager, Jon-Don Inc., Roselle, Ill. “It’s a velcro system so it takes two seconds to take off the used one and put on a new, fresh one.”
Custodians also don’t have to make frequent visits to the janitor’s closet throughout their shift to dump and refill the mop bucket with water and chemical. That’s because the bucketless systems do not require a mop bucket or water. So, instead of having to tow a mop bucket alongside a janitor’s cart from room to room, custodians now are able to ditch their otherwise cumbersome companion.
One might wonder how chemical gets distributed onto the floor without water?
The bucketless systems differ in comparison to traditional flat mopping bucket systems, which require microfiber pads to soak in a bucket of fresh chemical. The latest versions of bucketless systems introduced by manufacturers come with built-in chemical dispensing mechanisms. Current models either are constructed to work with squeezable bottles, chemical reservoirs or attachable chemical-filled pouches that allow end users to manually dispense fresh chemical onto the floor with a push of a button on the mop handle.
Because the mopping system doesn’t call for water, facilities are given the satisfaction that only fresh chemical is being distributed on the floor.
Not only does a microfiber bucketless system help promote the prevention of cross-contamination in healthcare settings, distributors say it also has the potential to be a huge labor, cost savings and productivity booster for end users no matter the facility they service.
“It allows you to, depending on the system, to clean anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 square feet before you have to worry about refilling the chemical,” says Rivera. It’s a huge difference when you’re able to do 8,000 to 10,000 square feet in a single filling. Your labor time and costs go down tremendously.”
Because microfiber flat mopping systems are lighter in weight — roughly three pounds when wet — than traditional cotton loop mops, which can weigh anywhere from eight to 10 pounds when wet, they are proven to reduce worker fatigue and possible injuries from mopping.
Composed of lightweight aluminum, flat mops eliminate the extra weight and stress that are put on a custodian’s body when mopping with a traditional mop and bucket system. Flat mops also maneuver better than their traditional counterparts and come with built-in extensions, so workers don’t have to stoop when mopping a floor.
Because newer flat mopping systems don’t call for a bucket and ringer, custodians are given a pass on the fatiguing process of wringing out the mop. Every time a custodian dips a traditional loop mop into a bucket of water and lifts it up to the wringer, it takes a toll on his or her back. And, depending on the square footage that needs to be cleaned, a custodian can be physically exhausted just from wringing out a mop, let alone the actual mopping of the floor.
Without a mop bucket, custodians also don’t have to make extra trips to the janitor’s closet to perform several dead lifts each night to empty the 35-quart capacity or larger bucket of dirty water. When repeating this process especially after mopping, custodians are more apt to throw their backs out or risk serious injury.
Because flat mopping systems weigh less and require less prep work, distributors say end users are able to clean more in less time. And because of this feature alone, distributors have been able to sell end users on the systems.
Rivera recently sold an Illinois school district eight bucketless flat mopping systems — one for each educational facility. He says that after the custodial staff used them for a few weeks throughout their facilities, they decided that they wouldn’t go back to the traditional way of mopping.
“They love it. They had a lot of square footage to cover and they were able to eliminate their mops, buckets and wringers after going to this,” he says. They were tired of lugging around the traditional mop bucket and water.”
With the bucketless system, the school district’s custodians are now able to easily change out the chemical pouches depending on their job scope, says Rivera. Thus, they are able to have a pouch of cleaner, a pouch of finish or another pouch of spray buff at their disposal to use in their flat mopping system. Rather than mixing the chemical concentrates, all they have to do now is switch mop pads when switching chemicals.
With educational facilities migrating towards the green movement, distributors say they are selling the bucketless mopping systems as part of a sustainable program. In fact, because the system eliminates the need for water, manufacturers say that end users can reduce chemical waste by up to 80 percent in certain facilities.
Every time a custodian has to change out the mop bucket water, he or she is pouring chemical and water down the drain. They then have to repeat the process of refilling and dumping out contaminated water until the job is complete. The cost savings on water and chemicals alone makes this a preferable option over traditional methods — especially when facilities are looking to stretch each dollar spent on cleaning, says Pratt.
Although the cost savings may appear blatantly obvious to some, other end users don’t seem to recognize flat mopping’s potential benefits.
Customers who are strapped for cash are looking for any sort of relief in this recessionary environment and are looking for the best product for the lowest price. Distributors say that although flat mopping systems may appear to be an expensive endeavor in the intial buy-in stage, over the course of time, the savings are noticeable over other mopping methods.
Distributors say customers must get past the initial costs of the systems to realize the full benefits.
“It costs a lot of money to outfit facilities with microfiber intitially,” says Pratt. “In the long term, the savings are there, but to get them to understand that sometimes is a little bit difficult when they can buy traditional mops for a fraction of the cost.”
End users will notice cost savings from reduced cleaning time — manufacturers tout up to 50 percent reduced cleaning time — and the fact that microfiber can be more effective than traditional loop mops because of its inherent physical properties.
Microfiber is also launderable. Most quality microfiber pads are launderable for up to 500 uses — a life that outlasts that of a loop mop by 10 times, according to manufacturers. However, Pratt cautions that end users follow the manufacturer’s laundering recommendations as some microfiber breaks down from the use of fabric softener or bleach.
Although distributors say there are many positives to flat mopping systems, there is still the need for improvement and training when it comes to this relatively new technology.
“Complaints we hear is that the systems don’t get the floor wet enough,” says Pratt. “There’s not enough solution or they got a real dirty floor and they go through too many bottles of chemical.”
To help reduce problems, it’s important to properly maintain the systems after each use, says Rivera.
“You have to have good maintenance after the work is done,” he says. “If you’re not cleaning it properly, then the little port where the cleaning solution comes out can eventually get plugged. But if you take the time to clean them and make sure the holes are cleaned, they will work for a very long time.”
Although there may be some resistance on the part of end users to implement bucketless flat mopping systems, distributors say end users will soon recognize the benefits as the technology continues to be introduced in the cleaning industry.
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