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Indispensible tool20th of September 2012
Mops are arguably the most traditional tool in the cleaner’s cupboard, however they still have a vital role to play in the modern cleaning operation. Writing for ECJ, Vermop looks at how product development and the customising of mopping systems to make them more suitable for specific applications has secured their future.
The use of cleaning machinery in floor cleaning is on the increase. However due to the rise in the degree of furnishing and different floor coverings in business premises, manual floor cleaning remains indispensible.
In order to ensure economical and requirements oriented cleaning, cleaning system, cleaning process and cleaning method must be ideally tailored to the premises. Not only must the hardware be right, so too must its use, which is why cleaning staff training is such an important factor.
The choice of cleaning method mainly depends on the type of dirt, the degree of soiling and the floor covering.
One-and two-phase wet wiping
Highly adhesive soiling is best removed by wet cleaning. In wet cleaning, the whole area is well moistened. For soiling with a low level of adhesion, and when cleaning is performed outside of working hours, one-phase wet wiping is recommended. The floor covering is simply wiped wet, soiling is removed by the cover and lifted off. The residual cleaning liquid simply dries.
Suitable methods for one-phase wet wiping are the pre-wash method or the use of a wringer matched to the system.
In the pre-wash method, the covers are prepared with cleaning liquid in the washing machine or manually at a central site. Cleaning staff do not need to take along cleaning liquid in a bucket.
The two-phase wet wiping process is ideal for high levels of soiling and for high traffic areas.
In the first phase enough cleaning liquid is applied to the floor to ensure that the soiling is moistened and loosened. In the second phase, the soiled liquid is mopped up with a dry cover. This double wiping achieves a better cleaning effect than a one-phase wet wiping process. In addition, the floor dries more quickly and the danger of slipping is reduced.
Dust-collecting damp wiping
In damp wiping, no film of moisture forms on the floor covering. Unlike dry floor cleaning, the dirt is bound to the moisture in the cleaning textiles. Mops used for damp wiping are primarily those made of cotton such as the Cottona mop or those with a high cotton content such as the basic mop. The high proportion of natural fibres ensures streak free cleaning. In order to achieve an optimum cleaning result, the cleaning textiles are sprayed moist with water or a dust-collecting agent before cleaning.
Dry floor cleaning with microfibre
Dry floor cleaning is particularly common in Scandinavia and is increasingly gaining ground in the rest of Europe. It is particularly suited to loose, non adhering dirt such as dust or hair. The dirt is bound to the cover without the use of water or cleaning chemicals. Microfibre mops are particularly suited to dry floor cleaning. The wiping movement charges the fine fibres statically; they attract dirt and bind it to their surface.
So, unlike sweeping, no dust is raised. High tech microfibre technology achieves very good cleaning results on moisture sensitive floor coverings such as wood or cork. Dry floor cleaning is also ideal for preliminary cleaning prior to one-phase wet wiping.
Floor cleaning systems
Many systems for floor cleaning support cleaning staff in manual floor cleaning but which is the right one? Degree of soiling, floor covering, cleaning method and the size of the area to be cleaned are all decisive criteria.
Flat mop system - available in 40 cm and 50 cm working widths, it is the most common floor cleaning system in central Europe.
Double mop system - double mop systems are significantly more rational than conventional flat wiping systems. Thanks to their two sides, every second mop change is done away with. This saves time and cuts down on trips for fresh water. Double mops are particularly suited to premises in which large area coverage is required or for two-phase cleaning.
Velcro mop system - Velcro mop systems are suited to dry and moist cleaning. The high tech microfibre mops are attached to the holder through a Velcro system. The time required for staff training is minimised.
The right choice of cleaning processes and cleaning system still does not guarantee good cleaning results. Much of the cleaning activity is performed by the actual mop. Depending on the area of use, floor covering, type of surface, degree of soiling and cleaning materials, there is a wide choice of suitable cleaning textiles.
Modern microfibre textiles
Microfibre is the term used for fibres with individual yarns finer than one dtex. By comparison: microfibres are half as fine as silk fibres (the thinnest natural fibres), three times finer than cotton fibres and six times finer than human hair.
Compared with other materials, microfibres have a significantly greater surface, at the same weight. In addition the production process makes the surface of a microfibre many times greater than that of conventional fabrics. It therefore has a significantly greater contact surface for lifting dirt than the fibres conventionally used in mops and cloths.
Due to their fineness microfibres are able to develop cleaning activity even in the micropores of surfaces which cannot be registered by the human eye - easily removing dirt and, owing to their hair-like scaled structure, holding on to them.
Classic mop in blended yarns
The classic mop in blended yarns combines the best properties of different fibres. The materials primarily used are cotton, viscose and polyester. Depending on the requirements and area of use, the blend of fibres changes. In addition to the variability in the fibre combinations, numerous further combination options apply in the manufacturing of the classic mop. The classic process in mop production is sewing. Loops and/or fringes are sewn onto the back.
The high quality and hard wearing alternative to sewing is tufting. In the tufting process, loops are punched into the carrier material. Each individual loop can therefore resist strain of up to 10 kg.
Combination of microfibre and classic
The combination of a classic blended yarn mop and microfibre unites the best properties of both types of yarn.
Bristle and microfibre mop with bristles
In many areas, the dirt loosening properties of microfibres alone are simply not enough. This can include sanitation areas and areas in which safety tiles have been laid. In order to boost the mechanical capacity of a microfibre mop, bristles - generally made of polyamide - are incorporated into the mop. These bristles are many times more abrasive than microfibre. They loosen stubborn dirt so that it can be lifted off by the microfibres.
Disposable cleaning textiles
In addition to washable cleaning textiles, increasing numbers of disposable products are on the market.
Disposable products are particularly suitable as problem solvers in areas without washing logistics or where the preparation of the textiles would be very laborious and cost-intensive, or simply impossible. This includes textiles for clean room cleaning and textiles for highly sensitive areas (ranging from isolation wards to atomic power stations).
Washable cleaning textiles impress primarily with their high cleaning performance. At present this cleaning performance cannot be achieved by disposable products. For daily general cleaning, in business premises with a high level of soiling and in areas with heavily structured floor covering, hard wearing, durable and washable cleaning textiles will continue to be used in the future.
Disposable products will not displace washable cleaning textiles. They can be valuable additions in individual cases.
General care instructions
In order to maintain the functionality and service life of high quality cleaning textiles in daily use for a long as possible, the correct care is vital.
• Observe the care label for laundry and dryer instructions
• Wash new mops prior to use
• Sort textiles before washing
• Remove course dirt before washing
• Fill the washing machine to two-thirds of its maximum capacity
• Use detergent only in the main cycle
• Never use fabric softeners
• Use a mop washing programme with pre-rinse cycle
• Store cleaning textiles as dry an environment as possible
• Use a commercial mop washing machine.
The training of cleaning staff has become indispensible. Only the combination of trained motivated staff and the right cleaning schedules, cleaning processes and systems ensures the best cleaning result and consequently the success of the company.
In addition to the fundamentals of cleaning, it is important that the cleaning staff are also familiar with the right use of their equipment. Incorrect use can result in high costs. Not only is cleaning time increased by incorrect use, the cleaning result is generally not very satisfactory.
Furthermore, incorrect use also reduces the value and service life of the equipment. Consequently self-explanatory and less training intensive floor cleaning systems are gaining ever more significance in premises cleaning.
And cleaning staff training tailored to the specific area to be cleaned should not be overlooked. Particularly in hygiene sensitive areas such as hospitals or nursing homes, it is important to ensure that cleaning staff are aware of the individual schedules and processes in cleaning. Inattention and ignorance can have very serious consequences particularly for people who are ill or immune-compromised.