When only a mop will do

4th of January 2018
When only a mop will do
When only a mop will do

More and more floor cleaning operations are now carried out using machines. But are there still applications where only a person with a mop will do the job best? And how is mopping technology developing in terms of both materials and tools in order to stay relevant for today’s cleaning requirements? Floor Loos at Greenspeed writes for ECJ.

Maintaining floors has been essential since time immemorial. Over the years people have worked to develop low-maintenance flooring which is easier to care for. By and large, this has been achieved. Even so, we cannot prevent the protective coating or the product itself from wear and tear altogether, which is why we have to make sure that our floors are safeguarded against contamination as much as possible. Maintenance has to be performed more often to prevent us from having to use aggressive substances to remove build-up of dirt.

Prevention is still better than cure. Regularly mopping floors helps to prevent dirt from building up and sticking to the surface, which saves both clients and cleaners an unpleasant task later on. Hardened, built-up dirt makes cleaning more difficult and takes more effort to get rid of.

There is now much focus on using machines and even robots to make maintenance less of an arduous task. The use of scrubber dryers on large-scale surfaces that cannot easily be cleaned by hand is recommended, as is the use of robots. Despite these machines now being more advanced than ever, which allows them to move around obstacles and people with ease, they still have their limits. Corners and edges are an obvious example here – this includes the edges of walls and the edges of other obstacles such as plant pots. Technological advances mean that a solution to this problem can be expected in the near future.

For smaller surfaces and areas such as staircases, it is virtually impossible to use a machine (even if it is small). These surfaces have to be cleaned manually. This has its advantages when looked at in terms of efficiency. For example, a human can move a wastepaper basket to clean under it and then put it back where it was. A cleaner can also adapt their work to certain surface types and put extra effort into cleaning them, or use specific cleaning products.

Different types of flooring also require different types of maintenance. There is more to it than just hard or soft floors. Looking at hard floors alone, there is a huge difference between the approach required for natural stone floors compared with, for instance, linoleum. The maintenance methods used also differ from floor to floor.

There is a risk of this knowledge being lost along with specialist floor maintenance. The standardisation of floor maintenance with machines can never replace this expertise. It is now increasingly important to highlight this expertise and use it as an asset in order to acquire jobs. Machines are also often powered by batteries, which must be recharged. Then there is the issue of how to process waste batteries. This requires the involvement of a specialist company.

Different techniques

As mentioned previously, machines are used to carry out work which is thought of as monotonous and boring. It is a way to make cleaners’ lives easier and to prevent their work ethic from deteriorating due to boredom. Work should be made more rewarding wherever possible. When it comes to mopping by hand, the challenge is to make sure that ergonomically sustainable materials are used. This must be assessed and adapted on an ongoing basis.

For example, working with string mops weighing 350 to 500 grams – which become slightly heavier when they absorb water – and filling up buckets that hold between 10 to 20 litres of water and carrying them around is far from ergonomic. It is also questionable how hygienic this manner of cleaning actually is, as these types of mop are not especially effective at collecting dirt. In contrast, the use of clean, flat microfibre mops and with an innovative ergonomic microfibre system is proven to be effective. The question then is whether to invest in this type of system on a large scale.

It is fair to say that cleaning has a traditional background. Nevertheless, the days of kneeling on the floor scrubbing it with sand, soap and soda are now far behind us. This is why we should be careful not to be too resistant to innovations and instead encourage new inventions. The key aim here is to strike a balance between mechanical cleaning (where this is an option) and manual cleaning. It is likely that a combination of the two is unavoidable.

Human involvement

Floor maintenance continues to require human thought and actions based on this. Disruptions can be resolved without too much preparation and machines will never be able to determine what kind of maintenance is required or at what time. This requires staff training and education, which in turn requires more investment. All companies (and particularly cleaning companies) should view this investment as their capital.

This will enable floor maintenance knowledge and experience to be safeguarded for the future. It should also be done using environmentally-friendly products for the benefit of future generations. It is high time for cleaning to be considered a specialist profession which adds value. Machines and tools do indeed have to be used, but they can never substitute a motivated, professional workforce.

www.greenspeed.eu

 

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