The magnificent mop

20th of October 2022
The magnificent mop
The magnificent mop

Ann Laffeaty makes the case for the traditional mop – and finds out how it fits into today’s highly mechanised world.

The internal floors of commercial and industrial premises are increasingly being cleaned by scrubber dryers. And in many cases, these machines are taking the place of the traditional mop.
But mops offer a number of advantages over scrubber dryers, according to Crisp Clean’s sales manager Keara Page. For one thing, they can quickly be transported from A to B when an unplanned cleaning task needs to be carried out.

“Accessibility is a major benefit of a mopping system,” she says. “Mops can be used to clean in areas where it is simply not possible or economical to use a scrubber dryer. And less training is required on the part of the operator as well.”

Mops can be used dry, damp or wet and are able to clean into corners and edges, she adds. “They can also be made from materials that enable them to clean effectively without the use of chemicals,” she says.

But the design of the mop is pivotal, because a poorly-designed model might spread dirt and bacteria around the floor rather than removing it, according to Page. “Cotton has good absorbency, but much of the absorbed solution will enter the cotton structure and remain there, leading to an increased risk of cross-contamination,” she said. “And Kentucky mops might leave behind a wet surface which would potentially be hazardous.”

Flat mops can help to alleviate this problem, she adds. “Flat mopping leaves a dryer floor which reduces the risk of accidents,” says Page.

More hygienic

Crisp Clean’s mops are made from stainless steel for easy manoeuvrability, while its Silver mop incorporates silver ions in the yarn to prevent bacterial growth. And the company’s standard pile flat mops are claimed to be durable and easily laundered while offering a high level of absorbency. “When used in conjunction with our Ringo or Hytech wringers they will pick up more solution than traditional mops,” she says.

Page believes future mopping systems will become even more hygienic as textile technology improves. “And as people make more sustainable choices, they will increasingly consider the energy requirements and initial outlay of electrical items such as scrubber dryers along with the overall plastic consumption associated with these products,” she said.

Robert Scott’s sales director Alastair Scott agrees that the lower level of investment required for a mopping system is a key benefit. “Mops also help to reduce ongoing costs - an important consideration in the light of today’s rising material and labour prices,” he said.

“Most traditional mop systems can be used continuously by replacing the mop head or microfibre pad which means there is little or no downtime. And manual mopping requires no power source, which is a huge benefit for businesses seeking to enhance their sustainability and reduce running costs at a time when energy prices are at a record high.”

Environmental benefit

He adds that pre-soaked mop pads require little water which is a further environmental benefit. And ease of operation is another plus, according to Scott. “Mops are a convenient solution for response cleaning and the user can move around freely while using them,” he said. “And a manual mop makes even more sense if you are working in environments that involve stairs, furniture, obstacles or a variety of floor surfaces.”

Problems arise when the wrong product is used or when an operator is inadequately trained, he says. “For example, a mop that is too wet will result in floors taking longer to dry. And if the user doesn’t follow basic principles such as cleaning from the furthest area to the nearest to avoid stepping on mopped areas, they will risk contaminating the cleaned floor.”

New from Robert Scott is the Biofresh mop which is designed to inhibit the growth of bacteria and odours, and the Exel socket which is said to fix the mop to the handle more securely than screw fittings.

The future for mopping is bright, according to Scott. “With the sheer variety of environments that require daily cleaning - and with the comparatively low cost of manual mopping compared with machines – we believe mops will be with us for many years to come,” he said.

Mops are ideal for use in small rooms that have no specific sanitising needs, says IPC’s product manager Elisa Marcon. “Problems only arise when the contaminated water is reused, such as with traditional bucket-and-Kentucky mop systems,” she adds.

The use of double-bucket systems where the dirty and clean water are kept separately is cost-effective while providing a high level of performance, she says. “And the fact that mops require no power source is a major benefit in today’s environmentally-aware world.”

Filmop’s business development manager Paolo Scapinello agrees mops offer significant sustainability advantages over machines. “Today’s customers are seeking more eco-friendly products - and mopping systems require no power source,” he said. “Microfibre mops also reduce water waste due to their absorbency.”

He adds that mops are sufficiently compact to clean even the smallest of spaces. “They are ideal for quick clean-ups and can be used in corners and congested areas as well as on walls and ceilings.”

However, he says a poorly-designed model will have some disadvantages. “A mop that isn’t lightweight, intuitive and easy to use will require more effort on the part of the operator,” he said.
According to Scapinello, mopping systems with a tank handle – such as Filmop’s ErgoDrop - work particularly well in response cleaning situations. Also from the company is the ErgoSwing which consists of a telescopic handle with a turning grip and a mop holder. This has an ergonomic joint which is said to reduce operator strain and increase productivity.

Scapinello believes there will always be room for mopping systems on the market. “Their compact size and reduced management costs help to overcome the limitations posed by machines,” he said.

Undeniable versatility

The versatility of mopping systems is undeniable according to ceo of Concept Manufacturing Francois Caillou. “No other system can provide such a productive solution in congested environments,” he said. “Mops also work well on a range of hard flooring materials including plastic, tiles and wood. And they can be used for cleaning walls, ceilings and even the tables of restaurants, schools and meeting rooms.”

According to Caillou, mops are preferable to machines for quick clean-ups and on-the-spot applications. “Machines are heavy and may not be stored close to the area where they are used,” he said. “And even if the machine is only required for a few minutes, you will still need to
account for maintenance time which will involve refilling the tank and cleaning the squeegee.”

However, he says mops require more manual effort than machines, adding that cleaning quality will suffer if the operator has not been well trained. “This makes scrubber dryers more effective in large open areas,” he said. Concept’s Sloopy pre-impregnated flat-mopping system is said to be lightweight and ergonomic and is claimed to reduce water and chemical consumption by 90 per cent.

Mopping systems can clean up to skirting boards, under machinery, beneath furniture and into edges and corners, says Vikan’s UK sales manager Andy Fryer.

“The fact that mops are quieter than machines means they can be used at any time without disturbing customers or employees, whereas vacuums can often only be used during ‘quiet’ periods,” he said. “And a strategically placed mop can be deployed far more quickly than having to go to cleaning cupboard to wheel out a scrubber dryer.”

He says a machine will often need to be serviced or charged before use, whereas mops are always ready for work and will rapidly clean up spills. “While scrubber dryers are able to carry out a visually acceptable clean, microfibre mops give a deep clean every time,” adds Fryer.

However he says traditional mopping systems – and microfibre mops in particular - still require some level of staff training. “But once this time investment has been made, a fully-trained member of staff will be extremely efficient at cleaning floors effectively,” he said.

The Vikan Microfibre mop is claimed to require little water which means the floor can be cleaned and put back into service within 90 seconds, says Fryer.

Manual mopping will always be one of the most commonly-used cleaning operations around according to Kärcher’s manual tools product manager Beyza Gügercin. “Anyone can mop a room with decent results,” she said. “However, in order to achieve a professional and sustainable clean, the operator will need a certain amount of training along with the right tools for the task.”

No power needed

The fact mops can clean in areas that are inaccessible to machines is a major advantage, she says. “Mops also require a lower initial investment while offering high levels of performance,” she adds.

According to Gügercin, manual tools are among the greenest products around. “This is because they are operated by humans and require no power source, while materials such as microfibre reduce the use of water consumption and detergent,” she said. “They can also be used for everything from spot cleaning and daily maintenance to regular cleaning and quick clean-ups - there are no limits.

“And another major advantage of mops is their speed. It is faster to grab a mop and clean an area with a spray applicator and a microfibre mop than it is to deploy a machine, and the floor will dry rapidly afterwards.”

According to Gügercin, the extra manual effort required for mopping is one of the system’s chief drawbacks. “However the latest tools, systems and technologies on the market have been developed with the operator firmly in mind,” she says.

Kärcher offers a range of back-friendly mopping systems equipped with adjustable telescopic handles plus mops with a hook and loop backing. These can be attached to the frame and removed by stepping on the edge, with no bending required.

Gügercin believes the issues of health and safety will become strictly linked to sustainability and efficiency in the future. “The mop will play an increasingly important role in this context because it is still the most commonly-used means of cleaning a floor,” she said.


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