A big hand for mops

28th of September 2020
A big hand for mops
A big hand for mops

ECJ celebrates the role of the mop - and considers the strengths and limitations of traditional mopping systems in today’s increasingly mechanised world.

A growing number of companies are moving away from traditional mopping systems and opting instead for mechanised solutions. But mops fulfil an important role. They are flexible, versatile and quick to use as well as being easy to store and transport. And in many situations a mop is a viable alternative to a scrubber dryer – if not a preferable one.

The fact that mops require a low level of investment is one of their key advantages according to Greenspeed marketing manager Floor Loos. “A mopping system is much cheaper than a mechanised solution - and you don’t need an electrical source to use it,” she said. “Mops can be used easily and comfortably by anyone, and they are ideal for cleaning smaller rooms and hard-to-reach areas such as stairs and corners.”

Cleaning can often be carried out more swiftly with a mopping system, she adds. “Mops are compact and lightweight which makes them easy to move around and store, while the flexibility of a mop allows the operative to clean in greater detail than when using a machine.”

Ergonomic option

According to Loos, mops are also an ergonomic option where cleaning multiple floors during the course of a day. “A mopping system can be easily adapted to the height of the operator which enables them to maintain a better posture,” she said.

In fact she believes mops to be underrated in today’s market. “After machine-cleaning has been carried out, it is often necessary to use a mop to clean corners, stairs and below furniture,” she said. “It is hard to cover every area of a room with a machine, but a mopping system allows you to work in more detail and provide those important finishing touches.”

Greenspeed offers the Click’M C no-touch cleaning solution which is said to be lightweight and ergonomic in use. It consists of a magnetic mop and a smooth frame plus integrated colour coding ribbons that allow cleaning tasks to be segregated by application.

Kärcher’s product manager Kamila Dobler agrees mopping systems tend to be underrated. “Machines have a stronger image because they don’t involve manual cleaning and are considered to be more effective,” she said.

“Mops in general are regarded as a technically poor product and mopping is thought to be capable of being performed by anyone, whether or not they have had any training. But the fact mopping systems require less training than a machine is actually an advantage, and in certain situations mops are a vital tool that can provide a strong defence against bacterial and viral contamination.”

Mopping systems come into their own when the use of a machine is neither convenient nor affordable, she says. “There will always be situations where machine cleaning is impossible and where a mopping system is a must,” said Dobler. “Mops are fast, flexible and low-cost and are highly suitable in environments where there is no storage space for machines. And if properly executed a very good cleaning result may be produced, even with a smaller mopping system.”

Mops are the best solution in hard-to-reach areas, on vertical surfaces, where a discreet clean-up is required and when a cleaner needs to react quickly to a spill, she says. But the physical nature of mopping is a drawback. “There are more personal injuries associated with mopping than machines because mopping entails activities such as wringing and lifting heavy buckets,” says Dobler.

Ease of use and versatility are among the main advantages of a mop according to IPC communications manager Gabriella Bianco. “There is no need for a battery or electrical connection, and a mop is easy to transport from one floor to another,” she said. “The initial investment is also considerably lower than when buying a cleaning machine. And traditional mopping is silent with no training required.”

Manual mopping can provide the finishing touches to machine-worked tasks, she adds. “Mops are ideal when a specific product is needed and when time is of the essence.” Bianco says a scrubber dryer – no matter how compact – is unsuitable for certain environments such as smaller washrooms, shops and storage rooms.

Not confined to floors

“Many of us have also found ourselves at one time or another watching a cleaning operator in a supermarket hastily cleaning up tomato puree oozing from a broken bottle on the floor,” she said. “That kind of accident can only be dealt with by using an efficient mopping system.”

The use of mops need not be confined to the floor, she adds. “Mops can be used for cleaning desks, tables and shelves as well as vertical surfaces such as walls.”

IPC offers a range of mops and wringers including the Kinetic wringer which is designed to reduce water, detergent and operating and labour costs.

Bianco disagrees with other manufacturers that mopping systems are often underrated. “Traditional cleaning systems are firmly established and retain a well-deserved place in public environments,” she said. “In fact we are increasingly seeing technical breakthroughs with new systems and materials being used to improve performance and efficiency.”

According to Bianco, mops will continue to play a significant role in cleaning. “Manual and mechanised systems both have their place and will remain complementary to one another,” she said.
“Mechanised solutions equipped with sanitising and disinfectant products will be indispensable in large, busy areas while manual systems will complete those cleaning and sanitising tasks where specific requirements need to be met.”

Robert Scott’s sales director Alastair Scott shares the view that customers continue to value mops. “The industry is changing, yes, but there’s an ever-increasing demand for mopping systems that deliver multiple benefits,” he said.

Rapid response

Mopping systems allow for janitorial staff to move between locations and respond quickly to spills and similar incidents, he says. “They are also perfect for use in areas that are difficult to clean or that require separate products in different locations such as hospitals,” he adds. Robert Scott’s microfibre flat mop has pads that may be changed on the move and kept in separate trolley compartments to prevent cross contamination.

According to Scott, his company sells more mops today than ever before. “Understandably we’ve seen an increase in demand for disposable products, predominantly from the healthcare sector where Covid-19 patients are being treated.”

And he adds demand for quick-drying, spot cleaning is also increasing to enable facilities to be cleaned efficiently during busier periods while reducing the risk of slips and falls from residual moisture.

“We believe there is always going to be a need for simple, yet smart manual mopping systems that can cost-effectively clean confined areas,” he said. Designed for rapid-response cleaning, Robert Scott’s Pro-mist spray handle and microfibre pads are said to reduce the need for water and chemical agents.

Not everyone is convinced of the benefits of mopping systems, however. Machine manufacturer Rawlins has spent years campaigning to “chop the mop”, claiming mopping systems are less hygienic than mechanised cleaning methods.

“The main aim of cleaning is to remove all traces of dirt, germs, bacteria and viruses from a surface - and a traditional mop simply won’t cut it,” said managing director James White. “Even the most dedicated cleaner can’t be expected to remove soiling and toxins from the grout lines of a tiled floor using a mop-head alone.”

He says dirt should be removed from hard surfaces with the aid of water, a cleaning solution and a high-flow fluid extraction machine.

“If we have learnt anything from Covid-19 it is that the power of hygienic methods cannot be underestimated,” he said. “Businesses need to ensure they can safeguard health and safety - and this can only be achieved through a robust, science-based approach to cleaning and surface protection.”

However, Filmop’s export area manager Paolo Scapinello argues that machine cleaning is simply impractical in some cases. “Mops are particularly useful in environments where a machine cannot pass, such as in a room filled with obstacles, furniture and cabling,” he said. “Mops can also penetrate every corner and hard-to-reach area, ensuring an unbeatable level of frame-to-floor contact along with impeccable cleanliness.”

Hygiene levels crucial

He claims mopping systems are also the best solution for emergency clean-ups. And he believes them to be particularly suitable for sectors such as healthcare where a high level of hygiene is required. “In these sensitive industries, cleaning needs to be performed using a new mop for each area in order to combat the transmission of microorganisms and prevent the risk of cross contamination,” he said.

Filmop offers a range of disposable mop solutions plus mop-holders with a locking joint to allow the operator to clean walls and ceilings. “This provides extra flexibility and enables the cleaner to use a single tool on a range of surfaces which helps to optimise cleaning procedures and reduce costs,” he said.

However, he concedes machines require less effort to use than traditional mopping systems. “For this reason we have designed ErgoSwing to reduce operator strain and increase productivity,” he said.
So, how will the role of the mop evolve in the post-Covid-19 world? Ensuring a clean and healthy environment is likely to become more important than ever, says Greenspeed’s Floor Loos.

“Daytime cleaning will take place more frequently and people will have a more positive reaction when they see a cleaner,” she said. “This will make mopping systems more popular because they can be used quickly and with less effort than a machine, while the fact that they are quieter means they will not disturb employees. And this will be a particular advantage because both cleaning frequency and hygiene standards are likely to increase.”

According to Filmop’s Scapinello, mopping systems are being re-valued in the wake of the pandemic. “High-risk areas need to be cleaned more safely to avoid the risk of coronavirus contamination in healthcare facilities, hotel rooms and schools,” he said. “New protocols signal the use of disposable mops and cloths in order to better control the spread of Covid-19. So the popularity of mopping systems is likely to grow along with demand for more professionally-trained cleaners.”

And Kärcher’s Kamila Dobler believes that demand for both machine-cleaning and manual mopping is likely to increase. “In the coming months, people will feel reassured when they see an operative cleaning their desk or washroom so we will see higher cleaning frequencies than before,” she said. “I believe mopping and manual tools in general will be among the most-used cleaning items in the wake of Covid-19.”


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