Cleaning up mopping

1st of October 2018
Cleaning up mopping

Ann Laffeaty looks at the latest products and technologies on the market designed to clean up the task of mopping and reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

If you run a mop around a dirty floor using detergent and clean water, the chances are that the floor will end up looking cleaner afterwards than it did beforehand. But mopping is a dirty business. It is all too easy for the operator to spread contaminated water around the floor, making the end result less clean than it actually appears.

This is the view of Crisp Clean general manager Paul Frost. “The clean appearance created by traditional mopping methods can be misleading,” he said. “It might just be that the dirt has been spread more evenly on the floor but that little of it has been removed.

“Cotton fibre mops are a particular culprit. While cotton has a good level of absorbency, much of the dirty solution will enter the cotton structure and the operator won’t be able to wring it out.”
As a result the cleaner will be forced to regularly change the mop head, says Frost. “This will potentially put the operative at risk of contaminating his or her hands with the soiled mops,” he adds.

Release soil

He claims one solution to be the use of a flat mopping system with two buckets. “This will remove more dirt while also keeping the mops cleaner for longer,” he continues. “The use of high surface area yarn fibres with no cotton content will also improve the ability of the mop to release the soil into the rinsing solution.

“Better still is the hygienic method of using mops that have been impregnated before use and that are used only once before being laundered.”

However, this method may require the use of more mops, he adds. “If the mops are impregnated long before use they may dry out or become breeding grounds for bacteria,” explains Frost. “A dosing system will resolve this problem, while the use of silver ion technology will reduce the risk of the mops becoming contaminated. And this will help to protect the cleaner as well as resulting in a safer floor environment.”

Crisp Clean’s Solo dosing system is said to ensure that each mop is only dampened when required and that no mop is left for long periods in a damp or unused state. The system also incorporates silver technology to avoid bacterial growth and spread.

According to Frost, mop holders should enable the mops to be removed with little or no human contact to improve safety for cleaners. “Our own mopping systems have a folding stainless steel mop frame that will release the mop without the cleaner touching it,” he said.

Hygienic mopping systems are particularly crucial in the healthcare, food and drug manufacturing sectors as well as in electronic component manufacturing and automotive and aerospace assembly plants, he says. He believes that technological advances will lead to mopping systems becoming even more hygienic in the future. “Textile fibre technology and electronics will help to push the boundaries,” says Frost.

Dirty water being reused and spread all over the floor is an almost inevitable result of traditional mopping systems according to IPC Tools managing director Michele Redi. “It is difficult to ensure constant access to fresh water during cleaning operations,” he said. “As a result, traditional cotton mops tend to absorb and spread microbial contamination all over the place.”

In order to achieve a satisfactory result, the chosen solution is often simply to increase the quantity of detergent used, he says. “However, this exposes workers to potentially dangerous chemicals agents.

“Within healthcare environments in particular the use of chemical products and disinfectants has been associated with health issues caused by exposure to active compounds such as formaldehyde, sodium hypochlorite or benzalkonium chloride,” he said.

Harmful substances

“These toxic substances are either corrosive or harmful when in contact with the skin and may cause chronic health problems in the long run. It’s also a fact that skin diseases are among the most frequent work-related diseases among operatives within the cleaning sector.

“And further studies confirm there is a high prevalence of work-related dermatitis among cleaners which is predominantly caused by dermal exposure to the chemicals in cleaning products.”

However, hygienic mopping systems are particularly important in the healthcare sector, he adds. “Here the concept of cleanliness and hygiene will be paramount since the risk of bacterial and germ contamination plus the spread of infectious diseases is always lurking,” he said. “So all cleaning and sanitisation processes should be fast and effective so that staff activities are not impeded and patients are not inconvenienced.”

Hygienic mopping is also particularly important in the hospitality sector, he says. “Cleaning here is a fundamental and immediately-perceivable indicator of the quality of service,” says Redi. “Guests need to feel comfortable in a clean, healthy and peaceful environment.”

Mops that are pre-impregnated, disposable or colour coded can all help to improve the safety of cleaning operators’ daily activities, according to Redi, And he adds systems that provide ready-to-use cleaning mixes - such as IPC’s own Triggy and Triggy Detachable systems – also help to enhance operator safety.

“Mops made from synthetic microfibre tissue are also highly effective at trapping bacteria and providing excellent cleaning results,” he says.

IPC’s own Smart Disinfection System allows the operator to calibrate the quantity of cleaning product used via a dedicated control panel while the Triggy mop frame sprays the desired quantity of solution on the floor and is compatible with either velcro or disposable mops.

The health and safety of cleaners has been a hot topic over recent years according to Greenspeed product manager Bert Lagarde. “These types of discussions should be taken very seriously,” he said.
“The health of cleaners is extremely important to us and we strongly believe that cleaning should be made easier and pose minimal health risks for the operator.”

He believes the hygiene levels of traditional mop systems to be “very poor, to say at least”. “The mop heads become dirty quickly and many people don’t wash them – they merely put them in a bucket of bleach once in a while,” he said.

“It is also hard work to remove all the water from the floor after cleaning. People may assume that all the dirt has been transferred into the bucket, but much of it will remain on the floor where it may not show up because it will have been spread evenly by the mop. Meanwhile, the surrounding walls and plinths will also have become splashed.”

He says water used in traditional mopping methods should be changed regularly to avoid dirt and contamination being spread around. “In practice this is rarely done - but when it is, it brings the cleaner into contact with the dirty water and any detergents they might have used.”

Hygienic alternatives

Greenspeed Click’M C mop system allows the cleaner to slip the frame into the pocket of the mop and lock the mop into place via a magnetic fastening. “The frame can also be opened by foot which means there is no need for cleaners to touch the mop head,” he said.

According to Lagarde, microfibre mopping provides a hygienic alternative to traditional methods. “Microfibre has greater powers of absorption than traditional cotton mops and requires the use of less water,” he said. “This means the floor dries very quickly and does not remain slippery for long periods.

“And colour coded microfibre mops will minimise the risk of cross-contamination since they designate the area in which they should be used.”

Every mop becomes contaminated as soon as it touches the floor according to Filmop’s export manager Paolo Scapinello.  “It doesn’t matter how often you rinse it or wring it: the more you use a mop, the more contaminated it will be along with the cleaning solution, the buckets and the wringer,” he said.

“This means you are not actually ‘cleaning’: you are simply redistributing the dirt and bacteria. Kentucky and flat mopping systems with wringers pose serious issues in healthcare environments since the risk of cross-contamination is guaranteed.”

He adds cleaners cannot avoid coming into contact with contaminated materials at work. “Mops, buckets, water, the wringer and the trolley itself all become bacteriological time-bombs,” he said.
“Cleaners will usually be issued with gloves to protect their hands. But when the user starts to clean the doors, the furniture etc they will contribute to the distribution of the bacteria if they are still wearing those contaminated gloves.”

According to Scapinello, double-bucket systems are not the solution - but are clearly part of it. “Double-bucket systems are good enough for use in some very low risk areas,” he said. “But they are too heavy and involve the use of a wringer which is constantly contaminated so they are definitely not the answer in healthcare environments.”

He believes the industry is moving away from the use of buckets and wringers and adopting instead the increased use of lightweight microfibre mops. “Pre-soaked mops and mops soaked on demand are a clear solution,” he said.

“Pre-soaked mops do not need to be squeezed out and are replaced with fresh ones after a specific area has been covered. This helps to keep the risk of contamination to the user at a much lower level.

Lower risk

And where the mops are soaked directly on the trolley when they are needed there is again no need for any squeezing or rinsing. This results in a lower risk of contamination for the user and for the cleaning surface.”

Filmop’s Equodose system for soaking mops on demand is aimed at environments such as healthcare facilities and food plants where high standards of hygiene are crucial, says Scapinello.

However, mopping systems should be hygienic no matter where they are used, he adds. “Any environment is liable to cross-contamination whether it is a school, a kindergarten or an office,” he said. “Viruses and bacteria have no territorial limits and every environment should be cleaned with the aid of the latest and most appropriate technologies.”

He believes that today’s chemical-resistant bacteria and viruses pose serious risks to our health. “New manual tools and machines are being developed to remove these germs from surfaces while an increasing number of companies are investing in high quality research to provide better systems,” hesaid.

“However with any new development the health of the user and the ergonomics of the system need to be safeguarded at all costs.”


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