New Year’s Resolution: Stop the Mop for Really Clean, Really Safe Floors

By Amy Milshtein

New Year’s Resolution: Stop the Mop for Really Clean, Really Safe Floors

Face it, it's time to stop the mop and get serious about clean floors. Floors are always going to be a hot spot when it comes to dirt, debris and pathogens. We track them in on our feet, after all. While a good outdoor/indoor matting system goes a long way in removing the up to 24 pounds of dirt can be tracked in by just 1,000 people coming through an entrance over a 20-day work period, they can't capture everything. 

The mess doesn't stop there. Floors don't just get dirty from foot traffic. Soils and spills happen in restrooms, hallways and retail store aisles. Airborne germs and pathogens settle on floors in schools, offices and hospitals. Commercial kitchens floors get greasy and sticky. 

If you're ready to improve the appearance of your facility, increase the health and safety of its occupants and get your floors really clean, then it's time to get serious and stop the mop. 

A Surprising, and Surprisingly Dangerous, Touchpoint

Floors are a touchpoint? It's surprising but true. 'We have many more contacts with floors than most people realize,' writes Robert Kravitz in Food Quality & Safety magazine. In the article, Kravitz quotes Mark Warner, formerly with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, who estimates that we have as many as 50 direct and indirect contacts with floors everyday. Every time we tie a shoelace, as an example, that has also touched a floor, we have come in indirect contact with the floor. And, if that floor is contaminated—as is often the case during the course of the day—cross-contamination is possible.

Floors are an obvious touchpoint at daycares and schools, particularly K-5, where students often spend a big chunk of the day on the floor. Chances are very good that these occupants are going to touch the floor and then put their fingers in their mouths. (There's also a good chance they may actually lick the floor!) But even older kids drop supplies, tie their shoes or place bags underfoot which means their hands come in contact with the floor daily.

The stakes are even higher in a hospital or other healthcare environment according to Dr. Naveed Saleh. Dr. Saleh notes research that cultured 120 floor sites at four Cleveland-area hospitals. The research found

  • 22 percent of the floor sites were positive for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
  • 33 percent of the floor sites were positive for vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE)
  • 72 percent of floor sites were positive for Clostridium difficile (C. difficile)
  • 1.4 high-touch objects on average were in contact with the floor
  • 24 percent of high-touch objects were contaminated with more than one pathogen
  • 57 percent of contaminated objects in contact with the floor transferred pathogens (bacteria) to hands

The obvious solution is to keep these touchpoints as clean and hygienic as possible. Which is why you need to Stop the Mop. 

What Mopping Actually Does

Mopping is an old technology. But instead of actually removing dirt, soils and pathogens, it mostly spreads them around. Well-maintained mop heads may start out clean, but once it hits a dirty floor it's dirty. Now put that mop head back into the cleaning solution and the solution is contaminated and loses efficacy. Start mopping with that solution and the soil returns back to the floor as film. 

It doesn't matter if the mop is made of microfiber instead of cotton. In fact, a study found that microfiber mopping only removed 56.67% of organic soil

Mopping: The Expensive Choice

At first glance mops look cheap. But there are lots of hidden expenses behind that low initial price tag and they add up fast. 

  • Mop heads need washing: This requires an on-site laundry or a contract with an outside facility. String mops are a hassle to wash as their strings tangle and knot in machines. Microfiber mops require low heat and gentle detergent with no fabric softener or they will lose efficacy. 
  • Mop heads need replacing as they age: Microfiber mops last only 250 wash cycles. Using them on ceramic tile with gout ages them faster. 
  • Mopping takes a long time: First a worker must pre-sweep or vacuum, then fill a bucket with solution, dip the mop. wring it out, actually mop the floor and then wring out the dirty solution.  That's a lot of work for less than optimal results.  
  • Mopping leaves floors wet: Wet floors are a slip-and-fall hazard which can be very expensive—an average of $20,000 to business per incident. Cordoning off wet areas to avoid a potential lawsuit makes better sense, but that keeps shoppers away and hurts the bottom line. 
  • Mopping causes injuries: Wet mops are heavy, awkward and the second-leading cause of repetitive motion injuries in the janitorial industry. The activity strains backs and shoulders and after a worker is hurt the first time chances for a reinjury are very high. 

Stop the Mop for Better Cleaning 

Technology has a better way, the OmniFlex SUV from Kaviac. This machine cleans faster and more completely than mops and leaves floors dry and ready to walk on. If you're ready to stop the mop and move to state-of-the-art cleaning, click here

Amy Milshtein

Amy Milshtein

Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines. 

Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.

She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.

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