Stop the Mop: Good, Better, and Best Mopping Alternatives

by | Nov 4, 2021

Clean floors are vital for attractive interiors. More than just cosmetic, hygienically clean floors deliver health and safety benefits too. They protect people from slips and falls and stop dangerous microbes from moving throughout the facility. And, because they are the first thing people notice, clean floors set a positive tone for the rest of the facility. 

Unfortunately, mopping cannot deliver hygienically clean floors. There are mopping alternatives that offer good, better, and best ways to clean floors. But before we can understand the best mopping alternatives, we need to look at why mopping misses the mark. 

String Mops Deliver Poor Results

String mops have existed for hundreds of years. Certainly, an improvement over scrubbing floors on your hands and knees, this tool allows workers to stand comfortably and cover more ground. But mopping is not even close to cleaning.

For proof, look at a commonly mopped surface: the public restroom floor. If mops worked well these floors would look, smell, and actually be clean. However, with about two million bacteria per square inch, according to an ABC News investigation, restroom floors are one of the germiest spots in any public restroom. 

The reason? Blame the bucket and mop system. “Bucket solutions become contaminated almost immediately during cleaning, and continued use of the solution transfers increasing numbers of microorganisms to each subsequent surface to be cleaned,” according to the CDC

Add on the fact that mopping is one of the most dangerous tasks janitors perform and the second leading cause of cleaning related injuries and it becomes clear. Professional cleaners need a better mopping alternative. 

Microfiber Mops Don’t Measure Up

A flat microfiber mop head offers a slightly better mopping alternative, but not by much. Two studies found that a brand-new microfiber mop only removes 50% of surface soils and bacteria. Perhaps more alarming, recent research in the American Journal of Infection Control shows that half of freshly laundered microfiber mops still contain unsterile, living bacterial levels that exceed national standards. 

Still, microfiber mops represent a somewhat better mopping alternative than string mops dipped into buckets. For the best possible results, staff should change the microfiber out once the pad is saturated or when moving between spaces. 

Autoscrubbers: An Expensive Choice

Autoscrubbers offer a better way to clean hard surface floors. With features like pre-sweepers, automatic cleaning solution dispensers, and vacuums, the technology cleans more completely and much faster than a mop. Autoscrubbers also leave surfaces dry, cutting the potential for slips and falls. 

But the advantages stop there. Big, bulky autoscrubbers are expensive to buy, complicated to operate, and difficult to maintain. Plus, they have trouble reaching edges, corners and under obstructions. That means workers end up finishing the job with an ineffective mop – or not at all.

Best Mopping Alternatives

For the best possible alternative in terms of results, cost, and ease of use, consider state-of-the-art technology that cleans quickly and completely without breaking the bank. 

Tools like the UniVac® use a spreader to disperse and agitate cleaning solution on the floor much like a mop does. Unlike a mop, which leaves that contaminated slurry on the floor to air dry, a UniVac recovers the soiled solution with a vacuum wand and holds it in a separate recovery tank. The process leaves floors clean and dry and is easier and more ergonomic for the user. 

For larger floors, consider a system like the AutoVac Stretch™. Machines like this work quickly to completely remove soils with the added benefit of reducing water and cleaning chemical use. Because of its unique design, an AutoVac Stretch:

  • Uses 75% less water
  • Reduces chemical usage by 66% or more
  • Leaves floors 25% shinier

Both the UniVac and the AutoVac Stretch are certified by Green Seal® for Environmental Innovation. That makes them great for choices for LEED for Operations and Maintenance certification. Or for any facility that wants a better mopping alternative. 

Maintaining hygienically clean floors does not have to be difficult, time consuming, or expensive. It starts when you Stop the Mop. Want help choosing the best mopping alternative? Click here for a selection of advanced cleaning machines to meet any need.  

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.
Amy Milshtein
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