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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Question

I do a lot of research on new products and techniques. I started cleaning with paper towels; after some research, I came across microfiber towels, which work great. Then, I bought a microfiber flat mop, and a double sided bucket. I used it for one year; all my employees hate it and so do I. The production rate is very poor, nothing compared to my old yellow bucket and my string mop. I also try to use a microfiber dust mop; it is so bad that Iím not sure that all the so-called improvements are the way to go. I would like your take on this matter. Also, do you have a recommendation for a good dust mop? I try to vacuum the hard floor areas instead of dust mopping, but the time that it takes is just not productive.


Answer

As you have now discovered, no one tool or approach fits all cleaning situations. Your microfiber towels work well because you are using them on surfaces limited in area and lightly soiled. They do pick up well, as promised, and they are not rapidly overloaded and rendered useless in this application.
Microfiber pads are excellent for placing floor finish. They provide better application control and less mess and product waste.
Floor mopping presents other issues. Often, especially in the northern sections of the country, the floors are loaded with tracked-in water and grit, including ice melt chemicals. These quickly overload even the best microfiber floor mop, demanding frequent trips to the mop bucket. There is no other side of the mop pad to flip over to, so there is a limit to the use between rinsings.
Microfibers are tenacious. They hold the soils and moisture they encounter. This means they do not always readily release these into the mop bucket, and you may need to have a good supply of machine laundered pads on hand to keep the work moving along.
The flat mops are great for lightly soiled floors, especially in health care where there is a concern about cross infection. Using a new pad in each patient room eliminates that risk, so when the patients are on the floor they will not be exposed to what the guy in the next room has, except when the doctor walks onto the floor from the next room without changing his shoes. Well, maybe cross-infection risks on floors is not that big an issue, but you can see my point about the proper place to use a flat-mop system.
On heavily soiled floors, you will be better off using a good quality banded mophead and a standard press and bucket setup. And the cost will be more reasonable.
Another problem Iíve noticed that I have yet to see addressed well is the poor performance of most flat mop presses. Basically, they are a platform with some holes and something to push the pad down, forcing out the water. Due to their size (small) it is essential that this pressing action be effective. The pad isnít large enough to hold a lot of moisture on the pickup, so it needs to start as solution-free as possible. With most of the presses Iíve seen at ISSA, you would be better off wringing the pad by hand. And that takes too much time on the job.
You should use any dust mop wide enough to cover the area you are cleaning with a minimum of motion. Both microfiber and standard treated dust mops need to be kept unloaded. They pick up and hold a lot of grit and dust and become distributors of these if not kept shaken out or vacuumed. Microfibers do not require any treatment, but they work well and load up fast. Keep them free from debris.
Vacuuming hard floors and resilient tile can be fast, but it seldom provides the agitation need to loosen ground-in grit, and the vac head may scratch the floor finish if not designed for that application or if damaged.
So, choose your tools carefully. Microfibers do a good job, but they are not the choice for all surfaces and soil conditions.

Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Editor
lekrafft@juno.com