Studies Reveal the Health Hazards of String Mops:
The string mop and bucket system was patented in 1893 and is still the most widely used method for mopping floors today. Despite several studies that have demonstrated the health hazards associated with the use of string mops, they continue to be used by many commercial cleaning companies.
A 1971 study revealed that string mops were responsible for spreading around massive amounts of bacteria in a hospital setting. Other hospital-based studies have revealed similar findings, prompting the EPA and CDC to issue guidelines recommending the use of alternative mopping systems to prevent cross contamination (i.e. spreading germs).
Despite the availability of superior mopping systems, many cleaning services still use the outdated string mop and bucket system, creating health hazards in homes, schools, office buildings, medical offices and other types of commercial buildings.
How String Mops Spread Dirt and Germs Around:
String mop and bucket systems spread dirt and germs around because of several design flaws in the system.
Here are a few ways that this happens:
The cleaning solution and mop heads become contaminated quickly;
The contaminated solution gets re-applied to the floor, spreading dirt and germs around;
If the mop head and or solution isn’t changed frequently, the germs and dirt will continue to be spread from one area to another;
This results in a buildup of film containing germs and soil.
This creates a health and safety hazard (the film left on the floors can become slippery);
How Germs on your Floors can be Hazardous to your Health:
Have often do you pick something up from the floor with your hands? Do you have young children who crawl or play on the floor? How often do you touch the bottoms of your shoes? During these times your hands are touching the floor either directly or indirectly.
Germs can survive on inanimate surfaces, like countertops or floors, for days or longer. We can pick up those germs by touching our nose or mouth after our hands have touched a contaminated surface. So, it’s important to take a closer look at how our floors and other surfaces are being cleaned. Your cleaning service should be removing as many germs as possible and not spreading them around with the mops they use.
String Mop and Bucket System Presents Problems for Janitors:
The string mop and bucket system is labor intensive, uses excess amounts of water and chemicals and presents a lot of problems for janitors using them:
Cleaning solutions must be changed frequently. Depending on the facility this may create a problem for the janitor as he moves from one area to another.
The system is labor intensive. The mop heads are heavy when soaked with solution, creating worker fatigue.
The buckets are heavy to lift and difficult to clean effectively.
Mop heads must be changed frequently and laundered and dried after each use.
String Mops have Uses, but not for Routine Floor Cleaning:
String mops can come in handy at times and are useful in some situations (unrelated to routine floor cleaning). The following are two examples when string mops are useful:
When cleaning up spills of dangerous chemicals such as bodily fluids, food and grease, industrial chemicals, etc.; string mops can be used to apply large amounts of water alone or with other cleaning agents to reduce the damaging effect those spills might otherwise have;
When applying chemical strippers over large areas during the stripping and waxing procedure for hard floors;
Other situations may arise when string mops and buckets are useful. However, other floor cleaning systems outperform the string mop and bucket system for routing floor cleaning and maintenance.
One such system is the microfiber flat mop for cleaning smaller areas in offices and other businesses. When larger surface areas need cleaning, auto-mopping systems can be more cost effective and advantageous than manual mopping systems.
Why String Mops are Still Being Used by Many Companies:
The old saying: you can’t teach an old dog new tricks might be the biggest reason janitorial companies still use string mops. Many janitors are familiar with the string mop and bucket system and have used it for years and may be resistant to change (even though better systems are available). Janitorial company owners may not be willing to make the investment in equipment and training to change over to the newer floor cleaning systems. Making a change like this can present logistical problems for janitorial companies that they don’t want to deal with.
The Microfiber Flat Mop System: A Healthier Way to Mop Floors
The EPA has recognized the problems associated with the string mop and bucket system and recommends that hospitals change to a microfiber flat mop system when possible. There
are a myriad of reasons why microfiber flat mops are superior:
Built in dispensers provide on-demand application of fresh cleaning solution without using buckets;
Cleaning solution never becomes contaminated;
No buckets to clean or refill;
Mop heads are easy to change and launder;
Less worker fatigue;
Uses less chemicals and water;
Business owners don’t connect poor cleaning results and employee absenteeism with the equipment and supplies their cleaning company uses:
After doing several hundred cleaning quotes for businesses in the South Florida area, Ace Cleaning Systems has found a strong correlation between business owner satisfaction and the type of equipment and supplies a cleaning company uses. Zach Shor, President of Ace Cleaning Systems states: “Most business owners have no idea what types of equipment and supplies their cleaning company uses. They call us in to provide a quote and are dissatisfied with their service, but they don’t make the connection. Almost always, I find that the janitorial closet has string mops in it and other signs that the cleaning company isn’t following best cleaning practices. When we come in and do a janitorial closet makeover, the results improve dramatically.”
Does Your Janitorial Closet Pass the Test:
If either of these items are found, your company should get an automatic fail!
Wet mops hanging; they are a reservoir for bacteria and other germs and should never be left to air dry in your janitor’s closet;
Dirty towels or mops left around; if your company isn’t using disposable towels, then they should have a dirty laundry bag for soiled towels and mop heads, i.e. they should have a laundering system in place;
If you find string mops in your janitorial supply closet, its time you found out why your cleaning company is still using them. If they are for occasional use, such as cleaning up spills, that may be okay. But, your cleaning service should have another system in place for routine floor cleaning. You can ask your cleaning company about the equipment and methods they are using to mop your floors or you can take a quick peek in your janitor’s closet and find out for yourself. In either case, its up to you to make sure that your cleaning company is looking out for your safety and well being. Go Bucketless.
Using Microfiber Mops In Hospitals, Environmental Best Practices For Health Care Facilities
Guidelines For Environmental Infection Control In Health-Care Facilities
The Massive Contamination Of The Wet Mop
Janitor - Induced Cross Contamination Causes and Cures
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