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As specialists in commercial cleaning, we’re often asked how new technology stacks up against conventional. In one area in particular, there have been numerous new product introductions in recent years; particularly the “microfiber” mop…

Microfiber cleaning material fibers are a 1/16 the thickness of the human hair. These fibers are a blend of microscopic polyamide and polyester and are split as to create microscopic hooks that act as claws that can dirt, dust and grime.

Don’t be fooled by the 1/16 thickness either, these fibers are capable of holding six, yes SIX, times their weight in water. Microfiber mops/pads consist of a lightweight handle that is extremely sturdy in higher quality products, that allow for maneuverability of the flat, rectangular mop head or “pad”. These pads never need touch dirty water, but can be placed in the cleaning solution, lightly wrung out and used as needed. The pads are light weight and can be laundered in a standard washing machine.

The mop head (or mop pad, we used the term interchangeably) is usually attached to the lightweight handle by Velcro; one can simply toss the mop pad on the floor and set the handle on top of it and begin mopping. These mop heads are about twice the price of conventional mop heads. That said, they can last about 10 times longer. Most vendors who sell microfiber mop/pad heads usually guarantee at least 500 washings. In addition, the reduced volume of chemicals needed to accomplish the task can produce a decrease in chemical overall cost.

So, here are some of the benefits to using a microfiber mop:

  • No need to rinse and wring.
  • Microfiber is a lint-free synthetic fiber.
  • Mopping is less tiring, easier, more efficient.
  • Very absorbent so it hold a sufficient amount of cleaning solution, without dripping.
  • No need to re wet the mop pad so the floor dries quickly.
  • Significant reduction in the amount of water and chemicals used.
  • Studies indicate that use of microfiber mops/pads can use 95% less water and chemicals.

What about the “traditional” mop?

Using the “conventional” loop mop for wet mopping floors has long been the standard for the cleaning of floors in many facilities.

Let’s face it, for the longest time, that was all there was. The trouble with the conventional mop isn’t so much the mop as the combination of mop and chemicals. Many floor cleaners contain extremely harsh chemicals such as butoxyethanol, and quaternary ammonium chlorides, which may be harmful to human health and damage the environment.

Conventional mops use a great deal of water (and therefore chemicals) in order to accomplish the task. Whether you are using a 10oz., 12 oz., 24 oz., or 32 oz. mop head, with a top down ringer, chances are you are still putting a great deal of water and chemical on the floor.

Conventional wet mopping practices include

  1. Mopping the floor;
  2. Preparing and changing the cleaning solution;
  3. Wringing the mop before and after jobs;
  4. A thorough clean by a “pro” takes about 10 minutes for a typical 15 x 15 room.

The mop heads should not be laundered in a standard washing machine, but should be cleaned in a commercial machine. Most vendors who sell conventional mop heads usually guarantee at least 60 washings. Thus, in order to extend the life of a conventional mop, the head is often not cleaned as regularly as it should be.

Also, having a lot of water on the floor means that the floor takes more time to dry.  The time in which a floor is wet increases the potential for hazard, even with wet floor signs (a whole different post). Conventional mop heads tend to be  heavy, making mopping difficult (and larger areas a real pain). Unless someone knows what they’re doing, these mop heads can easily be misused, and without the correct amount of cleaning solution can also fail to attract dirt. So they end up redistributing dirt around the area being mopped.

Sounds as though we have a clear winner, doesn’t it?

Don’t throw in the towel yet.  The conventional mop really works well in high traffic areas and on greasy floors. Unless up against an auto scrubber, the conventional mop wins in these areas hands down. Unlike their microfiber counterparts, washing conventional mop heads can include using chlorine bleach, guaranteeing disinfecting.

So, what’s the answer?

In a nutshell: each has its place. We suggest that the microfiber mop be incorporated into your cleaning business alongside its established cousin for quicker and better cleaning results!

Rick Eastman is Operations Manager at NKeeper Cleaning Systems, a commercial janitorial services company in Phoenix, Arizona.


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