How to Evaluate and Select MICROFIBER MOPS

August 1, 2005

How to Evaluate and Select MICROFIBER MOPS

How to Evaluate and Select MICROFIBER MOPS

The Next Generation of Microfiber Flat Mops

In the last few years, new technologies and systemsimprovements have been developed to provide for more efficient and productiveways of cleaning. It is interesting to note, however, that one of the basicdaily activities undertaken in most hospitals dates back to the 19th century.The string mop was patented in 1893 and is still one of the most utilized floorcleaning tools today. While the string mop has seen its own advancements overthe years, a new and improved alternative to the conventional string mop hasrecently emerged microfiber flat mopping.

The flat mopping system was initially manufactured in Sweden15 years ago and later in Korea and China. The system became very popular inEurope due to its innate ability to clean without the use of chemicals. Theconstruction of the microfiber flat mop enables the fibers to attract dust,dirt, and bacteria, and hold the particles and pathogens within the mop untillaundered. Once end users embraced this concept and began putting flat mops intopractice, the implementation brought about a surge of benefits, includingreduced costs, increased labor productivity, and ergonomic advantages, amongothers. More importantly, with the onslaught of community-acquired infections inhospitals, the microfiber flat mopping system has helped to dramatically reduceopportunities for cross-contamination.

Recently, improvements have been made to the traditionalmicrofiber flat mop. Jones Companies, Ltd., introduced speeds microfibercleaning system. speedspads are made by utilizing Deep Groove microfiber technology called 4DGTechnology, which is a registered trademark of Clemson University ResearchFoundation. 4DG fiber is produced by using only one polymer and is uniquelydesigned with deep grooves or channels that run along the length of each fiber.The grooves provide unique features to the fiber that can serve as ducts to movefluid and store and trap substances. Due to its one polymer construction, 4DG can endurebleach-safe laundering. In addition, speedscontains a multi-fiber blend that provides for additional absorption and isprotected with an antimicrobial fiber to inhibit the growth of destructivebacteria on the pad. The blend is resistant to Staphylococcusaureus and Klebsiellapneumonaie.

Microfiber Flat Mops vs. Conventional String Mops

Introduced 10 years ago to healthcare facilities in the UnitedStates, the flat mop system is gradually gaining popularity and proving that itis a more efficient and productive means for floor care. Studies conducted at UCDavis Medical Center in Sacramento, Calif., have shown that microfiber flat mopsreduce opportunities for cross-contamination, reduce chemical and water usage,increase productivity, reduce staff injuries and workers compensation claims,and clean more effectively than conventional string mops.

The traditional string mop procedures suggest that the mopbucket is filled with approximately three gallons of water and either a cleaneror disinfectant. The solution is used to mop three rooms and then dumped. A fresh solution of water and cleaner or disinfectant is thenmixed for the next three rooms to be cleaned. Each member of the floor cleaningstaff mops approximately 21 rooms per day; therefore, an estimated 21 gallons ofwater are used per staff member during a shift. The procedure for mopping with astring mop requires that the user place the mop in a mop bucket and wring it outprior to using it on the floor. Dirt that is collected on the mop during themopping process is then carried from one room to another until the bucketcontents are changed, creating large opportunities for cross-contamination tooccur.

When using the microfiber flat mop system, mops are placedinto a bucket, trough, or pail that holds approximately one to two gallons ofwater, cleaner, or disinfectant. The number of mops placed in the containerdepends on the number of rooms to be cleaned during that shift. A single mop isremoved and wrung out to the desired degree of wetness and placed on the floor.The mop pad adheres to the flat mop head by Velcro® and the floor is cleanedwith a single mop. Once one room is cleaned, the mop is removed from the mopframe and placed in a bag or container for laundering at the end of the shift.The microfiber flat mop never re-enters the container where the clean mops areheld. Because one mop per room is used, the possibility for cross contaminationto occur is greatly reduced.

Traditional microfiber flat mops do not come withoutcriticism. Because of their bicomponent construction, they may not be launderedusing bleach or fabric softener; nor can they withstand high water and drying temperatures.Therefore, special handling is required during the laundry process. The mops also contain a Velcro® backing, which collects hairand dirt particles and wears out quickly after multiple washings. Also, antimicrobial properties are difficult to achieve andseldom seen.

The speedsmicrofiber flat mop system is used in much the same way as traditionalmicrofiber flat mops; however, there are added benefits. The 4DG fiber usedin speeds pads enables thepad to collect dirt and pathogens from the floor while simultaneouslytransporting cleaning solution across an entire patient room. The pad is also 50percent larger than traditional microfiber mops, allowing it to cover a largersurface area, as well as clean build-up from baseboards. The multi-fiber blendof the pads provides for attributes such as higher absorption and is protectedwith an antimicrobial agent to inhibit the growth of destructive bacteria on thepad.

There is also no Velcro® backing that will wear out duringlaundering, and there is no special handling during the laundry process because speedsare bleach safe. speeds padsare able to absorb over five times their own weight, trap and store dust anddirt particles, remove scuff marks and transport cleaning solution, which alllead to cleaner floors and the prevention of the transmission of pathogens.

Evaluating Microfiber Mops

Clinicians and purchasing managers want the best floor careimplemented within their healthcare facilities to ensure that the highest standards for infection control are being achieved in acost-efficient manner. Clinicians can easily test the efficacy of the cleaningsystems by running comparative trials within their facilities. They will quicklyfind that the flat mop microfiber system is far advanced over the string mopsystem and that the speedsmicrofiber pad cleans better than the traditional microfiber mop. Hospitalemployees have commented that they were able to pick up dirt with microfibermops after going over a floor that had initially been cleaned using atraditional looped or string mop. They were then able to pick up additional dirtafter going over the floor again with the speedsmicrofiber pad. The process was reversed, and there was no additional dirt foundwhen the speeds pad hadbeen used first. These trials are an indication of a better floor cleaningsystem that can lead to improved infection control within the hospital.

Purchasing managers will need to look at the total systembenefits when evaluating the flat mop systems versus the string mop. String mop heads require replacement every four to six weeksand are disposed of through the solid waste system. Microfiber mops will lastseveral years and cost approximately the same as a string mop head. While a floor care technician may use one string mop during aday, one flat mop is needed per room; however, the large amount of flat mopsused per day must be weighed against their durability after months of use.Additionally, greater cleaning and infection control are provided by using themicrofiber flat mop. Approximately 21 gallons of floor cleaning solution areused by the string mop process for each worker per shift. The microfiber mopsystem uses only two gallons of such solution, which amounts to a savings ofapproximately 90 percent. A similar percentage of savings in cleaning anddisinfection chemicals is achieved through use of the flat mop system whencompared to the string mop. This constitutes good pollution prevention practiceswithin the healthcare facility.

Trials of microfiber mops have been undertaken at severalhospitals, most notably at the UC Davis Medical Center. Microfiber mops havebeen in use at that hospital for several years and they continue to prefer theflat mop system over the traditional string mop. In 2004, its environmentalservices department achieved 100 percent compliance on JCACHO testing.

Additional Benefits of Using the Microfiber Flat Mop System

In addition to improved cleaning and infection control, themicrofiber flat mop system provides additional benefits compared to theconventional string mop. The microfiber flat mop system leaves less waterresidue on the floor, which reduces slip and fall injuries. The microfiber mopsystem weighs less than a wet string mop and is easier to move across the floorof a hospital room, resulting in less muscle soreness and pains felt by the enduser. Additional ergonomic benefits are seen because the end user isno longer required to dump out several gallons of water from a bucket everythree rooms, which is mandatory with a string mop system. Also, the flat mopsystem increases labor productivity by 20 percent with the elimination offrequent trips to the supply closet and the improved speed in the moppingprocess.