Mopping: Expectation vs. Reality

Mopping is something all cleaning companies do, and inevitably, is a task that gets complaints from time to time. It is important to explain what mopping is, how it works and what are realistic expectations for floor mopping.

Have you ever done the “white rag” test? This happens when someone spills a liquid on a hard surface floor and wipes up the mess. When this person looks at the rag or paper towel, sees that it is dirty and asks, “Has this floor ever been mopped?” Short answer… yes. Long answer… still yes.

Mopping is not an exact science and does not remove all dirt or grime from a surface. The main goal of mopping is to sanitize. When mopping, you fill a bucket full of water, add a sanitizing solution and dilute with water. Then you dip your mop in the solution, wring out the extra and smear it around the floor. You then rinse and repeat the process. Even if you change mop water regularly, after the first pass, you bring dirt into the mop bucket and use slightly dirty water to mop the floor. You could stop reusing dirty water if you change the mop water and add a new mop head after every pass, but this is not economically feasible. And, the point of using the sanitizing solution is to allow you to change the water and mop less often. In addition to leaving some of the dirt and grime on the floor, when the mop water dries the sanitizing solution remains and forms a film.

What can you do about the residue build-up on your hard surface floors? Routine scrubbing is the best way to remove residual film and dirt from hard ceramic tile or floors not protected by a wax. For floors that are protected with wax, such as VCT, a scrub and fresh layer of wax will do the same thing. This works by scrubbing deep in the surface to lift the grime that will show up on a “white rag” test and leave it clean and dirt free.

Why do we mop in the first place if there are better alternatives out there? It comes down to using our clients’ time and money wisely. Scrubbing hard surfaces and replacing wax are intensive and time consuming processes that do not need to be done every night. They should be done monthly, quarterly or yearly depending on the amount of traffic and how sanitary the surface needs to be (a workshop floor versus a hospital floor).

So next time you spill something on the floor, wipe it up and see a little bit of dirt on your “white rag,” it’s OK. Though there may be a small amount of dirt and grime on your mopped floors, it is clean dirt and grime.