Is Your Mop System Really Working For You?

Mopping in cleanrooms and critical environments is an essential task for maintaining operations. In that ubiquity lies a danger—mopping equipment and processes are rarely reexamined under a modern lens. As a result, the most commonly used mopping systems and equipment are based on outdated technology and methodology. The outcome for users of these mopping systems is lower efficacy, inflated labor costs, and consumable wastage.  

 

What Is the Purpose of Mopping and What Are the Goals?

These may seem like rhetorical questions, but the answers should not be taken for granted. We mop cleanroom floors, ceilings and walls for two purposes: to remove contaminants from surfaces and to apply chemicals to disinfect and sanitize the environment. The goals are to do so in the most efficient and productive manner possible, both in terms of man hours and consumables.

 

Examine the Following Mopping Systems by These Criteria

With the purpose and goals of cleanroom mopping in mind, review the most common and newest mopping systems to see which design actually delivers the outcomes you want to receive.

 

Two-Bucket Systems

Two-bucket systems employ one bucket for waste, and one bucket for cleaning solution. The dirty solution is drained from the mop by either a wringer or sieve, but the mop itself is still contaminated when it is recharged. And with each consecutive recharge, the cleaning solution becomes more and more contaminated.

This can spread contaminants from floors to walls and ceilings. It can also introduce cumulative buildup of soil and microbes in the cleanroom over time. For most systems, the operator has to touch dirty mop heads in order to change them, which can further the spread of contamination. Additionally, the process of wringing the mop is inefficient and offers inconsistent saturation levels that are heavily dependent on user behavior.

Another issue associated with a two-bucket system is the waste of chemicals.  In order to keep the cleaning solution relatively “clean”, it is recommended that an ISO 5-6 facility changes 2-3 gallons of chemical every 600 square feet, and every 1,000 feet for an ISO 7-8 location. 

 

Three-Bucket Systems

Three-bucket systems add an additional rinse bucket. After cleaning, the dirty solution is drained into a waste bucket. The mop is then immersed in the rinse bucket and wrung again before being recharged in the cleaning solution. While this does reduce the progressive contamination of the cleaning solution, the risk of cumulative contamination buildup on cleanroom floors, walls and ceilings persists. The operator still must use their hands to change mop heads as well.

Not only does the issue of inconsistent mop saturation levels remain, the additional rinsing and wringing steps add a significant amount of time to the mopping process. The cleaning solution for the rinse bucket will also add a consumables cost to the mix, resulting in more chemical waste.   Finally, three bucket systems may simply be too large for many spaces. 

 

The Problems with 2- and 3-Bucket Systems

 

State-of-the-Art Mopping

Two- and three-bucket mop systems have been around for decades, in some regards since the advent of cleanrooms in the 1970s. There are new mopping systems that are designed to make big improvements to contamination control, productivity, and waste.

 

Precision Dosing Mop Systems

These new systems avoid the need to drain and recharge dirty mops by utilizing single-use mop heads. These specialized mop heads can be either launderable or disposable and are made of microfiber exteriors with absorbent inner layers. The scientifically designed microfiber mops can cover more surface area per mop, lay down cleaning solutions in an evenly manner and remove 99.9% of the particles.

The operator uses a clean mop to depress a lever that releases a precise amount of cleaning solution to saturate one mop. After the mop is used, a hands-free system enables the operator to remove the dirty mop and apply a clean mop. Because the liquid reservoir is gravity fed and sealed, any unused cleaning solution can be stored up to eight days for later use.

This system offers major advantages for cleanliness, productivity and waste reduction. First, it avoids recharging dirty mops, which is a major source of contamination in cleanrooms. Secondly, it avoids the need for operators to use their hands to change dirty mops, which can spread contamination to workstations and equipment. Third, the exact amount of cleaning solution is dispensed per mop, which increases cleaning efficacy and reduces wasted cleaning solution. Finally, any leftover cleaning solution remains uncontaminated and does not need to be disposed of.

 

Precision Dosing Advantages

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