The Dirty Truth About Your Mop and Bucket

How to Improve Floor Cleanliness and Safety at Your Long Term Care Facility

For decades the mop and bucket has been the staple of floor cleaning professionals. Unfortunately, this type of cleaning methodology is seriously flawed. The truth about cleaning with a mop and bucket is that it actually does more harm than good.

Let’s start with the perspective of your custodial professional. Cleaning with a mop and bucket is floor cleaning with a mopthe most inefficient method to clean a floor. According to widely accepted productivity standards, the average custodial professional can mop between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet per hour using a bucket and wringer.  This is far lower than the 10,000 to 30,000 square foot productivity of a mid-sized walk behind automatic scrubber. Worse yet, using a mop bucket wringer is not very ergonomic and can lead to fatigue and injury.  Every fifty to 100 square feet, the custodial professional needs to dip the mop back in the bucket and use the wringer to press out excess solution. This process can very quickly lead to back fatigue and potential injuries.

Now, let’s look at the cleaning effectiveness of a mop and bucket. Early in the cleaning process, the custodial professional is using a relatively clean solution and studies show that a clean mop can eliminate up to 48% of the soil on a floor.  However, more soil, contaminants, and pathogens will accumulate in the bucket every time the mop is wrung out. Over time, this leads to contaminant loading in the solution. The result is that cleaning effectiveness is significantly reduced with each use.  By the end of the cleaning process, an custodial professional may actually be putting more soils on the floor than the mop is picking up, virtually defeating the purpose of cleaning in the first place. In some cases, harmful bacteria and pathogens can be spread throughout a facility from the use of contaminated mop water as the custodial professional moves from one location to the next.

The final drawback to using a mop bucket is that floor surfaces remain wet for a long time after the actual cleaning is completed.  This poses a significant safety hazard to the residents in your long term care facility. Wet and slippery floors are one of the leading causes of all slip and fall accidents. A wet floor is dangerous not only for occupants of the residents in your long term care facility, but for the cleaning professionals as well.  The use of “wet floor” signs is only marginally successful at alerting pedestrians to the hazard ahead of them. Slippery floors pose a significant financial liability should an accident lead to litigation.

The best solution to the mop and bucket quandary is to utilize automatic equipment for floor cleaning.  With automatic scrubbers, the custodial professional is always using clean solution on the floor and a vacuum system will extract the soils and contaminants from the surface.  Automatic cleaning equipment is shown to remove up to 99% of soils from hard surfaces. This is much better than the 48% effectiveness of mop and bucket cleaning.  Also, the vacuum system of automatic scrubbers will remove most water from the floor, allowing them to dry in minutes.

More importantly is that new automatic scrubbers are available that have a much smaller footprint than equipment from 10 years ago. This allows maintenance personnel to clean small and confined areas that were previously only accessible with a mop and bucket. In addition, automatic floor scrubbers can increase productivity to the point that labor savings will exceed the capital cost to purchase the machine. Automatic scrubbing technology is the perfect answer to improve cleaning effectiveness, increase productivity, reduce labor expenses, and lessen slip and fall liability.

Paul Lewandowski is an Equipment and Retail Product Manager at the Betco Corporation. He has over 9 years of experience in the janitorial and institutional cleaning business. When not working he enjoys spending time with his family and coaching intramural softball. Click here to reach out directly to Paul.



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