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Hard Floor Care

Four steps to effective hard floor maintenance

September 19, 2010
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People going about their day at a busy shopping mall probably don’t pay much attention to the type of flooring in the building.

Yet, flooring can greatly impact the appearance of the building and patron safety.

When developing business interiors, many designers work with building managers to select the right floor surface for what they hope to achieve.

While designers review visual aesthetics, building managers look at maintenance requirements, cost, appearance, and durability to determine the right floor surface.

Over the years, there has been a gradual trend in the industry to replace carpet with hard floor surfaces for their natural beauty, ease of maintenance, and minimal impact on indoor air quality (IAQ).

Today, there are close to 20 different hard floor surface types from which building managers can choose.

However, different hard floor surfaces require different maintenance programs.

Building managers should assure the following four steps are followed during the development of a hard floor care program: Determine the floor type; assess the soil level; identify the appropriate mopping system; and use the proper mop handle.

What’s my floor type?
While most experienced cleaning professionals can immediately identify types of hard flooring according to their visual characteristics, frontline staff must first be educated on the different properties of each floor type before applying the right tool for the job.

There are several common floor types used in institutional settings.

Marble: A type of limestone, consisting of recrystallized calcite or dolomite. Marble is available in a wide range of colors and is capable of taking a high polish.

Terrazzo: A mosaic flooring or paving composed of broken stone chips. Terrazzo is generally polished.

Granite: A coarse-grained igneous rock chiefly composed of feldspar and quartz along with lesser amounts of other minerals.

Stone: The mineral matter of rock formed together into a hard smooth surface.

Vinyl Composition Tile (VCT): Twelve-inch tiles composed of colored vinyl chips applied to a sub-floor using a vinyl adhesive.

Indicate soil level
After determining the floor type, cleaning staff should determine how much soil has accumulated.
Different areas of the building attract different amounts of soil.

Entryways and other high traffic zones in the facility will have heavier soil levels; therefore, they require increased attention compared to low traffic areas.

In order to keep floors looking great, a program that includes dry, damp, and wet mopping should be put into place with most flooring types.

In areas with light soil levels, a combination of dry mopping and damp mopping can be used.

In these areas, cleaners should first dust mop the floor to help loosen dirt from the floor surface.

After dust mopping, they can then go over the area with a damp mop for streak-free results.

Damp mopping allows floors to dry faster than traditional mopping.

In areas with heavier soil levels, cleaners should consider an effective wet mopping system.

In high traffic areas, floors should be dust mopped two to three times a day and wet mopped at least once.

This regular maintenance helps keep soil levels low to prevent extensive wear to the floor and damage to the floor finish.

By implementing a comprehensive mopping program in high and low traffic zones, cleaning managers can extend the longevity of their floors and reduce the amount of times floors need to be stripped and finished.

What type of mop should I use?
Various microfiber mop heads and pads offer various features and benefits.

Cleaners should use a color-coding system and dedicate a particular mop or mop head to each task to reduce the risk of cross-contamination between different areas in the facility.

For areas with light soil levels, cleaners should consider the following mop types:

Pivot head sweepers: For small areas and corners, cleaners should use dry mops with a swivel head that can get into and under tight places. The pivoting head will easily glide across small areas for fast and effective clean up. These mops can be covered with either a high quality cloth or a disposable sleeve.

Microfiber dust mops: For larger areas, cleaners can use larger microfiber dust mopping systems. These units feature looped fringe that help pick up loose particles and dust, requiring no mopping treatments. Cleaners should select a unit that fits on standard dust mopping frames and provides mesh adapters to allow for quick and simple pad changing. These mops are effective on every hard floor surface type.

Microfiber damp mops: For hard floor surfaces with minimum moisture, such as marble, terrazzo, granite, and VCT, cleaners can use damp mops to maintain areas. These low moisture, high absorbency mops will dry floors faster than traditional mops leaving a streak-free surface.

Microfiber damp mop pads: Perfect for use on terrazzo, granite, slate, stone, and VCT, microfiber mop pads are perfect for single-use applications along with damp or pre-moistened mopping. Pads with a high density looped pile front and a unique “Z” hook and loop backing will leave floors residue- and streak-free with minimal drag.

For areas with heavier soil levels:

Microfiber string mops: Strands of microfiber will increase liquid and dirt pick up, making these mops effective for cleaning up spills and mopping notoriously wet areas, such as entryways during the winter. Use mops with looped ends and tailbands for greater control and floor coverage while mopping.

When purchasing string mops, choose a manufacturer that offers different variations of the string mop to increase the effectiveness on each flooring type. Heavy-duty string mops will be effective for use on highly soiled surfaces where medium-duty string mops will be effective on surfaces with less soil.

Heavy-duty microfiber mop: Good for use on pavers and ceramic tile, vertically knitted microfiber is good for cleaning floors with grout lines. Longer fibers allow for maximum liquid absorption and abrasive action for soil removal.

Medium-duty microfiber mop: Effective on uneven surfaces without grout lines, these mops have minimal drag resulting in less fatigue when mopping larger areas. Medium-duty microfiber mops are ideal for slate, pavers, ceramic tile, rubber, and concrete surfaces.

What type of handle should I use?
Mops with lightweight handles and ergonomic features will help protect workers from injury.

If possible, select handles made from aluminum.

Aluminum is lightweight, limiting the weight of the unit and reducing the risk of a lifting injury.

Telescopic handles will limit a worker’s bending, also reducing risk of injury.

Telescopic handles come in different sections, extending to the appropriate length for the job.

Ergonomic handles will make mop handles easier to hold and maneuver, increasing the efficiency of the mop.

By following four simple steps, cleaning professionals can easily determine the right tool for the job.

A good hard floor care program will increase floor longevity while protecting staff and patrons from injury.


Brian Alexson is vice president of sales for Unger Enterprises, a leading global provider of high quality, innovative cleaning tools. For more information, please visit www.ungerglobal.com.


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