Welcome to the second edition of my guide to mopping! Yes, we filled up two blogs with infromation on mops! The guide to mopping (part 1) covered the “bundle of strings on the end of a stick” type mops. In this blog we will cover the most interesting (a matter of opinion!) type of mop of all. The flat mop.
The Anatomy of a Flat Mop
There are 4 fundimental parts that make up a flat mop. The obvious component, of course, is the handle. The three other major parts are the Holder, Frame and Mop Head, as you can see in the image below.
Usually, the frame and holder will be purchased together, and as such will be a perfect match – however, be aware that some manufacturers sell them separately, so you’ll want to make sure you order the correct ones. It’s also possible that your supplier may use different terminology, so make sure you get the correct system for you!
There are dozens of different styles of holder and frame, and the clever feature is that there is a pivoting mechanism that means whatever angle the handle is positioned, the mop will always sit flat against the floor. As you can imagine, if the joint was rigid then any change in angle would cause the frame to lift away from the floor.
How does it all fit together?...very precisely!
The holder must match the handle. Generally, a standard mop handle (like Exel or Abby handles that we talked about in the previous blog) won’t fit. You must either check carefully with your supplier, or better yet, order the holder frame and handle from the same range.
So, let’s assume that you now have a handle, with a properly fitted holder and frame. You now have to fit the mop head. Whilst there are dozens and dozens of different types, shapes and sizes of head, the attachment of head onto frame fits into two basic systems.
1. Folding Frame
This is the most common system. The frame is hinged, so that when opened the ends of the frame can be slipped into pockets positioned on the mop head. The frame then folds back to the closed flat position holding the mop head securely in place.
Usually the hinged part runs along the width of the frame, but there are also some which have the hinge running down the length. The advice as before, is double check with your supplier, or ensure you buy from the exact same range every time.
2. Clip Frame
As the name suggests, these frames have a clip system, usually at either end so that the mop head is held taut between them. Clip systems vary so (you guessed it!) check carefully. Velcro fastenings are common too.
Oh and some frames fold and clip, brilliant!
Shape and size
The two common shapes are rectangular (square ends) and trapezoid (angled ends). And before you ask, yes, I did have to look up the word “trapezoid” as I’ve only ever called them “angled ends”!!
Another new innovation you may come across is a curved frame, with elasticated heads that pull over like socks. The Hygen Flexi Frame is a good example of this.
Again, composition of fabrics for flat mop heads varies enormously, but will usually be cotton, a mixture of cotton and man-made fibres or (and the most popular) micro-fibre. We have talked about micro fibre in some detail in the guide to mopping part 1, but flat mop heads are available in micro fibre too. For more information on how microfibre works, you can visit Gary's micro-fibre blog.
There are heads designed for glass, others designed to scrub, some to use wet and others to use dry. Whatever the task, there’ll be a head that’s best suited to tackle it.
Most manufacturers have solved the colour coding issue in a similar way. Heads are supplied with coloured tabs of each colour on the same head, and you simply tear off the colours that you don’t need, leaving the correct one in place! Brilliantly, Gary also has a blog on colour coding, take a look if you need to scrub up on your colour coding knowledge!
So...How do I use it?
Although there are many similarities in functionality with a yarn mop, flat mops offer additional solutions to everyday and periodic cleaning problems. For the purpose of this article, let’s look at the three main ways that flat mops are used…
Dry- V-Sweeper, Dust Control Mop or Kex Mop
Typically, a flat mop used dry is a glorified duster. That’s not a criticism, indeed there are occasions where this is exactly what is needed. Flat mopping without any water or chemical means that a cleaner can cover a large area of floor in a very short time. As the mop is dry there is no slip hazard, and the floor can be walked on immediately. Perfect for public areas which need a light clean but can’t easily be shut off. A great example is shopping centres. I’m sure we’ve all seen cleaners with a flat mop in these scenarios.
Generally, flat mops designed for dry use are known as 'V Sweepers, Dust Control Mops or Kex Mops'
A well-known and very effective sweeper system is the 'V Sweeper' or 'Scissor Mop' – two mop heads on two handles, but joined together a bit like a pair of scissors. Great for clearing dust and debris from large open areas of hard floor. A skilled user can open and close the heads, adjust the cleaning width and get into tight spaces as well as more open areas.
For routine cleaning, wet mopping is the most effective way of cleaning floors that need a little more elbow grease! A good quality cleaning product is diluted in a bucket, and applied with a flat mop. A gentle scrubbing action will usually remove all but the most stubborn of marks.
We will talk about mopping and scrubbing machines in a future blog but until then, this can safely be called the most common usage for flat mops. Don’t forget to ensure that your bucket is of a suitable shape and size to accommodate your mop head! Many manufacturers will produce a matching bucket, head and handle and market it as a “Mopping System”. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s always worth considering if you would be better off creating your own system with carefully chosen components that match.
As an applicator...
This is where flat mops leave their yarn based cousins behind. Flat mops are absolutely ideal for applying polishes and other finishes to hard floors. Yarn mops have a tendency to shed fibres which spoil the finish of a polished floor– flat mops are far less prone to this shedding.
Once again the quality of the finish depends to a large extent on the skill of the user, but with a flat mop, even a novice can achieve excellent results with a little training.
It’s probably worth mentioning here that there is a “cheat” which is common in the cleaning industry for applying sealants and finishes to hard floors – instead of a flat mop, a window cleaning applicator can be used. But I digress, we’re talking about flat mops!
More Sophisticated Systems
Imagine a flat mop that has its own on-board liquid dispenser. Or better yet, a mop that connected to a back-pack full of cleaning product! Well they exist. These systems remove the need for a bucket or spray which means that the user can cover larger areas in less time. Certainly in commercial environments where very large areas of floor are commonplace, these time savings translate into cold hard cash. Time is money!
For more information visit Gary's blog on productivity improvements by using a backpack floor polish applicator or 'cleaning your floors up to 50% faster'
It’s often difficult to offer advice whilst remaining objective. But here I’ll make an exception – if you’re thinking of purchasing a flat mop then do a little research first. Think about the area you want to cover and the type of task, whether cleaning, applying a finish, or both. Then work backwards. What I mean is, when you know what type and size of head you need, you can choose the right frame and holder to fit. Then you can select an appropriate handle. Or, pick a “system” where all the parts match from the word go.