Dust mopping floors is one of the most important steps in any floor care maintenance program. As with any type of cleaning, removing dry soils before adding liquid makes the entire process much easier. Because dust mopping is usually done dry, it also allows the floor to be cleaned while the area is being used. There is no chance of anyone slipping and falling and makes it possible to remove surface soils sooner to keep foot traffic from grinding dirt into the floor finish.
While dust mopping floors is a fairly common practice, there are several factors that can make it more productive and reduce the chances that it will result in damage to the floor or the floor finish. Knowing how to dust mop properly can reduce time on regular and restorative floor maintenance.
How To Dust Mop Floors
To get the best results from dust mopping a floor, the most important thing to remember is to always use the front edge. This can take some practice because making turns, maneuvering around objects and changing directions can make this difficult.
Dust mops are not meant to pick up dirt in the same way a regular wet mop does. Instead, they push the dirt along. This creates a pile along the front edge of the mop. The larger debris is collected toward the leading edge and the finer particles are trapped farther back in the mop. This is why when you look at a dirty dust mop, it has a gradient from dark to light.
If you pull the dust mop backwards, you will leave behind the line of dirt you are pushing. Similar to plowing snow or sweeping with a broom, dust mops push dirt along on their leading edge. This is also why dust mop handles usually swivel. It makes sharp turn much easier.
Continue along the floor, making overlapping passes. When you come to a turn, swivel the handle and turn the dust mop so that the same side is the leading edge.
When you are finished with the area, pick up the dust mop and brush or vacuum the dirt off the leading edge. Also, you have likely left a pile on the floor. Sweep or vacuum that up as well.
Tools For Dust Mopping Floors
There are many different variations of dust mops, but I am going to focus on 3 common types. Cotton, Synthetic and Microfiber. I have used all of these over the years for dust mopping. Some are better than others, but this should help you know and understand the difference.
These are the traditional and least expensive type of dust mop. Cotton dust mops have been around for years. Cotton is a natural fiber that works well to “push” large soils and debris but is not very effective for fine dust particles.
To make them more effective, it is common to use a dust mop treatment. This is a chemical that is sprayed directly onto the dust mop to aid in trapping dust. While there are many different formulas for dust mop treatment, the main compound is usually a natural oil, typically banana oil.
Why Dust Mop Treatment Is Bad For Your Floor
This oil based treatment can cause many short and long-term problems for floors. If too much is used, the floors can become extremely slippery and difficult to clean. Because of the oil, cleaning with a water based solution is less effective. (Water and oil don’t mix) To remove the film, a de-greasing chemical is needed which can cause damage to floor finish.
The oil residue will also cause the floor to become sticky and attract dirt. If a high-speed burnisher is used over this oily, dirty film, the floor finish will begin to yellow in the traffic lanes. The oil can also be tracked on to adjoining carpet areas, making them more difficult to clean.
There are a couple of other factors to take note of with cotton dust mops. When using them for dust mopping a floor in high humidity conditions, they will catch and drag because of the moisture. This causes them to be very difficult to use. Also, because cotton is a natural fiber, they are difficult to launder and are usually considered to be disposable.
Though cotton dust mops can be brushed free of most large debris, the fine dust that is trapped by the dust mop treatment is difficult to remove. Being a natural fiber, the cotton fibers will also begin to breakdown quickly, and give less than optimal results.
While the purchase price of cotton dust mops is often less than other types, the long-term cost is much higher because of the added cost of dust mop treatment, frequent replacement and the shortened maintenance cycle of the floor.
Cotton dust mops are by far the most expensive option.
Unlike the natural fibers of a cotton dust mop, synthetic fiber dust mops are made of man-made yarn or plastic. When this plastic yarn slides across the floor, dust is collected and held by static electricity rather than using a dust mop treatment.
Synthetic dust mops are commonly stitched in a looped end pattern that prevents fraying and gives better pickup of soil. Because of the looped end construction, these dust mops can be laundered many times. It is also easy to shake them out or use a brush to clean them as well. Since there is no oily treatment, they are easily cleaned.
The synthetic fibers are also not effected by moisture. Unlike cotton, they are much lighter to push regardless of humidity or presence of liquid. The plastic fibers and their clean-ability cause synthetic fiber dust mops to last much longer.
Nylon fiber dust mops also work really well for winter floor care, when the floor is sticky with salt residue and usually wet in some areas.
Synthetic dust mops are usually 10-15% more to purchase. But, when you factor in their advantages, the overall cost of dust mopping the floor is decreased dramatically when they are used.
The evolution of microfiber for cleaning is one that is quickly changing many old traditions. Microfiber is more efficient, easier to use, and more importantly, much more effective.
Similar to synthetic dust mops, microfiber dust mops are made of plastic fibers. The difference is in the types of plastic that are used. In a past post, I created an info-graphic to show How Microfiber Works To Clean and how it is made. But when it comes to dust mopping, Microfiber is extremely effective.
The yarn is constructed of a very fine plastic fiber. They can be used both dry and even damp. This allows floors to be cleaned while dust mopping, reducing an entire step in some cases. The channels in the individual fibers grab and hold the very fine dust particles, preventing any of the dust from going airborne. Microfiber dust mops can be rinsed clean or laundered and increasing their usable life.
All of these factors combined make microfiber the hands down, best option for dust mopping the floor.
Dust Mopping Floors and Green Cleaning
With either synthetic or microfiber dust mops, there is a rather large green impact. Because there are no chemicals needed and they can be re-used over and over, their increased effectiveness and efficiency, and the ability to actually clean during peak traffic times, dust mopping becomes a very important part of a green cleaning program.
The bottom line is that the more soil and debris you can remove from a floor, the easier the floor is to maintain and keep the dirt from spreading throughout a building. Regardless of the type of dust mop you chose, the more you do it, the better your over all cleaning results will be.