Glenn Rasin

By: Glenn Rasin on May 29th, 2019

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Disposable vs Reusable Microfiber Mops: 6 Considerations for Choosing

With the recent rise in microfiber products, many businesses are making the switch to microfiber mops. Microfiber mops offer increased cleaning power and more effective germ removal versus traditional wet mops. Microfiber can reduce bacteria on floors by 99% while conventional tools, like string mops, only reduce bacteria by 30%.

There are two types of microfiber mops:

  • Reusable (sometimes called launderable)
  • Disposable

Both can provide your business with efficiencies depending on your business goals.

Below we will go over 6 factors to consider when choosing between disposable and reusable microfiber mops to help you select the best one for your facility:

1. Cost
2. Maintenance
3. Durability
4. Cleaning Efficacy
5. Productivity
6. Sustainability

1. Cost

Reusable

Reusable microfiber mops will have a higher initial per unit price, but the unit cost for each mop will soften and become lower the more times the mop is reused.

The reuse of these mops is contingent on proper laundering procedures. If you do not use proper laundering procedures and damage the mop, it will need to be replaced before its intended useful lifetime is met. Mops which are not used for their maximum lifetime can end up costing a facility more in replacement costs.

Disposable

premira-disposable-microfiber-mop-padsDisposable mops will cost you less on initial purchase, but are also a one-time use product.

Energy, chemicals, water, and labor used during the laundering process for reusable are not a factor with disposable mops.

When considering disposable mops, the costs associated with disposal of mops is lower than the costs associated with laundering a reusable mop.

2. Maintenance

Reusable

Reusable microfiber mops will require more maintenance than disposable microfiber mops.

Specific Wash Conditions

Reusable microfiber mops are delicate and can be easily damaged if not washed under the right conditions.  

Microfiber is easily damaged by heat, certain chemicals, and too much agitation. Most washing procedures are inadequate and can ruin a mop’s cleaning ability by breaking down the microfiber. 

Mops which are too aggressively laundered get damaged, but mops which are too gently laundered do not remove all germs. Both situations lead to reduced cleaning efficacy of the mop.

If improperly or inadequately washed, laundered mops can trap hair, fibers, soap, and other contaminants and redeposit the materials during your next cleaning procedure.

Disposable

Disposable mops are new from the factory and do not require any maintenance before or after each use. They are single-use products (must be disposed of after each use). 

3. Durability

Reusable

Depending on the manufacturer, some reusable microfiber mop heads can last through 500 washings when properly laundered and maintained.

New Microfiber vs. Laundered Microfiber-2

Reusable microfiber mops have increased strength and durability to be used on uneven surfaces like grouted floors or non-slip floors versus disposable microfiber mops.

 

 

 

Disposable

Because they are a one-time use product, each new mop provides consistent cleaning power through its recommended cleaning area. If you are cleaning a large area, make sure you know the maximum recommended square footage that your disposable mop is effective in cleaning before having to be replaced.

Disposable mops can be damaged when used on grouted or rough floors. They are more likely to snag on rough edges and lose integrity when compared to reusable microfiber mops.

4. Cleaning Efficacy

Reusable

Reduced Cleaning Efficacy

Microfiber mops can absorb up to six times their weight in both water and oil-based soil situations, making them an extremely effective cleaning tool when removing soil from floors. This same characteristic is what can lead to the reduced efficacy of reusable microfiber mops.

Microfiber traps soils and particulates that are mopped up. Even with laundering, reusable microfiber mops can accumulate dirt, debris, and bacteria that will not be removed by laundering them.

If you are using a disinfectant, this accumulation can lead to binding of the disinfectant, neutralizing the chemical before it is able to properly disinfect your floor. The more a mop is improperly maintained the more accumulation of soils and bacteria it will experience and the less functional they will become.

Increased Risk of Cross Contamination

Reusable mops can leave your facility at an increased risk of cross-contamination.

Reusable microfiber mops do not return to their original state of cleanliness after being washed.

They can trap and harbor dangerous bacteria that contributes to cross-contamination and, in some cases, hospital acquired infections (HAIs). CleanLink cites a 2013 study, that found 27 percent of newly laundered mop heads from 11 different hospitals tested positive for pathogens.

Because not all contaminants are removed in the wash cycle, mops can transfer the germs and soils left in the mop to the surface area it is supposed to be cleaning.

Disposable

Unlike reusable mops, disposable microfiber mops are a one-time use product and will not have any soil build-up or chemical residue from previous cleaning procedures.

If you are using microfiber mops with quat based disinfectants, you should choose disposable microfiber mops to reduce the chance of quat binding.

Disposable mops can limit cross contamination when employees follow proper cleaning procedures. Because new disposable microfiber mops will not have previous build-up, they can help mitigate the risk of spreading germs. They should only be used in one area, one time and then be disposed of.

Depending on the thickness of the mop, disposable mops will have a recommended amount of square footage that can be cleaned before having to be replaced. If you are cleaning a large area, you may have to use more than one mop to ensure that the area is properly cleaned.

5. Productivity

Reusable

Reusable microfiber mops must be laundered after every use.Laundered Microfiber-1

If done in-house, it can lead to decreased worker productivity and higher labor, energy, & water costs. The time your employees spend laundering mops could be used to perform other cleaning procedures, allowing them to get more done during a shift.  

If done by a third party, prices will vary by the pound.  You will see increased worker productivity but higher maintenance costs. Additionally, when hiring a third party, there is no guarantee that you will get YOUR facility’s mops back or that they will have been properly washed and dried.

Disposable

Disposable microfiber mops can increase your worker’s productivity and reduce labor costs.

Cleaning staff can simply dispose of the mop pad after cleaning, versus having to collect soiled pads and take them to the proper location to be laundered, a process that can be cumbersome and time consuming.

6. Sustainability

Both reusable and disposable microfiber mops will help you save on the amount of water and chemical used during the cleaning process when compared to traditional mops.

Reusable

Although reusable mops will save water normally used during a cleaning procedure versus a traditional string mop, reusable mop heads will require you to wash the mop head after every use. Laundering means having to use additional detergent and gallons of water with every load.
Develop

Disposable

Disposable microfiber mops should only be used for one area, one time, causing them to quickly pile up in the trash.

According to the From the Floor Up report, by David Harry and Jack McGurk, a fully occupied 500-bed hospital, daily single-mop waste would equal about 39 pounds, using two mops per room. This represents a 0.25 percent increase in waste generation.

Since disposable mops are thrown away after a single use, the increased quantity of solid waste comes with an environmental cost.


Final Thoughts

Both disposable and reusable microfiber mops can help you achieve cleaner floors in your facility. To choose the best mop for you facility, you need to consider what is most important to your business.

It is likely that your facility will benefit from a mix of disposable and reusable microfiber mops.

Some facilities, like hospitals, will place importance on lowering the risk of spreading pathogens and reducing the chance of cross-contamination, ultimately leading you to favor disposable microfiber mops. But when you consider the floor type and larger cleaning areas in some parts of the facility it will benefit you to consider more durable reusable mops in some situations.

Other facilities who are not concerned about HAIs, may place more importance on reusable mops which are cheaper when washed correctly and can be used on more aggressive floor surfaces, like tile and grout. But it is important you consider the potential increase in productivity and reduced labor costs that can be associated with using disposable mops.

There are a lot of considerations to keep in mind when selecting the best mop for your facility and choosing the right one for each area of the building and cleaning function can be challenging.   

Let an EBP Specialist review your operation and recommend the best products and procedures for your facility.  

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Pictures used with permission, courtesy of Contec®; 2019; All rights reserved. 

About Glenn Rasin

Glenn Rasin is the Chemical Specialist for EBP Supply Solutions and Lead Trainer for the EBP Training Academy, which offers CMI-certified training courses for supervisory and front-line cleaning professionals throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. He is an ISSA CMI-certified trainer, with over 35 years of experience in the janitorial and sanitation industry.