Use Microfiber Cloths and Mops
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Microfiber cloths and mops dislodge and grab fine particles and oils resident in surface crevices where regular cotton cloths, sponges and scrub pads typically cannot reach. Using microfiber products conserves water, reduces the use of disposable products, and requires fewer harsh chemicals to get surfaces clean. A microfiber cleaning systems used in conjunction with green cleaners and specialized mopping techniques can have significant positive health and environmental impacts.
Project Talking Points
- Microfiber products are manufactured with polyester/nylon fibers that have split edges capable of trapping and holding microbes, dust, and debris more effectively than traditional products. Since the particles are trapped, fewer are transferred from surface to surface during cleaning activities, requiring less cleaning solution.
- Microfiber products on many types of hard surfaces, including glass, mirrors, restrooms sinks and toilets, kitchen counters, and floors.
- Many facilities evaluate microfiber-mopping techniques to clean floors and reduce chemical and water use, reduce cleaning time, and reduce staff injuries.
- Positively charged microfibers attract dust (which has a negative charge), and the tiny fibers are able to penetrate the microscopic surface pores of most flooring materials.
- Microfibers are densely constructed, polyester and polyamide (nylon) fibers that are approximately 1/16 the thickness of a human hair. The density of the material enables it to hold six times its weight in water, making it more absorbent than a conventional, and cotton loop mop.
- Various floor cleaners used in hospitals contain harsh chemicals such as quaternary ammonium chlorides and butoxyethanol, which can be harmful to human health and the environment. Because of the technology built into microfiber products, fewer chemicals are needed to achieve the same level of cleaning.
- To reduce the risk of cross-contamination for patients, conventional mopping techniques require janitors to change the cleaning solution after mopping every two or three rooms — meaning that cleaning solutions (including both chemicals and several gallons of water) are constantly being disposed of and replenished.
- In order to prevent cross contamination between different surfaces in the hospital, a color-coded system is recommended.
- Infection control policies may need to be reviewed and revised to allow changes in cleaning protocols. Review at http://www.cdc.gov/.
Triple Bottom Line Benefits
Cost savings – Microfiber fabric is extremely durable and can hold up to at least 500 washings. Microfiber cloths and mops can be laundered in a standard washing machine and dryer as opposed to being sent out for commercial cleaning. Reusability translates to less material to purchase and maintain over the years. Savings can also be found through microfiber use in the number of personnel hours needed because the system is easier, faster, and doesn't require mop wringing and bucket emptying; thus, cleaning tasks can be completed more quickly. Another cost savings benefit is the savings generated by the reduction of chemicals or cleaners because microfiber products require less collateral product.
Environmental benefits – Fewer chemicals means less toxic waste released into the soil and water. Less water is needed when cleaning with microfiber products, and less material waste generated, as fewer cloths and mops end up in landfills.
Health and safety benefits (satisfaction and quality) – Using microfiber products reduces the amount of chemicals needed to clean, which in turn reduces the amount of chemicals that travel through air and water. This improves indoor air quality so patients, staff and visitors breathe in fewer harmful chemicals. Another benefit of microfiber is that it holds liquid without dripping, leaving only a thin layer of water on the floor which results in quicker drying time and less opportunity for a slip and fall hazard.
CQO alignment - The ultimate result of transitioning to a microfiber based environmental services program can be translated into less impact on patients through dampening aggravation of allergies, reducing effort required by cleaning staff and decreasing costs related to maintenance and disposal of cleaning adjuncts.
Always evaluate new products carefully to assess safety and performance in your own setting.
Hospitals will need to evaluate the cleaning performance of different manufacturers’ mops, as they are not all equally effective.
The number of the mop pads used in a room will depend on the room size. The janitorial staff and laundry staff should participate in the decision of how many mops to purchase to ensure a ready supply.
- Work with Infection Control and Environmental Services to implement a microfiber cleaning system.
- Educate staff about the benefits of microfiber and the ability to reduce or eliminate cleaning chemicals used in many areas when microfiber cleaning products are used.
- Benefits of microfiber cleaning products:
- Reduced amount of water and cleaning solutions required
- Reduced chemical use and disposal
- Increased efficiency of cleaning tasks, reduced cleaning time for patient rooms
- Reduced custodial staff injuries and workers compensation claims
- Microfiber mops, when compared to traditional loop mops:
- Dry faster
- Are lighter, which reduces risk of employee injury or strain
- Reduce cross-contamination, as mops are not rinsed in the cleaning solution
- All microfiber cleaning products:
- Penetrate surfaces at a finer level than normal fiber
- Demonstrate high resistance to tearing and snagging
- Have extremely low-levels of “lint shedding”
- Establish a pilot or test area, if necessary, to demonstrate to staff the benefit of using microfiber cloths.
- Start with replacing paper towels and other cloths for simple cleaning processes such as dusting and washing walls or windows.
- Replace all cleaning cloths and mops with products made from microfiber to significantly reduce the amount of chemicals and water used and to improve cleaning performance.
- How to Implement a Micro-Fiber cleaning System, an article from Infection Control Today.
- Microfiber Cost Calculator: To learn how much your healthcare facility could be saving with Microfiber, access Rubbermaid’s cost calculator.
- The EPA’s Green Cleaning Pollution Prevention Calculator quantifies the projected environmental benefits of purchasing and using "green" janitorial services and products.
If you have an ROI tool, calculator, or similar resources to share, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.
Case Study: Are microfiber mops beneficial for hospitals? A comprehensive case study with cost analysis from www.sustainablehospitals.org.
Using Microfiber Mops in Hospitals, a case study from UC Davis Medical Center.
Regulations, Codes and Standards, Policies
Microfiber Cleaning products and systems meet regulatory standards for healthcare facilities as described by The Joint Commission and Occupational Safety and Health Administration and guidelines from the CDC.
Cross References: LEED
LEED 2009 for Existing Buildings:
- Indoor Environmental Quality, Credit 3.4, Green Cleaning – Sustainable Cleaning Equipment, 1 Point
Cross References: GGHC
GGHC 2008 Revision:
- Environmental Services, Credit 1.6, Environmentally Preferable Cleaning: Equipment, 1 Point
WASTE: Ensure staff are informed about and trained to participate in sustainability efforts.
If you have any information or resources to contribute, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.
- Using microfiber mops in hospitals, environmental best practices from the EPA.
- Scientific findings on the effectiveness of microfiber can be found in "Microbiologic Evaluation of Microfiber Mops for Surface Disinfection" in the American Journal of Infection Control (2007; 35(9):569-73).
- Use of microfiber and the evaluation method from the CDC: Options for Evaluating Environmental Cleaning.
- Tips from Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection on using microfiber cloths.
- SUPPLY CHAIN
- Waste Reduction
- Environmental Services
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