Floor Care 101: The Basics of Vacuuming and Damp Mopping

If your floors look good, your building looks good. The way to keep your hard and resilient floors looking good is to develop a floor care program that meets the changing needs of your facility. This includes allocating adequate amounts of labor, supplies and equipment on a regular basis. A primary floor care goal is to maintain high levels of appearance, safety, sanitation and health while preventing damage to the floor.

Not all floors and areas have the same needs. It is important that you develop a scheduled, yet flexible, program that meets the specific needs of each surface and area. This is the most cost-effective approach, and it will also give you the best results.

There are six steps to maintaining beautiful hard and resilient floors:

1. dust mopping, vacuuming or sweeping;

2. damp mopping;

3. polishing, spray buffing or burnishing;

4. scrubbing;

5. stripping; and

6. refinishing.

Of these, the first two - dust mopping, vacuuming or sweeping and damp mopping - often receive the least amount of attention, as maintenance managers incorrectly assume that employees know how to handle the work. The following is a review of appropriate procedures for both tasks.

Dust Mopping, Vacuuming or Sweeping - In the Beginning

Dust mopping, vacuuming and sweeping are the preparatory steps to all further floor care. These tasks should be performed on a regular basis to remove soils that scratch or discolor the floor surface or topical finish. They also prevent the soil from being tracked onto other surfaces.

The frequency of service depends on the varying needs of each area. Daily is most common, but several times per day may be more appropriate in a high-traffic area.

Vacuuming is the most effective process. Dust mopping does an acceptable job if the surface is lightly soiled and dry. Sweeping is time-consuming and tends to put a lot of soil into the air. It should be avoided unless the soil load is very heavy or air quality is not an issue. For health protection, always wear a dust mask when sweeping.

Step by Step

1. Gather the necessary equipment, supplies and chemicals and proceed to the assigned work area.

2. Inspect the work to be done and determine the most efficient approach.

3. If heavy cleaning (under, around and behind large, heavy items) or perimeter edging is needed, do it before beginning light cleaning duties.

4. Start at the door and work your way around the room and back to the entry point in a circular motion using the figure-eight pattern where possible.

5. As you proceed around the room, remove any gum or material adhered to the floor with a putty knife. Remove any moisture or water with a cloth. If you’re using a dust mop, do not move it backward or lift it off the floor.

6. Move small items to clean under, around and behind as you go.

7. When the area or room is complete, pick up accumulated soil piles.

8. Inspect your work, secure the area, clean your tools and return them to storage, and proceed to the next assignment area.

Tips and Techniques

- Keep your equipment clean and in good shape. If you’re using a dust mop, shake it out of doors, in a trash bag or vacuum it after each room to remove excess soil.

- Use the correct broom for the job. On a smooth surface, use a fine fiber with a flagged tip; on a rough surface, use a coarse fiber broom. Use a toy broom for edging. If cleaning wet environments, use a plastic fiber instead of natural fibers.

- When using a backpack vacuum, turn off the machine every 30 minutes and tap the outside of the canister to knock soil off the inside of the filter bag.

- Store treated dust mops with the head hanging down. Do not lean them against walls or allow them to sit on the floor, as they will stain the surfaces.

Damp Mopping - In the Beginning

Damp mopping removes spots and soils from the floor and should be performed regularly. It can be a stand-alone procedure or a preparatory step to additional floor care such as polishing or burnishing.

A synthetic detergent with warm to hot water can be used depending on the level of soil present. To remove black marks, a synthetic white scrubbing pad can be placed under the mop head. Avoid using a green pad, as it will scratch the finish.

If damp mopping does not achieve the level of cleanliness desired, a more aggressive floor care procedure is required.

Step by Step

1. Gather the necessary equipment, supplies and chemicals and proceed to the assigned work area.

2. Inspect the area to determine the most efficient approach to accomplishing the assigned task. Clear the area of large obstructions and dust mop, sweep or vacuum to remove dry soil.

3. Position caution signs and/or barricade tape at entrances and access points. Notify occupants that you will be placing water on the floor and that they should avoid walking on the surface.

4. Dip the mop head in the pail of solution, wring it as dry as possible and place the mop head on the floor. Begin at the farthest point from the door and work backward.

5. If the soil load is heavy, you may need to use a higher concentration of cleaning chemical, hotter water, a mop that contains more water, or a combination of these. It may be necessary for the solution to dwell on the floor for five to seven minutes before removing it with a mop or wet vacuum. If the floor is extremely soiled, agitate the solution with the mop head.

6. Mop around the edges first, then use a figure-eight pattern when possible, being careful not to splatter solution on baseboards, walls, furniture, chair legs and other items. Work in four- to eight-foot sections, overlapping two inches to four inches along each section to avoid streaks and missed areas. Use a putty knife to remove gum and other adhered material.

7. Keep your mopping solution clean and fresh. For best results, mix less solution at one time and change it often. If it looks dark, it’s time to change it. This assures that you are cleaning instead of simply redistributing soil.

8. Inspect your work, remove wet floor signs when the floor is dry, secure the area, clean and return all tools to storage, and proceed to the next assignment area.

Tips and Techniques

- Concentrate on the corners and edges.

- Dump your soiled solution and wipe dry the pail and wringer at the end of each shift.

- Rinse the wet mop with cold water and hang to dry.

- Don’t move the mop pail by pulling the wringer handle, as it could tip over.

- Water control is important. Don’t use any more solution than is needed to get the job done.

- The following definitions apply to wet mopping.

Spot Mopping: using a well-wrung mop to clean small areas that are visibly soiled.

Light or Damp Mopping: using a wrung-out but slightly wet mop to clean traffic areas and all easily accessible floor surfaces.

Heavy or Wet Mopping: using a wet, but not dripping, mop to clean traffic areas and all easily accessible floor surfaces.

Flood Mopping: using a dripping-wet mop to apply the cleaning solution to the floor surface.

Complete Mopping: light or heavy mopping for cleaning the floor surface wall to wall. This includes moving all items to mop under, around and behind them.

William R. Griffin is president of Seattle-based Cleaning Consultant Services Inc.

Share this Page

Subscribe to CP&M E-News

College Planning & Management's free email newsletter keeping you up-to-date and informed.

I agree to this sites Privacy Policy.