In a recent GBAC-TIPS peer-reviewed article, Do All Manual Floor Mopping Methods Give the Same Hygiene Outcomes?, the authors set out to determine whether different combinations of mop type and product used produced different hygiene outcomes on floors inoculated with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.

The role of mops in pathogen dissemination

Proper hygiene practices are essential to help mitigate contamination in commercial facilities, especially in healthcare. While conclusive evidence of the role of floors in the chain of infection is lacking to date, supporting evidence for the role of floors in pathogen dissemination has been steadily growing. This study investigated whether there were different hygiene outcomes associated with different manual floor mopping applications, varying the type of floor mop and the type of product used to mop the floor. It was hypothesised that the bactericidal efficacies of different hygiene products would be significantly different, and the hygiene practices used would cause variable levels of cross-contamination.

In the study, a two square meter floor that had been previously disinfected was inoculated with Staphylococcus aureus near one edge of the floor. Then the floor was mopped using combinations of launderable flat mops, disposable flat mops, and string mops combined with a neutral cleaner, hydrogen peroxide disinfectants, sanitizers, or quaternary ammonium chloride disinfectants. The inoculation zone was then sampled to determine how much of the bacteria was removed by mopping. Then samples were taken every 0.5 square meters across the floor to determine how much bacteria was cross-contaminated across the floor.

There were statistically significant differences among product types used, with the neutral cleaner having the most average log10 densities recovered (i.e., the most contaminated after mopping), compared to hydrogen peroxide or quaternary ammonium compounds-based disinfectant products. More cross-contamination was observed when cotton mops were used, while the area cleaned or disinfected had no significant differences among average log10 densities recovered.

While the neutral cleaner was not expected to be biocidal, the prevailing theory on the use of neutral cleaner when mopping is that the mechanical action of mopping would physically remove the bacteria and provide a similar hygiene outcome to the use of biocidal products. This was not supported in the study. The neutral cleaner had the least efficacy against Staphylococcus aureus compared to disinfectants and sanitisers.

The mop type and product combinations were significantly different; hence the overall performance of hygiene practices is highly dependent on product and mop type.

This suggests that healthcare and other high-risk facilities should use biocidal products when manually mopping floors in clinical and other high-risk areas. Non-healthcare facilities should similarly use biocidal products in higher-risk environments to achieve the best hygiene outcomes.

Read the entire peer-reviewed article at: