Cleaning Ceramic Tile Floors in the Cleanroom: Mop or Spray-and-Vac?

When it comes to cleaning your ceramic tile floors, the greatest challenge lies in cleaning the grout. Grouting is softer, more porous, and set lower than the tiles. The smaller your tiles, the more grout surface you have, making the process more difficult. It would seem pretty obvious that a spray-and-vac method of cleaning is more effective than mop cleaning, but by how much?

The answer comes from data given by Jay Glasel, Ph.D. in his article, “Cleaning Methods for Ceramic Tile Floors.” In the study that Glasel presents, the mop cleaning method was tested against the spray-and-vac method. Here is a summary of the study.

Bacterial counts were taken on the test floors before, during, and ten minutes after cleaning/drying using three different solutions. The solutions were:

  • Water alone
  • “A mild, multipurpose, pH neutral, cleaner that combines citrus d-limonene with hydrogen peroxide was used at a dilution of 2 oz/gal in tap water for cleaning tests using this agent.”
  • “A hospital grade broad spectrum, pH neutral disinfectant was used at a dilution of 2 oz/gal in tap water for cleaning tests using this agent.”

When using water alone, the mop was able to remove about 50% of bacteria, and the high flow fluid extraction removed almost 90%.

When using a multipurpose cleaner, the mops effectiveness was about the same as with water alone. The spray-and-vac machine, however, removed all but 1% of the bacteria.

With the hospital grade disinfectant, mopping removed slightly more bacteria than it achieved using water or household cleaner. The spray-and-vac, while already extremely effective with the multipurpose cleaner, was 2% more effective with the disinfectant.

In the end, the study concluded that mopping has a cleaning efficiency of 38% while the spray-and-vac cleaned with 98% grout cleaning efficiency. It is worth noting that theoretically, mops could achieve the same efficiency as the spray-and-vac method. However, this would likely involve aggressive agitation, longer dwell time, and increased mopping/rinsing. The extra time and effort would translate into higher costs, taking away the one advantage mopping had in the first place.

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