The Use of Manual Cleaning Equipment

In Equipment


Part 1 - Sweeping Equipment

Few people appreciate the importance of the correct use of manual cleaning equipment and unfortunately its value is underestimated to the extent that lots of cleaners view it as disposable. For instance, how many of you out there when asked to provide a cleaner with mop heads, will be asked to provide a handle and bucket at the same time.

Therefore, it is important that cleaning operatives learn the importance of the role the equipment plays in the overall delivery of the service as well as developing an understanding of the importance in cleaning and maintaining equipment to retain its efficiency for longer.

Also, making the right decision when choosing manual cleaning equipment is extremely important, not least of all because it will directly influence how efficiently cleaning operatives can work; choosing inappropriate or inefficient equipment will have an adverse effect on the efficiency of your business.

ca012It is worth noting that when cleaning operatives are required to adopt a working position that requires them to stoop, crouch or bend they will lose up to 50% of their working efficiency. For instance, a common mistake made by managers is providing hand-held dust pan and brush sets when long handled versions are available allowing the cleaner to adopt a standing position.

The range of manual cleaning equipment is huge, with new items becoming available all the time designed at meeting the ever-increasing need for highly specialised solutions. In this series of blogs on manual cleaning equipment I will deal with the more common tools and their variations, looking at the work situations in which they can be used and outlining the advantages and drawbacks of their use.

An understanding of the application of manual cleaning equipment will lead to higher degrees of efficiency from all involved in delivering the service.

Looking at Equipment

When we consider the different areas we need to clean, it quickly becomes apparent that there is a lot of equipment out there and a lot of decisions to make when considering the most efficient items needed within your own working environment.

Basically, manual cleaning equipment can be broken down into the following categories, depending on the way in which you intend to clean:

• Hard floor equipment
• Carpet and soft furnishing equipment
• High level cleaning equipment
• Wall or vertical surface equipment

Brushes and Brooms

Brushes and brooms, although similar in construction and carrying out similar tasks, are different in the sense that the word broom refers to the long handled variety and the word brush should be used when referring to a the hand-held variety.

All brushes are constructed in the same basic way. The working end of the brush consists of a stock that holds tight bundles of bristles. A handle can be incorporated within the overall design of the brush for additional control and in brooms this is usually replaced by a stave, inserted into the stock. (See illustration).

The materials used for the stock and handles usually consist of wood, coloured plastic or coated metal to compliment any colour-coded systems in place.

Bristles, on the other hand, can be provided in a wide range of materials. However, although the more traditional fibres used consisted of animal and vegetable products such as birch, coconut fibre and horse hair, many of these have been replaced by synthetic fibres such as nylon and polypropylene.

All brushes and brooms fall into four main categories. These are:

• Hard brushes and brooms
• Soft brushes and brooms
• Scrubbing brushes
• Detail brushes

Hard Brooms

Hard BroomHard Brooms are very hard wearing and have well-spaced, hard bristles. They are effective in removing large items of litter and particularly
suited for use outside. They can loosen impacted dirt when used in conjunction with water and detergent. As with all brooms they are supplied in a range of sizes to meet your particular needs.

Soft Brooms

Soft Brooms 1Soft Brooms have softer, more flexible bristles that are more tightly set, making them particularly suitable for removing smaller items of litter and soil. They are not particularly effective at loosening impacted dirt and are more suited for sweeping indoor areas.
Plastic Brooms

Plastic brushes can be provided in a range of colours that compliment and support colour coded cleaning regimes.

Scrubbing Brushes and Brooms

Scrubbing BrushesDeck scrubs are most common kind of scrubbing broom and are used to remove impacted dirt and soil from hard surfaces. They are particularly effective in small, confined areas where the use of rotary cleaning machines is not possible.

Scrubbing Brushes Scrubbing brushes are produced in a huge Hand Scrubbing Brushesrange of designs, some of which incorporate handles for greater control. As with deck scrubs they are effective in removing dirt and soil from all types of hard surfaces. Plastic varieties are produced in a range of colours to support colour¬ coded cleaning regimes.

Detail Brushes

Detail BrushesDetail brushes are used for a whole range of intricate tasks, with many being manufactured for very specific purposes i.e. pipe cleaners, bottle brushes, suede brushes etc.

Within the catering industry, detail brushes are used for cleaning crockery and the inside of kitchen equipment and utensils. All of these brushes have synthetic bristles and are produced in a range of colours to help prevent the spread of bacteria.

Dustpan & BrushesSelecting the correct broom for a particular job is important if efficiency is to be maintained. In general, the larger the area to be cleaned, the larger the width of the broom head

It should also be pointed out that within an effective cleaning regime, brooms should only be used to remove litter from an area to be cleaned as the brushing action, coupled with the flexibility of the bristles, will cause dust to be kicked up from the floor.

This brings us quite neatly to our next group of tools, namely Dry Mops.

Dust Control Mops (Dry Mops)

As we have just mentioned, brooms will cause dust to be kicked up from the floor into the atmosphere, this dust will remain in the air for some time and will eventually resettle on the floor and other level surfaces in the room. This will go a long way in undoing all of your hard work in cleaning the floor in the first place. In order to avoid this happening, dry mops can be used.

Single Dust Sleeves

Dust SleeveDust sleeves consist of a hardwearing nylon or polyester sleeve that holds cotton or synthetic fibres in the form of a "flat-mop': The sleeve can be tied to the
These are more commonly known as mop sweepers or dust control mops. They consist of a metal or wooden handle and frame which has a dust control mop head fitted around it. The head is attached to the handle using a swivel joint, allowing the head to be manoeuvred more effectively

Single Dust Sleeves Dust sleeves consist of a hard wearing nylon or polyester sleeve that holds cotton or synthetic fibres in the form of a "flat-mop': The sleeve can be tied to the wooden or metal frame or held on using press-studs. (See illustration). The heads themselves vary in size from between 30 and 150 cm

The fibres can be impregnated with mineral oils, making them ideal for attracting and holding dust. However, when they are washed, they need to be re¬dressed with oil to maintain their effectiveness.

Single sleeves are highly effective in controlling the amount of dust kicked up from the floor during floor maintenance procedures in small areas. Also, when using dust mops, it is important to maintain a leading edge, using a "figure-of-eight" motion, otherwise their use will be rendered ineffective.

V Sweepers

V SweeperV Sweepers consist of a scissor-frame, incorporating handles for greater control and two matching dust sleeves attached to the frame head. They perform a similar task to that of single dust control mops, but are used for large areas, such as gymnasia and assembly halls. In fact, their maximum working area can span an impressive 2 metres. Therefore, their use can significantly reduce the amount of time spent removing dust and debris from a floor prior to cleaning, making them an excellent choice when providing a cost effective service.

The scissor action of the frame traps dirt and debris amongst the fibres of the heads and keeps it contained prior to collection.

Static Mops

Static mops are essentially the same as ordinary dust sleeves except for the fact that they do not require impregnation with mineral oils to work effectively. They are constructed of synthetic fibres that, when moved along the surface of the floor, will create a static charge that will attract dust.

They get very dusty during operation and need to be cleaned regularly to maintain their effectiveness. They must be cleaned in a solution of warm water and neutral detergent and allowed to drip dry. However, they do not require any additional treatment once washed.
They are particularly effective in areas where there are fine dust particles that can be kicked up into the air at the slightest disturbance. The action of the static charge will attract dust in the air.

Disposable Mops

HB097Most hard floors can be cleaned using disposable mops. They are essentially a non-woven cloth that fits over a plastic or metal frame or nylon fibre head. The cloths are most commonly impregnated with solutions that will attract dirt, trapping dirt and dust particles between its fibres. They can also attract dirt via a static electric charge, though this is less effective.

Although the general term used is "disposable" some of these cloths can be washed and used more than once, though they will eventually disintegrate after a few washes.
Their use is particularly encouraged in areas where the control of infection is of paramount importance, as the different cloths can be disposed of depending on the area being cleaned. In this sense, they can be incorporated within your colour-coded cleaning regimes.

Future Blogs will deal with the following subjects:

  • Mops and Mopping Systems
  • Cloths and Wiping Equipment
  • Floor Cleaning Equipment (Manual)
  • Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Access and Window Cleaning Equipment

Sign up to this blog to ensure get all the updates for free or for further information please fill in your details below.

[contact-form subject='[Gary Fage%26#039;s Cleaning Blog'][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Website' type='url'/][contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form]

You can also call us 020 7700 3322 or email


Much of the information found on this site is taken from documents commissioned by the Jangro Group