Published 08th August 2023

How Commercial Cleaning Has Changed in the Last 100 Years

Commercial Cleaning 100 Years Ago

We take a light-hearted look back over 100 years of cleaning. It’s always of interest to us to think how the design of certain types of cleaning equipment – such as the humble mop – have barely changed for hundreds of years. Yet at the same time, we can now benefit from new, modern cleaning techniques and technologies such as those used for COVID-19 cleaning.

Equally important is the emphasis today on the use of safe and environmentally sustainable cleaning materials, such as non-bleach-based products.

The evolution of commercial cleaning equipment since 1923

The equipment, technology and techniques used in commercial cleaning have undergone significant improvements since 1923.

New types of vacuum cleaners, floor scrubbers and pressure washers, along with innovations in cleaning materials, have played a crucial role in transforming the efficiency and effectiveness of cleaning over the years.

Yet it’s interesting that the roots of some basic equipment still in use today can be traced back thousands of years.

Take the traditional floor mop for instance.

The mop, as we know it today, has a long history dating back centuries. While we can’t pinpoint an exact date for its initial development, mops have been used in cleaning floors for thousands of years.

Ancient civilisations, such as the Egyptians, are known to have used early versions of mops made from materials like sticks, twigs or sponges tied to the end of a handle. They were used to clean floors by dipping the mop head in water and then scrubbing the surface.

In medieval times, mops evolved to include cloth or rags attached to a stick or handle, making them more absorbent and effective for cleaning.

The mop’s design and materials continued to improve over the centuries, with the introduction of more durable fabrics and advancements in manufacturing techniques. By the 20th century, mops were commonly made with cotton or other natural fibres and used in many and varied cleaning applications.

Since then, mops have seen significant advancements including the development of modern mops using microfibres and other synthetic materials which can trap dirt and bacteria very effectively.

While the basic design of wet mops has remained relatively unchanged, the introduction of new materials has significantly improved their performance. The switch from traditional strings or strips to microfiber significantly enhanced their cleaning capabilities, making them more efficient and effective for a wider range of surfaces.

In the mid-20th century, the flat mop was introduced, which allowed for more efficient cleaning of large areas. They often featured disposable mop heads that could be easily removed and replaced, reducing the risk of cross-contamination.

In more recent years, spin mops and steam mops have become more popular. Steam mops use steam to sanitise and clean floors without the need for chemicals, making them an eco-friendly and efficient option for various surfaces.

Other cleaning equipment innovations

Overall, the improvements in technology and techniques used in commercial cleaning have led to more efficient and effective cleaning practices, which have in turn contributed to better health and hygiene in commercial settings.

Let’s look at some of these other developments.

Microfibre cleaning technology: As mentioned earlier, microfibre cleaning technology has revolutionised the cleaning industry. Microfibre cloths are made of synthetic fibres that are much smaller than a human hair and can pick up and trap more dirt and bacteria than traditional cleaning materials.

Ergonomic Design: Over the years, there has been a focus on ergonomic design, ensuring that cleaning equipment is comfortable and easy to use for the operators. This has reduced strain and fatigue for cleaning staff during prolonged cleaning tasks.

Specialised Chemicals: The development of specialised cleaning chemicals has made it easier to remove dirt and stains from surfaces. These chemicals are now more environmentally friendly and safer for both cleaning personnel and the environment.

Biochemical cleaning: Also known as enzymatic cleaning, this type of cleaning uses naturally occurring enzymes to break down and remove organic stains and odours. Enzymes are biological molecules that act as catalysts, speeding up chemical reactions. In the context of cleaning, specific enzymes target particular types of stains or soiling and help to break them down into simpler compounds, making them easier to remove.

Enzymatic cleaning materials are more environmentally friendly compared to some harsh chemical cleaning agents, as they are biodegradable and typically derived from natural sources. Being non-toxic and safe to use, they pose minimal risks to human health, and are usable on a wide range of surfaces.

Specialist Cleaning Training: The introduction of professional training programmes for cleaners enables cleaning personnel to learn the latest techniques and best practices for cleaning various surfaces and materials. At Wixted Cleaning, for example, we invest in staff development because we want our personnel to clean to the highest possible standard.

Focus on Safety: The safety of cleaning staff has transformed over the years to become a top priority today, and safety equipment and protocols have been developed to protect workers from hazards such as chemical exposure and slips and falls.

Ultraviolet-C (UV-C) disinfection: During and since the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a renewed interest in UV-C disinfection technology. UV-C light is effective in killing bacteria and viruses, and it is now used in commercial cleaning to disinfect surfaces and air in high-traffic areas, including GP surgeries, offices, hotels and public buildings.

Green cleaning: Many cleaning companies are now using eco-friendly cleaning products that are biodegradable, non-toxic and made from renewable resources. This approach is not only better for the environment, but it also improves indoor air quality by reducing the amount of chemicals released into the air during cleaning.

Looking ahead

In the future, we expect commercial cleaning technology and techniques to develop further.  The use of automation in cleaning with robotic cleaners will become more widespread, as will the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Sensors are already being used in cleaning to adjust cleaning schedules, while smart cleaning machines can detect areas that require extra attention.

Finally, some companies are experimenting with drones for cleaning high-rise buildings and other hard-to-reach areas. These drones are equipped with sprayers and can clean windows and facades without the need for scaffolding or other costly equipment.

In conclusion

In summary, the use of advanced technologies such as UV-C disinfection, microfibre cleaning and green cleaning are already transforming the commercial cleaning industry, making it more efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly. It will be interesting to see how automated cleaning, IoT and drones come into play in the next few years.

If you want a bit of extra help with your office cleaning, speak to the office cleaning specialists at Wixted Cleaning. We’ll be delighted to provide you with a free quote!

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