Saturday, 27 June 2015

How to Mop a Floor (with a Bucket on your Head)

MOPPING PART 1:  But You're Doing it Wrong!

Mopping.  (Oh dear, how do I make THIS interesting?)

Admit it though.  There’s nothing more thrilling than standing back to admire a beautifully mopped floor – especially if it was long-overdue and fairly grubby to start with.  Because regardless of the overall state of a kitchen or bathroom you have to clean, things always look a lot more spruce once the floors are done.  There’s no denying it – ‘tis the Marvel of Mopping!  

(Ok, so maybe not thrilling… satisfying, surely)

And as any experienced Home Care worker might agree, it’s always a smug feeling to sit down with your elderly client after a mopping job well down; the kettle is flicked on and you are presented with the posh Tim Tams “because the linoleums come up so lovely, Dollie” - and therefore you deserve it. 

Or as one of my favourites, the thoroughly scottish Mrs Hetty McDoodle bellows after I’ve hung the mop on her porch to dry…

“Oooo its soo nice and fresh in ma wee kitchen right noo, Dollie; it just SMELLS clean. I canny, canny believe it!”  And trust me, despite having a googly glass eye and being classed as legally blind, she would know.

Hopefully though, at this final gloating stage, the fatigued Home Carer isn’t found to be rubbing an aching shoulder or stretching the now hurty part of their lower back.  Because while they’ve been furiously mopping their heads off, they’ve opted not to adhere to their employer’s established and well-regulated OH & S guidelines and it is discovered - THEY’VE BEEN DOING IT WRONG!

For although Mopping is one of those ho-hum household chores that we’ve all done a million times and we can do with our eyes closed (and sometimes do at my house) in reality, it is the one most of us are doing incorrectly.

Which is how it eventuated for me when I first started my training in Home & Community Care many mop-laden moons ago.  Evidently, the fast and fabulous swabbing I’d been doing in my own home, was not quite the cool calculated technique that one is expected to perform as a HACC worker in the houses of one’s Aged clients. 

How to Mop like a Pro
This would be how NOT to mop?

(Yes boring bits, but necessary I’m afraid)

Subsequently, three key aspects of effective mopping practice became apparent early on - and were thus drummed into us by our very enthusiastic Manual Handling tutor, I recall.  That it needed to be about pacing ourselves; being aware of what our spines were doing and being watchful of potential hazards to both ourselves AND our clients. 

For goodness sake, we had to learn how to MOP ALL OVER AGAIN! 

In a nutshell... thanks to the physically repetitious nature of certain housekeeping duties being associated with increasing numbers of musculoskeletal injuries caused to Home Carers, it was recommended that tasks such as mopping and vacuuming needed their very own set of OH&S guidelines. That then meant that workers could be trained to protect themselves from unnecessarily risky work practices.  Ultimately they would then need less time off from duty caused by all these nasty on-the-job injuries and incidences.

(Co-incidentally, it also meant employers didn't have to fork out so much $$$ for employee's work-related medical expenses, not to mention taking the edge off rostering and staffing pressures for  office staff.)

No longer could workers mop in the slap-dash fashion from days of yore, when it was more important to ‘just get the job done’ in order to squeeze one last duty onto their rosters before home time.  No more were we allowed to risk straining our backs, necks, shoulders or wrists from bending, twisting, gripping or lifting in a way that may have the potential to cause injury (and thus too, making us more likely to sue our employer...)

"Wet mops – are heavy mops", they cried! 

"And you can’t possibly lift buckets full of water and hope to survive! "

So they made the mops lighter and flickier; the buckets became more plasticky - as well as a lot more redder.  And we were instructed NOT to fill them to the brim so as to encourage less weightage for us and less wetness that could be left as residue on the floors of our victims clients - for whom great concern was now being shown.  Keeping our elderly client SAFE was paramount.

(And thus too, again, making THEM less likely to sue somebody for something as well.  Ahh, there’s a pattern emerging here…)

Dry mopping was no longer allowed as this was double-handling which meant more of the dreaded repetitive motion that nobody wanted.  Just a good once over, with minimal liquid and no hard scrubbing or unnecessary bending allowed.  Our spines were sacred and the correct posture meant we should use our arm muscles to manipulate our mops – not our precious backs.

And God help you, but you’re on your own if you try to reach, stretch or TWIST!

Mopping for Elderly HACC clients
Don't let your elderly client go for a skate
- in their own kitchen!

Crikey, who’d have thought moppity-mop-MOPPING could have turned into such a complicated and treacherous affair!

Basically the theory goes, and realistically I spose it does seem to be the best for all concerned ie: worker, client and employer… that if your Workplace Safety Procedures & Guidelines manual is followed responsibly and everything is done ‘by the book’, then everyone is covered for any eventuality.  

So slow down, my fellow HACC Home Carers and enjoy the ride, stick to the rules even if you do think they’re silly and sometimes over the top.

(Over the mop?)

Chat to your client as you go and make it a pleasant experience for both of you.  What the heck - you've got nothing to lose!  And you may not have noticed, but this mundane Mopping caper is actually the complete body workout in disguise. So no more guilt for NOT going to the gym and becoming depressed with your absence of 'core'. Instead, you get to become discretely firm and toned with every floor - just by being at work and doing a dam good job HOORRRAY!

Having said that though, if you ever are running late for a red hot lunch date with your hubby or significant other, then I’d be the first one to say “to hell with OH&S”… and go like the clappers!

(wink, wink)



  1. I loved your “Mopping Occupational Health & Safety” tips. I thought you were joking at first, until I reread the paragraph and found that you were joking about reality. And you are right, my back gets a little twinge just thinking about mopping the floor. But the old lady is right too – there is nothing like a clean floor.

    Alison Norman @ ​Power Boss

  2. So glad you enjoyed it Alison and lovely of you to leave such a positive a comment. Sorry yes, I get so caught up in my sarcastic tone sometimes that I stray from the point a tad - I can understand how you might wonder if I was being silly or not! Although I think all home carers should have at least some element of SILLY - keeps us sane! There are alo another 3 parts on the fascinating world of MOPPING that I posted after this one... You might like to check out the silliness in those if you fancy it)
    May all your floors be squeaky clean ones, Alison!!!
    Dollie xxx