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04 Apr

Cleaning in History: The Mop

By phclean

Coffee… Dirt... Syrup... What can’t a mop clean up? Life can get messy sometimes, so be thankful that the mop exists! We’ll explore the three major inventions and innovations that define the mop we use today.

Before the invention of the mop, people had to lug around a bucket of water, kneel on the ground, and scrub the floor with a cloth. This long process led to many injuries like arthritis, splinters, and infections. The mop seems like an obvious and easy solution to this problem now, but it wasn’t invented until 1956!

Manuel Jalón Corominas, a Spanish engineer, was blown away by the injuries caused by cleaning floors. He invented the mop to prevent further injuries from happening. He combined a wooden handle and a cleaning cloth for the mop itself. Then he made a bucket with rollers, controlled by a pedal, so you can wring out the cloth. He called it “Fregasuelos” (which roughly translates to “wash floors”), but the first sales person called it “Fregona”. His model of the mop required a twisted cotton cloth that couldn’t fray. Because of materials like this, Corominas was only able to make two mops a day because materials were scarce.

When Corominas first introduced his new invention to the public, it was considered a luxurious device that people didn’t know how to work. In fact, according to Future Emprenedors, there were many women that returned the mop to stores because they couldn’t figure out how to use it. After demonstrations and practice, women were able to understand the mop. By 1960, tourists were bringing the mop home with them. And by 1980, the was sold in 30 countries!

In the late 1980s, Joy Mangano innovated the mop by created a self-wringing mop with 300 feet of a continuous loop of cotton. The continuous loop allows users to easily wring out the mop head without getting the users’ hands wet. Joy called her innovation the “Miracle Mop.” According to Biography.com, by 1990, Joy created 100 prototypes with $100,000. She managed to appear on QVC, a television network, to advertise her new product. Her mop became a huge success and eventually sold her million-dollar company to HSN in 1999. Her story is the epitome of success, so much so that her story became the entire plot of the movie, “Joy,” featuring Jennifer Lawrence.

According to Fast Company, Proctor & Gamble (P&G) created a new cleaning business that aimed to address the unspoken customer through “deep-level design thinking.” P&G believed that mops were flawed in many ways: dirt gets smeared around on the floor, the bucket of water gets incredibly dirty, and people were cleaning their mops more than their floors. To solve these problems, P&G hired Continuum to invent a new chemical agent to deep clean floors. They failed many times, but their progress did a 180 when someone in the office spilled coffee. Instead of getting out a mop, they swept up the coffee grounds, then used a damp paper towel to clean the fine coffee ground dust, says Kinesis, Inc. When this happened, they realized that they didn’t need a new chemical agent, they need a new mop! The Swiffer was born as “essentially a wet towel on a stick that could be thrown away once it was soiled” (Fast Company) The Swiffer was introduced to the pubic in 1999.

Between the Fregona, Miracle Mop, and Swiffer, a difficult chore was made easier by saving time and preventing many injuries. Why are you thankful for your mop?

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