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You wouldn't think it would be that hard to choose a tool for simple cleaning duties, but not all mops work for every mess.
Picking the right mop for your needs can help make cleaning up messes and spills a lot more efficient.
A good mop will help you achieve a spotless home, and you won't mind pulling it out when something needs to be cleaned up.
Contrary to popular belief, mops don't simply move dirty water around. Not if you choose a good, quality mop and follow some no-nonsense cleaning tips!
Below, you'll find a quick outline of what to consider when selecting a mop to add to your army of cleaning tools, and some tips on how to use it properly and maintain it as the years go by.
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We buy our products at the same stores where you shop, and we test each one thoroughly to provide you with 100% unbiased analysis.
We also consult experts, such as Allen, a past president of the Healthy House Institute.
Read on for our guide to selecting the best mop for your needs, or if you’re ready to buy, have a look at our top five recommendations in the matrix above.
Allen Rathey is a cleaning expert who promotes healthier indoor spaces. He is past-president of the Housekeeping Channel and the Healthy House Institute, and principal of the Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI) culminating more than 30 years of experience in making indoor places cleaner. He has been tapped as an expert by the New York Times, Real Simple, U.S. News & World Report, and other national media.
Mops are relatively simple cleaning tools, but there are some elements you should pay attention to when selecting one for your cleanup needs.
Mop handles can be made of wood or plastic. Wood is more durable, but it can potentially splinter or break if mishandled, and it's heavier than plastic. Plastic is much more lightweight, and most plastic mop handles are ergonomically constructed, often with padded grips, for comfort.
Don't use a wet mop to clean hardwood floors. It can damage or stain the floor.
To mop effectively, you need to be able to move the cleaning tool rigorously back and forth across a surface. Scrubbing off stubborn dirt can take a lot of effort, so a mop should be easy to maneuver.
Cloth string mops are the heaviest of the bunch, and take quite a bit of strength to handle.
Sponge and microfibre mops with plastic components are much easier to move around. Their lighter weight makes it easier to clean with them for extended periods of time and suitable for all types of homeowners.
Mops with a built-in sprayer are cumbersome to use as the sprayer and solution tank add weight, and mop pads tend to load with soil and start spreading rather than removing it in short order. Also, disposable mop heads get expensive over time, adding to the cost of ownership.
Not all mops can be used forever. Some cloth string types cannot be washed; instead, they must be replaced over time.
Mops with reusable pads can last a long time, since the pads can easily be replaced.
Plastic handle mops are less durable, since plastic parts can snap and break, especially when pressure is applied. Wood handle mops are much more durable, but are heavier to move around.
Resist the temptation to use too much cleaning solution. It can leave your floors streaky.
Mops are made of various types of materials. Cotton string mops are probably what you picture when you hear the word “mop.” String mops are harder to rinse and keep clean, and are not the ideal cleaning tool for at-home users. String mops can also be made of rayon or a blend of natural and synthetic fibers. They are the best choice for cleaning very large areas, which is why you'll often observe janitorial staff using them.
For the home, sponge or spray mops with disposable (or washable) pads are better options. Microfibre and sponge mops tend to be less bulky than your traditional string mop, so they're easier to maneuver. This makes them suitable for users with less upper body strength, such as elderly persons or those with back issues and ailments. Because they are easier to handle, they’re more effective at scrubbing. Sponge mops are easy to wring out, too. Mops with disposable or reusable pads are easy to keep clean, since the part of the tool that gets wet either gets thrown away or quickly washed.
There are also dust and steam mops available for purchase. Dust mops are useful for cleaning hardwood floors — they utilize tacky pads to pick up dust and dirt. Steam mops are great for lifting stuck-on messes from all types of surfaces. Steam helps to loosen dirt, so it can be cleaned more easily.
Rinse, rinse, rinse your mop or you will spread, spread, spread the dirt. Ease of rinsing to start with a clean mop head with each pass is key.
While most mops are inexpensive, there are fancier options available that offer more features to help make cleaning a little bit less annoying.
Spray and steam mops are more expensive than their more basic counterparts, and can retail for well over $50.
High-quality, commercial grade mops are made to clean up big messes and retail for a pretty penny, but most homeowners shouldn't need that kind of mop.
Don't wash your mop pad with strong detergents. Avoid bleach altogether.
It's essential to maintain your cleaning tool to ensure it lasts years down the road. Don't just stuff it away in a closet right after you've finished cleaning. Make sure to keep the mop itself clean, and clean it right away, don't wait. If you wait, your mop can begin to smell. If your mop uses pads, remove them right away and throw them in the washing machine to avoid lingering smells. Don't forget that if you're using a mop with a bucket, that bucket needs to be sanitized, too.
If you're using a cloth-string mop, it's likely that it can't be washed. Wring it out with clean water and cleaning solution after you're done cleaning. Keep an eye on your string mop, too, to spot whether it needs to be replaced. If fibers are starting to come off en masse, it may be time to get a new mop. The same goes for sponge mops. If pieces of sponge are coming off, it's time to think about buying a new one.
There is a principle in professional cleaning “known as Resolve to Dissolve.” This involves pre-spraying floors to allow the cleaning solution to do the heavy lifting (cleaning by dissolving soil) and then mopping or vacuuming floors to remove the liquid.
Mopping seems like a no-brainer cleaning activity, but plenty of folks make mistakes when using a mop to clean their floors.
Don't start mopping before you sweep or vacuum. You'll likely end up moving a lot of dirt and gunk around instead of cleaning your floors.
Move furniture out of the way to make mopping easier, and to ensure you get every inch of a room clean.
Block off the area you'll be mopping in. You don't want pets and kids tramping in with dirty socks and feet.
Use warm water if you're mopping with a bucket and not a spray mop.
Make sure to use a cleaning solution that's safe for your floor type.
Start from the edge of a room, so you don't get trapped while mopping
Don't be tempted to use a soaking wet mop, too much water doesn't equal better cleaning. Too much water can make things dirtier, believe it or not.
If using a bucket, change the water when it starts to look dirty. Don't reuse dirty water. It spreads germs around.
If you can, go with a rectangular bucket — it'll give you more room to dunk your mop.
Flush that murky water down the toilet. It's the most sanitary option.
Allow air to circulate in your home, so your floors can dry quickly once you're done mopping.
Q. When I mop my floors end up looking streaky, and they feel sticky. What's going on?
A. You're using too much cleaning solution. Try a smaller amount next time you mop. If you reduce the amount and this keeps happening, make it a point to mop the area with plain water before you sit down to relax. It'll get rid of some of that build up that's making your floor feel sticky.
Q. What's the advantage of a string-mop?
A. Although it's tougher to clean and can be harder to handle, a string mop is excellent for picking up debris and dirt. These types of mops also hold a lot of water which is good for cleaning larger rooms.
Q. Do I really need to sweep or vacuum before I mop?
A. Yes. It'll make your life a lot easier. A mop can pick up some debris from the floor, but it's not meant to pick up all that loose dust and dirt. If you choose not to vacuum or sweep, your mop will spread all that gross stuff around your floors. It'll dry there, and you'll still need to vacuum or sweep once your floors are dry.
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At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.