How to Choose and Clean a Mop

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Dear Home-Ec 101,
I have read your post on ‘How to Mop‘ but I have a question for you about the type of mop to use.

I have a string mop and one of those flat mops with a removable cloth that can go through the washer after it is used. I think the string mop is easier to use – gets in corners easier, I can get up on the baseboards, and I feel like it’s faster, but it also feels dirty to me. It feels unsanitary and like I’m just spreading the dirt around my house and then re-spreading the next time I get it out to use.

Is it? I have tile floors and wood floors. What is the best type of mop to use?
Mopping Makes Me Go “Meh”

how to choose and clean a mop
Heather says:

The key to keeping a cotton string mop from being disgusting, is to clean it THOROUGHLY after each use. As you have noted cotton string mops have some distinct advantages over their sponge mop counterparts.

Wash the mop thoroughly after each use under HOT running water until the water runs clear, wring it thoroughly, and allow it to dry completely.  Some cotton string mop heads can even be thrown into your clothes washer, if it makes you feel better. (Just be sure you remove the metal part of the head or you’ll scratch up the inside of your washing machine which may lead to rust stains on your clothes.

Never leave a cotton mop soaking in dirty mop water, or you’re right, you will be spreading nasty things all over your home. And using a mop bucket with a wringer will make your life easier.

Sponge mops may be a little easier to clean, but they do need to be replaced more often and are not a good choice for textured flooring. Well, not a good choice unless you find shredded mop bits an attractive decorative addition.

Finally, here’s something to remember. We may joke about floors being clean enough to eat off of, but that’s not what floors are for. The only time you really need to worry about the floors is if you have infants who are crawling around. By all means, sweep and vacuum up the dust bunnies and grit (which will harm both your carpet and your hard flooring) and always spot mop anything sticky or greasy -we’re not out to invite unwanted guests here, either, but really try not to stress out too much about germs on the floor.

We wash our hands properly before preparing food and eating for a reason, as humans we do come into contact with germs. It’s normal, unless our immune systems are compromised, we’re built to withstand a little bit of exposure. In fact there is some evidence that we evolved in such a way that NOT being exposed to germs may actually do more harm than good.

Not every surface in our home has to be sanitary. That said, always mop the kitchen first and the bathroom last, just like in the shower or tub, where you wash your face before you wash your butt…

guide to clean floors
Click the picture for more tips!

And regarding your hardwood floors, you shouldn’t be mopping often and when you do, it’s a DAMP mop, not a wet mop (that’s where the wringer really comes in). Try to stick to using a dust mop and then spot mopping only when necessary. Tile can take more frequent mopping and thanks to the grout, a string mop is a better choice.

Good luck!

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11 thoughts on “How to Choose and Clean a Mop”

    • @unKit yeah, the reader was dismayed I’d be answer so quickly and ruin her excuse to not mop (I give her an out, don’t worry)

      • @HeatherSolos I am taking the out… and adding to it sick kids – maybe my floors will be mopped next week? 🙂  Thanks for answering my question, Heather.  This is a great explanation and I *kind of* appreciate the quick response.

        • CMarie I’m sorry your kiddos are sick. I’m not nearly always this on the ball, like I said, I was happily avoiding something else. (The video I’m posting tomorrow)

  1. We used to live in France, and it seemed like all the public places were constantly being mopped. They all smelled like dirty mop water and no cleaning chemicals. The smell nearly made me vomit on a regular basis. :- (Actually, just thinking of it is making the bile rise.) As  you can imagine, this is kind of my pet peeve.I bought a Libman Wonder Mop. It is a string mop with a built-in wringer, uses inch-wide strips of fabric rather than actual stringy strings (which collect the dirt), and can be (and is) thrown in the washer every time I mop. I have had the same one for years and years and it still is in great shape. I usually throw the rugs in with it. It has a plastic ring, so no metal to worry about, and I just put it back on the handle and put the head up to let it dry until next time. It seriously looks barely used after about 5 years. Though I hate mopping, I like mopping with a clean mop and knowing that my floor is slightly less disgusting than it was. 🙂

  2. So, it really isn’t too horrible that I haven’t mopped my floors since my mother visited us… in July?  (I spot clean them daily, I swear.)  You’ve just made my day!


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