Learn How to Mop in Just 5 Steps

So you think you can mop? Learn the fine art of mopping (plus a handful of tips!)

Time to get familiar with Cinderella’s favorite accessory. No, not the glass slippers. The OG accessory: her mop. There are a few key tricks to mopping that, when implemented, make a huge difference.

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For example, the amount of soap and water you use is important. You don’t want to over soap, even if your floors are filthy, because it’ll leave a grimy residue and defeat the whole purpose. And you definitely don’t want to use too much water and run the risk of over saturating your floors, which might cause them to warp. A sopping wet mop is bad news. Then there’s the rinse bucket. No, not the soap bucket. That’s right, you use two buckets. Doing a once-over after soaping with clean, warm water is essential. Also, you want to be sure your mop head or cleaning pad is clean from the get-go, otherwise, the entire chore is pointless.

Sigh. So many rules! And you thought you knew how to mop.

When And How To Mop
It’s easy to tell when your floor needs to be mopped by simply looking at it… or by checking the bottom of your feet after walking around your house barefoot. (You know what we’re talking about.) To make mopping easy, we’ve created a simple 5-step mopping guide. We’re confident that the payoff of having a sparkling clean floor (and clean feet!) will be worth the bother.

Step 1: Pick the right mop + detergent for you

Your mop and detergent are crucial tools. And the choice is personal, based on your floor type and the amount of energy you care to expend on this chore.

There are many types of mops: old school string mops (usually used in industrial settings, tend to soak up lots of water and therefore require lots of wringing out in a fancy bucket), strip mops and mop pads (these popular microfiber pads are good for all types of floors, with easy to remove - or disposable! - pads that you can toss in the laundry after use), sponge mops (self-wringing, gentle, excellent for hardwood or laminate floors), or spray mops like Swiffer Wet Jet.

If you don’t want to worry too much about whether you’ve wrung out your mop appropriately, removing soapy residue, if your rinse water is clean enough, or how to clean and store your mop pads after using them, we get it. That’s why our favorite mop is from the brand that changed the way the world cleans floors: Swiffer. A spray mop with a disposable pad like the Swiffer Wet Jet is the perfect solution and can be used on most floor types, from finished hardwood and laminate to vinyl and linoleum. It’s gentle enough for daily use for dust and light dirt, but powerful enough for sticky messes. The duel-spray nozzle means you don’t have to mess with buckets, rinsing, or even measuring out your detergent. And when you’re done mopping, you can just toss the mop pad in the trash and start fresh next time with a new one. Nice. But what solution should you use if you go the more traditional route?

General guidelines for detergents or household items you can use across specific floor types:

Finished hardwood
If your hardwood floors are finished with polyurethane, use a mild detergent or pH-neutral soap and avoid acidic additives. If your floors are wax sealed, you’ll want to use a barely damp mop, because too much water can easily cause warping.

Avoid anything with polish and don’t use too much water, as it could seep beneath the planks and cause warping.

For a DIY solution, try apple cider vinegar and water while mopping. Vinyl is hearty and can handle products with high acidity, which will both disinfect and get rid of dirt without leaving a soapy residue.

Mild detergents are best — even just a few drops of dish soap and hot water will do for linoleum.

Stone Tile
Something pH-neutral is ideal for stone. Avoid bleach, vinegar or ammonia so you don’t accidentally remove any sealant from your tile.

Ceramic Tile
A simple, non-toxic mixture of warm water and white vinegar will do for ceramic.

Step 2: Sweep, vacuum + move obstacles before mopping

If you skip this step, mopping is entirely pointless and you’ll just be whisking all that dirt and hair around, relocating it into gross little clumps. So first thing’s first: Sweep! Or vacuum. Or both! It will also prove to be way less frustrating (and less swearing under your breath while getting your mop head caught under chair legs) later on if you take the time to move the rugs and furniture out of your way in advance.

Step 3: Mop already!

As you’re filling your own bucket(s), carefully follow the instructions on your detergent label to get the soap to water ratio right. You don’t want an over-concentrated detergent! Dip and wring out your mop so that it’s just damp and won’t cause floor damage (or take forever to dry!). For sponge or strip mops/pads, mop in a straight line, starting with the corners and working your way out of the room (towards the doorway, so you’re not walking over the freshly mopped floor).

Work the soapy water in small sections, about 4x6 feet at a time. Then, rinse your mop and run it over that section with the clean rinse water. Don’t wait for the soapy layer to dry before rinsing with clean water!

Repeat until you’re done. If you’re using a string mop, figure-8 patterns work best. Don’t neglect the corners, even if you’ve got to do a challenging yoga position to get to them. You’ll be glad you did. If you’re using a Swiffer Wet Jet, just add a new cleaning pad, lock and load your cleaning solution bottle, spray, and appreciate that your cleanup is as simple as throwing away a dirty pad.

This is another reason spray mops with disposable cleaning pads are so convenient. It’s quick and painless to toss the disposable WetJet Mopping Pad Refills mid-mop and swap it with a fresh one. If you do choose to use a traditional mop, it’s very important that your mop head is clean, so don’t be afraid to swap out the mop head halfway through mopping if it’s getting really gross. Also, be sure to change out your rinse water once it’s no longer clear.

Step 4: Final rinse

Once you’ve soaped up and rinsed your entire floor section by section, give the entire thing a once over with clean, fresh warm water. Let everything dry before replacing furniture, rugs, etc. Crack some windows or turn on a fan to help the drying process.

Step 5: Mop love

It’s tempting to just toss your mop back into the garage or wherever your cleaning products hibernate when they’re not being used, but it’s important to clean your mop pad and let it dry completely before stashing it. You’ll be glad you did it next time you pull it out again. Most mop pads can be cleaned in a bucket with a little bleach and warm water, then wrung out to dry. Often you can just toss the microfiber pads into the washing machine and dryer. Either way, the cleaner you mop pad is, the cleaner your floor will ultimately be. Happy mopping!

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