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The Right Cleaning Mops and Techniques to Clean Any Floor

The Right Cleaning Mops and Techniques to Clean Any Floor

Mopping… we've all done it.

Starting as a childhood chore and progressing to a personal or even a professional responsibility. Yet, despite its constant presence, mop cleaning remains one of the most fundamentally misunderstood tasks in the cleaning world.

Too often, cleaners, in their frustration, point fingers at their soap, blaming it for their streaky, sticky results. But the true culprits often lie in their own hands, their cleaning mops, and how they misuse them.

If you're not effectively removing the dirt, you're merely smearing it around. Far too many well-meaning cleaners have wasted years focused on the wrong side of the equation and have the dingy floors to prove it.

Here's what we have in store for you today:

        • We'll be demystifying the world of mopping
        • Explaining which mopping methods are most effective
        • Breaking down the myriad of cleaning mops available
        • Teaching you step-by-step professional mopping techniques that are guaranteed to leave any floor sparkling clean

Most people, even experienced cleaners, believe the same misconception that cleaning is the act of applying soapy water to surfaces. In truth, cleaning is all about removing dirt-filled water from the surface. Today I show you different types of cleaning mops and how to mop floors the right way.

Let's do this.

A Quick Primer on the Science of Cleaning Mops

Even if you only clean occasionally, you’ve probably noticed that all the most popular cleaning mops on the market are microfiber.

If you’re like most people, you never questioned why the cleaning industry has embraced microfiber as the ultimate cleaning fabric.

Unfortunately, when it comes to mop cleaning, understanding why microfiber is queen and how to select the right type is critical to your floor cleaning success.

Even professional cleaners who use microfiber over six hours a day usually don’t really understand HOW it works. Even the business owners in charge of buying it rarely have more than a basic understanding.

The brilliance of microfiber cleaning mops lies in the architecture.

Microfiber is a synthetic fabric made of ultra-fine polyester fibers (1000 microfibers = ten human hairs = one cotton fiber) that increase the surface area, lodging spots, and friction of the fabric.

The tiny fibers increase surface area and create ten times more spots for dirt to lodge in microfiber versus cotton.

Premium microfiber shreds the sides of the tiny fibers (AKA split strands), creating more lodging spots and tons of electrically charged friction.

The charged friction makes it incredibly difficult for even fine particles to escape the fabric once they have been trapped. This is why premium microfiber can remove 99.5% of dirt and germs, versus only 67% with cotton.

These properties also trap soap residue and fine dust particles, resulting in a lint-free, streak-free shine on almost any hard surface.

It's Not You, It's Your Cleaning Mops: The Truth About Cleaning Performance

Contrary to popular belief, not all microfibers are created equal, especially when it comes to those used in floor mops. Quality microfiber boasts:

        • High levels of fiber thinness
        • Shred
        • Density

On the other hand, bargain cleaning mops barely meet the minimum legal criteria to be called “microfiber.”

To be sold as microfiber, the fibers have to be one Decitex (dTx) or less, but good microfiber is as thin as 0.5 dTx, which doubles the surface area for twice the dirt-grabbing capacity per inch.

Legally, fibers don’t even have to be shredded, so the bargain microfiber can be completely missing the electrically charged friction that holds all the dirt and germs in place.

For example, Microfiber Wholesale manufactures some of the densest, thinnest-fiber, split-strand microfiber on the market, durably sewn for years of industrial use.

Our most popular wet mop pad sports over 470 GSM (grams per square inch) of split-strand microfiber that is only 0.1-0.2 dTx.

Most bargain floor mops barely top 300 GSM.

That means with every stroke of our mop, you’ll pick up over 33% more dirt, germs, and streak-causing residue than anything else you’ve tried.

Ironically, the perfect example of how this quality range issue plays out is during mop cleaning. Cheap, clunky-fibered floor mops fill up quickly and smear the remaining dirt, leaving streaky floors.

Cleaners using bargain cleaning mops incorrectly blame their floor soaps when actually their mop left the dirt behind.

This is why floor soaps have such varied online ratings, as reviewers often blame the chemical for their own mop’s poor performance.

So many cleaning companies waste time and money on new soaps with no improvement, never realizing the source of the problem is in their hands.

For this reason, I always recommend optimizing microfiber and techniques before even considering switching up your soaps.

Match The Right Floor Mops To The Mess

Every mess has its match. 

But are you pairing the right mop with the right cleaning challenge? Let's break down the most common floor mops and their pros and cons:

Cotton String Cleaning Mops

The OG from the 1800s. It’s absorbent and cheap but hard to wash and slow to dry, so it:

  • Grows mold and germs
  • Stains badly
  • Picks up only 67% dirt and drops 30% as you swish them around
  • Falls apart in only 30 washes

Sponge Floor Mops

The darling of the 1950s. The cellulose sponge is very absorbent, but again, hard to clean and slow to dry, so sponges grow germs at an alarming speed.

You usually can’t launder them in the washer and dryer, so they get very moldy and disgusting over time and tear easily. Again, these cleaning mops are best left in the past

Microfiber Flat Mop

The modern commercial gold standard was introduced in the 1990s. Microfiber flat cleaning mops hold 99.5% of dirt and germs, dry quickly, and can be washed over 200 times, making them the most effective and sanitary option for any flat hard floor or wall. They are especially effective on floors that require low moisture, such as laminate.

"I have a 1250 square-foot all hardwood floors home. I can clean my home in less than half an hour using a microfiber mop cleaning system. I like it so well I gave a whole system to my sister-in-law is a housewarming present and will be giving one to a couple whose wedding we will be going to in May. I love the products." - Mildred, Vero Beach, United States

Mojave Dust Mops Pads

These plush and yarn-edged pads are one of the dry mop up techniques you can use on hard floors. They wipe up dust off the floor instead of a broom or vacuum, which tends to kick dust into the air.

They're convenient because they capture more than a broom without the cords and hassle of a vacuum cleaner, making them the perfect first step before wet mopping.

Wet Mop Pad

These pads are covered in tiny twisted microfiber strands, allowing it to glide across the floor without shoulder strain causing friction but still pick up incredible amounts of dirt. These pads are a great default choice for flat floors and ideal for low-moisture flooring, such as laminate floors and hardwood.

"The pads worked extremely well. I wasn't sure a 20" pad would be the best pad to purchase; however, I'm glad I stayed with the smaller pad. Believe me, it is big enough to do the job. It's small enough to navigate around furniture in a room, yet big enough to cover a lot of ground. I don't think you will be disappointed with this pad if your rooms are "normal" size." - James T., Verified Buyer

Color-Coded Wet Mop Pads

These pads are the same as regular wet cleaning mops but dyed vibrant colors so they can be used for color coding (one color for each type of room). These pads are perfect for:

  • Healthcare facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Any business committed to proper germ management

Premium Wet Mop Pads

These pads sport the same twisted wet glide fibers of the wet mop cleaning pad but with several key upgrades, including thicker padding and rolled edges that allow it to clean into the corners.

These cleaning mops are also ideal for any basic flat floors and low moisture floors. They're perfect for premium flooring, such as exotic hardwood floors and marble.

Scrubbing Mop Pads

These cut pile microfiber cleaning mops with nylon scrubbing strips are great for scouring grimy floors covered in dirty and dried-on dog slobber, and food drips, mud, and other messes. These are best for deep cleaning flat surfaces like laminate floors and fine wood.

"I like the scrubber cause it works on my stone floors as well as on my hardwood floors. After I wash my floors with a microfiber scrubber, I can then throw it into the washing machine and it's new all over again." - Millie, Vero Beach, United States

Chenille Finger Mop Cleaning Pads

The 100% microfiber fingers of these cleaning mops are truly unique, allowing the pad to dig deep and scrub where most floor mops miss, incluiding grout lines.

They're also great for cleaning up chunky messes, such as cereal and milk, acting like a broom and mop at the same time. They can also deep clean non-floor surfaces like baseboards and air vents, making them true multi-taskers.

"I am IN LOVE with this mop. I can use it all around my house and it cleans everything with ease. If you are debating if this mop is as good as it's advertised, IT REALLY IS." - Ana, Verified Buyer

Microfiber Tube Mops

The modern equivalent of the cotton string mop. These microfiber cleaning mops can sop up large spills and be pressed in a wringer like a cotton string mop, but with all the increased dirt pickup and extended wearlife of microfiber.

Tube mops are ideal for commercial settings with large amounts of water and soil to clean, like knocked-over bottles in a grocery store aisle.

"I've supervised a laundry mart for the past two years and could not find suitable cleaning mops to combat the daily water problems we incur until I purchased your Microfiber Tube Mop. I am so happy because it has cut our water problem clean-up in half the normal time. I have accepted water as part of my job description and I'm so thankful to have your mops as part of my team. I recommend your floor mops often and look forward to my next purchase." - Lynn, Verified Customer

Microfiber Spin Cleaning Mops

The newest mopping craze, this mop can wring itself out by spinning in a special bucket. While the spinning process is fun, unfortunately, it requires a very tiny mop head to fit in the bucket and a very loose weave microfiber yarn to spin out easily.

The mop head itself can only last a couple of months and leaves a lot of water behind while mop cleaning, which is dangerous for laminates. Acceptable option for most durable hard floors, but avoid using it on laminates.

Disposable Floor Mops

Introduced in the early 2000s, disposable floor mops like the Swiffer Wet Jet turned the equivalent of a diaper into a mop pad to absorb water off the floor. While convenient, it has a very limited capacity to hold water, causing large amounts of landfill waste.

The one place where these cleaning mops truly shine is the professional versions used in the healthcare industry, where mopping up diseased matter that needs to be thrown away is par for the course. These disposables come in a flat mop and tube mop style, perfect for every “can’t risk washing it” situation.

Steam Mops

Introduced to retail in the early 2000s. They heat water into steam and blast it on the floor to clean and disinfect, with a microfiber pad that absorbs the loosened dirt.

Steam is very effective at killing germs and loosening dirt, but the tool also runs the risk of permanently damaging floors and burning users if not used correctly.

The best steam mop is one that has variable floor setttings so that you don't damage the floor.

Also, steam requires far longer exposure time to disinfect than the speed at which most people mop, so it just ends up being theatrical, blowing a bunch of hot air without killing anything.

"I had been using a steam mop and I was getting so frustrated with constant streaks and a smeary film over my floors. These mop pads are life-changing. My floors look brand new and these were so easy to use, I love them. No streaks, no filmy residue. Just clean, shiny floors. BUY THESE, you won't regret it." - Kimberly Huschle, United States

Step-By-Step: Sweeping, Mop Cleaning, And Maintainance

Contrary to popular belief, there's more to cleaning than merely running cleaning mops over floors or sweeping off dust.

1. Broomless Sweeping (The Pro’s Secret for Deeper Cleaning)

  • Start by decluttering: Remove items like bath mats and waste baskets to clear the floor.
  • Select a broomless sweeper: Choose a Dust Mop or Vacuum with Floor Brush Attachment. Brooms kick dust in the air, but microfiber dust mops and vacuums trap and remove dirt, reducing mopping work.
    Dust mops are ideal for bathrooms because they can be laundered. If you use a vacuum brush, be sure to clean it with disinfectant so you don’t spread toilet germs.
  • Work your way from inside out: If you are vacuuming, plug it in either at the room's entrance or just outside in the corridor. Then, with the duster or vacuum, work from the back to the door to avoid tripping on cords or stepping on your work.
  • Always edge first: As you work around the room from back to front, vacuum or dust the edge of each section before cleaning the center.
  • Eight is great: If using a dust mop, work the mop in a figure 8 pattern to cover more area and keep from pushing dust into the edges and corners.

2. Microfiber Mop Magic: Bucket Technique (for Robust Floors)

  • Prepare your bucket: Combine hot water and floor cleaner as per the manufacturer’s guidelines. For extra dirty floors, fill a second rinse bucket filled with plain hot water.
  • Work your way from inside out: Start mop cleaning from the room's deepest point, advancing towards the entrance to minimize treading on wet surfaces.
  • Always edge first: Address the floor in 3’ x 3’ sections. Start with the edges, followed by the center. Check the mop pad frequently to determine when it is full.
  • Eight is great: Aim for the figure-8 mopping pattern to effectively collect and push debris as you wet clean. If the space is too cramped, resort to a back-and-forth motion, but keep an eye out for stray debris.
  • Watch, rinse, repeat: Regularly inspect your mop head for accumulated dirt. Rinse in the bucket as needed (use a rinse bucket for heavily soiled floors) so that you have a clean mop. Replace mop water or rinse water when it has gotten too contaminated.
  • Protect against puddles: Monitor for any puddles, ensuring the floor remains slightly damp and not soaked. Keep a sharp eye out for puddles sloshing out of your buckets and sop them up quickly.

3. Microfiber Mop Magic: Spray Mopping Technique (for Sensitive Floors)

  • Prepare your spray: In a quart-sized spray bottle, mix water and floor cleaner as indicated by the manufacturer.
  • Chin for the win: Ensure your mop pole's height aligns with your chin for an ergonomic stance.
  • Moisten the mop: Wet and wring out the head with clean water, ensuring it's damp, not saturated. If you're far from a sink, pre-dampen a few mop heads at once and store them in a plastic bag.
  • Back to front: Begin at the back of the room, moving towards the entrance.
  • Spray away: For each 3’ x 3’ section, spray the cleaning solution directly onto the floor, ensuring the nozzle is set to a jet stream. Then, mop the section, starting with the edges.
  • Always edge first: As you work around the room from back to front, mop the edge of each section before cleaning the center.
  • Eight is great: Work the mop in a figure-8 pattern to cover more area and keep from pushing dust into the edges and corners. If clutter and furniture disrupt this, opt for a back-and-forth motion, but watch for abandoned debris.
  • Watch, rinse, repeat: Regularly inspect your mop head for accumulated dirt. Replace or rinse as required, ensuring you have a clean mop always.
  • Protect against puddles: Monitor for any puddles, ensuring the floor remains slightly damp and not soaked.

Best Floor Cleaning Products for Your Floors

Mr. Clean Multipurpose

Mr. Clean has been one of the most popular floor cleaners for generations because it is one of the safest and most reliably effective. It’s neutral pH, so you can use it on any washable floor, and it rinses dirt and grime quickly.


Fabuloso is the number 1 daily surface cleaner in Mexico and has also taken the US by storm thanks to its unbeatable combination of high fragrance and performance at a low price. It’s neutral pH and leaves a great shine and lasting scent.

Black Diamond Stoneworks Limestone and Travertine Floor Cleaner

The entire Black Diamond Stoneworks line is top-notch, with deep cleaners and sealants that provide professional quality results without damage risk. This product is best for daily mopping, but for restoration, be sure to check out their grout cleaner and intensive stone cleaner.

Holloway Quick Shine Deep Cleaner Holloway Quick Shine

Deep Cleaner was originally designed to strip the polish off wood floors without damaging the wood floor underneath, but it works great in any deep cleaning situation.

Pro Mopping Tips for Flawless Floors

The Soap Myth Debunked: As we explained in the introduction, there's a common misconception in mopping that more soap or better soap is the key to cleaner floors.

The reality?

Soap is only a helper, not a key driver in floor cleaning.

As we explained, cleaning is the act of removing dirty water, and soap doesn’t expand the dirt-carrying capacity of water or mops.

The primary role of soap is to use surfactants to lift and suspend dirt and oils in water, to make the dirt easier to carry away.

Surfactants resemble a balloon on a string with a hydrophilic tail and a hydrophobic balloon head. This "tail" attaches to grime, pulling it into the water via its "head" that bonds with the water.

When left in soapy water, dirt gets entirely coated by these surfactants, lifting dirt into the water like the house tied to balloons in the movie Up.

However, there’s a saturation point.

Once your water or cleaning mops are full of dirt, adding more soap won't help. Instead, you'll just make the dirty water you’re smearing soapier. Leaving excessive soapy water on the floor can lead to unsightly streaks, especially on laminate and other shiny surfaces.

Now that we understand that the soap is least likely to blame, let’s unveil the critical pro tips that CAN be the key to great-looking floors.

1. Too Much Soap, Not Enough Rinse

Many cleaners, driven by the erroneous belief that "wet means clean," overload on soap and forget to rinse the mop pad, meaning tha most of the time they're not using a clean mop. Using mops saturated with dirty water merely spreads grime instead of lifting it. The result is a floor with dried-on dirty residue.

2. Not Monitoring the Mop Pad

On very dirty or porous floors, you might need extra soap to capture and lift more grime. But this also means cleaning mops get dirtier quicker. Failing to increase rinse intervals accordingly leaves more soapy dirty water on the floor.

3. Washing the Wrong Way

Incorrect washing can melt microfibers, removing significant amounts of performance from your mop heads. By adhering to the recommended washing guidelines, you ensure your microfiber floor mops remain absorbent and efficient.

4. The Napkin / Sock Cleanliness Indicator

Use a white napkin, paper towel, or sock. Periodically swipe the floor during mopping and follow this simple mantra: “If the towel is light gray, you’re done for the day. If the towel is black, it’s time to go back.”

What Are the Best Tricks to Rinsing Your Mop Right?

If you want a clean mop to work with, you've got to rinse it at intervals. It’s easy to rinse a mop in a room with a sink, but outside of that is rife with challenges. Bringing along a traditional bucket is a heavy, sloshy way to keep your mop clean, but risk damaging your floors with puddles. Here’s some bucket-free, sink-free solutions:

1. Regular Mop Pad Rinsing

  1. Dampen the microfiber mop pad and wring it out in the sink.
  2. Mop in 3’x3’ sections.
  3. Check the mop pad every two sections.
  4. Rinse the pad 2 to 4 times per floor or more for dirtier floors.

2. Streamlined Rinsing Strategy

  1. Use a waterproof bag or basin.
  2. Pre-dampen and wring out several microfiber mop pads.
  3. Quickly switch mop heads without exiting the room.

3. Better Cleaning & Storage After Use

How about when you're done cleaning, how do you now keep your cleaning mops clean and stored right for next time? The table below shows you how.

  Cleaning After Use Storage
Microfiber Flat Mop
  • Gently machine wash in warm water with a mild detergent
  • Air dry thoroughly before reattaching to the mop head
Store mop with the pad removed from the head. Air flow is good
Cotton String Mop
  • Rinse and swish in hot water to remove dirt and debris
  • Hang to dry in a well-ventilated area
Hang in a well-ventilated area such as your laundry doorway. You want air flow.
Sponge Mop
  • Rinse in hot water until free of dirt and soap residue
  • Allow to air dry completely
Store in upright position to prevent sponge from deforming, not sponge down on the floor
Steam Mop
  • Empty the water tank to prevent water from stagnating
  • Wipe the mop head and nozzle to remove residue
Store in upright position so mop is not in touch with a surface
Microfiber Spin Mops
  • Machine wash the mop in warm water with mild detergent
  • Allow to air dry
Store mop with the pad removed so it has maximum air flow

The Best Way to Maintain Microfiber Cleaning Mops?

You've finished mopping the floor and it's pristine, thanks to microfiber mops. What's next? How do you maintain the mop to ensure its last for as long as you're cleaning?

Here's our step-by-step guide on how to clean and store microfiber mops:

  1. Immediately you finish mopping, rinse the microfiber mop thoroughly with warm water in order to remove loose dirt and cleaning solution.
  2. Hand wash or machine wash, but be sure to refer to the manufacturer's guidelines if you choose to machine wash it.
  3. Don't put microfiber mops in the dryer. The heat can damage delicate fibers. The best way is to air dry on a sunny day.
  4. Separate mop pads into categories to avoid cross-contamination. If you use different mops to clean different areas, consider using a color-coding system to prevent cross-contamination.
  5. A microfiber mop is a useful cleaning tool. Regularly inspect yours for signs of wear, which could be frayed or thin fibers. Replace them as needed in order for them to maintain optimal cleaning performance.
  6. Store your mops properly when not in use. First, remove the mop head from the base then store it in a dry place to prevent the growth of mold.
  7. Refresh your mops occasionally by soaking them in a mixture of vinegar and water for a few hours, then rinse them thoroughly and air dry.

Put these mop-maintenance tips into practice and you'll extend the life of your microfiber mops. You'll also ensure that they continue delivering top-notch cleaning results.

Easiest Way To Mop Your Floors

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