Everything You Wanted to Know About Mops but Were Afraid to Ask!



As I’ve learned, mopping is one of the most confusing cleaning jobs out there (who knew!).

Well friends, let me use my ridiculously vast knowledge of cleaning to make mopping as simple as tying a shoelace for you!

Sometimes a mop, is just a mop – but if you’ve been down the cleaning aisle recently, I’m sure you’ve noticed the huge selection of mops available to consumers nowadays – everything from the old school yacht mops (Cinderella?) to the fancy new Swiffer Sweepers.  But which mop is the right mop for you?

We’ll kick things off by talking about some of the more popular mop types and which mop you should use where, and I’ll also share some handy tips and tricks to help you become a mopping master!

Common Types of Mops

Yacht Mop (cotton string mop)

It just sounds classier that way though, right? I remember it as the one Cinderella used to use, but it’s also commonly referred to as a string mop or deck mop.  These have been around for hundreds of years (when researching, we found something that indicated this mop was around since the 1400s…there you go – dinner table fodder!) and it is likely the mop that most people picture in their mind when they think about “a mop”. Hands down, they are still the most effective mops for any kind of heavy duty cleaning (janitorial or industrial work) or outdoor mopping jobs.

The durable cotton fibres are great for cleaning up decks and commercial flooring and are highly absorbent but do not leave a streak-free finish which is why they are not the best for indoor jobs.  A Wringer bucket very important to get rid of excess water before taking mop to floor.  The larger the mop head, the heavier it gets and the more water it absorbs, so the stronger a wringer bucket you’d require.

Sponge Mop (Bee Mop)

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? This sponge mop does!  I know I know…just let me have this joke, ok?

Sponge mops have been around for quite awhile and are a good choice for linoleum floors (although I would just use a twist mop) but it’s really excellent for cleaning walls.  The sponge can scrub well and reach high and scrub build up and stains, which is perfect for wall cleaning.  With floors, I find that they do streak because it doesn’t always wring out entirely (not to mention it’s hard to wring out), and they are also rather difficult to keep clean.  Just think about how dirty your sponge can get…and now it’s mopping the floor?  Yes, so in my opinion, don’t bother with them for floors.

Microfiber Twist Mop

Next up we have one of my personal favourites – a microfiber twist mop. While it looks a lot like the yacht mop, the one key difference is that instead of cotton strings – this mop utilizes the awesome cleaning power of microfiber.

Microfibre mops are a great choice if you’re looking for an all-purpose mop.  It’s hybrid in the sense that it has the ability to do the heavy-duty mopping like a yacht mop but the microfiber strands are delicate enough and thin enough that a hardwood floor, stone floor and tile floor alike can tolerate it, plus they are super absorbent and won’t leave streaks or too much (potentially harmful liquid)  behind.  They need to be wrung out well in order not to leave any streaks, so having a great wringer bucket is critical.  I have yet to try the pedal spin buckets, but I imagine they’d do well.

When people ask me for a good all-around, multi purpose mop for tile, stone and hardwood,  this is the one I suggest!

Flat Head Mop

These mops are becoming more and more popular as paranoia sinks in about getting certain floor surfaces too wet.  And you know, they have their place.  I especially like the ones that have  a reservoir which can hold a cleaning solution which can be sprayed directly onto the floor in front of it.  Make your own with a teeny squirt of dish soap and water!

This mop is a good choice if you have floors that are hardwood or laminate.  Since these floors cannot take too much moisture, these mops are designed to spray out just a little bit of cleaning solution and then quickly wipe it up with the mopping pad.  The benefit is that there is little to no streaking and the floors get quite shiny.  I also like these for marble or granite floors, because they use just a bit of moisture and allow for a nice polish from the microfiber pad, just make sure you use the correct cleaner.  It’s ideal to have a couple of spare pads so that you can replace them if one gets too wet.  Remember to launder the pads after each use.

Dry Mops

Finally, let’s talk about dry mops – or dust mops – like a Swiffer.  These have become very popular in recent years because these mops are great for maintaining the flooring in smaller spaces – or if you have a small amount of hard floors in your home and you don’t want to schlep out a whole mopping situation every time you want to give it the ol’ once over.

Personally, I like to use this mop for touch up cleans, in-between cleanings to maintain the floors.  It picks up dust and hair and is more-so considered a replacement for a broom than a direct replacement for a traditional mop.  Read: this does not replace a mop!  They do not remove heavy soil and may leave some debris behind.  They also don’t clean or shine the floor. Generally you use these dry unless the ‘Wet’ version is purchased.  Even still, these are for light-duty cleanings only.  You are welcome to purchase the refills if you like, I just use a microfiber cloth and if I want a bit of moisture, I’ll spritz on some soapy water and get to it.  These are also great for dusting walls and getting into high corners.  Who would have thought?!

Have You Been Mopping Properly?

Now that we know what each mop is for, let’s talk about a few best practices to get the most out of your time spent on mopping!  I am willing to wager that you’ll learn something to make mopping way easier on you by the end of this.

Use the ‘S’ pattern

You always want to mop in an ‘S’ pattern regardless of the type of mop you’re using – this allows you to focus on a specific area at a time without flicking water and debris everywhere.

Sweep or Vacuum first

Before you mop, be sure to sweep or vacuum your floors.  Get as much debris off the floor as possible because you’re just going to push it all around the room with the mop otherwise.

Mopping solution

If you are using a mop which requires a bucket of soapy water,  I recommend using very warm, borderline hot water and just a few teeny, tiny drops of dish liquid and maybe a couple drops of your favourite essential oil.   That’s all you’ll need for almost all flooring surfaces.  Too much floor cleaner leaves the floor sticky underfoot and also makes it an amazing magnet for dirt. Go figure!  If you are using a specialty floor cleaner, do be sure to read the instructions before mopping!

Don’t get wet!

Use as little water as possible; this isn’t about slopping a huge puddle of water across the floor.  That’s actually quite damaging, especially to hardwood and laminate floors.  You always want to be using a lightly damp mop head, so remember this when wringing out your mop!

Streak reducing secret

When mopping hardwood – always work in the direction of the grain (or the direction of the installed panel)!  This helps reduce the appearance of streaking.  If you notice streaks, you can quickly dry the floor with a clean microfiber cloth.  Man, will it ever shine!

Mop your way out of a room

Like I’ve shared before about vacuuming, you want to start the job at the opposite corner of your exit point and mop your way out of a room.  Be cognizant of where you start mopping (the diagonal opposite corner of your exit point) and that way you won’t mop yourself into a corner and have to tip toe over a wet floor.  Oh, and and always keep your bucket behind you!

Don’t put your back in to it

Use your arm muscles, not your back muscles.  When mopping in an ‘S’ pattern, it’s easy to start using your back to move the mop back and forth, but that can cause back strain and no one wants that.  So, always remember to use your arm muscle for this job!

Clean water

Change your water as soon as it looks murky! A water bucket usually gets dirty rather quickly, so to avoid spreading dirty water on the floors you are trying to clean.  Be mindful of when it’s time to change your water out!  Dirty water swishes dirt around and can also re-deposit dirt into floor seams and grout lines.  No thanks.

Take it slow

Lastly, take your time.  As much as you want the mopping to be over and done with as soon as possible, the old saying “anything worth doing is worth doing right” really rings true here…if you take your time, you’ll do a great job and the payoff will be worth it!

In my experience, mopping has become that chore which rarely gets any love these days – as much as modern mops have made it seem like you only need to drag one of these across the floor for 3 minutes – let me tell you, there’s something therapeutic about taking your time and giving your floors the attention they need!

What mop(s) do you like, and what are your mopping secrets?  Let me know in the comments below!


  1. Hi Melissa,
    While I do own a couple of the mops, swiffer wet mop and a ocedar microfiber dry mop. I have one of those hard floor steam cleaners for those days when I want to get the living areas and kitchen areas throughly clean, I do that maybe quarterly. With 2 cats I feel with the tracking of cat litter it’s a life requirement. I gave up on the sponge mops and string mops yrs ago. I just never felt you can get them really clean after each use. But it works for me.

  2. I use the microfibre mop that you recommend, I have no carpets in my home 🙂 I was using the Shark Steam mop but I found that it streaked my floors, especially my granite floor in the bathroom. This mop is so much better and streak free! I mop my hardwood and stone floors every 2-3 weeks 🙂

  3. Could you describe (or show) how to use that wringer bucket? Mopping is a challenge for me due to chronic illness with mobility issues. Your cleaning tips have helped me adapt my old traditional cleaning methods so hoping that bucket might be the answer to my issues. I need something lightweight (maybe the microfiber mop) but I can’t do the old “twist”…so hoping that bucket doesn’t require me to twist the handle. I’m currently using the spin mop but it’s too heavy for me, too bulky and it’s round head doesn’t get behind toilets or other built in facilities.

  4. I love the spin bucket and your tips for mopping. On my finished hardwood floors, 1/4 cup Murphy Oil Soap in a pail of warm water worked perfectly using your techniques and the O’Cedar spin bucket.

  5. Hello Melissa!

    I am curious about your opinion on some of spin mops. Mopnato and other companies seems to make really interesting mops on the market. I wanted to try them but their cost is rather high. So before I make a decision, I was wondering if you have used them or seen them in

  6. Do you go over your floors with plain water after you’ve mopped to remove the soapy water or does it dry without leaving a residue?

  7. If using dish soap when mopping, wouldn’t you get build up after a while if you don’t rinse??? Or with any cleaner for that matter ??? Do you reccomend occasionally cleaning floors with a water n vinegar mix to remove any build up ?

  8. For laminate and most other floor surfaces, I use a flat head mop (Rubbermaid), with a water, vinegar and dish detergent blend. I plan to switch to Dawn brand soon after watching that video, but can you provide the right portions for this 3 ingredient mixture and also any other possible cleaning agents or additives that will leave a nice shine, especially on laminates. Thanks!

  9. I was vacationing in Jamaica and observed the maid washing the marble floor in my room. She made her broom do double duty – no mop required! After she swept, she wet and rug out a large hand towel that had an X cut into the middle of it. Then she slipped it down the handle of her broom until it covered the bristles and used this to mop. I now do this at home, especially in smaller rooms. Unlike most mops, it is great for getting along edges and into corners! When done it just gets laundered. I think I may try modifying a microfiber cloth instead of the hand towel rag I had originally cut.

  10. I use the dry swimmer, wet swiffer & the traditional deck mop. i usually use all three but then again it depends on how big the mess is.
    I thought I was the only one who used a microfiber rag when I ran out of of swimmer pads lol. i use them to dust walls as well. Love you tips though.

  11. Hi! I once bought a microfibre mop but it didnt work for me. I have porcelain tile floor, i have tried so many mops and its not working, i was even thinking of polishiong it with tile polish, would that leave my tile clean and shiny.

    • Hi there! I would try a dry yacht-mop, and put vinegar onto the mop, just a bit, and go over with that. If you have a second dry mop, you can quickly dry off from the first one, with no streaks 🙂 Hope this helps 🙂 Chris in Qld

  12. I was looking for a ocedar brand microfiber twist mop at target last night…they didn’t have one. :/ I settled on a Casabella version and surprisingly I like it!!! Works brilliantly on my cheap apartment linoleum floors…I used it with pinesol and it was awesome! I’ve had many many mops over the years…so desperate to find a long lasting, decent mop! I love your site! 😉

  13. I need help!! I have stone tile floors that are filthy. There are stains all over. No matter how much I mop, the floors always look dirty. The grout is dirty as well so I need to know if you have a remedy for both.

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