By Corrie Pelc
When you’re cleaning bare flooring like hardwood, tile, and laminate, do you reach for a vacuum or a mop? Chances are good you would probably reach for the vacuum first since it’s just easier to use — there’s no water involved, no dirty sponges to squeeze or change out.
While vacuums can do a great job at picking up loose surface dirt off of flooring, you’ll still need a mop to remove any dirt or debris, such as mud and food and beverage spills, stuck to the flooring and its crevices. Additionally, when using the right cleaner you can effectively remove more germs and bacteria from the flooring — and your home! — with a mop.
Mops have come a long way over the years and there are now lots of different options to choose from. Here’s a look at the best-rated mops available in 2021.
Types of Mops
First off, let’s talk about all the different types of mops available today. They include:
- Sponge Mops: Probably the most traditional type of mop, these mops will be a long handle made of plastic or metal with a sponge at the end. Like your normal kitchen sponges, mop sponges are generally made of cellulose with possibly a scrubber on one side for grimier spots. It's important to store sponge mops in an area where the sponge can completely dry out so it doesn't become a breeding ground for bacteria. And sponge heads on these mops will need to be replaced frequently as they tend to crumble with continual use.
- String Mops: These are the mops you'll fondly remember your school custodian cleaning the hallways with. Made from cotton "strings" of fibers, they are highly absorbent, generally inexpensive, and do a great job at mopping floors, but can be hard and messy to wring out in a bucket.
- Strip Mops: With these mops, the "strings" on a string mop have been replaced by strips of microfiber.
- Flat Mops: These mops have the same structure as a sponge mop, but instead of a sponge head there is a reusable or disposable pad attached, usually by velcro or a gripper. Flat mops can be used as either a dry dust mop (see below for more info on that) or a wet mop. Flat mops are a great option for quick cleaning — just attach a mop head, clean to your heart's content, and then either throw away the disposable pad or toss the reusable pad into the washing machine.
- Dust Mops: These mops are very similar to flat mops, but their disposable or reusable mop heads are meant to be used dry. Most times dust mops also have long or telescoping handles to allow you to clean ceiling corners and dust from ceiling fans.
- Spray Mops: Spray mops have a tank built-in to the handle that holds a floor cleaner of your choice. You simply pull the trigger on the handle to spray the cleaning solution and then run the mop head over the cleaner.
- Steam Mops: These mops are built and operate very similarly to spray mops, but instead heat up plain water in their tank to produce steam. That steam is then released onto the flooring to disinfect the floor and loosen up debris for the mop head to tackle.
What Floors Can’t Be Mopped?
Generally speaking, any type of bare flooring can be mopped. However, genuine hardwoods need a delicate touch as too much water can make them swell and steam can be too harsh on them. Hardwoods should only be either dust mopped or, if you're using a wet mop, use something with a disposable pad or a spray mop with a cleaning solution made just for hardwoods.
With laminate flooring, you also want to be careful not to use too much water or cleaner, since it can seep underneath laminate tiles and cause issues. With laminates, try dust mopping or if using a wet mop, make sure not to use too much liquid.
Vinyl, ceramic, and linoleum flooring can withstand more water and be cleaner. And if you have stone tile flooring, make sure the cleaner you're using won't react badly with the natural stone.
What to Do Before Mopping
Here are some tips on how to best prep your floors for mopping to get the most out of this cleaning tool:
- Pick the Appropriate Cleaner for Your Flooring: As we just discussed in the section above, different flooring calls for different types of cleaners. Make sure to read the back of your cleaner to make sure it's appropriate for your type of flooring and to learn how to use it properly.
- Clear the Way: Now that you're ready to mop, make sure there's nothing in the way, such as chairs, toys, shoes, and area rugs.
- Sweep it Up: Once all the big stuff is out of the way, now it's time to give your floor a good sweep to pick up larger debris from the floor.
- Get Mopping: Now it's time to mop! Preferably, you want to mop in vertical strokes starting from the back of the room and work towards the door. This way you won't have to step on your newly-mopped flooring to get out of the room. And remember when mopping, you don't want your mop head to get too wet — you want it just damp enough to get the job done.
- Let it Dry: Once the mopping is done, let your flooring dry thoroughly before walking over it or replacing carpeting and furniture.
How to Find the Best Mop for You
Here are the test factors we used to determine our list of the top-rated mops out there today:
- Price: There is truly a mop out there for every budget.
- Mop Type: What type of mop is it?
- Mop Head Type: Is the head a sponge or made from cotton or microfiber? Is it removable and washable?
- Mop Head Material: Is the mop head a sponge? If not, is it made of microfiber or another type of material?
- Cleaner Distribution: Do you have to spray the floor with cleaner first or does the mop have its own sprayer?
- Weight: The lighter the mop, the easier it is to maneuver around the home.
- Handle Length: Having the right handle length for your height is important, and some mops come with adjustable handles.
- Power: How is the mop powered — manually, plugged in, or battery?
- Flooring: Can the mop be used on any type of bare flooring, or is it suited for specific types like only hardwood?
Let’s get down to it — here are the best floor mops you can buy in 2021.
Best Mop for Hardwood Floors: Bona Hardwood Floor Spray Mop
~ $40 on Amazon
A spray mop designed especially for handling delicate hardwood flooring.