How to Mop a Floor




Introduction: How to Mop a Floor

A lot of mopping a floor effectively depends on the material that the floor surface is made of. Additionally the type of mop you are using will have an effect on the technique you will use. For this instructable we are going to look at 4 different common floor materials and 3 different types of mops.

Step 1: What Kind of Floor Do You Have?

What material is you floor made of? Above there are 4 pictures of materials that are pretty commonly used. Left to right they are wood, stone, tile, and linoleum. For each of these you will want to use different cleaning products.

  • Wood: You are going to want to use either a product recommended by the manufacturer or installer or dish soap. A quarter (¼) cup of soap will be enough for a bucket (about 2 gallons) of water. DO NOT use ammonia, vinegar, oils, or just water. These will either leave a residue or not effectively clean the surface.
  • Stone: For this one you are going to want to use whatever was recommended to you when you purchased the stone, it will most likely be a specific brand of stone cleaner. Almost any brand should work, but make sure you DO NOT use any lemon or vinegar based cleaners. These contain acids that can discolor the grout or eat through the sealer on the stone.
  • Tile: You can generally clean tile with just water. However every few months, or if there are visible marks, you will want to add a half (½) cup of vinegar to a gallon of water and use that. Disinfectant can be used when you drop something or spill, but should be wiped up right away.
  • Linoleum: Similar to wood, you will want to use about a quarter (¼) cup of dish soap for 2 gallons of water.

Step 2: What Kind of Mop Do You Have?

The next part is determining what kind of mop you are using. Common types of mops are sponge mops, strip mops, and string mops. Pictured left to right

  • Sponge mops are great for dealing with uneven surfaces like stone or tile. They are also the most common household mops. They can have a little trouble with corners and edges, but all in all you cannot go wrong with one of these. Sponge mops will have a handle that can be pulled to wring out the sponge.
  • Strip mops are the second most common type of household mop. They will generally leave more water than sponge mops, but are easier to care for. They are also great at getting in corners and along edges. Strip mops have a wringer around the handle that is used by pulling the head into it to squeeze out the water.
  • String mops are common in commercial applications, like restaurants, grocery stores, and more. String mops are usually used with a bucket that has a wringer attached.

Step 3: Before You Mop

Before you get to mopping the floor there are a few pieces of preparation you are going to want to do.

  • Move all furniture and items on the floor out of the room. This includes, but is not limited to chairs, tables, potted plants, and decorative vases. It may not be feasible to move everything, but move as much as you can.
  • Sweep up any crumbs and debris. You may be thinking, “But I'm about to clean the floor, why would I clean it twice.” The point of moping is to clean the surface of the floor, not to pick up debris. Your mop will just push around debris and not pick it up.
  • Make sure that no person or thing will walk over the floor while you are mopping because that will mess up all of you hard work.

Step 4: Prepare Your Cleaning Solution

Now that you have the floor prepared you will need to prepare you bucket with your water solution appropriate to your floor type. For reference, here they are again:

  • Wood: ¼ cup of dish soap and 2 gallons of water
  • Stone: An off the shelf stone cleaner. Mix with water as directions on the bottle state
  • Tile: 2 gallons of water or for a deep clean 1 cup vinegar and 2 gallons of water
  • Linoleum: ¼ cup of dish soap and 2 gallons of water

You may need more or less solution based on the size of your floor. 2 gallons should be plenty for about 200 sq ft

Step 5: Mopping... Finally

Here is where we actually start mopping. For this you are going to want to dip the mop in the bucket and then while holding the mop head over the bucket wring it out. How much to wring it out is going to take a little trial and error. You want to get it so that after you run the mop over the floor, the floor looks wet, but there are not any puddles of water. Mentally divide your floor into sections that are roughly 5 ft by 5 ft. Start with the one furthest from the entrance to the room. For example, in the above image the floor is divided into four sections and you would probably want to start with the top left one. If you are using a sponge mop you will want to cover the area by doing straight passes like you would if you were vacuuming. If you are using a strip or string mop, then you will want to use a circular motion like you would if you were frosting a cake.

Step 6: Repeat!

Okay, the first square is done, great job. Now you are just going to keep repeating until you reach the end of the room. Make sure to keep soaking the mop and then wringing it out. If the water becomes substantially dirty, pour it out and mix a new batch of solution.

Step 7: Rinse

Once you have covered the whole area, pour out your solution and fill your bucket with just water. You are now going to go over the floor again, this time with just water to rinse it off. You do not need much water. Give it a little rinse and let the floor air dry. Remember to try to keep people or things off the floor until it is completely dry.

Step 8: Dry Out Your Equipment

Dry out your bucket and mop. The more you can dry out the mop the better. Letting it hang over the sink for an hour is quite effective. If you put a wet mop back in the closet, it can acquire mold, mildew, and/or bacteria. You do not want to be spreading these over your floor. In many cases if your mop does become extremely dirty or moldy you can most likely just replace the head.

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    8 years ago on Introduction

    There's one fundamental trick, to mopping floors, that I learned when I was working as a janitor in college.

    Never put your dirty mop in the clean water.

    You need two buckets, the clean bucket holds your cleaning solution, the dirty bucket starts out empty. The wringer goes on the dirty bucket.

    You pour the cleaning solution on the floor, spread it around with the mop, give it time to soak into the grime, then mop it up and wring it into the dirty bucket. Then start on the next section, pouring fresh cleaning solution from your clean bucket.

    It seems rather obvious - if you only have one bucket, by the time you're half through you're trying to clean your floor with dirty water. But I would have never figured it out, on my own.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Cotton string mops are classed as being (CFU) for a very good reason and are probably one of the most useless tools used within the cleaning industry. It's not possible to clean any type of flooring properly if using a cotton string mop.


    Reply 4 years ago

    It's not possible to clean a floor using only a string mop.

    They're intended to get water off the floor, not to scrub away dirt.


    8 years ago

    Nicely written! At first I thought "Why do I want to watch this?" followed by "Well, why not?" I'm so glad I did, you provided great advice! Thank you.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I can't believe that this is the first instructable on how to mop! Thanks for sharing and welcome to the community!