The Cuban mop is versatile. After a few quick folds to secure your cloth, the Cuban mop glides over wooden and tile floors . . . it can be used either wet or dry. My test comparison found it to be as good as Swiffer when used dry and better/hardier when used wet.
As the name suggests, the Cuban mop enjoys widespread use in Cuba, as well as other parts of the Caribbean, Latin America, and Europe. Simply crafted, it consists of two poles, often wood, assembled to form an inverted T. To use, one folds any small towel over the end to create a mop head. For dust bunnies and other Swiffer-like tasks, try a microfiber cloth.
Step 1: Here's All You Need
¾” dowel , 48” long
1 ¼” dowel , 14” long
Waterproof wood glue
¾” Forstner drill bit
Old towel, old t-shirt, or other large rag
Step 2: Drill a Hole
Drill a hole in short piece. For a ¾” dowel, drill a ¾” hole completely through the center point of the larger diameter dowel. It is important that the hole is drilled at perfect 90˚ so handle inserts properly.
Recommendation: Use a drill press and a Forstner bit to bore the hole for a clean and true hole.
Tip: To keep the dowel from moving during drilling, use a drill press vise, hold-down clamps, or a cradle. To make a cradle, a V-shaped notch cut along a section of 2x4 will hold the round dowel firmly and allow drilling without shifting. A 2x4 measures 1 ½” wide, so if you set a table saw to 45˚ and use a ¾” distance from the fence, you can cut a perfect v-notch the length of the 2x4. If you clamp the dowel into the notch, making sure the clamp does not interfere with the drilling.
Or, use a small drill press vise to hold piece to be drilled; another simple alternative to hold the round piece to be drilled is to screw three pieces of scrap leaving a gap down the middle big enough to hold the dowel securely – the main thing is that drilling a round dowel can be dangerous and tricky, so use some method of holding the dowel from shifting or spinning.
If a vise is used, consider placing small scrap pieces between the dowel and the jaws of your vise to prevent damage or dents to your dowel.
Step 3: Dry Fit
Fit the pieces together without glue - to make sure everything is "good." You will want the handle perpendicular to the base with no "slop" (looseness) where the two pieces join.
Tip: “Dry fit” the two pieces to make sure of a good, tight fit; light sanding of the end of the smaller diameter dowel may be required to insert the piece, but don’t overdo the sanding.
Tip: a few light blows of a hammer may be needed to join the pieces; a few raps of the hammer may be needed to separate the pieces for gluing.
Step 4: Glue It
Glue 48” piece into 14” piece and let dry thoroughly (a few hours will do, but overnight is better.) Any carpenter's glue will work nicely to include super glue or Gorilla Glue. I prefer waterproof carpenter's glue since the mop will be used wet at times.
Option: use a carpenter’s square (or a known square object) to ensure handle is perpendicular to the cross piece. I used a drill press to guarantee that the hole would be perfectly vertical
Option: If the handle seems “sloppy” when inserted into hole of base piece, slice middle of end piece 1 ¼” and insert thin wedge of wood to snug the joint. Glue the joint before inserting handle, then tap in the wedge for a snug fit. You can sand off any protrusions after it dries.
Step 5: Sanding and Sealing
Sand and waterproof. Since the mop is often used with a damp cloth and cleaning liquids, it is best to seal the wood against splitting or swelling. I used spray shellac as a final coat to further protect the wood.
A good overall sanding will “clean up” any rough spots or any glue squeeze out. You want the mop handle to be comfortable.
Recommendation: while sanding, consider dressing up the free end of the handle – it will improve the appearance and remove the squared-off end. You may want to drill a small hole near the top of the handle if you will be hanging your mop on a nail.
Step 6: How to Use a Cuban Mop
Drape cleaning cloth over short piece and mop floor (damp or dry.) This may involve some experimentation to keep the cloth from slipping off while in use. Once you get the hang of it, the cloth will stay in place as you swipe it around.
Lay your cloth/rag/towel on the floor. Fold a corner over the bottom crosspiece, then another corner, and so on.
Option: some people cut a hole in the cloth (towel, rag, old t-shirt) and slide it down the handle; the idea is to keep the cleaning cloth from jumping off the bottom piece of the mop. I don't prefer this method, but I see it done.
When finished, launder or dispose of cloth.
Some people like to use microfiber, some use old t-shirts, but the most-often used is an old piece of towel.
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