Cleaning Tips, Guides & Resources

Mop Like a Pro: The Comprehensive Guide

Adriana Aziz
September, 4, 2023
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Mopping is typically the last task on the list when cleaning your house, and perhaps, one of the most satisfying cleaning chores. There’s something about washing your floor, and seeing stains disappear right before your eyes that excites a lot of people! That, of course, goes along with the end result - a super clean and gleaming floor!

Sadly, some of you may not relate to the sheer satisfaction and excitement of a well mopped floor simply because you are doing it wrong. Whether it’s the type of mop, cleaning product, or technique that is wrong, you will not get a desirable cleaning result until you learn how to mop the floor correctly. If you haven’t already guessed, it all starts with understanding what type of flooring you are working with.

Can I Mop All Floors the Same Way?

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The short answer is - no; however, there are a few floor types that have similar cleaning methods, and also use the same cleaning solution (especially for basic washing or mopping of the floor). With that said, it’s important to note that many types of flooring have unique cleaning requirements.

By using tools and products that are suitable for a specific type of material, you eliminate the risk of damaging the floor while achieving the best result. This is particularly the case when dealing with stubborn floor stains or grime that tempt you to go straight to the most abrasive cleaning tool, or the harshest cleaning agent. However, unless recommended, you will only be doing your floor a disservice if you pick the wrong products/cleaners. In fact, you might just set yourself up to foot the bill for a costly floor repair service if you aren’t too careful.  

With that in mind, it certainly pays to learn how to mop your floor correctly which, in turn, goes a long way in maintaining its beautiful appearance and texture. 

The Importance of Cleaning Floors Before Mopping Them

The importance of cleaning floors before mopping them

Let’s be honest; most of us prefer the task of mopping over vacuuming or sweeping. It’s less tiring, quicker, and a lot easier than picking up dirt, dust, pet hair, fibres, and other common types of debris found inside a home. For this reason, it can be tempting to skip vacuuming or sweeping, and just mop your hard floor directly. In fact, some people actually do this when there isn’t much visible dirt on the floor. It’s a quick way to give floors a refresh, and keep it looking clean (even when in reality it isn’t).

The problem here is that, while sometimes fine debris isn’t visible to the naked eye, at least not unless you are inspecting the floor whilst on all fours, when there is loose dirt on the surface, mopping or dampening the debris will cause it to cling to the floor once it dries up. This leaves more visible, stubborn stains on the floor over time. 

On top of this, surface grit, when moved around with foot traffic, or by a mop, will leave fine scratches on hard flooring (especially those that don’t have a scratch-resistant finish). So, the bottom line is that all hard floors must be cleaned to remove loose debris, and then mopped for a squeaky clean and damage-free result.

How to Mop Different Types of Flooring

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Today, we’re looking at some of the most common types of flooring found in both residential and commercial properties, and sharing the specific mopping requirements for each of them. This will include the preferred type of mop head material, the safest and most effective cleaning solution to use, and the correct mopping technique to get better, faster, and cleaner results. 

So, let’s get started!

#1 Ceramic & Porcelain Tiles

Although porcelain is more dense, and therefore less porous than ceramic, both of these clay-based materials are durable and water-resistant. In fact, they are the easiest, and least fussy when it comes to cleaning requirements. With that said, you shouldn’t use harsh cleaning agents on tiled ceramic or porcelain, or cleaning solutions that will discolour or damage the grout.

What You’ll Need:

  • Microfibre mop
  • 2 buckets
  • Water
  • Mild detergent
  • Microfiber cloth

You can find many mild floor cleaners available on the market, however, if you want to create a natural, homemade cleaning solution for ceramic or porcelain floor tiles,combine 1 gallon of hot water, ¼ cup baking soda (stirred and dissolved), ¼ cup distilled white vinegar, 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap, and a few drops of your chosen essential oil. For a store-bought product, follow the dilution ratios mentioned on the label. Keep in mind that mild cleaning solutions work better on ceramic/porcelain tiles, and eliminate the need to rinse the floor more than once. 

Instructions:

  • In a large bucket, add the water and cleaning product(s); mix it well. Fill another bucket with clean water; this will be used to rinse the mop head as and when needed.
  • Use a microfibre mop which allows you to squeeze out excess water after dipping it in the bucket, thereby leaving the mop head damp and not dripping wet. 
  • If you are mopping a large area or room, wash the tiles in small sections using a back and forth motion to scrub away stains or grime. 
  • Dip the mop in the bucket of clean water to rinse off dirt between sections; then wring the material before dipping it back into the cleaning solution.
  • After mopping your ceramic or porcelain tiles, rinse the mop head thoroughly, and (while damp) use it to remove residue left by the cleaning agents.
  • Keep the fans off and windows closed to prevent the floor from air-drying as this can leave streaks or spots on the floor. Instead, take a clean, dry microfibre cloth, and wipe the tiles dry for a sparkling finish.

#2 Linoleum

Many opt for linoleum tiles as they are cheaper, and relatively easy to maintain. In terms of durability or risks of damage, steam cleaning is an absolute no-no as the synthetic material cannot withstand high heat and moisture. In fact, washing or mopping a linoleum floor should be done no more than twice a week using minimal lukewarm or room temperature water, and a mild floor cleanser. Avoid acidic cleaning agents or abrasive cleaning ingredients and tools.

NOTE: Vinyl floor tiles can also be cleaned using the same method mentioned below.

What You’ll Need:

  • Spray mop or microfibre mop
  • Spray bottle (if you are not using a spray mop)
  • Linoleum-specific floor cleaner or dish soap
  • Water
  • Microfibre cloth

When using a spray mop to clean linoleum flooring, adjust the spray to a mist setting or the lightest spray setting. The objective here is to use as little water as possible, and not apply excess water to one area. For a regular mop, the preferred mop head material is microfibre.

Instructions:

  • Choose between a specially formulated linoleum floor cleaner (recommended for deep cleaning), or a mild cleaning solution made with half a gallon of water and 1 teaspoon of liquid dish detergent. Pour the solution into the spray bottle, or the reservoir of your spray mop.
  • Using 1-2 sprays per section, mop your linoleum floor tiles using swift movements to quickly spread the cleaning solution, and remove stuck-on dirt.
  • There is no need to rinse the floor unless you have accidentally used a strong cleaning solution, or suspect residual detergent on the surface. For this, take a dry mop, mist-spray it with clean water to lightly dampen the material, and then mop over the surface.
  • Manually drying the floor is important as any moisture that is allowed to sit on the tile for an extended period of time can seep into the material (especially in places where the floor seal is damaged or worn). Exposure to moisture can cause the linoleum to deteriorate over time; therefore, it is advisable to dry the floor immediately after mopping.

TIP: To maintain the sheen and overall appearance of linoleum, consider polishing the floor with a recommended product once in two months. 

#3 Natural Stone

As gorgeous as they are, natural stone floor tiles are a little more troublesome to care for, all because they are porous and prone to scratches. Additionally, some cleaners, particularly acidic products, can damage or discolour the stone, leaving you with an unsightly flaw that often cannot be fixed. Steam cleaning is also not an option due to natural stone’s poor resistance to high temperatures. Nevertheless, even though there are limited ways to safely clean natural stone flooring, the method below is tried and tested, and promises to provide satisfactory results. 

What You’ll Need:

  • Mild dishwashing liquid (for Marble tiles)
  • pH-neutral cleaner (for other Natural Stone tiles)
  • Mop with a soft pad (except sponge)
  • Soft-bristle brush
  • Spray bottle
  • Warm water
  • Bucket 
  • Microfibre cloth

NOTE: If you have a sealant or floor protector applied over the stone, choose a cleaning product that is recommended for that specific finish.

Instructions:

  • Before you begin, check the floor for stubborn grime or grease stains. These can be spot-cleaned with a soft brush, and the same cleaning solution you will be using for the rest of the stone flooring. 
  • To make a cleaning solution for marble tiles, mix 1 tablespoon of mild dishwashing liquid in 1 gallon of warm water. For other types of natural stone such as limestone, slate, granite, or travertine, use a pH-neutral cleaner, and follow the dilution rates on the label to make a low-strength cleaning solution.
  • For the rest of the floor, dip the mop in the bucket, and wring the material to squeeze out excess water. Manoeuvre the mop in different directions - side to side, back and forth, and in an S-pattern. This will help clean textured natural stone tiles more efficiently. 
  • There is no need to rinse the tile after mopping, however, we do advise manual drying with a microfibre cloth immediately after washing the floor.

#4 Hardwood

Who doesn’t love hardwood flooring? In the same breath, we could ask - who doesn’t hate it when their hardwood floor encounters sticky grime and stains? Well, spills and other buildup on the surface are inevitable, and that means learning how to mop hardwood the right way is crucial if you want to maintain its gorgeous appearance. 

It should be noted that hardwood flooring is typically finished with either wax or polyurethane; therefore, you must first determine the type of finish before applying any cleaning agents to the floor. Bear in mind that both unfinished and wax-coated hardwood should not be washed as moisture weakens and damages wood while water and most cleaning agents strip the wax finish off over time. Hardwood floors with a polyurethane finish, on the other hand, can be mopped using the method below. 

What You’ll Need:

  • pH-neutral cleaner
  • Soft mop pad
  • Water
  • Bucket/spray bottle
  • Lint-free towel/cloth

Instructions: 

  • Refer to the product label’s instructions to dilute the pH-neutral cleaner. Keep in mind that you should always start with a mild cleaning solution, and only increase the strength if needed. Through trial and error, you will be able to figure out the proper ratios for an effective clean of your hardwood flooring. 
  • After mixing the cleaning solution in a bucket or spray bottle, dampen the mop head (wring out excess water if needed), and mop the floor in vertical or horizontal strokes, one section at a time. Avoid going over the same spot multiple times. If needed, spot treat stains using the hardwood cleaner and a clean microfibre cloth.
  • Before the cleaning solution can air-dry on the surface, wipe it dry with a microfibre cloth using swift, circular motions. This will give the hardwood floor a shiny, streak-free finish.

#5 Laminate

Available in a wide range of patterns and shades, laminate is a popular choice of flooring that is relatively easy to maintain. A few important things to keep in mind, however, include never soaking the floor as water can seep beneath the surface and cause the material to bubble or swell; avoiding abrasive cleaning agents and tools as laminate is easily scratched; and mopping the floor once a week only tp minimise its exposure to moisture.

What You’ll Need:

  • Special laminate floor cleaner
  • Microfibre or regular mop
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Dry towel

You can also make your own laminate floor cleaning solution using 1 teaspoon of castile soap liquid or unscented dish detergent mixed in 2-3 litres of warm water. For a deeper clean that will take care of dullness and residual buildup on the surface, damp-mop your laminate flooring with a mixture consisting of hot water (1 gallon) and distilled white vinegar (1 cup).

Instructions:

  • When using specially-formulated products, follow the instructions provided on the bottle. For a DIY cleaning solution, refer to the ratios mentioned above.
  • Once you have your chosen laminate floor cleaner mixed in a bucket, dip the mop in it, and wring or squeeze the material thoroughly so that it is merely damp. Avoid applying any cleaning solution directly to the floor, even if an area requires spot-treatment.
  • Push the mop in vertical strokes, one column at a time. Avoid overlapping a mopped section more than 1-2 times as this can saturate the floor, especially if the mop head is holding excess moisture. 
  • Don’t waste any time in drying the floor with a soft, dry towel. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Although mopping is a pretty basic part of one’s regular cleaning routine, there is much to consider when it comes to washing different types of flooring. Some floor tiles should not be mopped too often while others can be washed daily. On top of this, the cleaning requirements generally differ from one floor type to the other. Therefore, knowing the safest and most effective mopping methods (including choosing the right cleaning solutions) will not only give you desirable cleaning results, but also prevent damages to the floor which could lead to costly repairs. So, do yourself, and your floor a favour - pay heed to the useful information shared in this article, and enjoy the perks of a freshly mopped floor!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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