Cleaning your floor couldn’t be easier you might think, it’s not exactly rocket science, but if you haven’t bought a new mop for a while you might be surprised at quite how much choice there is when you come to buy a new one. In principle, a mop handle, generally made from either lightweight aluminium, or the stronger and heavier stainless steel, attaches to a mop head, and that’s all there is to it, but the choice facing you when it comes to picking a suitable material for the actual cleaning part of the mop, the mop head, is a little more complicated.
To make things easier, we’ve taken a look at several of the most common types of mop, their uses, their relative pros and cons, and compiled a list that covers exactly what sort of cleaning applications they’re best suited for, and hopefully we can help you choose which type of mop is best suited to your own cleaning needs.
How much can there be to say about a bundle of strings tied together? Well, as it happens, quite a lot. Mop head yarn comes in two main types. Twine is typically comprised of two light string threads twisted together. It’s the thinnest of the yarn mop heads and it’s most suited to commercial, industrial or rougher areas. Twine doesn’t lint as much as other mop heads and although it’s more likely to scratch a surface, when you’re cleaning a warehouse floor, a garage or a safety floor that’s not a big priority.
The other main type of yarn is PY. It’s thicker than twine and ideal for smoother flooring, such as tiles, hardwood, lino and laminate flooring. Linting, when fibres come loose from the mop head, is more likely to occur with PY, but it is less likely to scratch a surface and is suitable for not only cleaning your home, but also applying polish or whatever your preferred method of getting a shine on your floor is.
Some Yarn mop heads will be made from a mix of genuine cotton with added synthetic yarn, and this will enable your mop to absorb more moisture from liquid spills. These synthetic mixes are also usually machine washable at a higher temperature, but they do tend to cost a little more due to the increased cost of manufacturing them. Yarn mops do the job, but they don’t make life easy for the user, instead you’re going to have to put in some effort to clean those stubborn stains.
Mops deal with stains and spills, and brooms are suited to large clumps of debris, but for small particles of dust, in areas such as garages and workshops, and for picking up pet hairs, a dust mop is sometimes an essential tool. The material that a dust mop uses can make a huge difference on how effective it is, and how much effort you’ll need to keep an area dust-free. The size of a mop head is another factor to consider, as a large mop head can deal with larger areas more quickly, but small floors with nooks and hard to reach places may be more suited to a smaller mop head.
Chenille is the best material overall for any dust mop, as it will always pick up the largest amount of dust. Microfiber pads, which I’ll cover in more detail later are also a good option. Be aware that mop heads with cut ends tend to fray over time, and if you want a cleaner more suitable for lots of dust and hairs, a mop head with looped ends will be far more efficient. Another factor to consider is how flexible a mop head is, whether it swivels around, and if the handle can be adjusted to a low angle for getting underneath low furniture, because dust typically tends to gravitate towards hard to reach areas and corners.
A cheap and fairly effective material for people with wooden floors, linoleum and tiled areas to clean is the sponge mop. Lightweight, easily replaceable and often equipped with a squeezing motion self wringing mechanism, sponge mops are a great option for not only kitchens and bathrooms, but also windows, mirrors and hard to reach places.
A self wringing sponge mop can be ideal for drying out a mop head, and if it’s efficient enough, this can make a sponge mop perfect for wooden floors, particularly unsealed wooden floors that will be damaged by excess water when cleaning. Some sponge mop heads also come equipped with a small scuffed, or ‘scrubby’ patch designed to gently remove stains and dried in dirty patches. Sponge mops are usually very light, and offer a cheaper solution for tiled areas, particularly bathrooms, but they are usually unsuitable for heavier cleaning applications.
Flat Mops (Microfiber)
Flat mops are the best-selling cleaning product around the World today, and they usually come equipped with pads made from the best cleaning material overall, microfiber. Microfiber was first developed by Japanese scientists in the 1970’s. At the time they were looking for a new fabric for sports apparel, mainly swimwear, but unfortunately, the development of microfiber was a huge failure, because it was super absorbent and became heavy and uncomfortable as soon as the wearer so much as touched some water, but of course that just makes it perfect for cleaning.
Each individual microfiber is finer than a human hair, and it has the unique property of being able to absorb up to eight times it’s own weight in liquid. Microfiber mop heads are obviously great for cleaning liquid spills, but they also perform superbly on greasy stains, spills and small particles of dirt. Microfiber pads are usually strong and machine washable, and when well constructed, able to be machine washed hundreds of times without any significant wear and tear. Overall they do cost slightly more than other types of mop heads, but microfiber is the king of cleaning around the home, and ideally suited to everyday household cleaning in kitchens and bathrooms.
For tiled surfaces, laminates, hardwood floors and stone floors, microfiber is the best all round mop head material, and it will make cleaning an easier job all round due to the unique advantages of the material. It also cleans well in warm, soapy water and is regarded generally as the most durable, efficient and versatile of all mop head materials.
There’s clean, and then there’s REALLY clean, and to get a floor that is, quite literally, clean enough to eat your dinner off of, you need a steam cleaner. Steam cleaners utilize a water tank to produce steam directly from the head of your mop. Some steam cleaners on the market claim to eliminate 99.9% of all known household germs, and if you’re a perfectionist when it comes to cleaning your home, then a steam mop is probably the product for you.
There are a few things to consider when choosing a steam cleaner. Producing steam requires electricity, and many people fail to consider how long a cable they will require when cleaning their home. If you live in an apartment, or have a small home then it’s probably a minor consideration, but if you have a big home, or perhaps not so many sockets, then make sure you find out how long the cable is before you buy. Most steam cleaners come with around 20 feet of cable, but some are shorter.
Distilled water, which is relatively cheap and widely available, is recommended for most steam cleaners, particularly in hard water areas where tap water will contain minerals that will eventually block your steam mechanism up. Many manufacturers of steam mops produce their own treated water/cleaning solution for use in their products, but that of course costs more. Common issues to look out for with any steam cleaner is the durability of the steam mechanism, whether it suffers from leakage, and how effectively the steam is deployed over your floor.
Most steam cleaners come with a controllable amount of steam, but even on the lowest setting, steam cleaners are often not suitable for unsealed floors, some plastic tiling, laminates or linoleum. Steam can also damage varnished floors when left steaming over the same patch for too long, so ensure your floor is suitable for steam cleaning before you buy one.
Hopefully I’ve covered most of the areas that you need to be aware of when buying any cleaner. Always look out for what surface type any cleaner is recommended for, and consider how big an area you have to clean, how convenient you want your cleaning routine to be, and any recurring complaints that reviewers of any cleaning product made. Amazon reviewers will often highlight the same issue in detail, whether good or bad, and several of them with identical experiences can be a warning sign, or a big recommendation, for any product before you spend your hard earned cash.