DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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22 September 2014

Mops and floors 101

There are so many different mops around now. Last time I looked, there were cotton mops, sponge mops, rayon mops, microfibre mops, well, let's just say there are a lot to choose from. Sometimes giving people a big selection is confusing and they don't know what to buy.  Recently I had an email asking about mops and what mop was suitable for a tiled floor. It reminded me of another email I received a few months ago asking a similar question about the difference between cotton mops and sponge mops.

We have tiled and floating wood floors here. Over the years I've tried sponge and micro-fibre mops but always come back to my cotton mop. They glide effortlessly across any floor type, they're easy to squeeze the water from, easy to clean and they dry in the sun - which is another way to disinfect a clean mop. I want my mop to clean my floors properly, to be locally made and environmentally friendly. A side consideration is the cost of the mop. When buying a mop, always buy the best quality you can afford, it will last longer. Remember, the best quality doesn't mean the most expensive, although it might be. The best quality cotton mop will be made using natural cotton and it will probably have a replaceable mop head. These heads can be detached for washing in the washing machine if they're really dirty. When the mop head is too stringy, after years of wear, you just replace the head, not the handle. I've had my mop for about ten years and it's still going strong.


You should always use a clean mop. Using a dirty mop will just spread the dirt back onto the floor.  You must also sweep or vacuum the floor before mopping. If my floors are fairly clean, I just use a half cup of white vinegar in a bucket of hot water and that cleans the floors very well. If they're dirty, dusty or greasy, I use the vinegar and add a tablespoon of liquid soap or a quarter cup of laundry liquid. Again, this does the job. I don't need to buy a specific floor cleaner, I don't need it for the kind of floors we have here.

So there you have it. Start with a swept or vacuumed floor. Cotton mop, vinegar and a bit of soap or laundry liquid for a heavier job. You'll get a clean floor with little environmental impact and for the most cost effective price. Sure you can go with the steam cleaners, microfibres and man-made cleaning solutions but I doubt they'll do a better job than this low tech option. Remember, it's not just your food that you'll try to source locally. All your product choices should also be environmentally acceptable and frugal.

When you finish mopping the floor, pour out the dirty water in the bucket, fill it with clean water and agitate the mop around in the water.  If it's particularly dirty, you may have to wash the cotton head with soap and rinse again, or you can soak it overnight in a solution of oxy-bleach (Napisan) made up according to the instruction on the container. If it needs a thorough clean, detach the mop head and put it through a fast cycle in the washing machine.  When you clean the mop head, take it outside and dry it in the sun. I usually have mine over the washing line or upside down, against the fence.  When the mop is dry, take it inside again and hang it up so the cotton remains dry and clean until you need to use it again.

Cleaning the floor doesn't have to cost a lot of money, despite what advertisements tells you. A simple cotton mop with vinegar or soap will do the job nicely. As long as you start with a clean mop, you should get a clean floor every time. I'd be interested in reading some of your green cleaning methods for your floors, particularly if you have an old or new wood floor or a vinyl floor. What mops are you using and how do you clean them?

19 comments:

  1. I have used a steam mop in the past until it broke and also I used to use a sponge mop the ones that you squeeze the handle and it foods in half to get out the excess water. That type of mop was quite back breaking work as you had to push hard to get it to clean the floor. About 3.5 years ago I got onto the mop head like yours but the microfibres (I think) blue strips and a bucket to match which has a special section to squeeze out the mop and it was truely life changing. I used to hate mopping the tile floor and I have a lot of tiles until this mop and it's so much easier as the mop glides on the floor, is light and works perfectly. I put my sister onto this mop and she only has 2 bathrooms and a kitchen about the same size as a bathroom when it comes to the tiled floor but I convinced her to get the mop and she couldn't believe how easy it was and loves it too. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

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  2. I use a mop with a microfiber pad that is washable. I have had it for many years and have 4 of the pads. I just wet the pad and wring it out well and it cleans most everything that could be on our hardwood floors. The pads can also be used dry as a dust mop. I run them through the washer with all my other cleaning rags every week and hang them to dry. Before this system I constantly worried about getting our floors too wet when mopping them. I also like the fact that I do not have to deal with a bucket of water at all and that the pads are clean every time I use them.

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  3. I do exactly the same here with my tile and wood floors. The cotton mop also covers a lot of surface area so it doesn't take forever to clean the floors! I just have to make sure I wring out the mop well or the floors take too long to dry.

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  4. What type of bucket is used with a cotton mop? Does it need an industrial strength wringer attached?

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    1. Sarah, you can buy buckets to wring out cotton mops. The one I have has a sort of plastic cage over one side of the bucket - I just fit the mop head into the cage and press down. It allows the water to be pressed out. I do that a couple of times because, like Jaime above, I don't like my floor to be too wet. You can buy those wringer-type buckets but I think they're too heavy, the plastic ones are good.

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  5. Rhonda, love your new pic! Did you get a haircut?

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    1. Thanks Jo. I did get it cut. When you were here I'd been holding off because my old hairdresser left to have a baby. The new hairdresser charged almost twice as much as the old one so I wasn't very happy with the price. ;- )

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  6. I, too, love your new picture and the way the colors really look nice on you!!

    We have always used a cotton string mop on wood, vinyl and tile floors over the years. We have used locally produced citrus oil concentrate or pine-oil concentrate in the mop water for all surfaces and it has worked well to clean, disinfect, provide some oil to the floor and leave a nice scent. We even used the very versatile diluted citrus concentrate to clean the wood panelling and wooden furniture before waxing.

    During times of high humidity, we turn on the fan to speed the drying of the floor and also cool off the internal environment more quickly.

    Very nice post! Nice to read how others do their mopping.

    Replacement mop heads are no longer available here. Only poor quality string mops that don't last long are now available. I was wondering if anyone has experience with making their own string mop heads from good quality cotton knitting yarn.

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  7. I've had a Kenwood steam mop for going on 8 years now and I love it. I'd never go back to a 'normal' mop. The steam mop is so much more effective at getting floors really clean. I've tested this on both a filthy indoor concrete floor (playgroup) and on a well travelled lino floor that a normal mop just doesn't get clean no matter how many times it's gone over (QA'd with the 'wander around in bare feet to see how black they get' method). It's simple to use, the floor dries quickly and the cloths can be washed with a soak in Napisan and hot water, rinsed and hung out in the sun to dry. So for Lino and some tiles (depends on the depth of groove between the tiles) steam mops win hands down. It is now possible to buy mops that can be used on wood floors, ones without a wood setting may damage the floor. Steam mops may seem expensive (some are) but my MIL's 20 year old Kenwood mop is still going strong so I can't see us having to replace ours anytime soon.

    I'm a fan of microfibre cloths, Bunnings sells bulk packs and with a bit of vinegar and water spray they do a great job of cleaning all parts of our house and, with care, last a long time. They're especially effective at getting dried on toothpaste off bathroom sinks and chrome fittings! I use my own knitted cloths to clean glass and silverware.

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  8. I desperately need a new mop (we have wooden floors). I'll be reading these comments with great interest :)

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  9. I use the enyo - system, a system using only cold water in a spray-bottle and flat floor mop. I am very pleased with it, but sometimes need to go over the floor with a little vinegar in the water or a very small amount of soap. Very seldom though. I have had my two mops for about seven years. Very important to me that the environmental consequenses are low with this system. Pam

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  10. I don't have a mop at all I have never owned one in my life ;). I bought a thick cotton floor cloth years and years ago when I first had floors that needed cleaning............I use the washing up bowl to rinse and wring it out into. I don't have a huge amount of floor that needs wet cleaning we have a small house :)

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  11. I have super long hair and often find it tangle in my cotton mop. Any suggestions on how to clean/dehair a mop?

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  12. I use a microfiber pad and couldn't be happier with it. I have one pas for dry mopping and a second for wet.

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  13. I can't stand a sponge mop. Right now I have a wet jet mop and swifter. But I make my own cleaning heads and solutions.
    Coffee is on

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  14. I have a brand named spin mop with detachable head and accompanying bucket that has a foot pedal operated spinner to get desired level of moisture. The head also is flexible and I can also easily do my walls and skirting boards as well as get under low furniture. I have back issues and this is the first mop I have ever had that allows me to do the mopping without pain (can do mostly with straight back, minimal bending). Mop heads are easily replaced (I have had mine for over 5 years and not had to replace). Was more expensive than the standard mops but well worth it for the features that allow me to do my housework with ease. I use either vinegar or eucalyptus oil in my water. I do have a steam mop but found that left my tiles too wet.

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  15. I use your method, too, Rhonda. I add a bit of Eucalyptus oil for fresh smells if I'm not using my citrus-infused vinegar. After I wash the floor (I let it get really wet, because my floors are super dirty and I don't do them often enough ... cringe) I then go over it again with the mop squeezed out a bit to suck some of the wet back up into the bucket.

    Then I get a couple of old bath towels and use one foot on each end and do a silly shuffle around the floor to dry it manually. That way my kids don't slip on it straight away, and I can see immediately that I need to do it again (because the towels are dirty). Of course, I don't mop again straight away. I'm bad with the mopping! :)

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  16. we have unevenly laid terracotta tiles and old parquet flooring throughout the house (and only one carpet)....i.e. dust is always present...i've found that a microfibre cotton mop that can be used dry or wet works the best ... a few sprays of soap before the "sweep" is all that is needed...

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  17. Interesting topic - you do come up with some goodies, Rhonda :-) In ten years of doing home care for the council, I used just about every kind of mop there is - cotton, microfibre, steam, and good old scrubbing brush (but not on my hands and knees). In that time I decided I liked the microfibre mop with its special bucket as it saved my hands from hurting after wringing out mops. I also have a scrubbing brush attached to a broom handle which is good for cleaning the grout on ceramic tiles floors. At home we have ceramic floors in the bathroom and entrance hall, and floating vinyl tile floor in the kitchen. I use the microfibre mop with Earth Choice floor washing liquid. If I run out of that I used white vinegar.

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