Keeping floors clean and spotless is an inevitable business as floors in your home are typical magnets for dust, dirt, and even food crumbs which may not end up in the dirt bin. Sure enough, combining regular sweeping with vacuuming is a commendable practice that might help remove dirt from your floors. But then, home floors (especially kitchen floor) will eventually need to be mopped to prevent dirt buildups and remove stubborn grime.
The art of mopping a floor is not a complicated one, but there are tips you should apply to get it done faster. Today we’re going to explore some simple and practical strategies on how to mop a floor correctly. Below are key parts of the process which will make your task a lot easier and effective.
Equipment & Supplies Needed:
- Rubber gloves
- A broom/vacuum/brush/dustpan
- A mop bucket & wringer combos
- A mop – can be a rag or a sponge type
- Floor cleaning solution
How to Mop a Floor Correctly - Steps to Follow
Prepare the mopping area
First and foremost, prepare the mopping area by clearing the area of furniture and other items lying on the surface. Remove any chairs, tables, throw rugs and other objects from the area you intend to mop. Clearing the area of all obstacles before mopping will make sure you can reach every spot on the floor.
While at it, avoid dragging furniture like chairs and tables to prevent scratching up the floor. After moving all obstacles into a safe area, set up the necessary caution signs to alert frequent users to stay away for a bit. A wet floor may get slippery, so users should completely avoid the region or proceed with caution
Sweep or vacuum the floor to remove crumbs and debris
It’s always advisable to sweep the floor before mopping. “But I’m going to mop the floor, why would I need to sweep or vacuum it?” You ask? Well, mopping alone may not pick up dust, solid debris and crumbs. Deciding on mopping the floor before sweeping or vacuuming may do you more harm than good.
If you skip the sweeping or vacuuming step and choose to mop the floor instead, you may end up pushing solid debris around. Worst still, solid debris can scratch the floor if you fail to remove it before mopping. As such, you MUST first clean up the floor using a broom, a hardwood floor vacuum, or a handheld vacuum.
Choose the right cleaner
Some homeowners think that more soap is synonymous with cleaner floors. This, in reality, is a misconception as too many suds may leave behind a sticky residue – which can, in turn, trap more grime. Choosing the right cleaner – whether a homemade or a commercial option – and using it sparingly, is very important.
Hardwood – Check whether your floors have a wax or polyurethane finish. For those sealed with polyurethane, use a mixture of warm water and mild/PH-neutral soap. Do not use cleaning products containing addictives as they can damage wood over time. For waxed floors, use an almost dry mop at most once a week – water may cause warping of these floor types.
Laminate – Like hardwoods, laminate floors don’t like water. Even a small amount of water can easily seep beneath the laminate planks causing damage. For these floors, damp mopping and spot cleaning will do – but avoid a commercial cleaner with polish.
Vinyl –A solution of water and apple cider vinegar is one of the best cleaners for vinyl flooring. Being acidic, vinegar helps remove dirt and disinfect the floor without leaving behind a buildup.
Linoleum – Unlike vinyl, linoleum is not so resilient and, therefore, calls for a milder cleaner. You might want to use a mixture of hot water and a few drops of dish soap. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle, and apply it on the surface section by section. Finally, dampen a mop with clean water and go over the floor 3-4 times.
Stone tile – Stone tile requires to be mopped with a PH-neutral, non-chelating cleaner that is non-reactive with the minerals in the stone. Avoid vinegar, ammonia, and bleach since they can damage the seal on the stone tile floors.
Ceramic tile – For the ceramic tile, a combination of water and white vinegar can be an effective and non-toxic cleanser that can also eliminate odors. It is particularly recommended for households with pets and kids.
Prepare your cleaning solution
By now, you probably know what cleaning solution or cleaner is appropriate for your specific floor type. For reference:
Wood: 2 gallons of water and ¼ cup dish soap
Tile: 2 gallons of water and I cup vinegar
Stone: An off-the-shelf stone cleaner and water as directed on the label
Linoleum: 2 gallons of water and ½ cup dish soap
As a general rule of thumb; you may need to use less or more solution depending on the floor size. More often than not, 2 gallons should be enough for around 200 sq ft of floor. You might want to check your cleaning product’s label to see if the recommended dilution ration is listed.
Fill your mop buckets with your prepared cleaning solution
Mix an appropriate amount of your cleaning solution with hot water. Make sure to stick to the directions provided on the label or our recommendations above. We recommend using hot water because it does clean much better and quicker than warm or cold water.
Brush off any temptation to double up on the recommended amount of the mopping detergent in the quest to enhance the cleaning power or speed. Doubling up or using more is a bad idea, since extra-concentrated wash water will be harder to rinse – and will not even clean any better. Simply be honest by following the instructions supplied on the detergent label.
Start mopping in sections
We recommend mopping floors in small sections of about 4-6 inches so as to get rid of debris and grime buildup easier and to cover a wider area faster. By partitioning the floor into sections, you’ll only need to wipe one section 3-4 times before moving to the next section. It also makes it easy to spread the cleaning detergent over a small area, rather than scrubbing the dirt on a large area.
Another crucial tip to remember is to keep rinsing and wringing out the mop after finishing a section. Be sure to wring it out over the bucket to prevent water paddles from building up on the floor, which might damage the floor and dramatically extend the drying time. Then wipe out the small section with the wrung out mop to avoid spreading the dirt on to other parts of the floor.
Use a specific mopping pattern
It is important to use a specific mopping pattern in order to remove as much grime as possible. For example, you might want to move the mop in small figure 8 patterns when cleaning textured floors. And for polyurethane hardwood floors, you might want to move the mop in line with the grain of the wood.
For faster cleaning time, you may need to work your way toward the door to ensure you do not step on the already mopped parts of the floor. In the event you end up stepping on the already cleaned area, run your mop back over the area to clear up your tracks. For narrow stretches like hallways and corridors, you may want to start by mopping the sides then the center of the floor.
Pay attention to stubborn spots
If you encounter caked-on or sticky spots, rub the mop over the spot using back and forth motions. Apply downward pressure to eliminate the grime. For tough-to-reach edges and corners of the floor, you can slightly squat down and scrub those places with a sponge or paper towels.
As you work on other sections of the floor, be checking on the wash water and rinse water. Make sure to empty and refill the buckets as soon as they turn visibly gray or dingy. Using dirty wash water or rinse water will only end up spreading dirt over the floor thus complicating the rinsing process.
Rinse the floor
Once the floor is visibly clean – with no detergent residue left – give it a thorough rinsing to make it even more spotless. This is important especially if you have pets or kids. You can easily do this by washing out the mop you’ve just used or using another dedicated rinsing mop.
With either of the two, go over the entire surface with nothing but plain hot rinse water. At times the rinse water may get dirty or sudsy, indicating that an extra rinse is necessary. In this case, get your clean rinsing mop and run over the whole floor for the last time.
Air dry your floor and dry out your equipment
After all is done and the floor looks sparkling clean, allow it to air dry by opening doors and windows. It can take between 30 minutes and 1 hour for the mopped area to dry completely. If you notice some streaks on the floor, soak them up using fresh towels.
You should also dry out your bucket and mop by hanging them over the sink for about an hour. If you store a wet mop in the closet, it can easily acquire bacteria, mold, and mildew. Therefore, let the mop dry out completely if you hate the idea of spreading these micro-organisms over your floor the next time you mop.
We all must mop our floors at some point in our lives. Mopping floors is a cleaning routine that is aimed at preventing bacteria and keeping mold off ours homes. With these simple and practical tips on how to mop a floor, mopping will no longer seem like a dreaded chore, and you’ll be getting the best results each time you mop your floor.