10 Common Mopping Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid common mopping blunders and get it done right the first time.

We’ve discovered 10 popular mopping mistakes — are you guilty of any of them? Well, today you’ll find out.

In theory, mopping your flooring isn’t difficult. You take your mop, fill your bucket and start scrubbing, right? Well, there’s actually a little more to this weekly cleaning job.

It’s all about making mopping an efficient task. Let’s look at the top 10 mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Top 10 Mopping Mistakes

It’s the moment of truth — here you’ll find out what you might be doing wrong. Alternatively, you can be satisfied knowing that you’re cleaning the right way.

1. Not Vacuuming Before Mopping

Is there really any point of vacuuming before you mop and clean the floors? Isn’t this double the work?

It may be annoying but it might result in a more effective clean. Having loose debris on your floor may lead to scratches as your mop drags it around. You might leave dirt behind you too, meaning you’ve got more scrubbing to do later on.

It’s recommended to avoid sweeping with a broom. This is due to dust particles becoming airborne and simply spreading around the room (1).

The powerful suction of a vacuum is just what you need to capture all of the dirt before mopping. It’ll remove grime from under furniture, in corners and around other objects effortlessly. If you’ve got hardwood floors, it may be best to use a canister vacuum to avoid unnecessary damage.

2. Soaking Your Floors

It can be tempting to dunk your mop in your bucket and transfer this moisture to your floor. It might seem like you can clean more surface area faster this way and remove stubborn dirt.

But the problem is, soaking your floor might leave streaks. It may also take ages to dry and become a hazard in a family home.

While your hardwood floor might say it’s waterproof, using too much water every time could still risk penetrating the seal. The last thing you want is to damage your flooring or dull the finish.

Damp mopping may be the best way to get rid of marks and dirt. You can look out for a mopping bucket with a spin or wringer to make the job easier.

3. Not Washing the Mop Pad After Use

A lot of people get lazy and think you don’t have to change the mop pad after every cleaning session. It’s only a little dust, right? Well, the general rule is that you can’t sanitize a dirty floor with a dirty mop pad.

Of course, you’ve got to wash the mop pad properly to ensure its cleanliness too. If you’ve got disposable mop pads, simply throw it in the trash after one use.

If you’ve got reusable microfiber mop heads, it’s time to throw them into your washing machine. Even if they’re cleaning cloths, it’s best to wash them separately away from cotton or synthetic products.

This is because cotton and synthetic products naturally lose fiber during washing (2). These fibers would then be transferred onto the microfiber cloths. This will get the mop pads dirty instead of ready for the next cleaning session.

In addition, try not to overfill the wash load. We know you want it all done at once, but this can affect circulation during the washing process. In other words, your mop pads won’t be effectively cleaned.

It’s best to leave around a hand’s worth of space at the top of the load once it’s in and ready to go. This should be done after every use, even if it’s only a quick clean.

4. Wet Mopping an Unsealed Wooden Floor

Unsealed wooden floors and water just don’t go together. You should only clean tiles, linoleum and other sealed surfaces like this.

Water has the ability to distort and warp wood. This may happen if your wood is not sealed or if you break down the seal over time with excess moisture.

In addition, dampness can encourage mold and mildew to grow on wood, resulting in discolored patches. This may aggravate allergies and make you sick (3).

You might want to think about only dry buffing with a microfiber mop if you have wooden floors. In particular, it’s best to avoid using steam mops and anything with water, to prolong its lifespan.

5. Using Cleaning Solution in a Steam Mop

Topping up the water tank in a steam mop with cleaning solution does more harm than good. It can actually damage your mop and your flooring too.

The fantastic thing about steam mops is that they don’t require any chemicals to kill bacteria. The steam does this all on its own, getting rid of A. baumannii, VRE and MRSA (4).

Take Note

Fill the water tank with demineralized or distilled water instead. This helps avoid a build-up of calcium. Hard water often contains minerals that can block your steam mop and the nozzles that emit the steam.

6. Mopping With Warm Water

If you’re washing the floors with a mop and bucket, you may fill your bucket up with warm water. But, something to bear in mind is that hot water evaporates quicker than colder water (5).

This means that you may be left with more soap residue on the floor than you would like. This might make your surfaces streaky and sticky. So, you might want to consider using cold water to begin with.

Washing your hands at 59 degrees Fahrenheit will kill bacteria just like washing in 100 degrees Fahrenheit (6). Apparently, the same goes for flooring.

7. Not Refilling the Bucket

Cleaning with dirty water just means you’re moving the contaminants around your flooring. When the water starts to look murky and change color, it’s time to swap it out for fresh water.

The number of times you’ve got to refill the bucket will vary. If you’ve got a heavily-soiled floor, you may need to empty and refill a few times. Some mopping buckets actually have a drainage plug to make it easier to empty.

8. Mopping in Swirls

Mopping is mopping, right? Actually, there’s a knack to cleaning your floors. It may be tempting to zigzag around or mop in swirls, but this means you’re using more water in the same area.

As a result, you could be left with pesky streaks. Plus, you won’t know where you’ve cleaned already and could end up doing double the work.

Start in the far corner furthest from the door. Work in straight lines, not oversaturating with water. This is the logical way to do it so that you don’t stand on it and make it dirty again.

9. Not Following the Correct Dilution Ratios

Do you think that the more cleaning solution you use, the cleaner your floor will be? Don’t worry, a lot of people believe this common mistake but this isn’t true. It can actually make a mess of your home.

Using too much floor cleaner can make the floor sticky, streaky and squeaky underfoot. Over time, it may also destroy the natural shine of your flooring. Alternatively, not using enough solution might not clean effectively at all.

Until you’re confident, try to avoid measuring any ratios by eye. The ratio is normally around two parts water to one part cleaning solution, though this could vary slightly.

It’s going to be best to follow the instructions on the product. You may also want to double check that it’s suitable for your type of flooring too.

10. Manually Drying Floors Too Quickly

After cleaning the floors, some people get impatient. While you may be tempted to throw down a towel and quickly dry them, this could be a mistake.

Studies show that microorganisms are killed when they’re in contact with a disinfectant for around 10 minutes (7). While it could potentially take a shorter amount of time, you don’t want to risk it.

So, avoid the temptation and let your floor dry properly to make sure it’s sanitized effectively. To help your floor dry, you can try opening a window. This might allow more airflow and circulation.

The Final Verdict

So, how many mopping mistakes have you been making all this time? Don’t worry, just be glad you’ve found out now and you can stop doing it next time.

Vacuuming is the best way to begin the mopping process. While you’re cleaning, work in straight lines for effectiveness. Follow the right cleaning-solution ratios and refill your bucket with clean water often.

Don’t forget to wash your mop pads after every use and give your floor time to dry. Avoiding these popular mopping blunders may help you achieve a pristine home.

Do you have any mopping mistakes to add to our list? Let us know in the comments — we can all help each other!

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About the Author

Amy Anthony

Amy is a stay-at-home-mom, seasoned writer, and a home cleaning and organization aficionado. Amy enjoys having an absolutely spotless home and has worked hard to develop strategies to keep it that way, despite having 2 kids and 3 dogs!