The right mop can make getting a clean floor less of a chore
Keeping your hard floors clean is one of the big pains -- and big necessities -- of life. To really remove all the dirt and gunk hiding in your hard floors, you have to use some combination of hot water and scrubbing -- adding some type of dedicated floor cleaner can also help you clean more deeply and disinfect your hard floors.
Unless you really love getting down on your hands and knees and putting your back into the job, a good mop will be your best friend when it comes to keeping your floors sparkling. The best mops are easy to push around, have a system for wringing out the water, are maneuverable enough to get into corners and under cupboards, and won't buckle under when you need to lean in and use a bit of muscle to scrub. Some mops can even be used as a dry dust mop to prepare the floor.
The one feature that a mop really needs -- with the exception of spray mops (see below) -- is a way to wring it out. Otherwise, the mop will be heavy, the excess water will pool on the floor, and the mop won't absorb that liquid so it will take forever for the floor to dry. All of the mops in this report either have some type of integral wringing technology, or include -- or can be paired with -- a bucket with a built-in wringer.
The one drawback to any mop if you use a single bucket (again, except for spray mops) is that the water in the bucket will get dirtier as you mop. The solution for that is to either use two buckets (one for cleaning, one for rinsing), use a double sink (which means you have to keep walking back and forth to the sink), or do one pass for cleaning and a second pass for rinsing, changing the water in the bucket in between the two passes.
Of course, before you can wet mop you have to start with a dry cleaning to remove the bigger bits a mop can't handle. That means either sweeping with a broom, dusting with a dust mop, or using a good vacuum cleaner designed for hard floors. We cover vacuums that will get your floors ready for wet mopping in our separate reports on upright vacuums, canister vacuums and stick vacuums. Also, if you really need a deep cleaning, we recommend some good steam mops for that task as well.
Types of mops
Basic wet floor mops are the most common type. They have either a set of strings, strips of cloth or a sponge for cleaning and absorbing spills. They are also variously known as string mops, rag mops or sponge mops. String and rag mops need a system for wringing out the excess water or they can be used with a bucket that includes a wringer. You can also wring by hand, but it can be difficult both to grasp and twist the mop head and to get all of the excess water out. Sponge mops generally have some sort of device to squeeze the excess water out of the sponge, either on the handle or at the base. The most popular material for floor mops are microfiber strips; these are very effective at cleaning, wring out thoroughly, and can be tossed in the washing machine. That said, traditional cotton string mops are still around and many swear by them.
Spin mops are just regular floor mops, but they include a system for wringing out the excess water in the mop, usually a bucket with a wringer that is operated either by a foot pedal or by placing the mop in the wringer, causing it to "spin." Some actually squeeze and wring the mop out, while others just use centrifugal force to spin the mop dry. The latter type is superior because it does a better job of squeezing out excess moister. Spin mop heads are round and the strings or strips are made from lightweight, absorbent materials. Thanks to a swiveling head and lay flat handle, they maneuver well and can get under even narrow spaces. Both basic mops and spin mops can be used with any type of floor cleaning liquid, or just with hot water.
Spray mops are very convenient because they include a container for cleaning solution that's attached to the mop handle, and pads that attach to the base. Just spray, mop and discard the pad when it's dirty. There's a cost to this convenience, of course; pads and liquid refills can be expensive, and the mops operate on battery power so the batteries have to be replaced occasionally. Some people also worry about the environmental impact of all those disposable accessories, although some mops have refillable containers that can use any type of cleaning solution and washable, reusable pads. Also, spray mops are just for cleaning, they will not absorb water like a traditional mop.
How we found the best mops
There are no comparative professional reviews of mops, so we carefully analyzed thousands of owner reviews we found at retail sites, such as Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target.com, to name just a few. These user reviews give a thorough overview of how each type of mop operates in real-world, long-term use. In evaluating these reviews, we consider performance, convenience, ease of use and durability. For spin mops, we also found quite a few independent "does it really do that?" tests that were helpful in narrowing down the many offerings of this popular type of mop. The great thing about mops is that they are relatively inexpensive, so unless you are on the tightest of budgets, don't be afraid to try a few to find the perfect mop for you.
Basic floor mops are affordable, effective and easy to use
A basic floor mop is a necessity for frequent touch-ups or for quickly cleaning up spills. They can be used with a bucket, or you can just wet them in the sink, wring and mop. Some have systems for wringing them out, others need to be wrung out manually, or you can use a bucket with an integral wringer. Owners also like that these mops can be used with any cleaning solution they choose, or just with hot water.
The Libman Wonder Mop (Est. $20) gets some of the best reviews we've seen for a mop that's also very affordable. It's long been a favorite mop of users, and it still earns a top spot in our roundup. Reviewers praise the Wonder Mop for its microfiber strips, which are lightweight and less susceptible to mildew than standard cotton string mops. The Libman mop has a sturdy handle that allows users to bear down to scrub stubborn stains without the head folding over like some mops do, or feeling as if the handle is going to bend or break. However, a few say it does not scrub well enough to deep clean tile that has visible grout, such as some ceramic tile floors, and is best for smooth floors.
To solve the omnipresent wringing issue, the Libman Wonder Mop has an integrated wringer sleeve so you can wring out excess water without having to touch the mop head or use a separate wringer or bucket. Most say the wringer is very easy to use, although some say it can be tricky to get the hang of it at first. The Wonder Mop is very easy to maneuver, say users, and can get into tight corners and tough spots like the sides of toilets. Like all string mops, the Wonder Mop is great for absorbing liquid spills. The mop heads hold up through about 50 washings, and a pack of two refills is about $17.
Aside from the scrubbing issue noted above, the only other real complaint we saw about the Libman Wonder Mop is that its mop head is too small. If you prefer something larger, we suggest taking a look at the Libman Big Wonder Twist Mop (Est. $12). It has a 65 percent larger mop head than the original Wonder Mop and gets even better reviews from users who say they love it for its larger size, which cuts down on cleaning time. Otherwise, it is identical to the smaller Wonder Mop.
It doesn't have an integrated wringing technology like the Libman Wonder Mop, but fans of the O-Cedar Microfiber Cloth Mop (Est. $17) don't seem to care, especially when they pair it with the equally well-reviewed O-Cedar Quick Wring Bucket (Est. $20). Users say the mop head is super absorbent and does an excellent job of cleaning floors without leaving streaks. The bucket is very easy to use with the mop, just put the mop head into the wringer and push down, the wringer collapses around the mop head, squeezing out excess liquid. It's not as efficient as heavier, traditional wringers, owners say, but is great for casual home use. However, plenty of people use the O-Cedar Microfiber Cloth Mop without the bucket, just wringing it out manually. Most say that's easy to do, and some prefer wringing that way, saying that most bucket wringers are flimsy or that they like to control how much moisture to leave in the mop head. One tip: wearing rubber gloves may make manual wringing easier.
The mop head on the O-Cedar is washable, and refills are available for about $10 a piece. A few taller folks say they have to bend more than they'd like to use this mop, and some say the handle feels flimsy, but, otherwise, most love their O-Cedar mop and say they can't believe how much cleaner it gets their floors compared to other mops they have owned.
Both the Libman and the O-Cedar mops can be used as dust mops as well and the mop heads on both are machine washable. Some users say they buy a spare mop head and use one for dry-mopping, one for wet-mopping. Others say they use one for washing, and one for rinsing.
The difference between rag mops (or string mops) and sponge mops is largely that of design. Rag mops have a round base and the rags, or strings, fan out from there. Sponge mops are sponges, usually replaceable, that attach to a rectangular base.
We don't specifically recommend any sponge mops in this report, simply because they get very poor reviews for both absorbency and for performance in cleaning floors. Sponge mops have largely been supplanted, performance-wise, by microfiber mops. Most sponge mops have some sort of mechanism to squeeze water from the sponge, either high on the handle or down near the mop head, so if you do want just a basic sponge mop, one works as well as another, it seems, so buy one that's in your price range and that is comfortable for you to use.
However, we did see one well-reviewed mop that's similar in design to a sponge mop but performs more in line with a string mop -- the O-Cedar EasyWring Flat Mop & Bucket System (Est. $50). Users love how this flat mop's pivoting design slips under counters and other narrow spaces, and say the microfiber pad is highly absorbent. It also has cleaning "zones" for light cleaning or for scrubbing. The pad is washable and reusable. Refills cost about $10
The bucket that's included with the EasyWring has a built-in wringer that users say is effective and very easy to use, just pull up on the mop handle to fold the mop head, put the folded mop head into the wringer and push a pedal to wring out the excess water. Many say they use the EasyWring for cleaning walls and other vertical surfaces, something this flat mop head is better-suited for than a round string mop.
Spin mops offer all-in-one, hands free convenience
Spin mops are the hottest trends in mops at the moment. They are kits that include a circular, string-type mop head made from highly absorbent materials and a bucket with an integrated wringer. The "spin" comes from the spinning action of the wringer (similar to the flat head O-Cedar bucket discussed above).
The spin mop that gets the best overall reviews from owners is undoubtedly the Twist & Shout (Est. $45). It receives stellar feedback for its great performance on a variety of floor types, and for the ability of the handle to lay flat and the mop head to rotate to reach into tight corners. It excels in absorbing spills, even large ones.
Where the Twist & Shout really shines is in its wringer technology. Most spin mop bucket systems have a foot-operated pedal that you have to push down to get the wringer to spin and centrifugal force pulls the water out. However, there are two drawbacks to that system: the first is that the mop head is still left quite wet, the second is that those foot pedals get poor reviews for long-term durability. The Twist & Shout, on the other hand, has the spin action integrated into the wringer itself and it's a true wringer. You just lock the mop handle, stick it in the wringer and it twists and spins to wring out the excess water. Despite the name, the mop does not actually "shout," of course, but many users report that they would like to sing and dance with happiness at how well this mop performs.
The wringer on the Twist & Shout does a great job, reviewers say, squeezing out almost every bit of excess liquid, so the final go-over of the floor leaves it just damp, not wet, helping the floor to dry quickly. The Twist & Shout includes two microfiber mop heads; additional mop heads can be purchased for about $10 for two. New for 2015, the handle on the Twist & Shout is now 54 inches long as opposed to the previous model's 48 inches, a good improvement since the only real complaints we saw regarding this spin mop was that the 48-inch handle is a bit too short for taller users and that the mop seems flimsy; however, that latter complaint is one we see about virtually every mop in this report, so we really can't consider it a specific "con."
Elsewhere in this report:
Best Spray Mops | Buying Guide | Our Sources