This report covers wet and dry mops such as those you'd use for everyday floor cleaning. Note that ConsumerSearch covers steam mops, which are used to sanitize floors but work very slowly and tend to leave water behind, in a separate report.
Swiffer seems to dominate the mop market, and even though various Swiffer mop models have a big fan base, reviewers say they aren't the best for every job. Swiffer mops use small disposable pads that aren't very absorbent, which makes them a poor choice for soaking up spills. Similarly, because the pads they use are only designed to clean smaller areas, it would take a lot of disposable pads to clean several rooms. For example, at Amazon.com, there are nearly as many 1-star ratings for the Swiffer WetJet (*Est. $21) as 5-star scores. The WetJet uses proprietary cleaning solutions and disposable pads to clean floors. Unhappy owners say the Swiffer WetJet merely pushes dirt around, leaves streaks on the floor and that the cleaning solutions smell too strong. Others complain that the cleaning pads cost too much.
An alternative is the Rubbermaid Reveal Spray Mop (*Est. $40); at Amazon.com, about 70 owners contribute to its near-perfect average rating. The Rubbermaid Reveal mop kit comes with three washable microfiber mop heads, the mop itself and two reusable bottles. You can then use any cleaning solution. Owners, many of whom also tried Swiffer mops, say the lower cost of ownership alone is enough to recommend the Rubbermaid Reveal Spray Mop over Swiffer. Good Housekeeping magazine tries the Rubbermaid Reveal in a short article; they like its larger-than-average mop head (which makes for faster cleaning). The Rubbermaid Reveal works on any hard-surface floor, including wood.
Flat-head mops like the Swiffer WetJet or Rubbermaid Reveal work well for everyday cleaning, but aren't the best for deep cleaning because there's not much cleaning surface, and they don't mop up spills very well. Instead, experts say that string and sponge mops are best for heavy-duty jobs or large areas. That means you'll be using them with a good old-fashioned bucket and cleaning supplies. String mops aren't just made of cotton string; today you'll see mop heads made of more absorbent microfiber strips.
Cotton string mops like the Lanier Deck Mop (*Est. $10) tend to have the most heft -- which makes for good scrubbing and good absorbency. They are difficult to wring out, however, and are susceptible to mildew because it takes so long for them to dry out. Stephen Trefflinger of The New York Times prefers cotton mops over all of the mop options he tried because they can maneuver almost anywhere and are effective at scrubbing. Other than Trefflinger's short endorsement, however, we didn't read many reviews for cotton string mops.
A variation of a string mop, the Libman Wonder Mop (*Est. $13), uses microfiber strings instead of cotton and is lighter than most cotton mops, but still has enough heft to scrub floors. In her review, Elaine Blair of Slate.com says it absorbs spills quickly and that it's easy to maneuver around hard-to-reach corners. Users at Amazon.com have mixed opinions, but most are pleased with the Wonder Mop's cleaning ability. A few say that the wringer sleeve is difficult to use and requires a lot of force, but others say that it gets easier after a couple of tries. The Libman Wonder Mop has a steel handle with a hanger hole (for storage) along with a machine-washable mop head. The Libman mop can also be used dry as a dust mop.
Sponge mops are another good option for scrubbing floors. They are less absorbent than string mops, however, and don't sop up spills as efficiently. The Casabella Swivel-It Roller Mop (*Est. $20) does well in a professional review at The New York Times, where it is tested and compared to 14 other mops. Author Stephen Treffinger praises the soft, rounded shape of the sponge and the swiveling head that makes it easy to reach into tight corners. He says that the mop is very absorbent and effective on tough cleaning jobs like mud and crayon. It hasn't received any user reviews, so we are unable to otherwise gauge long-term performance and durability.
By using the right cleaning solutions, almost any mop can be adapted to clean hardwood floors. To protect wood floors, you don't want them to get too wet with water, so instead of sponge or string mops, a microfiber mop is a better choice. The Rubbermaid Reveal Spray Mop, for example, is perfectly safe for sealed wood floors, and since you can use any cleaning solution of your choosing, you can opt for a specialized wood-floor cleaner of any brand.
The Bona Hardwood Floor Spray Mop (*Est. $40) is meant specifically for wood floors and gets mainly good reviews from users at Amazon.com. It's also effective on tile and other hard floor surfaces. The mop can be used wet or dry and, like the Swiffer WetJet, has a built-in spray mechanism for depositing cleaner from proprietary cleaner bottles. The microfiber floor pad attaches to the mop with Velcro strips and can be hand or machine washed. Users at Amazon.com give it a high overall rating and praise its refillable cleaning cartridge. That said, the main complaint is the cost of the cleaning cartridge refills -- about $11 for a 28.75 oz. bottle. Some users also say that the spray mechanism has a tendency to jam.
The best comparison review for mops can be found on Slate magazine, but that review is from 2004. A more recent mop test is published in The New York Times. Other professional sources, including Real Simple and Good Housekeeping magazines, recommend specific brands of mops but don't explain testing methods or compare floor mops. User reviews at Amazon.com help to round out professional sources, but are fairly skimpy as well. MarkoInc.com -- a cleaning supply retailer -- also has a collection of user reviews for floor mops.