What the best mop has

  • A system for wringing out excess water. While there are many people who don't mind wringing out a mop by hand, and some actually prefer it so they can control the moisture level, the vast majority of users find manual wringing difficult or messy. A mop that has a built-in wringer system or comes with an accessory, such as a bucket, for wringing out the mop, will be much more convenient for most.
  • A tall handle. One big complaint was saw about mops was that taller users often have to stoop to use them. If you're taller than average, look for a mop with a longer handle, at least 54 inches, or one that can be extended -- some mops offer a handle extension as an optional purchase.
  • Sturdy construction. Almost any mop will be fine for light cleaning, but if you often have stubborn spots you need to be able to lean into, you need a mop that won't buckle under the pressure. This means a sturdy handle and a mop head that attaches securely to it.
  • An adequate mop head size. If you have a lots of hard floors to clean, you may want to look for a mop with an extra-large mop head so that you can clean those larger areas in less time. Most mop heads are only about 6 to 8 inches long, or 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Some rag mops -- especially commercial-grade mops -- come in larger diameters.
  • Good maneuverability. Any mop will work well in open spaces, but you also need to be able to get underneath cupboards and furniture, along baseboards, around stationary items like toilets, and into corners. The best mops not only have swiveling heads, but also have handles that fold down to reach even under some low appliances.

Know before you go

What type of cleaning you'll be doing. Spray mops and other flat head mops are great for everyday cleaning, but for heavy-duty mopping jobs you need a string or rag mop. Also, spray mops do not absorb liquids, so, for spills, you'll also need a rag or string mop. Many people keep a spray mop nearby for touch-ups, and a string mop and a bucket in a closet for deeper cleaning. For really deep-cleaning your hard floors, you need a steam mop, which we cover in a separate report; however, these are meant for more occasional, rather than daily, use.

The type of floor you have. We do not make a delineation between wood and other types of hard floors in this report, because you can generally use any type of mop on any of these surfaces. You just need to be sure the cleaning solution you use is appropriate to your flooring type.

Your total floor area. For larger areas, mops that use disposable pads aren't very efficient, since you'll need several pads. If you have lots of floor space, consider a mop with reusable pads or a string or sponge mop.

The ongoing costs. Most mops are relatively inexpensive, but some require replacement pads, cleaning solution and, in the case of spray mops, even batteries. The cost of such consumables can mount up over time.

How you're going to prep the floor. You'll get the best results when mopping if you prepare the floor first by dry dusting. This gets up larger bits of debris, as well as cleaning away some looser dirt so the mop can get the more ground-in grime. Some of the mops in this report can double as dry mops so you can use them to dust the floor before dunking the mop head for wet-mopping. Some people buy extra mop heads for this purpose to be sure that they are not mopping with an already dirty mop, though a good rinsing between tasks can do the trick as well. Others just use a broom or a vacuum cleaner meant 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.

Elsewhere in this report:

Best Mops | Best Spray Mops | Our Sources

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