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How to Mop a Floor


Clear the area. Remove whatever tables, chairs, throw rugs and other obstacles are on the floor.

  • If you’re cleaning any of those things, too, clean them first. That way, if any debris falls on the floor, it’ll fall before you clean.
  • If you’ll be cleaning counters, tabletops, or other surfaces, clean those first.
  • Send anyone likely to walk over the floor out of the area. That includes children, spouses, housemates, pets, and guests.


Sweep the floor or vacuum the floor first. It may seem redundant to clean something you’re about to clean, but mops generally do a terrible job of picking up crumbs, dust, hair, and other solid debris. If you mop an unswept floor, you’ll just end up pushing this stuff around. Moreover, dust and dirt can leave scratches on the floor if not removed first.


Place the cleaner of your choice into the bucket and fill with enough warm water to cover the head of the mop completely. Leave enough of the bucket empty to allow yourself to add the mop and to keep the wringer up out of the water, if it is built into the bucket.

  • Use the cleaner according to the instructions on the package or bottle. Usually, that means just enough to make it suds up a bit. Don’t use more cleaner than you need. It will not add much benefit and it could leave a residue or damage the floor.
  • It is possible to use ordinary dish-washing detergent. Just a squirt added to the water is adequate.


Dip the mop in the cleaning solution and let it absorb the cleaner thoroughly.Sometimes a stiff, dried-out mop will need to soak for a little while to loosen up.


Wring the excess solution out of the mop. You want it damp, not soggy.


Start in one corner of the room. Move the mop around over the area you want cleaned with some pressure to pick up the dirt. When you have covered a small area, or when the mop looks dirty, dip and wring the mop again and move on to the next area.

  • For polyurethaned hardwood floors, run the mop with the grain of the wood.
  • For textured floors, move the mop in small figure eight circles.


For persistent dirt, you may want to visit an area twice. The first time, leave the mop a bit wetter than usual and use it to dampen the area thoroughly. Let that sit for a few moments while you dampen the next area. The extra time gives the cleaning solution time to dissolve the soil. Then, dip the mop again and wring it out more thoroughly. Go back over the area to pick up the water and loosen any especially stubborn dirt.


Continue across the whole floor in this fashion.


Work back towards a door and avoid stepping on the areas you have just cleaned. Any fine dust clinging to the bottoms of your shoes will stick to the floor and become mud. If you do step on an area that is wet, run the mop back over it to clean up these tracks.


Let the mopped area dry thoroughly. Opening up doors or windows for circulation will speed the process. It’s generally not necessary to dry a floor manually unless the surface shows streaks badly. Just let the air do the job.


Replace any furnishings you removed from the area.


Hang the mop up to dry out when you are finished. If you leave in the bucket, it will rot and start to smell bad. Hang it with the wet end down and hang it somewhere where a bit of water underneath won’t hurt.

  • Dispose of dirty mop water in a toilet. It’s a better place to put something that might have solid sediments, and you won’t have any dirty sinks.
  • While not strictly necessary, it’s a good idea to rinse your mop and wring it thoroughly once more before hanging it up, so that the residues of dirt and cleaners don’t sit in the mop all the time.

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