Different Types Of Mops

Who knows what inspired the person who first attached a rag at the end of a broomstick to swish water around? Whatever it was, the resulting invention – the mop – has become an indispensable household cleaning item.

The very first mop was invented more than 100 years ago, in 1893. It has since gone through many iterations, evolving into the modern mop with a mechanism to wring it dry (so that it doesn’t have to be done by hand, a wet and somewhat messy process) in 1950.

Today, there are more than 10 types of mops, 11 to be exact. Certainly, there are many options to choose from when it comes to daily cleaning tasks. Here, the different types of mops are compared so that the best mop can be used for the task at hand.

Mops have a variety of shapes and sizes, not to mention styles and even colors. Some people will have their preferred mop, others just want a functional tool to use for cleaning. Whatever the need, there is sure to be a type of mop that caters to it. When selected correctly, a mop can make the most mundane and repetitive household tasks – wiping the floor clean – a joyful process.

1. Flat Mops

These are mops with a flat cleaning head. Some have heads that can be removed for easy cleaning in the washing machine. The cleaning head itself can come in a variety of materials, but most do not hold a lot of water.

This is a good thing because flat mops are typically used to clean expensive hardwood floors or other types of fragile surfaces that cannot take too much water or moisture. The flat mop tackles these surfaces effectively, with a minimal yet adequate amount of water spread over a large and flat area.

An added advantage is the slender profile of the flat mop. The cleaning head can fit into tight corners and other nooks the require cleaning. Not only will these areas be properly cleaned, but there is also no worry of excess water being deposited in such places.

2. Sponge Mops

The cleaning head for this mop uses a highly absorbent sponge. Best used for liquid spills, many households find a sponge mop essential to have at hand for cleaning up water, coffee, soup, juice, milk, etc. Families with small children or pets may especially appreciate the use of a sponge mop.

Aside from soaking up spilled liquids, a sponge mop can be dipped into detergent or cleaning solution to scrub away dirt or otherwise clean the floor. Just be sure to clean the sponge regularly, otherwise, it will trap dirt and liquid inside it.

3. Dust Mops

A dust mop, as its name implies, is designed to remove dust. The cleaning head is typically a flat surface, with or without a disposable paper towel attached. Good dust mops can pick up dust or small pieces of dirt from the floor with a gliding motion and are an effective alternative to the vacuum cleaner. Many people use a dust mop before a wet mop as the combination ensures a thoroughly cleaned floor with a crisp underfoot feeling.

A creative use of a dust mop is to use it to clean ceiling fans. Typically, ceiling fans accumulate dust particles on their blades, leading to unsightly streaks of dirt. A dust mop not only wipes the blades clean but also has a long handle so the ceiling fan can be easily reached from the floor without the need to stand precariously on a chair, stool, or ladder.

4. String Mops

This is the most common type of mop and is what a child would typically draw when asked what a mop is. The cleaning head is a bundle of thick strings that absorbs (and drips) water. String mops typically come with a bucket for water or detergent and a rack for wringing the cleaning head dry.

String mops are often used to clean floors. They are good at covering a large area with puddles of water or detergent, leaving floors wet. However, a clean floor is a dry floor, and string mops are not very effective at drying a wet floor. For one thing, they are not easily wrung dry; trying to wring a string mop dry after every couple of swishes is a tiring exercise. Furthermore, the bundle of strings is not very absorbent. Many users find themselves pushing puddles of water around, rather than soaking the water into the mop.

5. Strip Mops

This is a variant of the string mop. As its name suggests, strip mops are made of strips of absorbent fabric and look more modern and “clean” compared to a traditional string mop.

A strip mop is versatile as it can be used either wet or dry. When dry, a strip mop can be used as a dust mop. Well-designed strip mops pick up dust with their fabric material just as well as a good dust mop does. A string mop, on the other hand, tends to just push dust around rather than picking it up.

When wet, a strip mop can be used exactly like a string mop. The downside is that most strip mops are not as big as string mops, nor are they able to hold as much water at one go. For large areas where wet cleaning is required, a string mop may require less effort than a strip mop.

However, most homes will require only occasional wet cleaning and a strip mop ought to be sufficient. Many offices use strip mops. The cleaning head can often be washed in a washing machine (be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions) for added convenience.

6. Steam Mops

These mops work just like traditional mops with the additional capability of emitting a small jet of steam to clean the floor. Steam mops can be used on hard surfaces and floors and also on soft surfaces such as carpets. Many people find a hot steam clean very reassuring and cleaner than a simple wipe-and-dry method.

Needless to say, the steam cools into water droplets, so a steam mop essentially functions as a mildly wet mop that can turn into a dry mop when the steam function is switched off. Truly convenient! Most steam mops have cleaning heads that swivel around to reach those hard-to-access corners and crannies.

Aside from floors, steam mops work well on tiles, walls, and even sturdy and large pieces of furniture.

7. Spin Mop

This is a string mop with a literal twist. Like a string mop, it comes with a bucket and a mechanism to wring out the water. For added convenience, a spin mop has a spinning function and a rotating cleaning head that spins excess water out from the mop and into the bucket quickly and easily. This addresses the common issue of having a string mop that is too wet.

Some people find that the spinning function is useful when cleaning too. Just push the mop against a stubborn stain or a piece of dirt, then spin the mop to scrub it out.

8. Microfiber Mops

This type of mop is becoming increasingly popular among customers. It’s no wonder, because microfiber mops are similar to strip mops, but are made of microfiber material that cleans more thoroughly than ordinary fabric and can absorb more water – almost as much or even more than an ordinary sponge.

Microfiber is also easier to clean than a sponge – just throw it into the washing machine. Most high-quality microfibers can be washed hundreds of times without issues and will last a long time.

9. Static Mop

This is a variant of a microfiber mop, but with the fibers treated to contain a high level of static electricity. The static electricity is harmless and is useful for picking up dust, dirt, and other small debris. The idea is to get rid of such particles before wet-mopping the floor. They are particularly useful in a household with pets (or humans) that shed a lot of hair.

10. Brush Mops

A brush mop combines two ordinary household objects – a broom and a mop. There is the string mop part of the cleaning head, and there is the broom part that has stiff bristles to help scrub away stubborn stains or to sweep dirt away and into a dustpan. Most people find that a brush mop is a versatile tool and is often used to clean food and drink spills. The combination of solid and liquid mess may seem challenging at first, but a brush mop will make short work of it.

11. Robot Mops

These are the newest and most technologically advanced types of mops. Robot vacuums are now well-accepted by consumers. The next innovation from the same manufacturers is the robot mop, which has the same concept as a robot vacuum but with a slightly different function – wet mopping. When it works, a robot mop is truly a source of labor-saving convenience.


FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Are Mops Used For?

Most mops are used for cleaning floors. There are specific types of mops that cater to specific uses, such as cleaning carpets, hard surfaces, fragile surfaces, and so on. But all are used for cleaning tasks.

Mounting the cleaning head on the end of a long stick means that people no longer have to crawl around on their hands and knees to scrub a floor clean. They are the original household labor-saving device.

Be careful: Hardwood floors can be wet-mopped, but should not be left soaking wet or with visible puddles of water after. They should be slightly damp, then wiped dry. The best practice is to work on small areas and to avoid letting the water or cleaning liquid sit on the wood for long periods. This will avoid permanent damage to the floor.

2. Do Mops Really Clean?

Some people believe that mops do not really clean the floor, they just push the dirt around to a different place. The truth is that mops do clean floors effectively, but only when used correctly and with a clean mop.

With regular use, all mops get dirty over time. If the mop itself is not cleaned frequently, it can contribute to the dirt on the floor rather than removing it. For example, a 2011 study indicated that the floor was typically the dirtiest part of public bathrooms despite being cleaned (mopped) the most frequently.

A mop should be thoroughly cleaned using hot water and used with frequent changes to clean water. Using a steam mop can help avoid these problems.

Be careful: Do not simply jump into wet-mopping a floor. Take care to vacuum, sweep, or dust mop the floor beforehand so that any solid particles are gotten rid of first. Mop the dirtiest parts of the floor last, to ensure that the mop doesn’t get dirty and contaminate other parts of the room.

3. Are Mops Unhygienic?

The most common method of wet-mopping a floor is to put the mop back into its bucket after several swipes. This is also the most common method of spreading dirt across the floor. The result is often a dirtier floor, not a cleaner one.

The bucket should be cleaned regularly, for example, with a simple vinegar-and-water rinse to disinfect it. The cleaning heads should themselves be cleaned regularly with fresh hot water and detergent. This is to ensure that the cleaning tools are clean.

4. Why Is My Floor Still Dirty After I Mop?

This is a common complaint. Here are a few reasons why the floor may still appear dirty after all that hard work of mopping, and ways to solve the issue.

– Did not vacuum or sweep beforehand: A wet mop should always be preceded by a dry sweep or vacuum. Every bit of dirt, dust, and stray hair can accumulate in a mop and get spread around the house during mopping. If the mop is wet, the resulting combination is a gross bundle of wet hair and dirt. Take the effort to remove dust from the floor first.

– Mopped forward, not backward: The mop may be clean, but the feet or soles of the cleaner are dirty. When wet-mopping, the best practice is to mop backward, starting from the furthest reaches of the room, then working towards the door or entrance. Plan the cleaning route beforehand to get to every corner without having to step over already-mopped areas.

An additional tip is to go in the direction of the wood grain when mopping hardwood floors. This simple trick will give the floor a much cleaner feel.

– Wrong cleaning solution: The best cleaning solution is often the simplest. For example, a small splash of dishwasher liquid mixed with water often does the trick. It may be tempting to use a lot of cleaning solution, but overdoing it could result in sticky floors – that sticky feeling is excessive residue from the solution. For cleaning products bought from the store, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

– Too much water: The trick in mopping effectively is to use as little water as possible – just enough to wipe away stains and dirt. Excessive water will damage the floor or discolor it.

In addition, changing the water frequently is important. Dirty water in the bucket means dirty floors. If it looks dirty in the bucket, it will be dirty when swished on the floor.

– Too rushed: Take the time needed to properly clean the floor. Rushing will inevitably result in missed spots or dirt still left on the floor.

5. Can One Mop With Just Water?

This is not going to be effective in most cases. The exception is a steam mop, which technically is water, but uses very hot and pressurized vapor that can kill bacteria and break down dirt particles.

For ordinary mops, the recommendation is to use a cleaning solution rather than simply water. This need not be complicated or expensive; some ordinary dishwashing liquid would do or a little bit of white vinegar.

Be careful: Make sure to use the cleaning solution that is appropriate for the type of flooring. Many types of hardwood floors, for example, are best cleaned with wood-cleaning solutions.

6. How Often To Mop?

Once a week works well for most rooms in the house.

For the kitchen, 3-4 times a week may be better, since there is often food and drink spills. Cooking may also dirty the floors, especially when frying food. That sticky feeling on the floor after cooking is a layer of grease and oil – best to mop it clean immediately afterward.

For less-frequented rooms, such as guest rooms, once a month would be sufficient.

Be careful: It is often a good idea to immediately mop up a spill anywhere in the house. Insects and bacteria are attracted to food and drink spills and it should be a priority to get rid of them.


There it is – every type of mop for every type of cleaning. Manufacturers are always inventing new mops, so this list may grow over time. Till then, happy mopping!

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