A dirty mop won't go far if you are trying to clean your floors. Don't feel bad if you just find out that your mop is in need of a good cleaning; although most won't admit it, many homeowners have overlooked this task!
The good news is that cleaning this essential household tool won't take you the whole afternoon. Keep reading to learn how to clean a mop easily.
How to wash your mop in a bucket
Using a bucket to wash a mop is a highly effective and straightforward method that you can carry out for any type of mop. Plus, you don't have to worry about damaging your mop because this method is gentle with all materials.
Also, most homeowners are used to rinsing their mop in a bucket, so using the same bucket for deep cleaning and disinfecting the mop head makes total sense—just ensure the bucket is clean!
Without further ado, set aside a little time and get ready to leave your mop spotless!
Step #1. Quick rinse the mop
A quick rinse won't clean your mop completely but will make things easier further down the road, especially if your mop is heavily soiled. Just put the mop under running water from the sink or an outdoor tap and remove dirt until the fabric changes to a clearer color.
Pro-tip: If you have a string mop, spread the strands so the water reaches deeper.
Step #2. Prepare a cleaning solution
Don't think you need to get a fancy cleaning product to leave your mop looking and smelling fresh. You already have two great options at home: dish soap and laundry detergent—just make sure the detergent doesn't include fabric softener.
Dish soap can help you with lightly soiled mops, but laundry detergent is better for heavily stained mops. Fill your bucket with warm water and add one tablespoon of the detergent you've picked.
Warning: Adding the wrong chemicals can ruin your microfiber mops. Make sure you use scent- and additive-free detergent to wash them.
Step #3. Soak your mop
Once your cleaning solution is ready, dip your mop and move it back and forth a couple of times for the loose dirt to come out. Then, let your mop soak for at least twenty minutes; this will give time for the detergent to soften the dirt stuck deep in the mop fibers.
Step #4. Rinse and squeeze the mop clean
Deeply stuck dirt won't come out from your mop without a little effort. However, if you're thinking about scrubbing it, don't; you'll damage your mop! Instead, rinse and squeeze the dirt out of the mop head.
Place the mop head under running water from an outdoor tap or bathroom sink and turn it slowly, so the stream reaches every nook and cranny. Then, stop the water flow and squeeze the mop to bring out all the dirt. Repeat the process until only clear water comes out.
Pro tip: If possible, use a hose with a nozzle attached for better rinsing. The added pressure will make water reach even deeper into the fibers, and the dirt will come out easier.
Step #5. Don't forget to sanitize!
At this point, your mop may look clean, but tons of bacteria could still live in it. Besides the obvious health implications, bacteria is one of the main causes of funky odors in many places and items in your home—including mops.
Therefore, to keep your mop truly clean, you'll need to sanitize it. Try doing the following, depending on your type of mop:
- Cotton string mops. Fill a clean bucket halfway with clean water and one cup of bleach, and soak your mop in the solution for around thirty minutes. Finally, take out your mop and rinse it under running water. Remember to be careful when handling bleach!
- Synthetic, sponge, and microfiber mops. These mops will sustain damage if you soak them in bleach. So instead, make a solution of one cup of vinegar (or 3% hydrogen peroxide) for every gallon of water in the bucket. Let the mop soak for half an hour before taking it out to rinse it.
Step #6. Air dry your mop
Properly washing is just one part of achieving a squeaky clean mop. If you don't dry your mop correctly, it will quickly re-grow bacteria (even mold) and start to smell bad again.
So, what's the proper way to dry your mop? You can always air dry it, preferably by hanging it on a clothesline under the sun. However, if you can't do this, leave the mop to dry in a well-ventilated place with the head up. If you own a cotton string mop, dry it with the strings dangling so no moisture gets trapped in them.
Warning: Don't toss your mop heads into the dryer. It can be tempting, but drying mop heads this way could damage or leave them full of lint.
Can you wash a mop head in the washing machine?
Yes! Machine-washing your mop is quicker and easier than the bucket method, but there's an obvious catch: it only works for detachable mop heads. Also, you need to check the instructions for your type of mop—cotton mops shouldn't ever be machine washed.
If your mop can be safely machine-washed, follow these steps:
- Pick a gentle cycle with warm water and toss the mophead in the machine.
- Add the laundry detergent (follow the instructions on the label) but avoid softener or bleach—softener reduces the mop's absorbency, and bleach can damage certain types of mops.
- After the washing cycle, take out the mop head and soak it for thirty minutes in a DIY solution to sanitize it. To make this solution, fill a bucket with warm water and add one cup of vinegar for every gallon of water.
- After half an hour, toss the mop head into the washing machine again for a quick rinse cycle.
- Finally, air-dry your mop under the sun or in a low-humidity room—using a dryer machine is off the table!
Warning: Make sure you don't mix your mop heads with other clothes or rags you don't want full of lint. If you have multiple string mop heads, wash one at a time. Otherwise, they could get tangled.
What can you do if your mop is still smelly after washing it?
No matter how many times you wash your mop, strong bacteria can survive multiple sanitizing attempts, growing in number over time. If your mop still stinks after washing, it means it's riddled with bacteria. Unless you want to spread germs on your floor, you must replace that mop ASAP.
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