How to Mop a Floor — Best Practices (2024)

How to Mop a Floor —Best Practices (1)

Do you want to know how to mop a floor without leaving it dirty and needing yet another clean?

Most cleaners believe that they know how to mop floors properly - just add more soap and that is the answer to all their cleaning problems...

This couldn't be further from the truth.

If you want to know the best way to mop floors then let's look at the key pieces of advice we are about to give you. Here is what you will learn:

  • Why more soap will not get your floors clean
  • Why your floors aren't getting clean on the first try
  • 3 things you can do to correctly clean your floors
  • How to use the "Napkin Test" to see if your floors are properly cleaned

Read below and start cleaning like a pro today.

How to Mop A Floor Properly in Four Basic Steps

  1. The best way to mop a floor is to start with a microfiber dust mop to collect dust and larger debris. This prevents a muddy mess when dust comes in contact with water, which results in dirty streaks. You can then switch to a microfiber floor mop for a deeper clean.
  2. When mopping make sure to adjust the handle so that it’s right under your chin. At this position your posture is straight, saving you from backache.
  3. Start mopping by working your way backward by starting in the furthest corner of the room and working your way towards the exit, so that you don't walk over the freshly cleaned area.
  4. Use a figure eight motion to clean. You do this by creating an imaginary number 8 with the floor cleaning mop. This technique collects debris more effectively and also cleans a large area within a short time.

Now let's dive into it even further to ensure you get a well mopped floor in the fastest possible time.

The Best Tools for Fast Floor Mopping

For Mopping For Wiping For Refills
Professional Microfiber Mop System 16”x16” Buff™ Pro Multi-Surface Microfiber Towel Microfiber Wet Mop Pads
From thicker pads, to stronger hardware, to rounded pad edges that clean right up to the baseboards, this system has it all. You think you know how fast you can clean, but you’ve never worked with a towel like this before. These microfiber floor cleaning pads work so great you can use them with just plain water! Of course, you can also use chemical cleaners.

More Soap Is Not The Answer!

Learn how to mop a floor the correct way, because contrary to what many out there believe, soap does not automatically make for a cleaner floor.

The only thing soap does is lift dirt and oil into water, making them suspend (aka float) in the water by using the power of something called surfactants.

Surfactants have a hydrophilic (water-loving) tail and a hydrophobic (water-hating) head and look kind of like a tadpole.

The head sticks to the oil and dirt and the tail pulls it up into the water. The longer dirt sits in soapy water the more covered it becomes with little surfactants, 'till it is coated on all sides.

This is why when you pour dirty rinse water into a sink, the dirt does not stick to the sink and slides down the drain instead.

The water you use when mopping, whether it be on the floor, in your floor cleaning mop, or in your mop bucket will eventually get saturated with dirt.

Adding to the problem, the mop pad you use when mopping will eventually get saturated with soapy water as well, often well before the water is saturated with dirt.

At either of these fail points no extra amount of soap will be able to move dirt into water or force more water into the floor mop, meaning you will just be smearing dirty water around.

What this also means is that if you don't properly absorb all the soapy water on the floor, you aren't removing all of the dirt and soap residue and it may then form streaks on your floor.

If you have laminate floors, we have a guide on how to mop a laminate floor specifically. Check out how to safely deep clean laminate floors without streaks.

18" Professional Microfiber Mop System

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This mop is a high-quality unit! The handle is made from stainless steel and is very rigid, unlike models you get from big box stores. You can bear down on it for stubborn stains and it doesn't flex. Highly recommended! - Randall Crawford

Floor Still Dirty After Mopping? Here are Two Reasons That Happens

Learn how to mop a floor correctly by avoiding these 2 mistakes:

1 - Forgetting to Rinse

Many cleaners spray a ton of floor soap, believing "wet equals clean." Then they forget to rinse out their mop pad, resulting in a floor mop that is fully saturated with dirty water. Continuing to use the mop pad on the floor leads to smearing dirt, not lifting it.

The end result is that dirty water dries back onto the floor.

2 - Forgetting to Check The Mop Pad

Many cleaners, when they encounter a very dirty or porous floor, spray more floor soap to capture the higher dirt load, but forget to increase their rinsing to match the increased soap and soil.

Rinsing out their mop pad at standard intervals, instead of checking to see that their mop is full faster than usual, results in an excess of dirty water being left on the floors.

Are You Washing Your Microfiber the Right Way?

Follow these simple washing instructions to ensure your microfiber mops continue to clean and absorb well without fail. Learn in detail how to wash microfiber here.

Three Extra Tips on Better and Faster Floor Mopping

#1: Rinse Your Mop Pads More Often

  • Dampen and wring out the microfiber mop pad in the sink
  • Spray and mop the floor in 3’x3’ sections.
  • Rinse the pad at least 2 to 4 times per floor (more if very dirty)
  • Flip the mop to inspect the pad every 2 sections.

Expert Tip: You'll know your mop pad is saturated when it feels heavy, has visibly accumulated dirt, doesn't absorb well anymore, and leaves streaks on the floor.

#2: Make Rinsing Easier

  • Use a waterproof bag or bucket.
  • Dampen and wring out multiple floor cleaning mops at once.
  • Swap mop heads quickly and easily, without leaving the room.

#3: Do the Napkin Test

The "napkin test" is a great way to see if you have cleaned a floor properly. Remember the adage:

“If the towel is light grey, you’re done for the day.

If the towel is black, it’s time to go back.”

(and rinse more, duh)

  • Use a white paper or microfiber towel.
  • Occasionally swipe the floor as you mop.
  • Check the colour of the napkin!

Of course, another test of a clean floor, is the similar post mopping White Sock Test a try.

"This is a really nice system. The mop handle is height adjustable and high quality. I can cover a lot more floor space in less time with a twenty-inch pad compared to our old system. I bought this to replace our Rubbermaid Reveal which was okay but certainly not the quality of this mop. This system is well worth the extra cost to have a professional grade product that will last for many years." - Paul Koenig, Verified Buyer

Bonus Tip: Know When To Call In The Big Guns

Sometimes, dirty floors just get out of hand and you're going to need a motorized scrubber to get them back to a clean state.

The basic instructions for a motorized scrubbing tool deep scour are:

  • Apply a heavy concentrated solution of floor soap and hot tap water.
  • After soaking, scrub up dirt with your motorized scrubbing tool.
  • Remove dirt-filled water with wet vacuum or mop.
  • Mop the floor again with fresh hot tap water to rinse residual soil and soap.

Despite your knowledge of how to mop a floor, some floors are beyond the reach of standard mopping and require bringing in extra equipment to scrub it.

The table below describes some tough floor situations you may encounter and their causes:

Floor Condition Description Cause
Discolored floor
  • Floor looks dirty even when clean
  • Loses its original shine
  • Mopping with hard water containing high levels of dissolved minerals
  • Stains caused by spills which weren’t cleaned promptly
  • Long time exposure to UV light
  • Cleaning with harsh chemicals
Grimy grout lines (on tiled floors)
  • If the color of the grout and tiles was the same, the grout now contrasts with the surrounding tiles
  • Tiles lose their original defined edges, taking on a smudged appearance
Accumulation of:
  • Grease and oils
  • Mildew and mold
  • Soap scum
  • Hardened dirt
Excess wax buildup
  • Floor has a dull or matte appearance
  • It loses traction due to the wax’s stickiness, making it slightly uncomfortable to walk on
  • Applying wax too frequently
  • Failure to remove old wax before new application
  • Failure to buff wax to a smooth finish
  • Using poor quality wax

If you're not sure how to mop a floor due to the sheer amount of dirt on it, a motorized scrubbing tool (such as the MotorScrubber or Oreck Orbiter) may be the only solution so that the floor can be mopped normally going forward.

What Should I Mop My Floors With?

The fact of the matter is that microfiber mops have been shown by the academic "American Journal of Infection Control" to be a superior tool with which to mop floors.

That why we make them!

A microfiber mop system is also easy to use because you don't need a bucket or extra equipment and the mop itself is lightweight.

Other properties that make microfiber the best for mopping floors include:

  • Picks and locks dirt well: The fibers create a static charge that attracts dirt, dust, and even microscopic allergens compared to cotton alternatives.
  • Exceptional absorbtion: Microfiber has very tiny strands that create a large surface area which means that they absorb more water than their weight, making them excellent for cleaning without leaving streaks.
  • Lint-free: Traditional cleaning cloths such as cotton fray much easily due to their fiber's composition. In contrast, microfiber fibers are long and therfore don't fray or lint unless damaged.
  • Durable: Withstands cleaning different surfaces and it also lasts over 300 washes. Their longevity saves you money and generates less waste that has less impact on the environment.
  • Chemical-free cleaning: With microfiber, you don't need chemical cleaners. The fibers can clean efficiently without detergents or chemicals.


Want to know how to mop a foor like a pro? Try these:

  • Professional Microfiber Mop System
  • 16”x16” Buff™ Pro Multi-Surface Microfiber Towel
  • Microfiber Wet Mop Pads

"I own a cleaning business. This mop [The 18' Professional Microfiber Mop System] is the best I've used. Very sturdy and love how the pads are easily attached with Velcro. Works very well as a wet mop as it does not leave the floor too wet. Very absorbent. I will be ordering again." - Leah Wilts, Verfied Buyer

Should You Mop All Floors the Same Way?

No, all floors shouldn't be mopped the same way. Each requires specific care in order to maintain its integrity.

Lets look at how to mop a floor according to its type, and the precautions to observe for each.

Hardwood Floors

Use a hardwoodfloor cleaner recommended by the manufacturer and ensure the mop is damp, or wet. Dry thoroughly to prevent the wood from absorbing excess moisture and rotting over time

Laminate Floors

You can use a cleaner specific for laminate floors or use a mixture of vinegar and water. Then dry well because laminate is also sensitive to moisture like hardwood.

Tile Floors

Since tile floors have grout, it's very easy for them to stain. Therefore, while cleaning using stain removers, choose products that wont be too harsh and end up disintergrating the grout.

Porcelain Floors

Clean with mild detergent and microfiber floor cleaning mop. Porcelain is sensitive to ammonia, bleach, and other harsh products because they discolor it.

By following the precautions for each floor type, you can ensure your floor remains in top condition, extending its life and maintaining its aesthetics.

See the Powerful Professional Microfiber Mop System

Written by

Melissa Homer
Content Contributor at
Microfiber Wholesale

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How to Mop a Floor —Best Practices (9)

Melissa Homer is a professional cleaning expert with over 20 years experience in the commercial and residential cleaning industry. She is a highly trained cleaning professional, business consultant, and educator that specializes in cleaning product testing and research, premium surface care, cleaning safety, cleaning procedure efficiency, training documentation, and cleaning damage repair. Melissa has worked for some of the biggest names in the professional residential cleaning industry, including P&G Professional and MaidPro. She has been interviewed and quoted in numerous leading publications such as Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple, Consumer Reports, Better Homes & Gardens, U.S. News & World Report, and The Washington Post.

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