Sprays, Sponges and Strings: Just Say No
Of all the household cleaning chores I’m not a fan of, I must say mopping is right down there among my very least favorites. Oh sure, I appreciate having a clean floor that my bare feet won’t stick to. And I realize the importance of keeping the floors clean for my kids, Jack and Rachel. But honestly? I can find better ways to spend my time than mopping.
That said, when I do manage to make time for mopping, I want it to be as fast and easy—but still effective and safe for my family—as possible. In researching “what’s the best way to mop” I’ve discovered that’s a really broad category. What works best for my tile and laminate floors may not work as well on hardwoods or vinyl. And if you’re looking to avoid chemicals and go with water only, the choices are narrowed only slightly. Here are three broad categories of mops, and a few pointers I discovered about each one.
Having a combination of tile and laminate in my home, I used to be intrigued by the convenience of those mop systems that come with a bottle of cleaning solution which you snap onto the handle and squirt as you go. However, I’ve now discovered that, hello, those solutions contain chemicals, like ethanol, that I don’t necessarily want on my floors. And they’re packaged in plastic too, which adds to the already massive problem of too much plastic in the world.
Plus, I personally know people who have used these types of mops and been frustrated when the handle breaks during day-to-day use.
And, finally, the disposable pads required by these types of mops are not only expensive, but they’re also not made for large areas, so you have to keep replacing them as you work your way from room to room. Worst of all, they’re also unsustainable because valuable natural resources like trees are used in their manufacturing. So, no thank you to the squirt-as-you-go.
To avoid the spray mop dilemma, I could go back to my old “yacht mop”: you know, that stringy contraption you have to lug around with a pail of soapy water? Sort of like a sailor swabbing the decks? While the enduring popularity of this mop is undeniable, there’s also no denying that it can leave a residue of dirt and sticky soap unless you rinse your floor extremely well. And with a job and kids and pets and . . . (I’ll let you fill in your own blank), who has time for rinsing? Plus that mop bucket is heavy! So no thank you, Mr. Stringpole.
While sponge mops are not as heavy as string mops, and arguably the wringer device on them makes them easier to use, they pose their own set of problems. For example, you will probably still need to lug a heavy bucket of soapy water—or at least rinse the sponge regularly if you’re using only water.
Also, the sponge itself can harbor bacteria (actually, so can the string mop) and should be replaced every six months or so. This can get expensive (and very frustrating if your specific replacement sponge is no longer available). Finally, sponge mops may not be as effective for scrubbing, nor as durable—especially on rougher surfaces like slate. So no thank you, Sir Sponge-Mop.
At the end of the day, I’d still prefer not to have to mop at all. But that’s not likely to happen. Thankfully, my microfiber mop system is the next best thing. Stay tuned; I’ll soon share why I love it.