How to Clean a Mop: A Step by Step Guide

Jeneva Aaron
Jeneva is the founder and CEO of where she provides honest and objective reviews on home and cleaning products. She is a cleaning enthusiast. She got inspired to build her own cleaning blog when she realized how cleaning can make an impact on our lives and how a cleaner home can affect a person's mood.
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Updated April 27, 2023

When was the last time you cleaned your mop?

How to Clean a Mop: A Step by Step Guide

Foot traffic can lead to a lot of germs and grime on your floors every day. That’s why mops are great tools for keeping them clean.

But, a dirty mop can end up spreading bacteria around your floors instead of providing a deeper clean. So, it’s important to clean the mop head properly.

Depending on the type of mop you have, you can clean it either in the sink or in your washing machine.

Here, we’ll show you the best way to do this.

With these tips on how to clean a mop, you can effectively remove grime and dirt from your floor. Plus, you can also extend the lifespan of your mop.

Let’s take a look!

How Often Should You Wash Your Mop Head?

How often you should wash your mop head depends on different factors. These include how large your floor space is and how much dust or dirt is on the surface.

For example, if you’re mopping floors with a high soil level, your mop will need more regular cleaning.

In any case, you should clean your wet mop or dust mop whenever there is visible soil on it. Otherwise, it will spread grime back onto your floors during your next cleaning session.

Before You Begin

Before you begin to clean a mop, make sure you consider how the mop is made. Mop heads can be made from a variety of different materials.

For example, a dust mop can be microfiber or rayon. And a wet mop may be made from cotton or a synthetic blend.

Each of these materials has different guidelines for correct cleaning and care. So always follow the manufacturer’s wash instructions for your specific type of mop.

Some mop materials are not tolerant of hot water and certain cleaning chemicals. And you may damage your mop if you use the wrong chemicals or machine settings.

You should also keep in mind that some types of mop heads are more delicate than others. In these cases, they can require washing in a netting bag for protection.

But on the other hand, just rinsing or washing your mop too gently can also leave behind germs or soils.

Both of these situations can lower the effectiveness of your mop. So it’s important to follow the proper care for your specific mop type.

How To Clean a Mop

Follow these steps to keep your mop clean so you don’t spread dirt back onto your floor.

1. Rinse Your Mop

First, make sure you rinse the mop with clear water straight away after mopping.

Whether you have a spin mop, string, or sponge mop, they all need a rinse after each use with warm water. This will get rid of traces of dust, dirt, or leftover soap residue after mopping.

Always wring the mop out as much as possible after each use. Since mops are designed to hold on to moisture as you clean, especially sponge mops, it’s important to wring out as much excess water as you can after cleaning.

Otherwise, dirty water can remain trapped in your mop. This can lead to mold and bacteria growth. And, it can also reduce the cleaning efficiency of your mop.

Finally, wringing out your mop will make it more absorbent so it collects more cleaning solution while you mop. And this will also lower the number of cleaning passes you have to make as you clean.

2. Wash Your Mop Properly

Next, wash your mop head in the sink or using a bucket. Or, you can clean a mop pad in your washing machine if it’s machine-safe.

Washing Machine

If you choose to use a washing machine, make sure you wash it separately in warm water.

Washing your mop with other fabrics will cause lint to stick to your mop head. And this can reduce the efficiency of your mop.

You should also use a gentle cycle with a temperature below 210 degrees. And keep the dryer temp between 120 and 140 degrees.

As we mentioned, high temperatures can damage the fibers on your mop. So treat your mop heads like delicates, and only dry them on low heat.

Never use a fabric softener to clean your mop because it can stick to the fibers on your mop. And this will block the mop head’s ability to trap and hold dirt and soils.

Because of this, some manufacturers recommend only using liquid detergents. So it’s important to keep this in mind if you’re cleaning your mop in a washing machine.


Some rag mops or dry mops don’t have removable mop heads. In these cases, you won’t be able to wash them in the washing machine.

If your mop head is not machine-washable, you can use hot water and dish soap in a bucket.

Keep in mind that some mop heads may not tolerate hot water and require washing in cool water. So remember to always check the care instructions for your mop before you begin washing.

Create a mixture of half water and half mild detergent in a clean bucket. Ensure you fill it with enough soapy water to cover the mop head and soak it for 30 minutes.

For a deep clean, you can also use a reliable disinfectant. Or, you can use white vinegar solution for a non-toxic and natural antibacterial and antiseptic.

White vinegar is widely used as a disinfectant for household cleaning. However, it’s important to note that the packaging can’t claim it’s a disinfectant because it’s not registered with the EPA.

Additionally, you can brush the soil from your mop head with a stiff bristle brush.

Then, rinse the mop after soaking until the water runs clear to remove leftover cleaning solution or residue.

And if your mop head is extra-dirty, you can repeat the process until the water runs clear when you rinse it.

Whatever you choose to clean your mop head, always avoid soaking it in harsh cleaning solutions. For example, avoid lye, bleach, and caustic solutions.

While your mop head may still be effective after using these, it will shorten the lifespan after a few washes. But if you still want to use bleach, make sure you use hydrogenated bleach.

3. Let it Dry

After washing your mop, it’s essential to let your mop dry completely. Any moisture remaining in the mop can cause mildew or mold growth.

So always ensure it’s dry before storing it away. This will help avoid mildew and bacteria growth and keep your mop lasting for longer.

As we mentioned above, different mop head materials have different tolerances to temperatures. Because of this, only some mops can be dried.

Otherwise, high heat settings may damage the mop fibers. And this can reduce the amount of soil it will pick up from your floor.

For best results, we recommend just air drying your mop on a clothesline.

Sunshine can also kill mold and bacteria naturally. So if you can, hang your mop head on a clothesline outside.

Otherwise, make sure you hang it in a well-ventilated area to air-dry.

4. Store Your Mop

Storing your mop also plays a role in its efficiency and lifespan.

After cleaning your mop, you should hang it up to air dry in a well-ventilated dry place. If you have a string mop, store it with the strands hanging down.

If your mop doesn’t dry completely, hanging it will reduce its chance of staying wet. And this is important to reduce the possibility of bacteria growth.

Even if your mop is fully dry, hanging it up off the floor will reduce mop contamination. And this will also reduce the likelihood of mop damage.

You should never soak your mop in a bucket of water overnight. And also, avoid storing your clean mop inside of a cleaning bucket or on the floor.

Tips To Keep Your Mop Sanitary

Keep these tips in mind to keep your wet or dry mop clean and sanitary.

  • Always replace or discard worn-out mop heads with lost strands. Lost strands can reduce its performance and increase the time it takes to get the job done. For example, a mop with only 75% of its original strands will add up to 1/3 of additional cleaning time.
  • If you’re mopping rough surfaces, clean in a direction that reduces snagging. Uneven surfaces can cause wear on your mop’s head. So if you can, try and use one particular mop on rough surfaces.
  • Cut off and remove loose strands to prevent pulling and snagging.
  • For best results, use a clean mop bucket with separate sections for dirty and clean water. Or, use two buckets when mopping to avoid contaminating your floors with dirty water.

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