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When it comes to cleaning your floors, it is important to use the right tools for the job, starting with the mop, and then the cleaning solution you will mix in your mop water. Standard off the shelf concentrated cleaning solutions may work well for flooring materials like linoleum or vinyl, but hardwood floors, marble, granite tile, and others may have specific requirements.
Figuring out what to put in mop water can make the difference between a clean, sparkling floor and a streaky, dull one. Also, adding the wrong cleaner to mop water runs the risk of damaging your floors. Read on to find our recommendations.
Determine the Type of Flooring
Determining what type of flooring material you have in your home is essential. Sometimes there may be different materials used in different rooms: for instance, a bathroom or kitchen may use sealed tile while the rest of the house uses hardwood. Tile can be less prone to moisture damage, so it works well in these situations.
The most common floor materials that you might use a mop to clean are:
- Vinyl / Linoleum
- Porcelain / Ceramic Tile
- Stone Tile
Laminate and hardwood flooring can be quite temperamental when it comes to moisture, so never use a completely wet mop with them – only a damp mop. For waterproof floor materials like tile, vinyl, or linoleum, feel free to use a soaking wet mop, but it may take longer to dry.
If possible, check with your floor material’s user manual to see if there are recommended methods and cleaners for mopping the floor. You can also check with a flooring specialist if you have moved into a new home and are not quite sure what the floor materials are.
Different Cleaners to Put in Mop Water
While there are many different options for all-purpose floor cleaners available at the grocery store, many everyday household items can be added to mop water instead. This can save you money, and possibly time, if you’re ready to clean your floors and realize you are out of your standard solution.
Classic Off the Shelf Floor Cleaners
- Mr. Clean (good for most applications)
- Pine-Sol (another solid all-around choice)
- Murphy Oil Soap (specifically for hardwood)
The standard dilution ratio of these cleaners to mop water is ¼ cup of cleaner to 1 gallon of warm water. They all work well at cleaning floors, but can leave residue buildup after a while.
There are many different options to floor-specific cleaners to add to mop water, and most of them can be commonly found around the house.
White Vinegar and Apple Cider Vinegar
The vinegars are acidic, and as such, do a great job of cutting through grease and grime on floors. Do not use a vinegar solution on natural stone tile floors. The acidic property can etch into the stone, ruining your flooring.
One of the great things about vinegar is that it evaporates quickly, so even though it is diluted with mop water, your floor will dry more quickly than when using some other solutions. This can also help reduce streaking.
Some people do not care for the smell of vinegar in their household. The majority of the pungent scent disappears after the floor has dried, but it can still linger for a bit. To help cover this up, consider adding a few drops of essential oils or lemon juice.
- Recommended dilution: ½ cup vinegar to 1 gallon of warm water.
A common grease-cutter, gentle dishwashing liquid like Dawn can be a powerhouse for all cleaning, even on floors. It will not have the same problem with smell as vinegar does, but the floor may need to be rinsed after mopping to avoid slipperiness and buildup. Because of this extra step, it is recommended to dilute it much more than other cleaners.
- Recommended dilution: 1-2 tablespoons of dish soap to 1 gallon of warm water
Bleach works well as a sanitizer and cleaner, but the caustic properties of it should be considered before using it. Do not use bleach on natural stone or other porous materials, and be sure that the manufacturer of your flooring does not expressly mention avoiding bleach. Definitely test in an inconspicuous area.
- Recommended dilution: ½ cup of bleach to 1 gallon of warm water
Yet another caustic chemical, ammonia can still be a great choice when it comes to removing the buildup of other cleaners that can occur with consistent mopping. Be sure to never mix it with bleach, and use gloves when handling. This should only be used once or twice a year for removing waxy buildup.
The finish on wood and manufactured hardwood flooring can be dulled by using ammonia, so look into the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Recommended dilution: 1 cup of ammonia to ½ gallon of warm water for spot cleaning, or ½ cup ammonia to 1 gallon of warm water for an entire floor.
Much the same as dish soap, laundry detergent can be used in a pinch in mop water. The same precautions apply as using dish soap as far as the possibility of having to rinse afterward. This works remarkably well on hardwood floors.
- Recommended dilution: ½ cap of laundry detergent to 1 gallon of warm water
Window cleaners dry incredibly quickly without leaving streaks, so they can work well for cleaning floors quickly. Most window cleaners contain ammonia, so be careful if using on hardwood or engineered hardwood, as they may dull the surface.
- Recommended dilution: A small amount of window cleaner added to another mop water solution that does not contain bleach.
Rubbing alcohol is something you may not consider adding to mop water, but it works as a great cleaner, especially on laminate flooring. It evaporates quickly like vinegar, but without the same smell. In our opinion, it is best used in combination with other solutions.
- Recommended dilution: 1 cup rubbing alcohol to 1 gallon of warm water, or added in another solution.
Recommended Cleaner Recipe to Put in Mop Water
With all the choices given above, our favorite solution is to take bits and pieces of our favorites and add them together. We have found that the following mixture works best on ceramic tile and laminate flooring. We would not recommend using it on natural stone tile, and you would have to test it on your hardwood first.
- 1 part Vinegar
- 1 part Rubbing Alcohol
- 1 part Warm Water
- A few drops of Dish Soap
- A few drops of Essential Oil.
When considering what to put in mop water, premade floor cleaners are handy and easily available, but we would recommend looking into the cheaper alternatives that we have listed above. Not all cleaning products are going to work the same on your particular type of flooring, and may in fact damage it, so be sure to perform your due diligence before mopping.