A mop in a bucket with its dryer

A mop (such as a floor mop) is a mass or bundle of coarse strings or yarn, etc., or a piece of cloth, sponge, or other absorbent material, attached to a pole or stick. It is used to soak up liquid, for cleaning floors and other surfaces, or to mop up dust, or for other cleaning purposes. The word (then spelled mappe) is attested in English as early as 1496, but new refinements and variations of mop designs have been introduced, from time to time. For example, American inventor Jacob Howe received U.S. patent #241 for a mop holder in 1837 [1] and African American inventor Thomas W. Stewart (U.S. patent #499,402) in 1893.[2]



Classic yarn mop for wet use

A classic round yarn mop for wet use

In daily speech, the term "mop" has been used in reference to a yarn mop. The mop (eye) consists of thick lengths of yarn (about 25 cm / 10 in) or, in newer models, soft strands of water-absorbing fabric. A yarn mop is usually mounted on a long (about 1.5 m or 5-foot) handle with a threaded-screw end on which the mop can be fastened by turning it clockwise.

To clean a floor, the mop is soaked in a bucket of water, into which some cleaning solution has usually been added, and swept against the floor surface. Some buckets include a wringer to strain excess water from the mop, to control the amount of water transferred to the floor. Leaving excess (contaminated) water on the floor will result in a dirty residue.

Dry-mop, dust-mop

Flat mop for dry or wet (pre-moisting) use. Open end yarn with microfiber. Velcro back.

A dry-mop or dust-mop is designed to pick up dry, loose contamination such as dust, earth and sand from the surface of the floor. It consists of yarn and/or microfiber and is used as a first step in cleaning a floor.

Professional dry mops consist of a flat sheet of micro fiber textile or sheets with a surface of looped yarn, usually about 15 cm wide, and comes in variable lengths (usually 30 – 100 cm).

The dry-mop can in many instances replace a broom and has the ability to hold a limited amount of dust or sand within itself. Ideally, it should be machine washed when it becomes saturated with dust. Another option is using a vacuum cleaner to suck surface dust away from the mop, however this is limited in its effectiveness.

Single-use dry-mops are also available and widely sold.

Wet-mop, moist-mop

A wet mop or moist mop is, in professional cleaning, used as in the second step in the cleaning of a surface. The wet mop is swept over the surface to dissolve and absorb fat, mud and dried-in liquid contaminations. Professional wet-mops consist of a flat sheet of microfiber textile or a sheet with a surface of looped yarn (which might contain microfiber as well), usually about 15 cm wide, and come in various lengths (usually 30 – 100 cm).

Mops for pre-moisting

Manual pre-moisting of wet-mops in bucket.

Professional flat mops are made for pre-moisting. Mops are pre-impregnated with an ideal amount of water mixed with an appropriate amount detergent. This means that the cleaner does not need to bring any additional water on the cleaning trolley. This ideal amount is often recommended by the manufacturer in terms of weight percent of water per weight of the dry mop, for example "175% water per weight of the dry mop".

Mops for pre-moisting are flat sheets of (often microfiber) textile, usually about 15 cm wide, and comes in variable lengths (usually 30 – 100 cm). Mops for pre-moisting are fastening on a handle with a flat pad mount with the aid of velcro or a pouch on the mop, in which the pad on the handle fits.


Pre-moisting can be done with a special washing machine or by hand by simply folding and packing the mops tight in a container and pouring the measured amount of water over them. The mops will then need about 5 – 10 minutes for the liquid to distribute evenly in their tissue before use.

  • The cleaner does not have to have a bucket of water with him/her when sweeping the floor, but simply carries an appropriate amount of mops. This means the weight of the equipment can often be kept lower.
  • The risk of over-wetting the floor and leave pools which collect dust is eliminated if the wetting is ideal.

Hot mop

The hot mop (or steam mop) follows a similar concept to a steam iron. After adding water, the water is heated to make it exude on top of a floor, which can then be cleaned without using a cleaning solvent. These can work best on surfaces where a regular mop would also be used, such as bare floors, hearths, and laminate.


A syntho-mop such as the Scooba is not considered a mop, because even though it performs the same function as a traditional mop, the lack of hand operation makes it ineligible for status as a mop.[3]

handles and mounting

Mop handles From left: Classic yarn mop handle made of aluminium (thread mount), unadjustable aluminium handle for velcro mop (50 cm), unadjustable aluminium handle for velcro mop (60 cm), scale included for reference.

A mop handle consists of a long piece of wood or aluminium tubing fitted with some kind of mount for the mop. The handle can be attached for mounting a mop on it by means of:

  • screwing (as with the classic yarn mop)
  • velcro (as with many professional flat mops)
  • pouch (as with many professional flat mops)
  • clamp
  • hanger (with strands doubled over the hanger)
Detail of mop mounting piece (blue plastic) and mount
Velcro mop with mount

Traditional Construction

In her book “Maggie's Memories” Margaret Wadkin (late of Hickling, near Melton Mowbray) describes the use of a mop nail for constructing home made mops from old pieces of cloth during her village childhood in the early 20th century. "The mop nail was made by the blacksmith (if there are any still around, they will be antiques). This nail was several inches long with a point at the end and a flat head a couple or so inches wide., we would stand the nail on its flat head, cut pieces of old material into squares and push over the sharp end of the nail and when enough fix a piece of leather, then push the sharp point into the mop stale or handle. There was a knack of twisting these mops over the wrist to swish away surplus water, every woman could use one of these useful mops."[4]

See also


  1. ^ U.S. Patent 241
  2. ^ U.S. Patent 499,402
  3. ^ "Scooba mop",, retrieved on 2008-10-10.
  4. ^ Maggie's Memories. Childhood Memories of Hickling. Privately published memoirs

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  • Mop — Mop, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Mopped}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Mopping}.] To rub or wipe with a mop, or as with a mop; as, to mop a floor; to mop one s face with a handkerchief. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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