It's the go-to solution whenever there's a spillage or the dog walks mud across the kitchen. Yet reaching for the mop might not actually be the best idea – even if sailors have been doing it for centuries.
That's according to chartered environmental health practioner Dr Lisa Ackerley, otherwise known as the Hygiene Doctor, who has some strong justifications for why you should never clean the floor with a mop and bucket.
Why the mop and bucket are bad news
'When using a mop and bucket to clean your floors, you could call the task "dirtying" rather than cleaning, she tells us. 'By the end of the job, it is quite possible you are making the floor dirtier than cleaner!'
'If you don’t believe me,' Lisa continues, 'try the kitchen towel test next time you use a mop. After cleaning, wipe a paper kitchen towel over the wet surface. You will be astonished at what dirt you pick up.'
'And of course, you can’t see the bacteria and mould spores because they are invisible to the naked eye.
Bad habits won't help, either, as Dr Ackerley explains.
'Just by not removing your shoes when entering your house, some health hazards from the outdoors could enter your home and transfer into your flooring. They include bacteria such as Campylobacter, strains of E.coli and parasitic worms.'
'Whilst inside the home, other unpleasant matter can find its way onto your floor such as athlete’s foot fungus left behind by bare feet. Whilst most microbes are harmless, extra attention to smarter cleaning can help eradicate those that could cause illness.'
So if you should never clean the floor with a mop and bucket, what are those smarter options?
The Health Doctor's alternatives to the mop and bucket
Always take off your shoes at the door to avoid traipsing – it’s the easiest fix you can do whatever cleaning method you choose.
'You could try a more modern alternative to the traditional mop head and bucket, such as the e-cloth Deep Clean Mop, says Lisa. You can put the dirty e-cloth into your washing machine and wash at above 60C to kill bacteria, and dry.'
'I'd recommend a specialist cleaner that effectively lifts dirt and bacteria from the floor,' says Dr Ackerley. She's particularly impressed with the Vax Glide.
'Its double method of mechanical and antibacterial solution-based cleaning means that bacteria will be lifted off the surface and effectively poured down the drain. Which is particularly reassuring if you have small children crawling on the floor,' she says.
'And because the used, dirty water is removed from the floor and fresh solution continually applied, you are getting a most effective hygienic clean.'
RIP mop. It looks like a cleaning revolution is underway.
Amy Cutmore is Editor-in-Chief, Homes Audience, working across the Future Homes portfolio. She works on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.
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