Guide to 6 Different Types of Mops

flat mop

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

You can only avoid mopping for so long. The question then becomes, what type of mop do you need? While there are tons of mops on the market, they actually all fall into just a few categories. Here's how to narrow down your search by determining what type of mop is best for your floors.

Flat Mops

Flat mops are a popular and common type of mop with a flat head that usually has a disposable or reusable pad that attaches to it. These kinds of mops have become the go-to mop for most regular and everyday mopping chores.

Flat mops are great for cleaning, especially on a daily basis. They are easy to use and require little effort to set up. Flat mops work well at cleaning corners, although they may have trouble scrubbing stuck-on food particles without pretreatment. They also store easily and aren't too expensive to buy or replace.

There are two great benefits to flat mops:

  • Flat mop heads can easily be laundered in the washer and dryer, making them the most sanitary mop option.
  • Flat mops tend to hold less water than their counterparts, which is very helpful when you are trying to restrict water usage on floors that super susceptible to water damage, like laminate and wood floors.
flat mop

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Sponge Mops

Sponge mops consist of a spongy head that usually has an attached wringer. They may have removable heads that allow for easier rinsing and replacement when necessary. Sponge mops are great for cleaning tile and other uneven surfaces. However, you need to properly maintain and care for them to avoid the spread of bacteria. Rinse the mop completely when you finish the floors, then place it upright in an area where it can completely dry. A wet mop will breed bacteria. When the sponge on the mop begins to break apart, or if the mop begins to smell or discolor, replace the mop head.

Dust Mops

Dust mops can be used to clean floors, walls, ceilings, and light fixtures. Usually, these types of mops have a long handle, allowing you to reach corner cobwebs and dusty fans. Dust mops can be made from a variety of materials including, lambswool, microfiber, and synthetics. They are used for dry cleaning and aren't usually meant to be a wet cleaning tool. The mop heads may be disposable or reusable; make sure to wash and dry reusable dust mop heads separate from the other laundry.

String Mops

Traditional cotton string mops are great to use because of their absorbency and scrubbing power. They mops make getting into corners a cinch but can often be more difficult to wring out and maintain. These mops tend to fall apart more quickly and can be a pain to wash and dry fully. They are very inexpensive, though, and do a great job at cleaning floors.

string mop

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Strip Mops

Synthetic head wet mops are often in strips with a built-in wringer. These mops are not as absorbent and able to scrub as one made out of cotton, but they are more convenient and easy to care for. They still do a fantastic job on floors and sometimes have a little more scrubbing power than flat mops. These mop heads dry quickly which makes them less likely to get smelly or gross. 

Steam Mops

Steam mops are electrical appliances that have a refillable tank for water. It heats up the water, turning it into steam that is released by a trigger; the steam sprays through a reusable mopping pad onto the floor. Steam mops are fantastic because they clean and disinfect. They are, however, more expensive than traditional mops and may not be the best choice for some floor types.

steam mop

The Spruce / Margot Cavin


Steam mops can cause significant damage to laminate and wood floors, especially if left in one spot too long, as well as cause skin burns if not used with care. Be sure to read the manual carefully so you don't destroy what you meant to clean.