How to Use a Dust Mop Correctly

Someone using dust mop on hardwood floor

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One of the simplest floor care tools, a dust mop is a long-handled mop that is used to remove dust and small particles of debris from floors and hard-to-reach places like ceilings and walls. Also known as a dry mop, a dust mop is meant to be used dry, never wet.

Available in a range of sizes—from 60-inch-wide industrial mops to 10-inch home mops— dust mops are a valuable and necessary tool in the care of hard surface floors. They are easy to use and, if used daily, can be the first line of defense in protecting hard surface floors by removing dirt and grit that can scratch and damage floors. Dust mopping can extend the time between when more thorough floor cleaning is necessary.

The Evolution of the Dust Mop

Early dust mops were designed with a large, flat head that was pushed over the surface of a floor. The head was covered with cotton or wool yarn strings that picked up dust, lint, and hair. A swivel joint at the point where the mop head joins the handle allowed the mop to move more easily around furniture and reach spots with limited access.

The heads of the first mops were permanently attached to the handle and were cleaned by taking the dust mop outside and shaking it to remove the dust. Eventually, the dust clogged the fibers, and the mop had to be soaked in a bucket of soapy water to get it clean.

Many of today's dust mops are made of microfiber materials that attract and hold onto dust with heads that have removable covers that can be tossed in the washer for cleaning. Some handles are adjustable to make using the mop more comfortable.

The introduction in the mid-1990s of disposable electrostatic cloths for dry mops, like Swiffer, revolutionized dust mopping. While more expensive per use than a washable dust mop head, they offer a level of convenience that may encourage more frequent use.

How to Use a Dust Mop

The keys to successful dust mopping are using a clean mop head and keeping the mop head flat against the surface of the floor.

  1. Assemble the Mop

    If the dust mop has a removable head, make sure that it is clean, completely dry, and reassembled tightly. If the mop uses disposable cloths, attach the sheet as recommended by the manufacturer.

  2. Remove Obstacles

    For the most effective cleaning, remove small area rugs and mats, trash cans, and clutter from the floor.

  3. Work in an Even Pattern

    Place the mop head flat against the floor as close as possible to one edge of the room. Make long, straight passes to the other side of the room. Repeat by slightly overlapping the passes and keeping any debris in the front of the mop. Try to maintain contact between the mop head and the floor, and keep it as flat as possible to prevent spreading the dust and dirt.

    If the mop head fills with dust before you complete the task, take it outside to shake out the debris, or replace the removable head or disposable cloth with a clean version.

  4. Remove Any Debris

    If there is a pile of dirt or other debris left on the floor when you have finished dry mopping, use a broom and dustpan or vacuum to remove it from the floor.

  5. Clean and Store the Dry Mop

    Once you have finished dry mopping, take the time to clean the mop so it is ready to use for your next cleaning session.

    For mops with a fixed head, take the mop outside, and shake it vigorously to remove the trapped dust, lint, and hair. If the mop head is removable and washable, place it in the washer or laundry hamper. Follow the manufacturer's directions for washing and drying. If you are using a disposable dry-mopping cloth, toss it in the trash.

    Hang the dry mop for storage to prevent the matting of the fibers on the mop head.

    Tips for Using a Dust Mop Correctly

    • Use both sides of disposable dry mopping sheets before you toss them in the trash. When one side of the sheet is covered with dust, carefully flip it over, and reattach the sheet with the dusty side toward the mop. Both sides attract dust and hair, and you can clean a larger area at half of the cost.
    • If you are out of disposable sheets, a microfiber fuzzy sock can be used in a pinch to get rid of dust and hair. Slip the sock over the mop head, and dry mop as usual. Toss the sock in the washer when you're finished.
    • When buying a dry mop with a removable washable head or cover, buy an extra head at the same time. While one is in the laundry hamper or washer, you will have a clean head so can complete your dry mopping chores.