The Best Wet Mop

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After considering hundreds of wet mops and spending six hours testing eight popular models (and five buckets), our picks are the O-Cedar Microfiber Cloth Mop and the O-Cedar Quick Wring Bucket. This duo beat the competition at sopping up rank gutter water, spilled cups of Coke, and every other test we tried.

Our pick
O-Cedar Microfiber Cloth Mop
Exceptionally absorbent on spills, able to scrub stuck-on dirt, compact, nimble, and economical, it’s all you can ask of a mop.

The O-Cedar Microfiber Cloth Mop is sturdy, light, nimble, and a superb performer—the best in our test at absorbing spills and scrubbing stains and stuck-on debris. Its long handle is simply built, slim, and stiff. With a lighter overall weight than its competitors, mopping with it is less strain on your back. It’s easier to store than other mops thanks to a collapsible handle with a unique hook. Its synthetic head dries in less than 24 hours, it doesn’t develop a smell, and in a pinch, works as a dust-mop too. With an inexpensive, replaceable head that’s machine-washable and -dryable up to 100 times, it’s seriously thrifty—as little as 7¢ per cleanup.

Also great
O-Cedar Quick Wring Bucket
Light and compact, with a clever wringer that can be removed for general tasks, this bucket is basic and well-balanced.

The O-Cedar Quick Wring Bucket is everything you could wish for in a mop bucket. Its 2½-gallon capacity can hold enough water for any job, but it weighs less than 20 pounds when full, and is easy to lift out of a sink and move from room to room. Its compact, rectangular shape doesn’t waste closet or cabinet space, it’s easy to pour, and its stable design is less likely to slide or spill than others we tried. Its built-in wringer works beautifully and is also easily removable, converting it to a general-purpose bucket.

Runner-up
Libman Wonder Mop
Not quite the performer that our pick is, the Libman has one key advantage: you don’t need a bucket to use it.

The Libman Wonder Mop is a classic for a reason: It works. Not quite as well as our top pick, but better than most other competitors. It has one key advantage: Its built-in wringer doesn’t require a separate bucket, and you can wet, rinse, and wring it in the kitchen sink.

Table of contents

Why you should trust us

I realized I actually didn’t know how to mop properly after I discovered a world of custodial training videos on YouTube. After watching half a dozen of them to get the basics, I contacted a pair of noted experts.

I spent nearly an hour on the phone with Ron Wright, who has spent the past 25 years as CEO of WrightCo Environmental Services, a consulting and custodial-training firm that exclusively serves the child-care industry. An expert on sanitation and sterilization best practices, he offered deep insight on mop styles, proper mopping techniques, and methods of minimizing cross-contamination when cleaning kitchens and bathrooms. I found Ron through my own reporting, but was gratified when I later reached out to ACE New York, a highly regarded nonprofit that trains formerly homeless people for custodial jobs: They suggested I contact one of their best training partners—Ron Wright.

I spoke with Mark Warner, senior training specialist at the Custodial Management Institute. CMI is a leading industry association that offers training to workers and in-depth seminars on regulations and best practices to plant managers. Like Wright, Warner offered deep insight on (and a winning enthusiasm for) proper mopping and sanitizing.

I also talked to cleaning expert Jolie Kerr, author of My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag…and Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha. She’s written about every conceivable cleaning topic for Jezebel, Deadspin, New York Magazine, and Esquire—and although she prefers cleaning her floors by hand, with a bucket and rags, she’s tested mops of every sort and helped me narrow down my criteria.

Our testers included Sweethome writers Lesley Stockton and Michael Sullivan, who have extensive professional cleaning experience in the restaurant trade.

How we picked

We sought true wet mops designed to soak up messes and scrub stains.
Starting our survey with the hundreds of mops available from Amazon and others, we conducted enough research and reporting to narrow the field based on price, overall design, style within the wet mop category, material (of both head and handle), and manufacturer reputation.

Price was an early consideration: Most mop-and-bucket combos are between $40 and $60, so we capped our search at the higher end. Beyond this point, you get into commercial/professional systems, with their big yellow 5-gallon buckets and heavily constructed mops—more than almost any home-dweller needs. Below that price range, you get into no-name cheapo models with dubious credentials, and we didn’t think the small savings—$5 or $10 on average—were worth the potential downsides, especially for tools designed to spread the already-low upfront costs over years of service.

Warner, Wright, and Kerr all agreed that microfiber was the way to go.
We sought true wet mops designed to soak up messes and scrub stains in kitchens and bathrooms. That criteria eliminated spray mops, as well as specialized models designed to spread sealants or polishes. It also eliminated most flat mops. Despite how they’re marketed, flat mops generally can’t be wrung out—which you need to do whether you’re sopping up a spill or doing a whole-floor cleaning (i.e., wet mopping), and they’re usually used dry (on dust) or damp (to pick up incidental stains and dried spills). We made an exception for Swiffer’s wet-pad version: Even though the wet pad is a thin fabric sheet—versus most flat mops’ thick mat of microfiber tendrils—the company is so dominant in the cleaning market that we felt we had to test it.

Within the wet-mop category, you find a wide range of styles and materials: sponge mops, spin mops, string mops, cloth mops. Sponge mops use a sponge (obviously) to absorb stains and spills, and typically have a built-in mechanism that wrings by folding the sponge in half. Spin mops use short fibers mounted to a wide plastic head, and employ a bucket-mounted centrifuge to wring water out of the mophead. String mops use long ropy cords, and typically have a handle-mounted wringer that tightens and twists the strings to squeeze water out. Finally, cloth mops use broad fabric strips, and may use a handle-mounted wringer or a bucket-mounted colander to squeeze water out of the mop-head. None of these designs stood out in our reporting as obviously superior, so we tried each.

Wet mops also come in a range of materials, in both the handles and the mopheads. Our experts advised against wood handles—they can swell, split, splinter, and harbor bacteria—so we restricted our search to metal, plastic, and fiberglass handles. Mopheads can be made of cotton, nylon, rayon, mixed fibers, or microfiber. In the surprisingly wide world of mopping, each has a role.1 But after I laid out our specific aim—to recommend a really excellent, unfussy, economical wet mop, designed to clean kitchen and bathroom spills and tracked-in muck in a typical home—Warner, Wright, and Kerr all agreed that microfiber was the way to go.

Microfiber is made of polyester and/or polyamide, both of which are synthetic materials, and these extremely fine-diameter fibers tend to have high absorbency, durability, washability, and non-biodegradability. That combination makes microfiber an excellent mop material. It captures dirt and dust and draws water out of even tiny crevices (e.g., grout lines); it soaks up a lot of liquid and stands up to hard scrubbing; and it’s machine-washable, and therefore economical in the long term (and it hardly breaks the bank to begin with). Plus, it won’t rot and stink.

It turned out virtually all the most popular wet mops on the market are made of microfiber, have metal or synthetic handles, and are either spin, string, cloth, or sponge mops—so our initial narrowing of the field still left us with dozens of mops to consider. Next, we limited our search to manufacturers with a strong reputation, wide availability, and good user reviews. We leaned toward manufacturers we liked in other guides (like our broom, dust mop, and dustpan guide). We generally aimed for candidates with a minimum of 400 reviews and at least four stars (out of five), though we made exceptions for new products from known manufacturers.

Based on all these considerations, we picked 10 finalists, and settled on eight to test—all top-rated, and all 100 percent microfiber—in four styles: three spin, two cloth, and one each string, sponge, and flat, from Swiffer, Casabella, OXO Good Grips, O-Cedar, Joy Mangano, Mopnado, and Libman.

One last thing: Most of our test mops came with a dedicated bucket, or had a companion bucket sold separately. The materials and function—is plastic, holds water—were simple and similar, so we evaluated them based on other details of design, like volume, weight, comfort and stability when carrying and pouring, size/storability, and additional utility for non-mopping jobs.

How we tested

We devised a series of tests, from the most basic (ease of assembly, comfort in the hand) to the everyday (cleaning minor spills and sticky stains) to the extreme (soaking up putrid New York City gutter water by the cupful). We used the mops dry (as they would be if you grabbed them out of the broom closet to soak up a spill) and wet (as if you were doing a deep kitchen or bathroom cleaning). And we made sure to have a range of people test them—men and women, big and small, homeowners with ample storage space and apartment dwellers without a lot of room.

As a first step, I simply put the mops together—they almost all came in pieces—and noted the ease or difficulty of doing so. Sweethome writers Lesley Stockton and Michael Sullivan and I then spent an hour just handling the mops to produce a baseline judgment of their ergonomics and their design strengths and weaknesses. At this point we were basically taking notes—not dismissing anything, but marking down initial points of praise or concern. Heavy? A negative. Nimble? A plus.

We then moved onto the mopping itself. Throughout, we used the mops as directed by the manufacturers (when guidance was given) or as our experts advised. For the sponge and spin mops, that meant wiping back and forth in overlapping strokes; for the cloth and string mops, it meant wiping straight along the baseboards, and then mopping the floors in a tight figure-eight pattern—for more on our mopping methods, see how to mop like a pro.

Our test space was a kitchen and living room with engineered hardwood flooring (a sealed hardwood layer on top of a composite base). We started with the mops dry, simply considering how they felt when held and swept around. Then we filled the buckets with plain water, wetted and wrung out the mops according to the manufacturers’ instructions, and re-wiped the floors to see how the mops’ characteristics changed with the added weight and friction. (Microfiber works by mechanically scrubbing up stains and physically absorbing them, and generally does not require detergent. Our test mops are 100 percent microfiber, so all our tests were done with plain water.)

I took a quart-sized container out to the curb, scooped up salty, icy, gritty, oily New York City slush, brought it inside, and dumped it on the kitchen floor.
At the same time I judged the buckets on similarly utilitarian physical criteria: size and weight (both empty and filled), balance, complexity, and general usefulness—essentially, whether or not their design meant they could function as everyday buckets for non-mopping jobs. For the spin mops in particular, which to work properly require the mophead to fit completely into a bucket-mounted centrifuge, I paid special attention to whether any strands hung outside, and whether the centrifuge sprayed any water onto the floor or kept it all in the bucket’s confines.

I then hung up the mops in our test space’s bathroom to dry for 36 hours, and checked all the mops for dryness. All but one was completely dry, so this didn’t prove a big differentiator; the outlier was still very damp (but at least it had no smell).

Our pick going to work on a puddle of pomegranate-cherry juice. Video: Michael Hession

I then tested all the mops on more demanding performance. After all the initial mopping, our floors were dirt-free, but a recent blizzard had created perfect conditions to mess them up again. I first tracked filthy meltwater into the test space and tested the mops’ ability to soak up these spot-spills with the mopheads dry. Then I took a quart-sized container out to the curb, scooped up salty, icy, gritty, oily New York City slush, brought it inside, and dumped it on the kitchen floor, a measured liquid cup at a time, to simulate a dropped glass or ladle. I tested all the mops’ ability to absorb the dirty snowmelt and capture the grit, oil, and ice particles. I repeated this test first when they were dry, then when soaked in plain water and wrung out.

Next, I pitted them against two sugary spills—a quarter-cup of Coca-Cola (which I allowed to dry for 30 minutes to a gummy consistency), and the same amount of pomegranate juice—on our engineered-hardwood floors. I scrubbed the soda with the mops damp with cold slush-water (to see how well they worked when already laden with dirt and water, as they would be during a long mopping job). On the juice, I used the mops soaked and wrung out using clean hot water (as on quick jobs).

At this point, we had a consensus leader. So I put it to further tests on a tiled kitchen floor, against basic dirt/splatter/sidewalk-salt issues and against stuck-on food. I then machine-washed and -dried the replaceable mophead twice to test for basic durability (its claimed life is 100 wash/dry cycles). Lastly, I tested it as a dust mop, first with the mophead dry and then lightly dampened with water from a spray bottle.

Our pick

Photo: Michael Hession

Our pick
O-Cedar Microfiber Cloth Mop
Exceptionally absorbent on spills, able to scrub stuck-on dirt, compact, nimble, and economical, it’s all you can ask of a mop.

The O-Cedar Microfiber Cloth Mop is sturdy, light, nimble, easy to assemble, and a superb performer. It did a better job of soaking up a large spill than any other mop in our test—and did so when dry or damp. It excelled on basic cleanup and on sticky spills, on both wood and tile floors. And it performed reasonably well as a dust mop. Its long handle and cloth-mop design mean you stand upright when working, reducing back strain, and its collapsible handle—with a unique hook—is easier than other mops to store. Unlike many of its competitors, the O-Cedar is simple in design, with no moving parts to operate or break. Finally, the head is both replaceable and machine-washable and -dryable (up to 100 times, according to O-Cedar), which breaks down to about 7¢ a cleanup—so beyond being a standout performer, it’s seriously thrifty.

No mop in our test did as well as the O-Cedar at cleaning up a large, messy spill. With the mophead dry, it completely soaked up a cup of water, slush, grit, and grime with a few figure-eight twists of the microfiber strips. With the mophead damp (soaked and wrung), the process took a little longer, but it still absorbed the whole spill quickly and without any special effort. And it did as well on a quarter-cup spill of Coke. The O-Cedar’s performance surpassed other string/cloth-mops (Joy Mangano, Libman), which took somewhat longer and left a bit of grit behind; the spin-mops (Mopnado, Casabella, and O-Cedar Quickwring), which smeared the liquid around before soaking it up, and never captured all the grit; and the sponge and flat mops (OXO and Swiffer), which spread the whole mess like paint, and never fully absorbed any of it.

Our testers universally preferred cloth mops like the O-Cedar to spin, sponge, and flat mops.
The O-Cedar did just as well on spot cleanup of slush I tracked into the test kitchen, absorbing drips and wet footprints in a single pass. On the sticky spill, it had no trouble dissolving the dried Coke within a few strokes, and it left no residue behind, either when dampened with dirty, cold snowmelt or after a rinse and wring with clean, hot tap water. In truth, most of the mops (Swiffer and OXO excepted—see “The competition”) did fine on this test, and the difference came down to a preference for the O-Cedar’s design and lighter weight.

To set up the O-Cedar Microfiber Cloth Mop, you simply unlock the telescoping handle with a counterclockwise twist, extend the upper handle to your preference for length (it maxes out at 58 inches, long enough to be comfortable for someone over 6 feet tall), and lock it again with a clockwise twist. The design is sturdy—even under significant pressure, the handle didn’t shift or collapse during our tests—but it weighs just two pounds after being wrung out, so it’s nimble, too. That’s much lighter than the similar Joy Mangano, a lumbering 3¾ pounds when wrung out. For storage, the O-Cedar’s handle collapses down to just 34 inches—a handy space-saving option that many other mops lack. Last, the hook at the top of the handle lets you hang it for drying and/or storage—and no other mop in our test has one.

The O-Cedar can function as a dust mop, too. Photo: Tim Heffernan

Our testers universally preferred cloth mops like the O-Cedar to spin, sponge, and flat mops: with long handles (in the 5-foot range), they’re designed to be used while standing upright, using the hips and torso to turn the mophead in a small figure-eight pattern. Among the cloth mops, we preferred the O-Cedar’s thin but grippy handle to the Joy Mangano’s slick, fat one and the Libman’s slick (also thin) one. The other styles have shorter handles (generally a little over 4 feet) that force you to lean over and push the mop in long back-and-forth strokes, causing strain on the back and arms.

The simplicity of the O-Cedar’s design is another positive. Other manufacturers, with their overly complex mops would do well to emulate the minimalist approach: With no moving parts and just two strong, screwed-together joints, the O-Cedar is virtually fail-proof.

The O-Cedar’s mophead consists of microfiber fabric strips that are—a key detail—looped. Instead of being attached to the handle at just one end, like cheap cotton mops, the strips are attached at both ends. That’s a feature of many commercial mops, and it’s valuable because it keeps the strips from tangling when mopping and washing. The Joy Mangano, another string/cloth mop, is also looped; the Libman, the third of this style in our test, isn’t—and indeed, we ran into a few tangling issues with it.

On a tiled floor, the O-Cedar maintained its track record, rapidly wiping up winter salt stains and stovetop splatters (including oily drips). And by scraping with the edge of the plastic mop socket, it was able to pry loose stuck-on bits of food.

After being machine-washed and –dried twice—cold water, detergent, low heat, no fabric softener (which ruins microfiber)—the O-Cedar mophead showed no signs of deterioration beyond a bit of fading. Whether it will last the claimed 100 wash-dry cycles is another matter, but the start was promising.

A quart of New York City gutter slush. Photo: Tim Heffernan

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Finally, with the mophead completely dry, the O-Cedar was tried out as dust mop. (Not its job. This was a tacked-on experiment, to see if our pick could do double duty.) It did OK, picking up cat hair well but only spreading grit (mostly kitty litter) around. Lightly dampened with plain water from a spray bottle, it did better, grabbing both hair and grit. A true dust mop (like our pick, also by O-Cedar) is superior at this job—the wide, flat head sweeps broad areas of floor with each stroke—but this wet mop can stand in for one in a pinch.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Almost all the negative Amazon reviews of the O-Cedar focus on problems with the telescoping handle; overall it gets 4.2 stars (out of five) across more than 400 reviews. Some users were unable to get the handle to extend, and others could not get it to collapse back down. We had no problems with either, but it is definitely true that the handle sections can lock very tightly. It doesn’t take much force to lock them firmly in place—just “finger tight” was sufficient throughout our mopping sessions. Really cranking down is unnecessary, and makes it very difficult to unlock the sections.

A Bucket that’s just right

Tiny and mighty: The O-Cedar Quick Wring bucket (center) is smaller than its competitors, but holds more water than most of them. Photo: Michael Hession

Also great
O-Cedar Quick Wring Bucket
Light and compact, with a clever wringer that can be removed for general tasks, this bucket is basic and well-balanced.

The O-Cedar Quick Wring Bucket, designed to work with our mop pick but sold separately, is our hands-down recommendation. Unlike any other bucket we tested, its built-in wringer is removable, converting it from a dedicated mop bucket to a terrific general-purpose one—so it’s really two tools in one. When paired with the O-Cedar mop pick, the wringer is simple to use and has no moving parts to break, unlike others we tested. It also has a handy notch for holding the mop upright when not in use. It’s stable, comfortable to carry when empty or full, compact for storage, and easy to pour thanks to a finger grip on the bucket’s bottom.

The O-Cedar’s wringer performs beautifully, and it was simpler and tougher than others we tested. Video: Michael Hession

The O-Cedar’s wringer is a marvelous piece of engineering. Containing no moving parts, it’s instead a flexible one-piece plastic basket, pierced and folded like origami. When you press the mop into it, the bottom flexes downward and the sides move inward, squeezing out the water. It performs beautifully, and compared with the spin-wringers in our test, it’s far simpler and inherently more durable—no unlocking and relocking and no multiple moving parts like pedals, axles, and bearings. This is also more stable—it stays still when wringing; others wanted to skid across the floor.

At 2½ gallons, the O-Cedar Quick Wring bucket offers an ideal combination of sufficient volume and manageable weight when filled (roughly 21 pounds). It can hold enough water for even a major cleanup, but it also lets you use less water when tackling small jobs—its narrow, vertical form means water gets deeper, not wider, as you fill the bucket, so even a quarter-fill is enough to saturate a mop or cloth. And refilling it with clean water frequently—according to Jolie Kerr, the most important factor in thorough mopping and other cleaning tasks—is quick due to the small size.

The bucket itself weighs just 22 ounces, less than 1½ pounds—the lightest in our test—so you’re never lugging around a lot of extra weight. Its rectangular shape “respects space limitations,” in Sweethome kitchen writer Lesley Stockton’s words: It’ll fit under any sink and doesn’t waste space the way round buckets do. (It measures just 14 inches in the longest dimension, smallest in our test; the biggest was 20 inches.) Finally, a small pocket thoughtfully molded into its base acts as a grip, making it easier to tip the bucket when pouring out wastewater.

We just wish it had basic molded-in gallon measurements—to make it easier to mix volumetric cleaning solutions. That would be the icing on the cake.

A nice mop, no bucket necessary

Runner-up
Libman Wonder Mop
Not quite the performer that our pick is, the Libman has one key advantage: you don’t need a bucket to use it.

The Libman Wonder Mop’s green handle and built-in wringer have been a familiar kitchen presence for decades. Like the O-Cedar’s, its metal handle is strong, light, and nimble, though it’s not quite as long (52 inches vs. 58 inches). In testing, we found it worked generally well: The mop readily absorbs spills and scrubs stains, and the built-in twist-wringer does its job. It just didn’t work as well as the O-Cedar at any of these tasks, its closest kin in design. One key difference: The Libman’s microfiber strips aren’t looped; they’re just ribbons of fabric attached at one end. That made for some tangles. However, because the wringer is built-in, you don’t need a bucket to use the Libman—you can wet it, rinse it, and wring it under a sink or tub faucet. That makes it advantageous for seriously small living spaces.

How to mop like a pro

Ron Wright teaches his workers a specific technique for using cloth mops like our picks. First, you run the mop along all the baseboards and into the corners of the room you’re cleaning—he compares it with “cutting in” when painting. Then, having created a clean area all around the perimeter, you work back and forth on the rest of the floor. While standing upright, turn the mophead in overlapping figure-eight patterns, using your hips and shoulders more than your arms—a much less fatiguing motion than the “paint rolling” forward-and-back motion that many people—me included—instinctively use. The figure-eights serve another purpose: By constantly gathering the mess inward, they eliminate streaks and the need to do a second pass.

Turn the mop-head in overlapping figure-eight patterns—a much less fatiguing motion than the “paint rolling” forward-and-back motion many people instinctively use.
Wright’s advice matches what we heard from Mark Warner of Custodial Management Institute, and what Sweethome writer Lesley Stockton was taught by an “ancient porter” on her first job as a restaurant cook, as well as what Sweethome’s Michael Sullivan (another restaurant veteran) was taught by his dad—a Navy man with much experience swabbing decks.

Wright and Warner both recommended keeping two mops—or at least two mopheads—one for the bathroom and one for the kitchen, to eliminate the possibility of bringing bathroom pathogens into the cooking area. Many mops, like O-Cedar, offer replacement heads.

Warner noted that much of the country—certainly the Northeast and Midwest—gets four different, seasonal types of dirt that concentrate in entryways: minerals (various salts) in winter, wet soil in spring, dry soil in summer, and organic matter (rotten leaves) in fall. For the most part, water is all the cleaning solution you will need to clean them up.

By contrast, Warner pointed out, kitchens endure both organic soiling (spilled food) and cooking oils year-round. To clean these, Kerr recommends augmenting the water with a bit of ammonia (say a couple of capfuls per gallon or a glug per bucket), and Warner recommends a glug of ammonia plus a couple drops—literal drops—of general-purpose detergent (Warner mentioned Dawn and Mr. Clean). Ammonia cuts grease, and leaves no residue; detergents surround food and dirt particles and make them physically attractive (as in Newtonian physics, not amor) to microfiber, increasing its ability to absorb messes. What you don’t want is a pile of soap suds: it’ll leave soapy residue behind and necessitate a rinse-mopping.

To sanitize a bathroom—where pathogens, not dirt, are the main concern—Warner and the Custodial Management Institute prescribe a 1:100 mix of household bleach and water, which works out to roughly (and aiming high) 3 tablespoons per gallon, or a little less than ½ cup per 2½ gallons (our bucket pick’s maximum fill). That solution will kill 99 percent of germs. To utterly sterilize a bathroom, Warner and the CMI recommend a 1:10 ratio—but warn that it’s strong. “That’s way way people from the CDC bathe when they’re jumping into a Hot Zone,” Warner said. ”Anything stronger than that’s just gonna fry your nose, and you won’t be able to taste dinner for two days.”

Regardless of which ratio you decide on, never, ever mix ammonia and bleach directly—or even use the same mophead, no matter how well-rinsed, in separate solutions that contain one or the other. The combination produces chlorine gas, which is deadly enough that it was used as a chemical weapon in WWI.

Lastly, Kerr notes that “the single most important thing” you should do when mopping is replace the mop-water often. Microfiber can absorb a ton of dirt, but eventually you’ll simply be swishing dirty water around.

The competition

The Mopnado Stainless Steel Deluxe Rolling Spin Mop and bucket combo and Casabella Spin Cycle Mop and Bucket are, respectively, one of the best-selling and top-rated mop systems on Amazon, and a very similar offering from a highly respected manufacturer. (Casabella makes our favorite dust broom.) They are so similar, in fact, that they can be reviewed together.

Simply put, they are too much—too big, too heavy, too complex. The problem isn’t mopping performance per se—the mopheads actually work pretty well. It’s the mop handles, the buckets, and the spin mechanisms. Using the spinners is far too hard—you have to step on the wet mopheads to lock them, then unscrew the bottom shafts (without accidentally, easily unscrewing the upper sections), pump the handles to make the wringers spin, and then reverse the whole process. Also, the mop handles come in multiple pieces that are too easy to accidentally unscrew while using the mops.

The Mopnado has the biggest bucket we tested (20 by 13 by 11½ inches, 5.1 pounds), and the Casabella the next largest (19 by 11½ by 11 inches, 4.6 pounds); compare these numbers with the O-Cedar bucket’s (14 by 10 by 11 inches, 1.4 pounds). Yet because they can barely be filled halfway (the wringer, which obviously has to stay above water, takes up the top half of the bucket), they actually hold less water than the O-Cedar, meaning more-frequent refills. And unlike the O-Cedar, their wringers can’t be removed, meaning they’re single-purpose tools that take up a ton of valuable closet space (they’re so big they cannot fit easily under most sinks). Both buckets also feature unnecessary gizmos. Each has a tiny soap dispenser that’s fussy to refill, and in the Mopnado’s case incredibly fussy to remove for refilling. (Squirting detergent from the bottle is much easier.) The Casabella has a silly drain plug, a tiny drawer whose purpose is unclear (replacement mopheads don’t fit in it). The Mopnado has a fold-out pull handle that’s so short you have to bend over halfway and crab-walk when you use it.

The O-Cedar EasyWring Microfiber Mop and Bucket Floor Cleaning System is cut from the same cloth as the Casabella and Mopnado, though the bucket is slightly smaller (18 by 11½ by 12 inches, 3¼ pounds) and much more streamlined. It has no unnecessary gizmos, and the wringer is much simpler to use: Place the mop in it, pump a pedal on the bucket, and allow the handle to rotate in your hands. But, as with the Mopnado and Casabella, the spinner can’t be removed, and the bucket can only be filled halfway—so it’s another single-purpose space-waster. As well, when the bucket is filled with any amount of water, it tilts forward about 20 degrees, and feels like it’s about to nosedive when you carry it. The unique, triangular mop-head is a clever concept—theoretically making it easier to mop along baseboards and into corners—but in practice we found it constantly caught on the floor, jarring our wrists.

The Joy Mangano Miracle Mop is, like our top pick, a long-handled mop from a well-regarded manufacturer. Beyond that, the comparisons end. It weighs almost 5 pounds wrung out, versus the O-Cedar’s two pounds; its handle is fat and as flexible as a noodle, instead of trim and stiff; its telescoping mechanism is fussy instead of intuitive (you have to lock and unlock the sections with narrow collars that blend visually with the handles). We found its built-in wringer effective but tricky to master (you unlock the wringer, pull the mop strands tight, and twist to wring them out, then reverse the process to start mopping again). And it was the only mop that failed to dry over the course of 36 hours, instead remaining very damp. A reviewer on Home Shopping Network—the main Joy Mangano retailer—sums it up: “Too tall, too clunky, too heavy, awful.” And with just 2.2 stars (out of five) across more than 2,400 HSN reviews, that’s a common opinion.

The Joy Mangano Miracle Bucket, on the other hand, is quite a nice tool—if you need a seriously big bucket. Holding up to 4 gallons, it’s almost twice as voluminous as our pick. And it has a number of thoughtful details: a molded-in measuring cup to help dispense detergent in precise amounts; molded lines demarking 1, 2, 3, and 4 gallons; and a padded handle with a notch to hold a mop upright when not in use. Virtually nobody needs a bucket this size, but if you do, it’s a good one. (The bucket has no wringer, however, so it can only be used with mops that have wringers built in.)

The OXO Good Grips Microfiber Sponge Mop is somewhat misleadingly named: It’s just a plain sponge mop with a thin layer of microfiber glued to its face. In practice, the microfiber layer was not thick enough to pick up grit (unlike the generous microfiber cloth loops of our pick), and the sponge was slow to absorb spills. It left wet streaks behind when we tried to mop up a 1-cup spill, and required a second pass to clean them up. The wringer mechanism is effective, but with multiple moving parts, we worry about its longevity. There’s no reason to really hate the OXO; there’s also no reason to love it.

We did not test two other finalists: the Twist & Shout Mop and the Rubbermaid Self-Wringing Ratchet Twist Mop. Though both have top-notch user ratings, we had concerns. At the time we were ordering test models, the Twist & Shout was out of stock at Amazon and the other top retailers, leading us to worry about availability. As it follows the basic spin-mop style (in function and size, of both mop and bucket) we suspect we would have rejected it anyway. But it will be included in our next test if the supply problem has been solved. The Rubbermaid is physically similar to the Joy Mangano, so we expect it would suffer some of the same shortcomings. It is also a blended-fiber mop—not fully microfiber—meaning it is likely designed to both mop up messes and spread floor coatings; for this guide, we focused on mops designed exclusively for mopping up messes, at which pure microfiber is tops for home use.

Finally, to reiterate: we categorically dismissed flat mops, like the popular Starfiber Starmop, because they’re really designed to be used dry (on dust) or damp (on incidental stains). They can’t be wrung out, so they’re really no good for the deep-cleaning and spill-sopping that wet mops excel at. (Our pick for flat mops is the O-Cedar version—it’s brilliant on dust/dander when used dry and on incidental stains when dampened with a sprayer.)

What about the Swiffer Sweeper and WetJet?

Because Swiffer is so popular, we tried hard to find a reason to like it—we thought a Swiffer might trade weaker performance for greater convenience to help people in a hurry. It didn’t.

We thought a Swiffer might trade weaker performance for greater convenience to help people in a hurry. It didn’t.
The Swiffer Sweeper Cleaner Dry and Wet Mop is not a wet mop, despite what Swiffer says. It’s a dust mop that also comes with three disposable presoaked mop pads. The wet pads start out saturated and can’t be wrung out, so they are physically incapable of wiping up spills and in fact leave streaks of cleaning fluid behind. The dry pads have the weight of toilet paper, and can barely absorb a tablespoon of liquid. The incredibly flimsy handle doesn’t let you scrub with any vigor on sticky messes and dried-on food. The scent of the cleaning fluid elicited universal disgust—rotten apples, skunked cider, and green-apple Jolly Rancher. And here’s the thing: the “convenience” of the disposable pads doesn’t save time. It costs time. You have to open a wet-pack, install the pad by shoving its corners into little grippy holes that catch the fingers, attempt mopping the mess, and then undo the process and chuck the pad. Swiffer’s convenience also isn’t cheap. Jolie Kerr: “Why would you not just grab a bottle of all-purpose cleaner and a paper towel and just use that?”

Last, when we said we eliminated spray mops, we were talking about the iconic Swiffer WetJet primarily. It’s one of several. They are designed to dust and wipe hard floors, can’t be wrung, and lack the thick absorbent material needed to sop up spills and deep-clean floors.

Footnotes:

1. Some materials we dismissed are better for commercial/industrial applications. Ultracheap cotton string mops, for example—“rotten cotton” in Ron Wright’s phrase—are designed to be bought in bulk and disposed of; they tangle when washed, dry slowly, and turn stinky when damp. Rayon is a poor absorber but a great releaser of liquid, so it’s ideal for spreading floor wax, as on school and hospital floors. Jump back.

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