Should I Mop With Detergent?

#CleanTok is at it again, this time with a new mopping technique. Is it worth it? Is it safe? We asked two experts about this TikTok cleaning trend.

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What will TikTok come up with next? The newest trend sweeping #CleanTok, the cleaning corner of the social media site, is mopping your floors with laundry detergent. Don’t ask me. I don’t know why, either.

Does it clean better? Save money? Let’s watch an example video first, then we’ll talk to some experts.

@eveyfairy Mopping #ocedar #ocedarmop #tide #fabuloso #cleantok #cleaningtiktok #cleaningasmr #asmr #mopping #cleaningvideo #housecleaning ♬ original sound – Evey

So does cleaning your floors this way work? Have TikTokers stumbled upon a revolutionary mopping technique, destined to change the way we clean?

“This is the Tide Pod Challenge for grown-ups,” says Melissa Homer, chief cleaning officer for MaidPro.

I guess that’s a “no.”

How It Works

Recipes vary, but most involve hot water, a laundry pod or powdered detergent, plus things like rubbing alcohol or another cleaner (Fabuloso is a popular choice).

Some use a single pod. Others, like in the TikTok video above, use a one-quarter scoop from the detergent box. Some even employ dishwashing pods.

CleanTokers place the detergent and other ingredients into a household mop bucket and add boiling water from a kettle or pot. They vigorously swish the mop to dissolve the pod or detergent and proceed to mop their floors.

People do this with wood, tile and laminate. No one mentions rinsing anything, but TikTokers often comment on the pleasing smell.

What Experts Say

Homer, the cleaning expert, doesn’t mince words: “This is not only a waste of money, it’s terrible for the floor and the environment.”

Leslie Reichert, The Cleaning Coach, dislikes it as well. “Detergents leave a film on floors, just as they are designed to do in clothing,” she says. You’ll have to rinse it off, she says, creating extra work for yourself.

Think of how much water a washing machine uses — anywhere from 14 to 20 gallons, Homer says. Have you ever seen a 20-gallon mop bucket? These big commercial ones hold about 6-1/2 gallons.

If you put a pod in two gallons of water — the size of a household mop bucket — you’re mopping your floor with up to 10 times the soap two gallons of water can handle.

“When you put too much soap in your mop water, the surfactants in the soap run out of dirt to stick to and attach to the floor instead, leaving a slippery, streaky, dirt-attracting residue that has to be rinsed off,” says Homer.

Reichert adds there’s a reason washing machines have a rinse cycle: “You need to work hard to get that film off, which means double or triple the work.”

All that extra rinsing is not only a waste of time, Homer says it can damage wood and laminate floors that absorb excess water at the seams. Hence, learning how to mop the wood flooring correctly is important.

How To Clean Your Floor the Right Way

To Homer, the most frustrating thing about this trend is that it doesn’t solve a problem. There’s no reason to do this. Proponents say there aren’t many strongly scented floor cleaners that are tough on dirt, but Homer disagrees.

Floor cleaners, like Mr. Clean with Gain, Pine-Sol Lavender and Fabuloso Professional Strength, smell great, says Homer, and clean floors better than laundry detergent ever could. They also do it for about half the money. Get to know if Fabuloso works in the toilet tanks.

Reichert prefers organic floor cleaners that rinse clean and work great. You can find her recipe in her book The Joy of Green Cleaning.

Whether you buy floor cleaners or make your own, laundry detergent just isn’t for floors. If you don’t rinse it off, it quickly attracts dirt and grime. That means you’ll mop your floors more often.

Homer puts it this way: “You’re spending twice the money to make yourself more work, all to get a better smelling floor you could have gotten by simply buying a different scent of floor cleaner.”

What if people really think laundry detergent smells better than floor cleaners? Just stick to real floor soap, says Homer, and use the money you save to buy some scented candles.

Ally Childress
Ally Childress comes to Family Handyman from the electrical industry, where she was an accomplished electrician, winning the highly competitive Outstanding Graduate award as an apprentice. Her professional electrical experience included large commercial projects such as Minnesota's US Bank Stadium, and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and several hospitals. Before becoming an electrician, she worked in food safety and water quality as a scientist and technical writer. Ally's career, spanning multiple industries and areas of the country, honed her innate sense of curiosity and her ability to connect with subject matters of all kinds and explain dense subjects to diverse audiences. Ally is her household's designated handy person and is well versed in a variety of home DIY and maintenance tasks, able to confidently clean, troubleshoot, build, install, and modify. She loves spending time outdoors, especially with her partner and dogs.