Cleaning your home naturally is good for you and your hub. Most conventional cleaners come with toxic chemicals that can off-gas in the home creating volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that pollute the air, contributing to indoor air pollution. Along with that most cleaning tools are made from, you guessed it, plastic. It’s one reason why choosing an eco-friendly mop is so important.
Why consider eco friendly mops?
It’s interesting when you consider any plastic item that we use in our homes since the 1950s has been positioned as being more convenient, but for whom? Certainly not the planet and since we are part of the planet, not for us either. Plastic is a brilliant invention, it’s durable, flexible, cheap and can be made into just about anything. Out of all the items we buy daily, 95% have some form of plastic, including our mops.
Back in 1999 Swiffer changed the mopping game with their single-use sheets that promised to make mopping fast, efficient and fun! Such clever marketing!! Not only do we have to spend money when we need more sheets, but these sheets also can’t be recycled and end up polluting landfills.
“Swiffers are made of polyester (between celluloid and sulfur on the sequence), which is more electronegative than wood, the material of my floor. Therefore, when the two create friction, the Swiffer gains a negative charge.”
Swiffer also offers an option with a liquid mop, more toxic ingredients plus the mop and parts are all plastic and if you have ever owned one of these you know they are not built to last! So hello landfill once again. I could go on, but you get the point.
How to chose an eco friendly mop
A good sustainable mop can be a real game-changer for your cleaning routine. It needs to be durable, it needs to get into nooks and crannies, have a good grip (that’s comfy) and ideally, it leaves the floor clean.
Mop heads are made from all kinds of materials, some more sustainable than others and each one has its own pros and cons. Let’s break it down, shall we:
Rayon is one of the most common fabrics used for mops. Rayon is semi-synthetic cellulose-like nylon. It absorbs well and dries quickly. But it can also shed microplastic when you wash it.
Cotton mops are also super popular, they are the most budget-friendly mop and will absorb pretty much anything you need it to. But convention cotton comes with a whole bunch of issues. It’s heavily sprayed with pesticides. You also need to make sure the fabric is dry or it will stink and get mouldy.
Then you have mops that are a blend of cotton and synthetics and ones that are microfiber, which are very fine synthetic fabrics that are woven together, they are really tough and were my go-to cleaning must-have for years. Until I learned about microplastic. There are some sustainable mops that are made with microfiber, I will chat more about this layer on!
When choosing eco friendly mops we want to make sure that we are accounting for a few things:
Does it clean well?
What am I using this mop for?
Will it last in my home?
If it breaks, can I repair it?
When I am done with it, are there ways I can dispose of it responsibly?
Typically with all my posts related to materials I look at specific criteria, for example where is the wood sourced, if it’s cotton where and how is it sourced? Are the workers being paid well? For this post, it was very challenging to find all of this information, but there are still some great options here for you to choose from. And this is also a reminder that living a sustainable life is not always as easy as we think it is. But we do our best!
Top picks for zero waste mops
If you have a mop that works for you and is plastic, keep it. I am all for using what you already have, no need to rush and buy something new. The same goes for plastics buckets, cloths etc. But if you are in the market for an environmentally friendly mop read on.
Best Eco Friendly Mops- The Cuban Mop
If you need an affordable eco-friendly mop that is built to last give the Cuban Mop a go. I don’t know about you but some of the mops I have used have left me either struggling to lift the weight of the rope or I’m looking all over the place for matching replacement sponge mops or heads.
The Cuban Mop is the best eco-friendly Swiffer alternative, it has zero plastic and is simple in design and function which is what makes it pretty genius! It’s made from two pieces of wood or sticks that screw together to form a T. To use you simply fold any small towel or cloth (use whatever you have) over the end to create a mop end, you can use it wet or dry. When you are done with the cloth, simply toss it in the laundry. As the name suggests, it’s very popular in Cuba, South America and Europe.
It’s also very lightweight and durable and made using reusable, compostable and all-natural components. You can use it to dust and clean furniture and it’s really great for hard-to-reach places like under the bed, bye-bye dust bunnies. Oh, and it looks pretty good too!
Find the Cuban Mop at Prairie Breeze Folk Arts on Etsy, not only is this little shop adorable, but they also carry a wide range of sustainable mops and brooms for all your cleaning needs. The mop is made with Canadian sourced Maple wood. The founder is so funny and witty and calls herself the “baroness von brooms” aka “bababroom lady”. LOOOVE IT!
If you are outside of Canada, you can find the mop on Amazon.
How to use it to clean: You will absorbent rags or cloths, a good all-natural floor cleaner and the mop. Wet the cloth then add the cleaner, squeeze out any excess, then place the rag on the floor, then wrap the rag around the mop by folding each corner around the mop. When one side gets dirty flip it around, once both sides have done their job, time to change the cloth. You can also use the cloth in the same way when it’s dry in the same way that you would use a Swiffer. Once you are done with the cloths, you simply launder them.
Before you wash your floors you will need to sweep and you can use the Cuban mop for that or you can opt for a zero-waste broom. An eco-friendly broom needs to be made from natural fibers and the good news is that Prairie Breeze Folk Arts carries a huge range. Most of them made from broomcorn harvested both locally and from across North America.
“This essential household item is made using time-tested methods. The Shaker method of plaiting thread to bind the broomcorn to its handle; is done, by hand, using traditional tools. The sweep is stitched flat adding stability and durability. The flat sweep allows the broom to cover a large surface area for quick and efficient clean-ups.” These types are brooms are also available at most hardware stores. I’d use this broom over one with a plastic handle.
Another eco friendly mop option: Wood and cotton mops
You know as your granny used! Okay, I am not going to lie, these can be a real pain if you have to ring them out and if they are soaked they can be super heavy but they are still a better bet than their plastic counterpart from an environmental perspective anyway.
From a cleaning perspective, well there is a lot of debate about that and it’s one reason why there are so many options for mops on the market. These are heavy-duty though and will get the job done. So if you have high traffic and lots of mess, this might be the right plastic-free mop for you. This one from Amazon is made with cotton, wood and metal and you can replace the mop heads when needed.
How do you mop sustainably?
Fill a bucket with water, then add your cleaner. I typically use warm water.
Place the mop head into the water so it gets wet, give it a shake to make sure the water and soap get into the mop.
Wring out the mop to get rid of excess water, then mop away.
You might have to repeat these steps depending on how dirty your floor is, you don’t want to be mopping dirt all around the floor. You could also use two buckets, one for clean water and one for dirty. There are two types of buckets, metal and plastic. No matter which you buy, make sure they are built to last, a bucket can last a lifetime.
It’s a really good practice to clean your mop heads on a regular basis, this will extend their life and ensure no nasties are hiding in there. For mop heads that can be removed completely and have no metal parts, you can simply toss them in the wash, use a low speed, then air dry them.
Consider an electric steam mop
A steamer is a great option, yes it’s made from plastic, but you don’t have to use any chemicals to clean, just the steam, it’s great to clean and disinfect thanks to the water getting super hot and you can reuse the pads that it comes with. I’ve had mine for over 10 years and love it! This is the one I own. It’s so simple to use, just add water, let it get up and get mopping. Some floors don’t do well with hot steam, do your research, this is a good place to start.
I do give my floors a really good scrub, like in my hands and knees at least every few months, but for weekly use, this is it! Have you ever used a hand steamer for the kitchen or bathroom, its a must! A good steamer can reduce allergens by 99%.
You might be asking yourself are steam mops eco-friendly?
When it comes to the number of toxic cleaners we use, the answer is yes. But the production of a steam mop is about intensive one given that it is made from plastic (fossil fuels), but if you buy one, a good one, it should last you a lifetime. Mine is over 10 years old. Another example that being green is not about being perfect!
DIY Cuban mop
This is so simple, grab an old broomstick handle, it can be from an old mop, a broom even a rake. Use cloths and rags you already have, sew them together and voila! This video shows you how to make one using an old t-shirt! I just love this!
Eco Friendly Swiffer Alternative
Would be the Full Circle Mop. Full Circle Home is a B Corp certified company. Many of the Full Circle products use raw, natural materials such as bamboo, cellulose, and loofah in efforts to keep plastic out of landfills and the ocean. Their mops are made with bamboo and recycled plastic. The cloth itself is microfiber, you can also use it as a floor duster or mop, it’s got an abrasive head that can tackles tough messes and its replaceable mop head is washable.
In the USA, EarthHero caries them and here in Canada you can find the mop on Amazon. Now if you have a Swiffer handle and just don’t want to use the disposable sheets, you can always turn to Etsy to find some great zero-waste mop cover options.
Eco Friendly Sponge mop
I bought one of these 10 years ago at the Green Living Show and still have it. I bought three sponges that I keep in rotation, it’s helped them last longer and I make sure to clean and dry them thoroughly before strong them. If you don’t do this the metal can rust where it meets the sponge. The Casabella Mop is the top in this category. It has a durable steel pole and the sponge is made from cellulose, which is actually biodegradable.
Don’t use vinegar with this mop as the acid can break down the sponge. It’s great for tough jobs, I love it because you can squeeze out the water manually with the lever on the handle. The sponge is unbelievably absorbent and you can replace them when needed.
How do you clean an eco-friendly floor?
Harwood Floor Cleaner
2 cups warm water
2 drops of Sal Suds or castile soap
3 drops essential oils – I use lemon as the Sal Suds has a light line scent already
Add all the ingredients to a spray bottle
Dampen a rag, then spray the floor with the cleaner, the mop away
Remember less water is better, there is no need to saturate the floor
I don’t typically use vinegar to clean my wood, there is a lot of debate whether it’s safe or not, I find this recipe works so well. If you like vinegar, here is another recipe for pretty much any other type of floor.
General Floor Cleaner
1 cup rubbing alcohol
1 cup distilled white vinegar
10 drop lemon essential oil (optional)
10 drops tea tree essential oil (optional)
2 Gallons hot water
Mix all the ingredients into the bucket, dip the mop in and get cleaning. Don’t use this on marble or travertine, vinegar is not great for these surfaces. This recipe is great for tiles, laminate etc.
The most eco-friendly mop is the one you already own. Use what you have and when you do need to make a new purchase consider a mop that will last, which means you need to do your research. First, get to know your floor, how much traffic is coming into the home, how often do you need to clean etc.
Before buying any zero waste mop, read the reviews! These are honest (usually) testimonials of how the item works. A clean green home is after all, good for you and food for the planet.
What mop do you use? I’d love to know what has worked for you.
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