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The Cuban Mop: The Near Perfect Cleaning Tool You’ve Never Heard of (and How to Use It)

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The Cuban Mop: The Near Perfect Cleaning Tool You’ve Never Heard of (and How to Use It)

December 26, 2018

When it comes mops, I have a hate-hate relationship. Either I struggle to wield the heft of rope mops or find myself searching in vain for matching replacement heads for sponge mops. Plus, both models are really hard to clean. I often feel as though I’m just spreading the dirt around. Finally, for dust bunnies under the bed, I’ve long been searching for an alternative to the widely used Swiffer, with its plastic parts and expensive non-eco-friendly disposable cloths.

Enter the Cuban mop. Its genius lies in the simplicity of its design—no bells and whistles, just two sticks that screw together into a T. It’s inexpensive, lightweight, easy to use, and a cinch to clean: just throw the soiled towel in the washing machine. Because it uses any old rag, I’ll never again have to trek from hardware store to hardware store for a matching head. And I can use it wet or dry. (Bye-bye Swiffer.) The wooden Cuban mop is also, in my opinion, the most aesthetically pleasing of mops. Since it’s made with all-natural, reusable components, it’s among the most eco-friendly mop options. In fact, it just might be the perfect tool.

Here’s how to use one.

Photography by Justine Hand for Remodelista.

What is a Cuban mop?

As the name suggests, the Cuban mop enjoys widespread use in Cuba, as well as other parts of the Caribbean, Latin America, and Europe. Simply crafted, it consists of two poles, often wood, assembled to form an inverted T. To use, one folds any small towel over the end to create a mop head. A Cuban mop can be used wet or dry.

What You’ll Need

Cuban Mop supplies

  • Cuban Mop: I bought my Cuban Wood Mop Stick from the Cuban Food Market via Amazon for $17.95. (Note: Some Amazon reviewers were unhappy with the quality and size of this mop, but I bought it because there are not a lot of options out there. Though a bit crude in terms of finishing, my mop works great and is still nicer to look at than most. The handle, though admittedly short for taller folks, is the same length as my commercial sponge mop and is an inch longer than a Swiffer. In my opinion, this version is worth the money, but I can see an opportunity for someone to improve on craftsmanship.) You can also try a Quickloop. Though smaller than a Cuban mop, it features an easy ring to secure your cloth; $16.
  • Absorbent Cotton Rag or Towel: I bought these Cuban Style Cloths, again, on Amazon for $16, but any old rag will do. (Note: The product sample image on the Amazon page shows yellow stripes. The ones I received, shown, have blue stripes.) You could also use any of our favorites. See: Object Lessons: The Humble Cotton Cleaning Cloth.
  • Cleaning Product: I use Rubio Monocoat Natural Soap; it’s a ready-to-mix concentrate for cleaning oil-treated floors.

How to Use a Cuban Mop

My neighbor and model, Lizzie, gets the cloth ready.
Above: My neighbor and model, Lizzie, gets the cloth ready.

Step 1:

Wet any absorbent, medium-size cloth—an old hand towel, dish rag, or even an old cloth diaper will work—with your favorite cleaning solution. Squeeze out the excess liquid, and lay the towel on the floor.

Note: If you want to use your Cuban mop with a dry rag, skip this step. For dust bunnies and other Swiffer-like tasks, try a microfiber cloth.

Wring thoroughly.
Above: Wring thoroughly.

Step 2:

Wrap the cloth around the Cuban mop as follows:

Place the mop head in the center of the wet rag or towel.
Above: Place the mop head in the center of the wet rag or towel.
 Starting with the bottom edge, fold one corner over the top of the mop head.
Above: Starting with the bottom edge, fold one corner over the top of the mop head.
Repeat this fold on the other side.
Above: Repeat this fold on the other side.
Fold the top corners toward you.
Above: Fold the top corners toward you.
Then, lifting the mop head slightly, move the mop toward you just enough to capture the loose ends.
Above: Then, lifting the mop head slightly, move the mop toward you just enough to capture the loose ends.

Step 3:

To use, simply push the mop along the floor, being careful not to lift it off the floor. When one side gets dirty, flip the mop and use the other side. Once both sides are soiled, remove the cloth, rinse, re-wet with cleaning solution, squeeze, and rewrap.
Above: To use, simply push the mop along the floor, being careful not to lift it off the floor. When one side gets dirty, flip the mop and use the other side. Once both sides are soiled, remove the cloth, rinse, re-wet with cleaning solution, squeeze, and rewrap.

(Lizzie, shown using the mop, is tall, about 5’10”. You can see that she is able to effectively use the mop, though a longer handle would be more comfortable for her.)

Cuban Mop DIY rinsing

How to Clean the Cuban Mop

To clean your mop between uses, simply remove the cloth and toss in the washing machine. Easy and eco-friendly.

The right tools always make housework less of a chore. Here are more of our cleaning favorites:

N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on May 22, 2018.

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