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Mopping has always been one of the least looked forward to chores of housekeeping. Grandma did it on her hands and knees with a pail of water and a scrub brush, and many people still contend that this is the best way. Since grandma's time, the market has come out with tile and linoleum that is supposed to be easier to mop, and easier to take care of between mopping. Even so, a good, once a week mop is still needed to keep your floors clean and germ free. Here are some tips to make this job easier:

If you fail to seep the floor thoroughly, you're only pushing dirty water and soil around, not mopping it up. The best way to sweep the floor is not to use a broom at all, but to vacuum it before mopping. This way you will get the corners and the crud under the lip of the fridge completely. Use the hose attachment to get every nook.

You'll need to keep your mop and the rinse water clean. Again, failure to do this makes more work for you. Work smarter, not harder by rinsing your mop and changing the cleaning solution in the water often. You don't need much, but you do need to change out old water for clean often. Turn the mop over to the lighter, cleaner side often while mopping; water accumulates on the bottom of the mop, and dirt is subsequently pulled to the bottom. After you've turned to mop over two or three times, soak it in cleaning solution and squeeze out thoroughly.

The proper way to mop using a commercial mop is to go over the floor once with the cleaning solution, wetting the floor. Let it sit a moment to lift off the grime and stubborn dirt. Then rinse the mop and go over the same area again, to lift off the released dirt. If you use the figure 8 motion, you will lift dirt off more efficiently. Using a small paint scraper, you can pry off stubborn, sticky messes such as chewing gum easily. This is an old custodian trick.

You have a choice in mops that grandma didn't have. Sponge mops and string mops are great as long as they are clean and new, so change your mop heads often. Once again, failure to do this will result in the dirt being pushed around, not picked up.

The best way to dry the floor is to let it air dry. If you are in a hurry, though, "skating" across the floor in bare feet on an old towel works wonders.

If you insist on mopping the floors the old fashioned way, on your hands and knees, a foam pad, like the kind used to cushion your knees while working in the garden will lessen the wear and tear on your joints. Use a large, hand held scrubbing sponge with a green back to get all the dirt up, rinse and repeat as often as needed. You can dry the floor with an old towel as you go, too. This way when you're done, you've only had to go over the entire floor once and don't have to wait for it to dry, as you would with a long handled mop.

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