Sticky Floors after Mopping: How to Clean + Remove Sticky Residue

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sticky wood floor with mop

When you mop your floors, you are likely thinking about how they’ll look and smell after. But what about how they feel?

More often than you think, mopping leaves a sticky residue on your floors, leaving them feeling less than perfect. This happens on wood floors, tile, vinyl, or even laminate. Sometimes, there, are common-sense fixes, but sometimes, the reasons are more complicated.

So, how do you remove the sticky residue from your floors? Start by understanding what caused it.

Causes of Sticky Floors after Mopping

Sticky floors occur when you use the wrong floor cleaner, leave behind too much cleaning solution, or don’t rinse with clean water after mopping.

These are the “big three” reasons you’ve got that sticky feeling after a thorough cleaning:

1. Use of wrong floor cleaning solution

Normally, while cleaning, you’d use a simple soap mix. Most of the time, this will work fine. But if you have a particularly sticky stain, you’ll need special chemicals to get them off.

For different types of tile, vinyl, laminate, and wood floor stains, you’ll need chemicals to match the type and content of the stain.

The basic rule for removing sticky residue is to use a floor cleaner with the opposite pH to the sticky stain. For example, an acidic cleaner does a better job at cleaning alkaline (basic) dirt than when you use a base to clean a base. If you use similar pH levels for dirt and the cleaning agent, you’ll likely still have stickiness afterwards.

This means you may need a different cleaner for your kitchen (oil and salt residues) than the front of your home (dirt). Certain types of soils may also require special floor cleaners such as Pine-Sol.

Similarly, it’s important to match your floor type to your chemicals. When buying a cleaning agent, it’s best to ask the vendor for a floor cleaning solution that works well for your type of floor, or check the product description.

There are cleaners that may work for tiles, for example, and not work for bamboo floors. In fact, the wrong chemical floor may not just leave your floor sticky – it could damage the floor.

See More: Best Hardwood Floor Cleaner Solution

2. Too much cleaning solution

Most people think that using tons of floor cleaning solution will lead to squeaky-clean floors. This is usually not true and can easily lead to a sticky residue after cleaning.

When you use too much cleaner, the excess creates a soapy residue that is sticky to the feet – especially when haven’t rinsed enough after.

The solution is simple: follow the instructions on the label.

Most cleaner bottles come with measuring caps. Ensure you use the cap and follow the recommended amount of cleaning agent for the stated amount of water.

Read More: How to Clean Bamboo Floors Without Streaks and How to Clean Vinyl Floors

3. Use of dirty water to clean the floor

If you clean the entire house with the same bucket of water, you’ll end up with a messy, dirtier, and sticky floor especially if it is wooden, tile, or laminate.

The problem with this routine is that your water will get dirtier as you go since the mop picks up dirt and dumps it into the water in your bucket.

Technically, you’re not actually cleaning the floor but transferring the dirt to new places on the floor. Even when you decide to rinse the floor with clean water, you’ll be skipping the most important stage of the cleaning process which is the cleaning itself.

The clean water won’t remove the dirt meant to be removed by chemicals in cleaning agents. As a result of this, you’ll have a greasy and sticky floor.

To remedy this, you need to change the cleaning water each time you see it get dirty. This can be when it changes the color significantly or when you see lots of debris floating on top or at the bottom of the cleaning bucket.

A good rule of thumb for keeping your floors from being sticky: change your water with each new room you clean in your house.

Similarly, after cleaning the whole floor, use clean water to rinse it. Change this water the moment you notice it’s become soapy or dirty.

If all that seems like too much work, you can go for microfiber mops. They’re better at holding onto dirt than other mops. This means they won’t release the dirt into the water to make it dirt.

There are also options that don’t allow clean and dirty water to mix. If you can find this setup, you’ll save lots of time and get great results with your cleaning.

How to Clean Sticky Floors and Remove Residue

Personally, I recommend using a good steam mop to clean any residue and get rid of sticky floors that happen after mopping. However, you can do it in other ways especially if the sticky residue is visible in patches that may just need scraping off.

Here’s how to clean sticky floors and remove residue:

1. Get a clean mop and a bucket of warm water for mild stains (or hot water for an extremely sticky floor).

2. Add an appropriate amount of the best floor cleaners designed for your flooring type.

3. Moisten the mop and wring appropriately depending on your flooring type.

4. Rinse your mop frequently as you clean. Pay attention to most sticky areas until done. Dump out dirty water as you go, ideally every time you change rooms.

5. After mopping, rinse your floor with a bucket of clean water as you check for sticky parts and residue left.

Tip: For residue and sticky parts left after this step, consider, repeating from step 1 and adding half a cup of ammonia and one cup of vinegar in step 3. This will leave your floor flawless.

6. Allow the floor to dry or use a dry microfiber mop or a soft cloth or towel to spat it dry.

How to Clean Buildup on Wood Floors : Wood Flooring

Steam Mops

If you can afford it, I am a huge fan of steam mops.

Steam mops are among the best cleaning equipment for floors. With a great steam mop, you can save a lot of time when cleaning your floors and with great results.

Besides time, you won’t need to rinse the floor again when you use a steam mop.

The other advantage of a steam mop is that it kills germs and other harmful microorganisms from the floor. The heat from the water is enough to eliminate a large percentage of the microorganisms on your floor.

The main downside to using a steam mop is that it may harm some floors if they’re not properly fitted. In particular, I wouldn’t recommend them for traditional wood floors.

See more: How do Steam Cleaners Work?

Preventing Sticky Floors

With the right cleaner for your floor and a reliable process, you can remove even the stickiest stains from your floor.

However, sticky stains get worse over time as they calcify into the floor. To save yourself the headache, make sure to always clean up spills as soon as they occur.

Like with many home issues, the best protection is prevention.

Read More: How do you Clean Hardwood Floor? Fixing the Cloudy Look

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Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

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