How to Clean a Smelly Mop – [ Quick Stinky Head Clean ] and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

One of the worst problems you can face when it comes to cleaning your home is the floor left stinkier after you mop it. A major cause behind this is a smelly mop, and this can be extremely frustrating when your cleaning tool, the mop itself isn’t clean. Most people don’t even realize the cause behind their stinky mop and end up confused about why it is always there when they clean the tool every time.

This can be even after they clean it; the foul smell won’t just go away. While it’s important to clean the mop (see flat vs spin mop), what’s equally necessary is to understand the reason behind the odour to prevent it. We already shared a guide on how to get rid of smells in vacuum cleaners, but here, we delve into how to clean a smelly mop and the measures to avoid that stench from dirtying your mop and then your floor.

How to Clean a Smelly Mop

Before cleaning the floor – see here how often to mop it – you should make sure that the mop is clean otherwise it’ll make your floor stinky as well (learn also to clean a steam mop). An easy way to get rid of the bad odor of your mop is to soak it into a chemical mixture for a while, it could be a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, chlorine bleach or you can use vinegar to get rid of bad smell. Put it in the hot water and soak the mop for a while, once you are done with it, put it out in the sun.

Here’s a detailed explanation of how you can perform these simple steps.

Step 1

Start with rinsing the mop with hot water and applying a detergent to get rid of any stains on the mop. Spread the threads while running the hot water, so the water gets into the middle, cleaning the mop properly. Rinse the mop thoroughly to make sure there isn’t any detergent left; such products can cause oily residue to build up in the mop.

Getting all of the soap out of the mop is really important otherwise, it can result in clogged up fibres and retained moisture. This can cause difficulty in drying the mop, which is an essential step. For more convenience, you can detach the mop head and place it in the bucket filled with hot water mixed with detergent, letting it soak for about 10 minutes. Then take it out for the next step.

Step 2

The second step is drying up the mop, which is an extremely important step to get your mop free of all the smell. Drying up by allowing proper airflow through the mop is crucial to clean a smelly mop. You can air dry or sunbake the mop in an outdoor area; if you do not have an outdoor space or there is not a sunny day outside, you can dry the mop by hanging it over a bathtub or a shower.

Drying the mop out in the natural sunlight is the best way to ensure a completely odour-free mop. That is because being a natural disinfectant; the sun will get rid of any smell causing bacteria on the mop. So, the sunlight is your best chance at getting a smell-free mop and also fading any stains left over it.

Step 3

After drying up the mop properly, how and where you store the mop also matters in order to keep it clean. Make sure to keep the mop off of the ground to ensure air circulation through it. If the mop lies on the floor, the airflow will be restricted, not to mention the dirt and dust that can untidy it. It’s best that you hang the mop over the ground; otherwise, all the work you did to clean it will be a waste.

Related Mop Guides: Top-rated mops for laminate floors | Best mops for vinyl floors | Dry wet mop

Using Chlorine Bleach

Chlorine bleach is an excellent disinfectant; you can use it to wash away the stains and kill bacterias that can be causing the smell. Mix the chlorine bleach in 2 gallons of hot water in a bucket and soak the smelly mop in it for 10 to 15 minutes. Chlorine bleach will disinfect the mop of any insects or bacterias, washing the stains along as well, leaving a much cleaner mop.

Other Cleaning Mixtures

If you are hesitant to use bleach because of its strong smell and corrosiveness, there are other alternatives as well. One of those is using baking soda as a substitute, mix baking soda, 2 to 3 cups, along with a half to 1 cup of salt into 3 gallons of hot water. Leave the mop to soak in the mixture for half a day. Although baking soda is a mild disinfectant, not as strong as bleach, and takes a much longer time, it does leave the mop cleaner, removing the stains.

Another substitute is vinegar or 3 % hydrogen peroxide, which is also a disinfectant. 1 cup of vinegar or peroxide mixed into 1 gallon of hot water will do the job. You can also add tea tree oil to the vinegar mixture; it is also a natural disinfectant and will make the mixture more effective. As a disinfectant, vinegar is not as strong as bleach, but it still has a strong acidic nature and will leave the mop cleaner  (vinegar is used to clean tile floors, too).

Final Words

Cleaning a smelly mop is easy, but you need to keep in mind the cause, which can get ignored, behind the foul smell. The culprit, most of the time, is unnecessary moisture, which can be a result of improper drying of the mop after washing or leaving it on the floor where it can catch moisture.

The fibres of the mop naturally retain moisture, which can cause the growth of mildew. So, don’t let the moisture sit unnecessarily and for long into the mop. Be double sure that you dry the mop thoroughly after every wash, and store it hanging off of the floor, so it remains dry. Moreover, the above measures will prove to be effective and will leave your mop clean and smell-free every time you apply one of them.


1. Why does it smell bad after I mop?

It is possible for well water to have a "rotten egg" odor, even if it is safe to drink and use. Generally, sulfur pollutants are to blame. You can add bleach to mop water for wood or tile floors to remove bacteria and mildew, which will help freshen the floor's aroma.

2. How do I disinfect my mop?

You can soak your mop head in one gallon of hot water with one cup of white vinegar or half a cup of bleach. After soaking your mop for about ten minutes, rinse and dry it. Never keep a mop head in water for more than 24 hours to prevent bacteria growth.

3. How do you clean a dirty mop?

Different mop types and materials require different cleaning methods. Most mop heads can be hand or machine washed, and some can even be tossed in the laundry. Cotton mop heads, for example, will wear out after a certain number of washes and may begin to look less than fresh. One way to keep your mop head clean and fresh is to rinse it in hot, soapy water after each use. This will help kill any germs that may have been transferred to the mop head during use. Likewise, if you're using a mop that is made of a different material, such as microfiber, you'll want to follow the fabric's specific cleaning instructions.

4. How can I make my mop water smell better?

Make your own floor cleaner with lavender oil, a mop, and a bucket. Pour 12 drops of lavender into a pail of warm water, then add one cap full of vinegar, and stir to dissolve the lavender completely. Mop the floor with the solution.

5. How do you keep from smelling after mopping?

Mopping is a very popular and much used cleaning method. However, it is difficult to always keep from smelling after mopping. Some of the reasons that help from smelling after mopping are given below:

- Sprinkle baking soda on wet areas before mopping.
- Use the best mop for your floor.
- Damp mops can be left to stay overnight.
- Add a few drops of lemon oil to the water in your bucket.
- Don't leave the wet mop standing.
- If you have a house cat, try spraying a little catnip extract around the area to be mopped.
- Use a wet/dry vacuum to clean a floor after a spill.
- Use a Swiffer Sweeper to clean hardwood floors.
- Use potpourri or wet coffee grounds to absorb odors.

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