TikTok Swears By Mopping Floors With Laundry Detergent. Here's What a Cleaning Expert Has to Say.
Ever heard of #cleantok? From cleaning hacks to life-changing household products, this hashtag provides endless ideas to make your home gleam (and introduce you to all kinds of how-did-I-live-without-this products, like the famous Pink Stuff). That said, not every cleaning hack is worth the effort, and there’s a new #moptok trend that could use a warning label: mopping your floors with laundry detergent.
First and foremost, what is mopping with detergent supposed to do, anyway? Devotees say it makes their floors shine better than specialty floor cleaners, and it can be cheaper, too (particularly if you use Tide Powder, as many TikTokkers suggest, and are using the same detergent for your laundry as you do your floors—multipurpose cleaning FTW).
A budget-friendly cleaning hack that actually works? It seemed too good to be true. That’s when we turned to Melissa Maker, founder of Clean My Space (and the hit YouTube channel of the same name, which has more than 1.7 million subscribers) who explained that mopping the floor with laundry detergent can be a very useful hack. But there are some crucial things to consider, like when do your floors need a deep clean? And are there certain types of flooring where detergent should not be used? Maker broke it all down for us.
When should you give your floors this kind of deep clean?
“When I see this hack, I always wonder, ‘why are we disinfecting our floors in the first place?’” Maker says. Often, the creators behind viral #cleantok videos are “going into extremely dirty situations that perhaps hadn't been cleaned in a long time… it's very satisfying to see a before and after, but unless your home looks like that, you likely don't need to use something as powerful or aggressive as what they're doing,” Maker explains. So, she says the first question to ask is: Why are you disinfecting your floors in the first place? “If you're doing a post-COVID cleanup, that’s a situation that disinfecting would make sense.”
Does using detergent *really* clean your floors more efficiently?
“There's no doubt about it, using powdered Tide [on your floor] works,” according to Maker. “It has a very positive reading online, people love it—Go Clean Co is very famous for it—so it obviously works…I don't think there's anything wrong, but I would say if you have hardwood, marble or natural stone floors, or you don't like using harsh chemicals, you can consider other alternatives.”
What kind of floors should not be cleaned with detergent?
“If you installed lovely hardwood floors, and you're using bleach and laundry detergent to clean them, your flooring manufacturer probably wouldn’t be very happy,” Maker says. She also warns that “you would just about ruin any natural stone with a laundry detergent solution.” So, what are the alternatives? First, Maker says, “steam is really great for natural stone,” where a good steam cleaner will “melt away grease and grime, and kill bacteria and viruses.” In terms of hardwood, Maker says, “the best thing you can do is check with the manufacturer of your flooring.”
Is it safe?
The bottom line is yes. “I recommend you take the same precautions that you would with any product that you’re using around pets and kids,” Maker says. Unless your children are regularly licking the floors (which is a bigger issue), it’s totally safe to mop with detergent. “I always stick to simple stuff; I have a cat and a three-year-old, so I'm more comfortable using something simple on my floors,” she adds. While every floor is different, Maker usually sticks to a DIY solution of water, vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and essential oils (for smell).
Is there a right time to use this hack?
Maker says that if the situation calls for it, and your floors can handle it, mopping with laundry detergent can be very effective. “If you haven't cleaned your floors in a year, this could definitely be a useful method,” she says, though she also warns: “One of the things that I've seen over and over and over again in many forms on TikTok is the overuse of products and mixing products that aren't necessarily safe to be mixed together... If you live in an average suburban home with two kids and a dog, you probably don't need to take such a vigorous approach to clean.” Her final verdict? “I always believe that less is more, and I would prefer to use less stuff, and basic stuff to get the best results in the least amount of time.” Instead, Maker recommends sticking to simple, DIY solutions that are custom-tailored to your floor (see: DIY Floor Cleaners for Hardwood, Laminate, & Vinyl).