I want something better than a mop and bucket—but what is it?
May 25, 2019 2:35 PM   Subscribe

We have a "three season" room that's screened-in but effectively outdoors, with a ceramic tile floor. It is constantly filthy with pollen, blown-in dust, etc. Wet-mopping the floor with a bucket is a PITA and takes multiple buckets of water (and washing multiple mop heads) to get it really clean, so it never happens. There has to be some sort of power tool to make this easier. What is it?

I find it hard to believe there hasn't been some technological improvement over a cotton-cord mop and bucket that would make keeping an outdoor-ish floor clean easier. There are lots of "hard floor cleaning machines" but reviews seem to be mixed, and the reviews themselves seem to be pretty questionable (anything involving vacuum or cleaning-product reviews leads to lots of clickbait sites, affiliate links, plagiarized content, etc.). So I'm hoping the MeFi hive mind has some suggestions.

The goal is to let us use the three-season screened space as though it's an indoor space (without putting on shoes whenever we go out there) in the spring/summer/fall. Right now it's constantly filthy and requires shoes to go out there, so you can remove them and not track dirt/pollen back indoors. This is because nobody wants to mop the floor, a multi-hour chore that at best only solves the problem for a day or two. Wet mopping with a manual tool, while effective, is not a viable solution. We have tried all sorts of mops, including cotton-cord, sponge, etc. They all take too long, and fetching the buckets of hot water to do the job right (because again, the filth level is pretty high during pollen season) is hard work.

Indoors we use a Dyson Animal cordless stick vac every day or so, and this works well—it's lightweight, cordless, and makes keeping the floors clean basically low-effort. Ideally we'd have a similar "low friction" solution for the outdoor space, which takes no longer than vacuuming.

The space has 120V power available, so a corded solution would be viable if needed. However, cordless is preferred, since cords are just one more thing to manage (as demonstrated by the Dyson, the less friction involved in doing the job, the more often it'll get done, and the less bad the job will be each time). It does not have plumbed water; the nearest water source is a flight of stairs away. There's furniture which is heavy and hard to move, and probably not conducive to a robot like a Roomba. One section of the room has an indoor/outdoor rug, although this could be removed to leave an all-tile floor.

I've read the previous AskMes on steam mops (also) and the ones specific to hardwood floors (also). But this is ceramic, not hardwood; you could literally use a power washer or industrial steam gun out there if that was the best method, so I'm hoping there are some other options.

Would like to pay less than USD $500 but negotiable if the thing is really that good.
posted by Kadin2048 to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
We have a BISSELL CrossWave, brick floors, and messy dogs. The CrossWave is a spinning brush with a cleaning liquid spray pump, and a vacuum to extract the dirty water. It does a pretty good job on our floors, and depending on how big your room is, I bet you could clean the whole thing with one tank. It is a bit fiddly to set up and take down--you have to take the spinning brush and the filter out to dry after every use or they will get moldy. It's not too bad, but it's far from zero-effort. It handles low-pile carpet, too, so you probably wouldn't have to move your rug. We tried a steam mop before the CrossWave, but I don't understand the point. It's just spraying hot steam on your floor and then pushing around the wet muck with a microfiber pad. Without extraction, I don't see the point.
posted by tybstar at 3:00 PM on May 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

If it's effectively outdoors, any chance there's an outdoor faucet you could reach with a long hose to spray the floor down?
posted by cogitron at 3:05 PM on May 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Many of my relatives just keep pairs of sandals outside near the door. Slip the sandals on when you go out, kick the sandals off before going back inside.
posted by mundo at 3:14 PM on May 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

I wonder if a cordless leafblower would get it clean enough. My Dewalt DCBL720P1 is pretty nice.
posted by exogenous at 4:15 PM on May 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

I assume the stick vac doesn't work for this space? Even if it doesn't get it 100% clean, it would remove almost all the grime so if you still felt the need to mop, it would be a quick go-over without a significant amount of dirty water. (I vacuum my porch and virtually never mop it because I'm too lazy.)
posted by metasarah at 4:28 PM on May 25, 2019 [4 favorites]

Get an outdoor rug and use the stick vacuum
posted by raccoon409 at 4:33 PM on May 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Low-pressure (<2000 psi) pressure washer should do the trick. I use it on our lanai in FL (screened on 3 sides).
posted by sudogeek at 4:46 PM on May 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

My parents have a screened in porch like this, and it gets hosed down every month, and then has a doormat on either side of the house door, (so one outside, one inside). That's about enough to capture the worst of the dirt from getting into the main house.
posted by larthegreat at 4:47 PM on May 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

I use a broom 1st to get most of the dirt. I always sweep before mopping. Bench, someplace to keep dirty shoes/ boots. I like rugs, and thin ones are easy to take out and shake. In summer, I wash the rugs in the driveway.
posted by theora55 at 5:10 PM on May 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

I was going to say outdoor rug. A sisal one or one of the new ones made of recycled plastic.

I find it hard to believe there hasn't been some technological improvement

Me, too, but...I've tried every sort of mop, sweeper and floor-cleaning gadget and am fond of saying that the technology for mopping was perfected by 3500 BC and has yet to be superseded. Cotton rope, water, elbow grease. I've given up trying to make anything else work.
posted by Miko at 7:04 PM on May 25, 2019

Is there a reason why you're thinking mopping-type solutions rather than sweeping-type solutions? Especially if the problem is mainly blown-in dust and pollen. I'd suggest putting down fiber welcome mats outside and just inside the door to cut down on mud/wetness getting tracked in, if that is contributing to the dirt, and then switch to a primarily sweeping approach, whether it's manually sweeping, running a stick vac around, or indeed a robovac, which if you've never owned one, they actually are able to navigate furniture without moving anything (the main issue there is needing to tidy up small clutter). The nice thing about robovacs is that while there may be a few corners they miss because of furniture placement, the areas they can reach get pretty thoroughly clean because unlike most humans with a vacuum cleaner, a robovac has the patience to spend 2 hours going back and forth across a single room.
posted by drlith at 7:21 PM on May 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Great ideas so far, everyone! A little bummed there's not some magic machine out there that I'm missing (though the CrossWave looks intriguing), but at least I feel validated in my (slight, #firstworldproblems-ish) frustration.

> Is there a reason why you're thinking mopping-type solutions rather than sweeping-type solutions?

Good question. I suppose it's mostly due to allergies; I am pretty nastily allergic to pollen so I have a tendency not to want to stir it up. It's also a little 'stickier' than plain dirt. But I could always put on an N95 mask and sweep (or use a blower as exogenous suggests). I think we originally got into wet-mopping because we were trying to control and minimize the pollen dustup. But at this point I'd be fine putting on PPE and getting it clean and then waiting a few hours for the dust to settle. I do have an electric blower that I've never tried there; I might give that a shot this weekend. At the very least it'll entertain the neighbors.

> I assume the stick vac doesn't work for this space?

The Dyson works okay but not great. It leaves funny "tank tread" marks of pollen so you have to go over each area multiple times to get it, but it's what I've been doing so far this season. I have been told there's a hard-floor head for the Dyson (which we don't have) but I haven't really heard any you-must-have-it reviews of the thing. We do use the Dyson on the indoor-outdoor rug and it works fairly well, so covering more of the floor with a rug and vacuuming might be a possible solution. In my head that feels less clean but as long as it didn't track as much into the house I could deal.

> a robovac, which if you've never owned one, they actually are able to navigate furniture without moving anything

Maybe I need to give robovacs more consideration. Are there any particular brands (aside from iRobot, which I've seen) that are worth looking at? I just noticed iRobot has a mopping robot now, although it looks like sort of an automated Swiffer Wet and I assume you have to change the pads on it manually.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:23 AM on May 26, 2019

Sweep and then swiffer. Get up the big chunks, and then pass over it with a wet swiffer. No rinse needed and it pulls up all the pollen. You could do the same thing with a sponge mop. Instead of dunking it in a bucket, very lightly put just the top of it in the bucket and wring it out. You want it barely damp. Don’t use a cleaning product, all you need is the pollen to stick to the sponge so you can wash it down the drain. Let the floor air dry.

Mopping doesn’t have to be a many bucket deal in this situation.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:59 AM on May 26, 2019

Easy! You need a Sh-mop and a few Sh-wipes. Wet one Sh-wipe at a time, spray the floor with your cleaner of choice, and Sh-mop until the Sh-wipe is dirty. Then remove and replace the dirty Sh-wipe with a clean, wet Sh-wipe, and continue. No bucket , no dirty water, eco-friendly.
posted by ReginaHart at 11:17 AM on May 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

My partner has terrible allergies and can not be in the house if I vacuum but our RoboVac doesn’t bother her at all! And it somehow does a better job than the regular vacuum anyway. I think you’d love this solution as you can program it and forget about it, other than emptying the dust container. We have this Eufy Robovac (a slightly older version) purchased based on the Wirecutter’s recommendation after we tried a Roomba and hated it (and luckily could return it). I love everything about the Eufy!

It picks up very fine dust which reduced our need to mob. I think using this would make a lot more sense than a mopping robot, which definitely seem to be iffy in terms of performance.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 12:35 PM on May 26, 2019

I was also thinking that sweeping or vacuuming before mopping is the way to go. That said, I'm not sure that this would work for your setup, but if it seems doable then one thing to try instead of regular mopping is to dump a bucket or more of water on the floor, scrub a bit with a rubber mop/broom, and then just squeegee all the dirty water out the entrance (with a squeegee broom like the above or a full squeegee). That should at least be a quicker process than what you describe and there's no need to clean any mop heads.

(And this isn't what you asked, but maybe some curtains or other coverings could help tackle the problem at the other end?)
posted by trig at 2:37 PM on May 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

This device has transformed my mop game. I do actually dance a bit while using it.
posted by macinchik at 10:24 PM on June 6, 2019

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