Who Invented the Mop? (Invention Timeline Explained)

Cleaning is an integral part of our daily routines. We must maintain our homes’ cleanliness for our safety, physical health, and mental wellbeing. Similarly, a clean and organized workplace helps boost productivity and creativity. Studies have shown that cleaning is an excellent way to distress and refocus. Luckily, because of technology, we now have all sorts of tools that make cleaning easier, faster, and fun!

A cleaning cupboard won’t be complete without a floor mop. A mop is a tool used in cleaning floors. It has a long handle with an absorbent material attached at the end. Some mop heads are made of cotton, while others are made of microfibers. Mopping your house’s floors will make them clean and sparkly. This article will walk you through the history and development of this essential cleaning tool.

Who invented the mop?

There are a lot of debates about the actual inventor of the floor mop, but three names always pop up – Thomas Steward, Samuel Fuller, and Charles Wheeler. Technically, Thomas Steward was the person who patented the modern-day mop design.

The mop’s key contributors (and evolution)

  • Ancient Greeks
    Cleaning Technique

    Greeks were known for being meticulous in cleaning their homes and temples. They used a sponge or fabric attached to a stick to clean their marble floors and counter space.

  • English Housewives (1700)

    The English housewives used a device called a mopstick. It is basically a wooden stick with a sponge or cloth at one end. They used it with soap and hot water to remove stains and dirt on floors.

  • Charles Wheeler (1876)
    Mop and Bucket

    Charles Wheeler, an American inventor, invented the mop and bucket set. This is the first version of the modern-day mop. The set includes a mop (stick with strings at the end) and a bucket for soapy water.

  • Samuel Fuller (1896)
    Sponge Mops

    Samuel Fuller improved the traditional mop and bucket set/ He attached a sponge instead of strings at the end of a wooden stick. This new erosion made cleaning floors more effortless and more effective.

  • Thomas Steward (1893)
    Modern Mop

    The design of the mops that we usually use now was patented by an African-American inventor named Thomas Steward.

When was the mop invented?

The ancient Greeks first used mops, but Thomas Steward patented the modern mop’s design in 1893.

A brief history of the mop

Keeping things neat and in order has been part of people’s routine since the beginning of time. The Greeks, for example, are known for their unique and thorough way of cleaning their homes and temples. They used to attach sponges or cloth at the end of a wooden stick to clean their homes and temples. That is the first recorded use of a mop-like tool in the history of humans.

The mop is a logical tool to use. You don’t have to bend down to clean or reach the floor surface below the furniture. So, even before its official invention, people have been using similar tools. For instance, the English housewives in the 1700s used a wooden stick with a sponge or cotton at the end to clean floors and remove stains. They called it “mop stick.”

In 1876, Charles Wheeler invented the first version of the modern-day mop. Wheeler created a mop (wooden handle and strings) and bucket set to make it easier for users to dip the mop in soapy water. His invention made perfect sense, and people loved it.

Charles Wheeler’s mop and bucket set was a huge success. However, Samuel Fuller was not satisfied with the mop with strings at the end. He found it hard to use in cleaning stains and absorbing water. So, he replaced strings with a sponge and invented the first sponge mop in 1896. His invention is more effective in cleaning floors and surfaces because the sponge is more absorbent and easier to squeeze and dry.

In another part of America, Thomas Steward, an African-American inventor, patented the design for the modern-day mop. He did this in 1893, 3 years before Samuel Fuller’s sponge mop. So, there are many debates surrounding the mop’s invention. Some scholars credit Charles Wheeler, while others claim it’s Samuel Fuller’s work. However, technically and legally, Thomas Steward has the patent for its design.

In 1940, mops were improved by using synthetic materials to make them more absorbent and increase their cleaning ability.

The mop timeline

  1. Ancient Time
    Squeaky Clean Temples

    The Greeks used a cloth attached to the end of a stick to clean their homes and temples. But, you know, they’ll do anything to keep the temples of the gods clean and squeaky.

  2. The 1700s
    Moms Used it First

    English housewives should take credit for inventing the modern-day mop. They used a mopstick (basically a wooden stick with a sponge or cloth at the end) to clean their floors. Then, they dip the fabric in hot water and soap to remove stains.

  3. 1876
    Perfect Partner

    Charles Wheeler made cleaning more manageable and more efficient by creating the string mop and bucket set.

  4. 1893
    Legal Invention

    Thomas Steward applied for the patent of the modern-day mop design in 1893, which made him the technical and legal inventor of the modern-day mop.

  5. 1896
    No Strings Attached

    Samuel Fuller grew tired of using string mops (which were Wheeler’s design). He used another material that is more absorbent and easy to squeeze – a sponge.

Where was the mop invented?

Thomas Steward patented the modern-day mop in 1893 in the United States of America.

The importance of mops

  • Floor shield

    To keep your home germ-free and germ-free, you need to mop your floor to avoid diseases, especially during flu season.

  • Dirt free 

    Prevention is better than cure. To avoid unnecessary dirt and to preserve your floor from damages caused by dirt, you need to mop the surface of your floor regularly.

  • Reduces allergies

    If you have pets like cats and dogs at home, mopping might help reduce allergies. In addition, frequent mopping of floors can lessen allergens that might affect your health. 

  • Form of exercise

    Mopping the floors now and then is not an easy task. However, doing it regularly can tone your arms, shoulders, and back muscles.

Mop by the numbers

  • 35–40On average, a person spends 35% to 40% of their cleaning time mopping the floors.
  • 96Microfiber mops are much more effective in sanitizing than traditional mop heads. In addition, microfiber mops can kill 96% more bacteria.
  • 500Microfiber mops can last up to 500 washing without losing their effectiveness. This is almost twice as much as the traditional mop heads.
  • 11There are 11 types of mops in the market. Each type uses different materials and has various purposes. For example, we have cut-end, looped-end, microfiber, flat, steam, sponge, dust, spin, brush, vacuum and mop combo, and robot mop.

Five facts about the mop

  • Full of germs

    Cotton string mops are full of germs. That’s why you need to wash and clean it regularly. Try to use a liquid solution that will eliminate germs. Failing to do so will make your floors dirtier instead of cleaner!

  • Dangerous 

    Janitors and other cleaning personnel mop the floors of big buildings regularly. Did you know that mopping the floor is considered the top 2 most dangerous tasks of all the tasks they perform? It causes minor and major injuries.

  • If the shoe doesn’t fit

    We all have different shoe sizes but are forced to use a standard mop. Unfortunately, this can lead to accidents and injuries. So, investing in mops with telescoping or adjustable handles is better.

  • Air dry is the best

    After mopping the floor, you should open the windows and doors and let the air come in. This is the perfect way to dry your floors after cleaning. Letting your mop dry in the air after rinsing would be best.

  • Use Warm water

    Mix the powder/liquid soap with warm water when preparing your cleaning mixture. Warm water dissolves and mixes the soap better than cold water. And it also helps the mop head to soften.

FAQs about the mop

  • What is a mop?

    A mop is like a thin mass of hair usually used to clean the floor. It can effectively absorb liquid that spills on the floor. 

  • What is the mop used for?

    A mop cleans the floor surface, eliminates dust, and absorbs spilled liquids. Generally, it is a cleaning agent. 

  • Should you mop every day?

    Not necessarily. Once to twice a week will do, but for the high-traffic area, you should clean it regularly. 

  • What happens if you don’t mop?

    Sweeping the floor is not enough to eliminate germs and dust. You might get diseases because your floor is not sanitized. 

  • Do mops really clean?

    The mop alone can’t clean your floor. It must be partnered with detergent or bleach and water. It would help to change and clean the mop heads regularly to avoid spreading and accumulating germs.

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