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

There are few things more satisfying than making something that is dirty, sparkling clean.

After a long day, to turn your floors from looking like a landfill into a sparkly paradise can leave you feeling refreshed and proud.

But it does happen, that sometimes you may mop your floor and feel proud but when you return to it, it’s…sticky?

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Sticky Floors after Mopping

Sadly this problem is all too common and has so many causes, sometimes after scrubbing and mopping hard, there is no avail and you just give up and succumb to the sticky floors in the hope that they’ll be sorted out next time.

But no more!

Let us take a look at what causes sticky floors to occur even after mopping, how to clean them, and what is the best way to remove that sticky residue that we all hate.

Causes of Sticky Floors after Mopping

The chemistry of it all

One of the biggest culprits to your sticky clean floor is the wrong cleaning agent. How can that be? A cleaning agent is a cleaning agent, right? No.

Where standard, low maintenance cleaning may be possible with just a dash of soap and water, some things, especially a floor that is laced with dirt, needs something with a bit more bite and a dash more elbow grease.

The secret is in the science, a general rule to follow for removing sticky residues is to use a floor cleaner that has a pH level that opposes your dirt.

Think of the floor in a bar, with alcohol spills all over it, to clean this up you need a cleaner that can tackle the alcohols pH level, since most alcohols are acidic or mildly acidic, you would want to use an alkaline cleaning agent to tackle this.

If you use a cleaner that has a similar pH to what you’re cleaning then you will have the stickiness afterward.

This also applies to different types of flooring, your chemicals will need to depend on the surface, i.e. laminate, tile, wood. In this case, if it is a greasy or sticky substance in nature, you will need stronger chemicals.

Similar to this, oils, salts, and acids are similar. If you don’t use a chemical that opposes their pH levels, then although you will get rid of the general dirt, a sticky residue will remain.

Definitely take into consideration the flooring type though, when you go to buy your cleaning agents, check with the vendor that it is an appropriate agent for your floor type, so you avoid any unwanted sticky surprises.

Sometimes less IS more

If your floor is sticky and you can’t seem to shift the stick, some people may resort to pouring a whole container of cleaning solution into their mop bucket, or over pouring in the hope that more cleaning solution means cleaner floors.

The truth is that putting too much cleaning solution into the water would be the problem.

Going too heavy on your cleaning solutions can very often result in that sticky residue that has you feeling like you’re walking on gum.

It’s as bad as it looks

When you clean your floor, you’re probably rushing to have a nice relaxing day after that, or you may have more things to do, so you fill up your bucket, get the mop in the cleaning solution and water, and mop away, with the same water, for the whole floor.

The issue is that cleaning an entire floor with the same water means that by the time you have finished, the water will be stinking and dirty, and a lot of that dirty water has just been spread over your floor.

This is not uncommon with certain types of floors, and wood or tile floors are more likely to sustain a lot of dirt and therefore end up producing dirtier floors and dirtier waters.

In this sense, you aren’t so much cleaning the floor, you’re more likely to just be moving the dirt around the floor.

It may be clean in the area you started in, but the area you finished with maybe dirtier than it started as.

Instead of using one bucket of water and swishing the dirt from one place to another, try to change the water whenever it starts to look dirty, this could be seen when the water starts to change color, or when you may see bits of debris floating around in your bucket.

However, it is understandable that changing the water throughout your clean could be tedious or sometimes you just don’t have time for that.

So, there is another option, you can invest in a microfibre mop, these are great at holding dirt.

They capture the dirt and hold it so that the water in your bucket does not get dirty so quickly.

Dilution Dilemma’s

Floor cleaners keep your floor clean, but they are capable of leaving behind that sticky residue too, not only due to the pH levels but also because of one ingredient that is common-place in most floor cleaning products- the surfactants.

These are there to suspend dirt and make it easier to wipe away. These ingredients leave the residue, usually, this will happen as a result of inadequate dilation, of the floor cleaner.

Make sure you dilute it properly as indicated to ensure that this occurrence is a thing of the past.

Ridding yourself of Residue

Ammonia-free Answers

If you have the time to spare, it is worth investing in an ammonia-free cleaner. To use it simply spray it on a 2ft square section and give it a try.

Spray it on the area and leave it to sit for about 2 minutes. Then using a good dish scrubbing sponge give the area a good buffing and scrubbing down.

Immediately after doing so, use a clean, damp towel to wipe the area down so that the residue will not dry on the floor.

Repeat this over your whole floor and watch as your residue worries fade away.

Living with Laminate

If you have a laminate floor and you are finding sticky residues that are making your life hard and unpleasant, the likely culprits of your disdain are soap and floor wax.

To cut through this residue it is highly recommended that you seek out an acidic cleanser. If it is excessively bad though you may want to use a detergent too.

First of all, you will need to sweep to get rid of excess dirt that can be removed with more simplistic ease.

Then combine a gallon of warm water and one cup of white vinegar in your bucket and mix it.

Dip your mop in, wring it out and mop your floor end to end. Be sure to rinse!

After cleaning you will want to wipe the floor over with a soft towel until it is dry.

Concentrated Cleaners… Culprits?

Concentrated cleaners can often be the culprits, they may be much more economical to buy than ready-made products, but you must dilate them properly.

If you fail to properly dilate these products you will find that they will not give you the results you seek, while the nice clean smell may be more potent, you will be met with sticky residues and disappointment.

Forever Rid of Residue!

While it may be more expensive to go out and buy a whole new cleaner rather than to just fix up the issues with your current one, you can purchase residue-free cleaners.

Not all are the same though and many may leave behind a film. You can check this by testing it on the glass.

Give a bit of glass a spray and you will be able to see if this cleaner will leave behind any film.

It is best to check before buying and if you buy online, double-check reviews of the product in cases where it has been used on your type of flooring.

Steamy Solutions

If you are at your wit’s end with the residues, you can switch to steam mops, which are fantastic at softening those annoying stains and dirt.

Be sure to adjust the temperature though so that it does not damage your floors.

Floor-type Considerations


  • Microfibre mopping for everyday use.
  • Wet mopping for weekly use.
  • Vacuuming reduces issues.
  • Stay away from vinegar solutions if possible.


  • Sweeping and vacuuming for everyday cleans.
  • Mild detergent is best for fantastic results.
  • Sponge mopping may scratch your floor.
  • Change your water often.
  • Check your grouts are clean often.


  • Soft broom every day.
  • Pick up hairs with warm water and shampoo mix.
  • No-wax Vinyl cleaner is the best option.
  • Resist drenching when you clean, it can lead to loosening of the surface and possible warping.

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