Gary Fage's Cleaning Blog from Janitorial Express

A Guide to Mopping: Kentucky Mop, Yankee Mop, Exel, PY or Twine.

Posted by Gary Fage on 14-Sep-2016 16:32:55

 MOP /mɒp
an implement consisting of a bundle of thick loose strings attached to a handle, used for wiping floors or other surfaces.

Well, the dictionary makes mops seem like pretty simple objects. In the cleaning industry they can be found in almost every cleaning cupboard and for frequent cleaning of hard floors, there are very few alternatives to a good old-school mop and bucket. However, you'd be surprised how many alternatives there are out there and how important it can be to stock the right one for you! 

But surely re-stocking your mops can't be THAT complicated, right?

Well, yes and no. In principle all mops are (as the dictionary definition says) basically the same. A handle, usually made of wood, steel or aluminium attached to a head consisting of a bundle of fabric threads. However, things start to become more 'interesting' (I use this term loosely) when you start to look into the detail. There are several factors to consider when buying mops, mop-heads and related items, particularly if you already have a mopping system in place and want everything to fit together. For some of our customers ordering a new mop can end up in a 'Goldie-Locks and the 3 Bears' kind of situation and finding the right mop can take you from cleaning hell to cleaning heaven! So let’s look at the things you’ll want to consider…

Handle to mop-head fitting (you can’t put a square peg in a round hole)

“A bundle of loose strings” – made of what, exactly?

Different weights of head – why? What are the pros and cons?

Colour Codes – you may not want to use the same mop in the kitchen and toilet!

There are numerous options, but here in the UK there are three common handle systems,

Kentucky_steel.jpgKentucky mops some times known as Yankee Mops, feature a wide fitting and consequently can accommodate a much larger mop head. There is no way to attach any other type of head, it’s strictly a Kentucky handle with Kentucky head. The classic Kentucky handle system is a wooden handle, usually 54” long, with a mechanical clip fitting usually made of steel (see pic). However, technology has seen many improvements, so handles are now available in other materials likeKentucky_Plastic.jpg aluminium and plastic. This allows for the use of colours for colour coding, a process which is much more difficult with wood and steel. In addition, using alternatives to steel removes the chance of rust and extends longevity. Plastic coated Steel tends to be more hard wearing than aluminium as aluminium poles will bend if too much pressure is applied. 

The Exel fitting system uses a clever push fit design, with a round shaft with three ribs (see in the picture below). This unique system makes fitting and removing heads fantastically simple. The socket on the mop head is plastic, and provides a perfect match for the Exel_Mop_Head.jpghandle. One of the reasons that the Exel system is so popular is that the heads will accept other handles. If you have a handle with a screw thread, just screw it on as normal - the handle will cut its own thread into the Exel socket as the plastic is relatively soft. You can even use a plain wooden handle (15/16” diameter), as the Exel socket will grip.
You will however find that the best fit is an Exel head to Exel handle. Unfortunately you won’t be able to fit any other type of head to an Exel handle - sorry!

TRADITIONAL or SOCKET (aka “Dolly” Mop)

The traditional socket mop head, sometimes referred to as a “Dolly” mop, is Traditional_Or_Socket_Mops-1.jpgexactly that, a simple plain round fitting designed for a plain round handle. Wooden handles will almost always be plain round affairs, so this is the mop head you’ll want for any simple handle with no special fitting. Again there is some flexibility insofar as you can use a handle with a screw fitting. These are also known as “Abbey” handles, and offer even better grip than a standard push in round handle. They can be colour coded as they are metal and plastic – not something you can easily do with wood. It’s also worth remembering that wood is prone to splitting and splintering, and can also stay damp, harbouring bacteria- something, it so happens, we are trying to avoid! 

Really. But of course there’s a lot more to it than that. To keep things relatively simple, let’s break down the composition of mop heads in to the three main types of yarn (string). Twine, PY and everything else.

Twine is light string or strong thread composed of two or more smaller strandstwine_yarn.jpg twisted, and then twisted together. Twine is thinner than other types of yarn, although it can be difficult to tell just by looking! Look at our pictures – can you tell? Twine is most suitable for rougher areas including safety flooring, and doesn’t lint as much as some other yarns. Kentucky, Exel and Socket mops are available in twine.

PY is a thicker yarn than twine, and is great for smooth surfaces like lino and laminate PY_Yarn.jpgflooring. PY is a perfect everyday solution for most interior flooring. Once again you can select PY for your Kentucky, Exel or Socket mop. They do however tend to lint (loose
fibres) more, so are less suitable for applying polish where the lint could spoil the finish. Therefore I’d recommend using a flat mop or a window cleaning applicator (without the sourer) for this purpose and there will be a specific flat mopping blog coming soon!

It’s virtually impossible to look at every other yarn, but it’s worth looking at some popular alternatives to twine and PY.

Revolution” is a mop head made by Exel (hence Exel fitting only) which uses a mix of cotton and synthetic yarn which absorb and release liquid more readily than conventional mops. They can also be laundered up to 90oC, which offsets their higher cost.

Big White” is another Exel innovation which is light, absorbent and inexpensive. Because it is almost completely lint free it is ideal for situations where hygiene is a priority, such as medical applications and clean rooms.

Multifold” is a combination yarn for extremely heavy duty applications, and is made for Kentucky systems and is the most popular Kentucky mop on the market.

Whatever yarn, whatever fitting, you will also have to choose the weight if mop head. When choosing weight, the rule of thumb is that the heavier the weight, the greater the Weight_-_Mops.jpgvolume of liquid you can move. This is an important factor to consider when sizing up the physical area of flooring to be covered. A small toilet would demand a smaller mop than a large lobby area for example. Exel and Socket mops range from around 200grm to 300grm, and Kentucky (see pic) from 340grm to 560grm.

Mops conform to the cleaning industry standard
RED – General WashroomColoured_Mops.jpg
BLUE – General Low Risk Areas
GREEN – General Food & Bar Use
YELLOW – Clinical Use

Pretty simple, eh? For more information on colour coding see a Guide to Colour Coding, where you can download your free guide to colour coding. 

Keep an eye out for “speciality” mops like the Kentucky “Roughneck” which has an abrasive centre band for scrubbing stubborn marks like those left by rubber Roughneck.jpgheels. If you thought that there were enough choices already, there are other options and innovations arriving all the time. For example, what do you get if you cross an Exel Mop with a Kentucky Mop? The answer is (and I know it sounds like a joke) a “Prairie Mop”. made with an Exel fitting (so OK for socket handles too) but with the weight of a Kentucky, 340grm or 450grm. Ideal if you want a bigger mop occasionally and don’t use Kentucky handles. Theres something our there for everyone!

 I’m sure you’ll agree there is a plethora of choice, so there’s no excuse not to find the perfect mop, whatever your requirements! Make sure you keep an eye out for my follow-up to this blog, a guide to flat mopping. 

Get more brilliant hints and tips from The Guide To Cleaning. Download it free below! 

Download Safe Working Procedures Document


For more information please enter your details below or visit our website, alternatively give us a call on 020 7700 3322 or email



The Blog that brings you, News, Innovations & How To Guides from the UK Cleaning Industry

Gary Fage's Cleaning Blog

Gary has over 30 years experience in the UK Cleaning Industry and is managing director of Janitorial Express, a director of the Jangro Group and vice chairman of the Hill Club the UK's premeire cleaning industry networking club.

Make sure you sign up in order to keep up with what's happening in the UK cleaning industry

Subscribe to Email Updates