And So She Rode  Her Damp Mop Off  Into the Sunset


No one ever nominated me for Housekeeper of the Year and I have no regrets about that. I am not of interest to the Health Department, but if you like clutter & dust, drop by. Once when I came in from shopping with the big news that I’d bought a new dustpan my husband said “Did this one come with instructions?”


 [see sidebar 1 re: dustpans]


I do like reasonably clean floors but in recent years have had a string of damp mops that are:

1: expensive; a sponge on a stick, $15 ?!?;

2: disintegrate after 2 uses into shreds that the vacuum won’t pick up, thereafter scraping the lovely hardwood floor with the mop’s sharp metal underpinnings.

When this happened I found that none of the refills with the same brand name fit the model I have, so I had to dedicate some of my precious storage space to store all the refills I’ve bought that don’t fit (I have seven now) so as not to have wasted the $4.50  per. Eventually, I’m bound to buy the matching mop, right? The odds are steadily improving!


In the grocery store a couple of weeks ago I saw the brand damp mop that I grew up with, the brand that managed to maintain order over the years in our five-room apartment of five women, a dog, and miscellaneous itinerant cats. I never remember our replacing it, & only rarely did we replace the sponge, which simply screwed off, screwed on, a wonder of simplicity & reliability. I grabbed that mop and brought it home, and waited for the cleaning urge to come over me.


Yesterday it did. Time to break out the new mop. Of course, it came with a tight plastic cover wrapped around the business end, so I turned it end up to rip the cover off… & there were instructions for doing that!


In all but inscrutable letters on plastic the instructions said stand the mop on end with the sponge facing you  

and press down on the grooved section of the handle. I did, firmly, with my strong right hand… Nothing! Added the secret weapon, the guitar-neck gripping left hand. Much more nothing! Stood over it & gave it all I had, and the “release” that was supposed to happen was still a myth.


By now I knew that it would take two weeks of hard-to-come-by TLC to get the pain out of my arthritic right hand from this exercise in futility. Along with this realization came the revelation that right in front of my nose (literally) was the message “Questions? Call  1-800-xxxx”.




Robert Ruark once titled a great magazine article “Nothing Works and Nobody Gives a Damn”, and then put tape over the blinking LEDs on his VCR. I always loved his work and felt he left way too soon. I think if he’d lived long enough to have arthritis he’d have reached that state of grace where a “Questions? Call  1-800-xxxx” was an open invitation to by golly make someone give a damn! What else are you gonna do? Your hand hurts to much to do anything but read and chomp on NSAIDs. You’ve got the time…Make somebody else feel your pain!


So I dialed and waited mop in hand while we climbed the phone tree to the help line. A lovely voice asked what she could do for me. I explained that no matter how I pushed & pulled even with both hands I couldn’t get the mop to release the sponge to get the plastic wrapper off (which incidentally is the same procedure you must use to replace the sponge should it ever wear out ). She said try pressing very hard with both hands. I said hold on a sec, and gave it another big try, then told her Nope, no luck. She said what you must do is go where your floor has carpet and hold on with both hands and strike the mop hard against the floor. I said hold on a sec, & went into an adjoining room and whaled the bejeezus out of the thing, then came back & said no luck again. She said did you strike it really hard? Most people don’t strike it hard enough.


Whoa! Are you noticing something here? She has enough knowledge of this problem that she knows most people don’t strike it hard enough!? How many millions of us have called? And they’re still making this product!?! Without even the tiny instruction to

whale the bejeezus out of it on a carpeted floor  so you don’t destroy your moppable floor’s surface?!?


I explained in my best Ma Bell-trained telephone voice to this Lovely (see sidebar 2) that it would be a couple of weeks before my hand would be back to normal, that there were a lot of folks in that same boat with me these days (rowing in circles, on account of the one hand thing), and that the company might do better to consider its customer base before its bottom line, that being the better route to lasting success. She, of course, said thank you for calling.


About now I realized that the last Herculean blow had in fact released the sponge (and wrapper). I took the wrapper off & put it in the trash, then tried to put the sponge back in the working position. Of course, it kept falling back out… again… and again…so I fished the wrapper out of the trash looking for grace & salvation and read


to reinsert sponge follow instructions in reverse.




Side bar the first: Re dustpans: At least 80% of dust pans have a ridge about half an inch from the business edge that is tall enough to throw what you’re trying to get into the dustpan right back out on the floor. That doesn’t work, never has, never will. So  why do they make ‘em? To sell more dustpans, I suppose…


Side bar the second: Re Lovelies: My sister’s deadly descriptive name for those generally of the female persuasion who travel thru life with perennially immaculate manicures and minds unsullied by information of any kind.; syn.. sweet young things. Bless their hearts…In all fairness though, this one was doing a good job of her job… It’s the management that’s out to lunch.



Afterword: I have found that I can mop with this baby if when it comes time to wring it out I sit in a chair by the bucket and use one foot on either side of the flange to press the flange down thereby squeezing the water out.


I probably won’t be buying another of these any time soon.

After all, I finally got smart & bought the matching refill when I bought the mop