The Science (?) of "No-Rinse" Floor Cleaners

I mop my floors on an infrequent, but regular, schedule. For a (long) while I have been wondering how a floor cleaning solution/liquid can be “no-rinse”, i.e. you just spray it down, push it around with a mop or a gizmo, and let it dry. I guess there is implied some sort of extraction/pick-up in the “no-rinse” process, i.e mop goes into a bucket of (increasingly dirtier and dirtier) water and gets wrung/spun out to (half or just barely) damp, then used to push cleaner around on floor again and then dunked in bucket again and repeat…

But without a real rinse, i.e. swap dirty water-with-cleaner out for clean, and then go over floor again by sloshing clean water around and then wringing mop out and then mopping floor dry, is the floor really getting clean? Is a “no-rinse” floor cleaner any more feasible than a “no-rinse” laundry detergent…in theory one that you just use for one “slosh” cycle to wash clothes then just spin them dry and put into the clothes dryer?

If you have ever walked on a grocery store, or other retail floor that felt sticky, that was a build up of normal detergent residue, or maybe even a too frequent use of no rinse.

Basically the no rinse is designed to dry into a no tack, clear buildup on the floor.

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I see…but then with most of the dirt, grime, whatever still on the floor? I have always understood the rinse part of process to be what picks the dirt (now that it is attached to the detergent solution) up off the floor.

What I am really wondering here is if “no rinse” is just a gimmick/sales tactic…

The science is all about surfactants. There are many and they are chosen for the task. Basically they attract dirt & grease more aggressively than the fabric or floor and isolate it physically. Often the dirt grabbing part is in one end of a molecule that has another part that is hydrophilic. Said another way, one end grabs the dirt and the other end makes sure it goes with the water.

I presume a quality “no rinse” product is simply better at this separation and the degree of success is very much related to how well you remove the water from the floor.

Or for the half of society who seem to disregard science … it’s just magic.


I used to clean the floor with liquid nitrogen. Just take a cup full and toss it onto the floor where it “dissolves” the dust, then boils away leaving a nice little pile of dust. After that I just had to wipe up one spot.


@mblatz ,

Bert nailed it, the dirt is suspended in the washing solution when applied. The more washing solution removed from the floor while moping the more dirt removed.

A rinse mopping allows you to pick up even more dirt as detergent is likely left behind. But, amount of dirt is based on the mess your dealing with.