Mopping vs. Vacuuming

January 16, 2020
Jayson Mueller

Hardwood floors are an amazing investment for your home.

They improve the look of your home, make your home healthier and in many respects are easier to care for than carpet.

Honestly, they last much longer too.

However, many people just don’t know how to properly care for their hardwood floors and end up damaging them or diminishing the look of the floors.

Vacuuming and mopping are two ways that you can care for your hardwood floors, however, both tasks should be done with care and mindfulness so that you can maintain the look of your hardwood long into the future.

In this article, we’ll look at the two common care tasks for hardwood floors: mopping and vacuuming, and we’ll give you some hints on how to make them work best for your home and ways to protect your floors and keep them looking great for a long time.

How often should you mop your hardwood floors?

Mopping Hardwood Floor

The frequency of mopping for your hardwood floors isn’t something that is set in stone.

Even if you ask expert housekeepers, they will tell you that mopping on a consistent basis isn’t a necessity for hardwood floors.

The frequency of mopping in your home will depend on a variety of factors.

Before you set a schedule for mopping your home’s hardwood floors you should take time to evaluate your habits, and decide if mopping is really worth your time.

Pets and Kids

Let’s be real, pets and kids can wreak havoc on your home.

No matter how much we love our kids or our dogs and cats, they are mess makers.

If you have pets and kids in your home, and they are spending a lot of time in areas with hardwood floors, you probably are going to want to add mopping to your routine.

Depending on how messy your floors get, you may want to mop as frequently as weekly or if you can, stretch mopping to monthly.

Remember, even if you are using a cleaner specific for hardwood, water can be tough on the finish of your floor, so stretch the time between mopping as long as you can.

Traffic Patterns

Dirt and dust are the number one enemy of hardwood floors.

High traffic areas like hallways, entryways and your kitchen are going to demand a bit more care than hardwood floors in other parts of your home.

We would recommend mopping these areas monthly at least.

Kitchen floors can quickly become sticky and combine that with dirty feet and shoes, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster when it comes to hardwood in your kitchen.

Busy kitchens could benefit from mopping weekly or every two weeks.


Grease can be really tough on hardwood finishes. Not to mention that it can make your floor slick.

If you notice that your cooking area has lots of grease on the floor, consider mopping weekly to keep your floors from becoming sticky or slick.


If your space has lots of furniture, you may want to consider mopping less frequently.

If you are not moving your furniture around a lot, and you can get by with just vacuuming, you may be able to limit your mopping in areas with lots of furniture to every six months or even once a year.

Just keep an eye on traffic patterns and floor wear.

When should you vacuum your floors?

Using Vacuum Cleaner

Vacuuming your floors is a quick and easy way to easily keep your home cleaner and air quality better.

The funny thing about vacuuming is that lots of people with hardwood floors in their homes think that they can’t vacuum their floors.

Actually, vacuuming your hardwood floors is a perfect way to quickly and easily clean your hardwood, eliminate harmful dust and leave your floors looking shiny, without a ton of work.

As with mopping, the frequency in which you vacuum your floors really depends on how they are used.

High traffic areas are going to need to vacuum more frequently than areas that don’t get a lot of foot traffic.

If you have pets or small children, you will want to vacuum more. And, honestly, our kitchens could always use a good clean up.

It is also important to keep in mind the health of your home.

If you have individuals living your house that suffer from allergies or asthma, you are going to want to vacuum more frequently.

These individuals will honestly benefit from daily vacuuming to suck up dust, dander and pet hair that can be problematic for allergies and asthma.

If you don’t want to vacuum daily, for most homes and more common situations, consider vacuuming your whole house on a weekly basis, and hitting the more high traffic areas twice weekly.

This will keep air quality good, and reduce the potential for damaging wear on your floor.

Mopping vs Vacuuming - Should you do both?

There are benefits to your home and keeping your floors in good condition by vacuuming and mopping.

Both of these tasks are a good way to improve the health of your home.

If you have a variety of different flooring types, you will definitely need to do both mopping and vacuuming, however, there are some ways that you can make both tasks more efficient and effective.


Turning Vacuum Cleaner On

Vacuuming is a great way to clean all of the floors in your home.

No longer is vacuuming a task just for rugs and carpets.

Today’s vacuums have synthetic bristles that are tough enough to effectively clean a variety of carpet types with specific vacuums, while still gentle enough for your hardwood floors.

Vacuuming is also a healthier alternative to sweeping or using a dust mop on hard surfaces like hardwood or tile.

Both brooms and dust mops can send dirt, dander, and dust into the air in your home, making a less than ideal climate for your body.

This is especially troubling for people with allergies and asthma.

Vacuuming contains these irritants into a canister and bag and will keep your home’s air cleaner.

Vacuuming is a relatively quick task and doesn’t necessarily need any special techniques to make it work right.

And, because it is so important to improving air quality in your home, vacuuming should be done as frequently as possible.

Consider vacuuming at least weekly in your home.

Remember to dust before you vacuum so that you don’t end up shoving dust from shelves, tables and other furniture on to your freshly cleaned floors.

It is interesting to point out that vacuuming will also suck up bacteria and mold that may be lingering on your floors and hanging on to dust.

So vacuuming frequently can actually reduce the potential for your family to spread germs and illness.


Cleaning Hardwood Floor With Mop

This task is important, but not necessary, the task for the hard surfaces in your home.

Whether you decide to mop and vacuum really depends on the amount of traffic that your floors undertake and how clean you want your home to be.

Mopping is a great way to remove fine dust from your floors that may discolor the grout or cause accelerated wear to hardwood floor finishes.

Using the right cleaning products when you mop can also bring new life to older tile, discolored grout, and dull hardwood floors.

Mopping is also a handy way to further eliminate molds and bacteria from your home.

These organisms can spread disease and aggravate allergies and asthma.

By using warm water, or steam when you mop, you can damage bacteria and molds, and essentially disinfect your floors without using harsh chemicals.

While mopping is a great way to keep your home cleaner, it can also make a huge mess if done wrong. Here are some hints to make mopping more effective.

  • Use Warm Water - Warm water will do better at eliminating bacteria. It is also more effective when you are trying to pull up stains from grout. If you are using a cleaning product, warm water will allow this product to mix more consistently, without creating fumes. When you mop, avoid hot water altogether. Cleaning products can create harmful fumes in hot water, and hot water can damage wood finishes and some kinds of tile.
  • Use the Right Products – If you’re mopping hardwood, use a hardwood cleaner. If you’re mopping tile, use a cleaner made for tile. Yes, that may mean more work, but it also means that you don’t have to worry about accidentally damaging your floor.
  • Rinse Often – Don’t try to mop your whole floor with one rinse of your mop. Mop a small section, then rinse your mop. This will prevent streaking, and will also keep you from unintentionally scratching hardwood floors, or staining the grout.
  • Try a Steam Mop – Steam mops are a great new product for homes. They’ve been used for many years in industrial applications, but they are now beginning to be popular in residential applications. Steam mops clean your floor, without chemicals. The steam pulls stains from grout, is gentle on hardwood and disinfects your floor using heat instead of chemicals.

Now that you know the benefits of both vacuuming and mopping, you can see how they go hand in hand.

Don’t be afraid to vacuum and mop your hard surface floors on a regular basis.

You’ll have a cleaner and healthier home, and that is worth the extra time and effort.

Vacuuming after or before mopping?

This might seem like a question with an obvious answer, but the reality is that many people aren’t sure if they should mop first or vacuum first.

While not as controversial, this question does raise the same confusion as to whether you should dust or vacuum first.

If you ask the experts, they will tell you that there truly is only one right way to do this. You should always vacuum your floors first.

Vacuuming your floors before you mop will allow you to pick up any big debris and hair that might be lying around.

These are the types of things that when stuck to the bottom of your mop, can scratch hardwood and tile finishes.

Not vacuuming before you mop can also lead to streaking and a dull look to your floors.

Vacuuming and mopping are two tasks that go hand in hand, especially when you have hard surface flooring.

While you may not need to mop every time you vacuum, there are certainly benefits to both the people in your home and to your floors from doing both tasks, at least periodically.

Make sure, however, that you use the right techniques for both mopping and vacuuming or you may find that two tasks that should be helpful, become a detriment to your floors.

Jayson Mueller
Jayson Mueller loves his house in the Bay Area. Over the last ten years, he's gone from theory to practice – researching the best upgrades and repairs for his house while trying to do as much as he can on his own. He's happy to help you make your house a home as well!

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