Dry Mopping vs. Wet Mopping: Understanding the Difference

Floor cleaning can be a daily routine especially if you have pets, kids or a high volume of foot traffic. Regular cleaning is also a way of maintaining a hardwood floor.

Mopping is an essential method of cleaning in every home. Basically, it involves the use of a mop only or in combination with water or a cleaning solution. Mopping doesn’t usually need to be defined for people, but today we’re looking at some specifics.

Mopping can be classified as dry or wet. Let us look at the difference between the two.

Let’s Talk Mops

What is a Mop?

According to Wikipedia, “A mop (such as a floor mop) is a mass or bundle of coarse strings or yarn, etc., or a piece of cloth, sponge, or other absorbent material, attached to a pole or stick.

It is used to soak up liquid, for cleaning floors and other surfaces, to mop up dust, or for other cleaning purposes.”

Dust/Dry Mopping

Dry mopping is essentially using a dry mop or a dust mop to pick up dry and loose dirt such as dust, soil, sand, and food debris from the surface of the floor.

A dry mop usually has a fabric cloth or a microfiber head attached to a handle. The bunch of yarn on a swivel head or flat sheet microfiber cloth collects and traps dust, fine debris, and hair as you sweep it across the floor.

When dry mopping, always keep the mop head into contact with the floor throughout and lift it off when you want to dispose the collected dirt into a garbage or trash can. Mop in one direction or in a consistent pattern.

Most dry mops have a detachable head or use disposable pads that can be replaced when they get dirty.

Removable microfiber heads can be washed when they are saturated with dust or can be replaced when worn out.

It is more effective to use a dry mop than a broom. Sweeping simply pushes dust or dirt around. The dust particles flying in the air after sweeping can cause allergies or will simply settle back on your household items.

The best alternative to a dry mop is a vacuum cleaner. A vacuum strongly sucks up dust and fine particles, making your home perfectly clean.

Modern vacuums have filters that trap allergens. Dry mopping or vacuuming is commonly the first process in deep cleaning a hardwood floor.

Damp/ Wet Mopping

Wet mopping involves cleaning a surface using a slightly moistened mop that’s been soaked in water or a cleaning solution and wrung out.

A damp mop is swept over the surface as it dissolves and removes soil and soft grift that dulls the appearance of a floor’s surface.

If you are cleaning a hardwood floor, you may need to completely dry out the surface using a dry towel to remove a film of water.

Hardwood floor boards and water are mortal enemies. Before wet mopping, ensure that your hardwood floor is perfectly sealed.

Water-based solutions may also enter the wood through the seams or any openings on a poorly finished or damaged surface. The floor boards will absorb the water, warp, and even twist.

It is important to inspect your floors and even test if the seal is intact. Place a drop of water on the floor at a hidden place.

If it beads (sits there) that means your floor is sealed. If the water gets absorbed into the floor and creates a spot, it shows that your seal is broken, old, or damaged and therefore you should avoid using a wet mop.

There are different types of wet mops with varying features. Traditional wet mops have a rag or sponge head attached to a handle that you dip into a cleaning solution and wring out.

Sophisticated modern models such as Swiffer Wet Jet Mop have a reservoir and you spray the cleaner directly on the floor as you mop. They therefore do not need a bucket.

If you are not sure about the nature of your floor, use a dry mop for cleaning such as Swiffer Dry Mops.

Steam cleaner mops are also becoming common in most homes. A steam mop dispenses steam on the floor’s surface after heating water to a high temperature as it removes dirt.

Steam mops naturally sanitize a surface by killing germs and household bacteria. Ensure your hardwood floor is perfectly sealed before steaming to avoid wood-moisture contact.

It is always important to vacuum or dust your floor before damp mopping. This removes soil and debris that can turn into mud after coming into contact with a cleaning solution or water.

The debris can also hurt your hardwood floor by causing scuff marks.

Safety is important when you are cleaning, and is something we at WFC Wood Floor Cleaner cannot emphasis enough. Always place a “Wet Floor Sign” at the entrance of the room or at least let people know about it. Wet mopping makes a floor slippery and anyone can accidentally get hurt.

Ensure children and pets are away, as some cleaning solutions contain harmful ingredients that can be hazardous.


Dry mopping on a regular basis keeps dust and dirt at bay. It preserves a hardwood floor’s lifespan.

Wet mopping is a deep cleaning process that is usually done on a biweekly or monthly basis.

It removes sticky dirt and soil from the floor. Always take good care of your hardwood floor to avoid a strenuous cleaning process.


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