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Should You Dry a Floor After Mopping? Key Considerations

After mopping the floors I used to throw a couple of towels on the floor, step on them, and slide them around throughout the house getting up excess water. I have tile but some floor surfaces, such as hardwood floors, are prone to water damage, leading many cleaners to wonder: should you dry a floor after mopping?

You should dry the floor after mopping to prevent watermarks and streaking. Most professionals also agree that floors should be kept as dry as possible. However, some flooring types are more water-resistant, making the additional task of drying the floor an option rather than a requirement.

There are a number of factors that influence whether or not a floor must be dried after wet mopping. Beyond the flooring material and risk of damage, it’s important to consider the situational safety, method of drying, and the total risk of leaving water on the floor. Keep reading to learn more about each of these factors, as well as a few mopping and drying tips from home care professionals.

Do you need to dry floors after mopping?

Leaving Mop Water on the Floor Can Cause Visual Damage

After you’re done mopping, there is likely to be some amount of water left on the floor. This issue can be mitigated by thoroughly squeezing out the mop head whenever you submerge it in the mop water.

Leaving too much water behind on the floor can cause permanent water streaks or spots, ruining the visual aesthetic of the floor’s surface.

For the most part, this is not an urgent issue unless you overload the floor with mop water. If you reach the end of the mopping job and find there is too much water left behind on the floor, you can go back over it with a dry mop.

Pick up as much excess water as possible before moving on to your preferred method of drying.

Some Flooring Materials Are at Higher Risk of Water Damage

Some materials are more likely to be damaged by water than others. This is why bathrooms, kitchens, and other rooms requiring a lot of water and plumbing are typically floored with tile or linoleum.

While these flooring materials come with their own risks, they tend to be more forgiving of water left behind than materials like wood.

Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are notoriously prone to water damage. Whether it’s from water leaks in the plumbing or too much mop water left behind, water can warp the floorboard and diminish the protective layers of varnish.

After wet mopping a hardwood floor, it’s advisable to employ some method of drying. Be sure to get as much water picked up as you can before you start drying in order to avoid soaking the water further into the floorboards.

A squeegee mop can be an effective tool for cleaning a hardwood floor, as they tend to leave less water behind than a traditional wet mop. If you’re using a squeegee mop, be sure to ring out the sponge portion regularly to avoid soaking the floorboards.

After you’ve mopped a hardwood floor, it’s crucial to dry it right away. Water requires time to soak into the wood, so it’s important to act fast before the damage is done. If you spilled a mop bucket or a large amount of water on a hardwood floor, squeegee the area thoroughly and employ either a dehumidifier or towel the floor rigorously.

Linoleum Floors

Linoleum floors are common in kitchens and bathrooms because the material is highly water-resistant. This makes mopping and drying linoleum a much easier task. Linoleum is manufactured from a variety of materials, but it’s the presence of linseed oil that makes the surface water-resistant.

It’s never a good idea to leave water standing on the floor. With linoleum floors, there’s a little more forgiveness than other materials. A linoleum floor, provided it doesn’t cause a safety hazard, will not be damaged if it is left damp to air dry.

The smooth surface of the linoleum can also help to speed the process along, as linoleum floors can be easily squeegeed. By draining and/or lifting the majority of the residual water off the floor before drying, you can dramatically reduce the amount of time before the floor is entirely dry (source).

Tile Floors

Tile floors, similar to linoleum, are a popular flooring option for rooms with high water exposure. Many people prefer tile to linoleum for the visual effect. Tile requires a little more care and attention than linoleum.

If the subflooring underneath the tile floor is sound, the tiles should remain watertight. If there is an issue with the subflooring, or if the tiles are cracked, then mopping the floor may cause increased structural damage underneath the tile layer.

For this reason, it’s important not to leave large amounts of water behind when mopping a tile floor.

The grout between the tiles must also be taken into consideration. If water–especially soiled mop water–is allowed to stand on a tile floor, there is a higher likelihood of the grout developing mold or mildew.

This issue can be prevented by making sure the floor is adequately dried, as well as cleaning the grout regularly.

Safety Concerns of Leaving a Wet Floor After Mopping

Outside of the damage risk, it’s also important to consider the safety element when deciding if you’re going to dry the floor after mopping. A wet floor, especially if it is in a public or highly trafficked area, can be a slipping hazard.

Standing water is also a breeding ground for bacteria. If dirty mop water is left standing for too long, it can cause mildew or other unwanted growth. This can make an area unsafe, or at least unpleasant, for occupants.

It Takes Longer To Repair Water Damage Than To Dry the Floor

If you’re working on a rigid schedule, you may be tempted to skip the drying portion of the mopping job in order to save time. While this is true, and while not all floors necessitate drying every time they’re mopped, it’s important to remember that it takes much longer to repair a floor damaged by water.

Water damage takes roughly 5 days to dry completely, and that’s not counting the time and effort required to repair the damage. If you’re looking to save time in your cleaning routine, ensuring that your floors are properly dry after mopping will save a lot of time in the long run (source).

How To Dry a Floor After Wet Mopping

Once you’re done mopping the floor, it’s time to decide if and how you’re going to dry it. The right method for drying your floor depends on what the floor is made of, as well as what equipment you have available to use.

In order to thoroughly dry a floor after wet mopping, here are a few steps you can follow. Using all of these methods every time you mop the floor may seem like overkill; but, these practices will ensure that your floors are as protected as possible against water damage:

  • Dry mop: Remove the dirty, wet mop head from the handle and replace it with a clean, dry mop head. Starting in one corner, gradually make your way across the room. Try to avoid stepping where the floor is still wet.
  • Towel dry: After you’ve dry mopped the floor, use a large, absorbent towel to go over the floor surface again. Fold the towel over on itself once or twice to increase the absorbency and utility.
  • Squeegee any remaining moisture: After you’ve toweled away the last major wet spots, go over the floor again with a squeegee. This will ensure that you haven’t missed any spots, as well as pick up any residual moisture missed or left by the towel.
  • Fan/air dry: After you’ve wet mopped, dry mopped, toweled, and squeegeed the floor, the final step is to allow the water to be air-dried. This can be done using a mechanism, such as a fan or a dehumidifier. If you don’t have access to these tools, the same result can be created by simply opening as many windows and doors as possible and allowing the floor to air dry organically.

How To Dry Floors Exposed to Water Damage

There are a variety of methods that can be employed to dry out the floors if they are water damaged. If the source of the water damage is consistent, the first thing to do is find and shut off the water supply that feeds the leak, if possible.

Here are a few of the methods you can use to dry a floor that has just been mopped:

  • Dehumidifying: A dehumidifier functions by drawing in air from the room, where it is processed and released as cooler, dryer air. As the air in the room has moisture removed by the dehumidifier, the water on the floor will naturally evaporate faster.
  • Fan drying: Fans are another way of forcing air to dry away mop water. As mentioned, cooler air will slow the drying process down compared to hot air. If you have the power of drying the floor using a heater, you may be able to speed up the process significantly.
  • Air drying: If you’ve picked up enough of the water to do so, freshly mopped floors can be allowed to air dry. While the floors are drying, try to avoid walking across them. Walking on a freshly mopped floor can effectively counteract all the mop work you’ve done. If safe to do so, you can mop and allow the area to dry overnight (source).

Can You Let Floors Air-Dry After Wet Mopping?

You can let floors air-dry after mopping as long as there’s not too much water left standing. However, drying them by other means can ensure that floors are not damaged. 

If you’ve mopped up the majority of the water off the floor, air drying should be sufficient, although it may not be the most time-efficient method of drying.

The material of the floor also plays a decisive role in whether it’s acceptable to allow the water to sit until it dries naturally. Water-resistant materials like tile, marble, concrete, and linoleum are usually okay to be air-dried.

Should You Dry the Floor After Cleaning With a Machine?

Most industrial floor cleaning machines include a squeegee element that drags behind the cleaner, trapping the excess water and vacuuming it back up into the machine. This essentially prevents too much water from pooling on the floor while you’re using the machine.

You shouldn’t need to dry the floor after cleaning with a machine if the machine is newer or more reliable. If it’s an older machine, the rubber squeegee may be dry or cracked, compromising the machine’s ability to collect water. Therefore, you may need to go back over the area to dry excess water.

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If you are using an electric spin mop like this one (link to Amazon) you probably won’t need to dry the floor afterward because of the machine’s design. It sprays water in front of the mop brushes as you go and is designed to control the amount of water dispersed to prevent these type of issues.

How To Avoid Streaks When Mopping

The appearance of streaks on the floor after you’re done mopping can be aggravating. There are a number of things that can cause streaks when you’re mopping, but fortunately, they’re easy to avoid with a little know-how.

Drying the floor with towels immediately after mopping, blotting instead of wiping as much as possible, will help to reduce the likelihood of your floor developing steaks when it’s dry. While towel drying may not be the most effective way to clear the floor of the water, it can be helpful in picking up the bulk before it has time to cause damage.

If you dry the floor while there is still cleaner residue present, you may end up creating more streaks. Be sure to rinse the floor with clean, pure water after mopping with a disinfectant solution. Only dry the floor once it has been thoroughly flushed with water.

Final Thoughts

When you’re done mopping the floor, you may be inclined to throw down the mop and be done. Properly drying the floor after mopping is an important step towards maintaining the long-term longevity and aesthetic of the floor.

There are a few methods, such as air-drying, towel-drying, and the use of a dehumidifier, which can help to dry the floor before there’s any water damage. Even if drying the floor isn’t absolutely essential, it can still be highly beneficial to the overall condition and appearance of the floor. 

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