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Is Vacuuming More Effective Than Sweeping Hard Floors?

Written by Kaylee Barber |

Is vacuuming better than sweeping

Which is better – vacuuming or sweeping? It’s an ongoing question for anyone with hard floors, so let’s take a closer look at which cleaning method is more effective.

It goes without saying that a vacuum is the most effective tool for removing dirt from carpets. Nothing beats a strong brush bar and powerful suction for getting rid of dirt, dust, and other debris from carpet fibres.

Hard floors could be a different matter though – and there’s an ongoing debate about whether sweeping or vacuuming is more effective. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.

Is Vacuuming More Effective Than Sweeping?

The short answer is that vacuuming is more effective than sweeping when it comes to picking up dirt, hair, and dust. The only reasons to use a broom are if you don’t want to get your vacuum out, don’t have a vacuum that’s safe for hard floors, or you need to be quiet.

Advantages of Sweeping With a Broom

Sweeping involves using a broom to move dirt and dust into a dustpan, before throwing it into the bin. It’s a manual method that’s less effective than vacuuming, but still has several benefits when cleaning delicate hardwood floors.

  • Won’t scratch your flooring. Some vacuums have stiff bristles that rotate at a high speed, which may damage the surface of delicate flooring. A broom shouldn’t cause scratches – as long as you’re using the right type for the floor.
  • No electricity required. While most rooms have a socket, a non-motorised broom saves energy and doesn’t need a power cord.
  • Cheap. Vacuum cleaners can be expensive, with the priciest models costing more than £500. Brooms are considerably cheaper.
  • Quiet. If you need to clean at night, then a broom is virtually silent. Even the quietest vacuum cleaners still make noticeable noise.
  • May dislodge dust and dirt between floorboards. Some vacuums struggle to pick up dirt from between floorboards, but a broom may be able to access these locations.
  • Sometimes easier to sweep in tight spaces. If your vacuum cleaner is too bulky to get into a tight space, then a thin broom may be a more convenient option.

Advantages of a Vacuum Cleaner

Using a vacuum cleaner has many advantages over sweeping with a broom. You should only use a vacuum that’s suitable for hardwood floors though (see the section below for more details.)

Here are some of the benefits to using a vacuum when cleaning hard floors:

  • Much faster at removing dirt and other debris. Modern vacuum cleaners can pick up huge amounts of dust and dirt in a single pass.
  • Less tiring. Sweeping large areas of hard floors can be exhausting! Vacuum cleaners are much less manual, making them a good option if you often get tired.
  • Dust is contained. Unlike sweeping, you don’t need to manually pickup the dirt and debris when using a vacuum cleaner.
  • Vacuums with a hard floor attachment (usually) won’t cause scratching. Many vacuums come with a hard floor attachment. Others allow you to switch off the rotating brush bar which reduces the risk of damage.
  • Better for allergy sufferers. Sweeping kicks up a lot of dust and other allergens into the air, which can make allergies worse. Vacuums with an efficient filter can contain allergens and prevent them escaping back into the room.
  • Grit isn’t dragged across the floor. Vacuum cleaners pick up debris rather than pushing it along into a dust pan. If there is sharp grit on the floor, a vacuum may prevent damage by sucking up the debris.
  • Can be used on carpets and rugs. Most homes in the UK have at least some carpets. Vacuum cleaners can tackle a variety of cleaning surfaces, while brooms are only useful for hard floors.

Which is Best for Hard Floor Cleaning?

As long as you’re using a vacuum cleaner that’s safe for hard floors, vacuuming is faster and more effective than sweeping.

A high-quality vacuum will pick up more dust and dirt than sweeping alone. The debris is also stored inside the dust cup or bag, rather than needing to be picked up manually. This isn’t just less messy – it’s also more hygienic and better for people with allergies.

There are some situations when you might want to use a broom though. Sweeping can be useful for quick clean-ups if you don’t want the hassle of getting out your vacuum, for example. A broom is also a quiet alternative if you’re cleaning when other people in the household are asleep.

How to Choose the Right Vacuum for Hard Floors

Some vacuums are not suitable for hard floors, as they are more likely to leave scratches or scuffs.

Ideally, you should look for a vacuum cleaner that doesn’t have a rotating brush bar. Brush bars with stiff bristles are the most common reason for vacuum scratches on hard floors.

If you have an upright vacuum with a brush roll, there may be an option to switch this off. The wheels of a heavy upright may still damage a delicate floor though, so be careful when using it.

Alternatively, look for a vacuum cleaner with a separate hard floor accessory. The Dyson Soft Roller is an example, although many brands produce a hard floor attachment.


Vacuuming is always going to be more effective at removing dirt and other debris from hard floors. A vacuum also contains dust inside the dust canister or bag, making it much more hygienic for people who suffer from allergies.

Sweeping can still be useful, however, especially if you need to be quiet or your vacuum isn’t suitable for a delicate floor. A broom is also useful in areas where you don’t have access to a power socket.

Do you have any questions about whether vacuuming is more effective than sweeping? Please let us know in the comments section below.

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