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How to Clean Wood Floors & Keep Them Looking Great

Wondering how to clean wood floors? Wood floors require some special care, and these tips will help you keep them looking beautiful for years to come.

Microfiber mop on wood floor

Whether you have hardwood or engineered wood, this article will provide you with the tips, techniques, and precautions to ensure your wood floors stay clean, pristine, and protected.

Related: Understanding Different Types of Wood Flooring

From dry cleaning methods to choosing the right cleaning products, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive in and discover the best practices for maintaining the natural beauty of your wood floors.

What Never to Use on Wood Floors

When cleaning hardwood floors, there are certain substances and cleaning methods you should avoid to prevent damage. Here are some things you should never use to clean a hardwood or engineered wood floor:

Avoid Excessive Water

Hardwood floors and water do not mix well. Excessive moisture can seep into the wood, causing it to warp, buckle, or swell. Avoid using soaking wet mops, steam cleaners, or excessive water when cleaning your wood floors.

No Harsh Chemicals

Avoid using harsh or abrasive cleaning chemicals on hardwood floors. Ammonia, bleach, vinegar, and acidic cleaners can strip away the finish, dull the wood, or cause discoloration. Stick to pH-neutral or specifically formulated wood floor cleaners.

You may have heard that cleaning wood floors with vinegar is a good thing. And yes, we do recommend a homemade polish for hardwood that contains vinegar. And some people do successfully clean wood floors with diluted vinegar. But just realize it’s tricky and every wood floor is different, and sometimes vinegar can be damaging.

Avoid Wax-based Cleaners

Wax-based cleaners or polishes can create a buildup on the wood surface, making it slippery and difficult to clean. They can also interfere with refinishing or recoating the floor in the future.

Some people believe you can use wax to polish floors, but only very infrequently. Like, once every few years.

Say No to Scrub Brushes or Abrasive Tools

Scrub brushes, scouring pads, or abrasive tools can scratch or dent the surface of the wood. Opt for soft microfiber cloths, mops, or gentle bristle brooms instead.

No Oil Soaps

Oil-based soaps or cleaners can leave a residue on the hardwood floor, making it appear dull and sticky. They can also attract dirt and grime over time.

No Steam Cleaners

Steam cleaners generate excessive heat and moisture, which can cause the wood to expand, warp, or lose its finish. Avoid using steam cleaners on hardwood floors.

How to Clean Wood Floors

The best way to clean a wood floor depends on the specific type of wood and finish you have. If you have a guide from a manufacturer or seller to how to care, you should check that for special tips.

To maintain a bright and clean finish, it is important to perform daily sweeping, vacuuming, or dust mopping of wood floors. Promptly attending to spills is crucial to prevent any potential damage.

For a more comprehensive cleaning routine, a thorough floor cleaning should be conducted on a weekly or monthly basis, taking into consideration the level of foot traffic the floors receive.

Clean Spills Up Immediately

Liquid and wood floors are never a good mix. Always sop up spills right after they happen. Make sure kids understand it’s better to tell you they’ve spilled something than to try to hide it or clean it themselves (unless they’re old enough to do it right).

Protective Measures

Use protective pads or felt furniture glides under the legs of furniture to prevent scratches. Place doormats at entryways to trap dirt and prevent it from being tracked onto the wood floor.

That’s not only saved your word floors from damage, but also make them easier to clean. And it means you won’t have to refinish as often.

Daily Sweeping or Vacuuming

A little bit of sweeping each day will keep your floor in great shape and make it easier to clean. It loosens dirt, dust, and debris from the floor.

Use a soft bristled broom or a dry microfiber mop.Or if you prefer to vacuum, use a vacuum without rotating brushes, as they can scratch the wood.

Weekly Damp Mop

Once a week or even less frequently, depending on your traffic, go over your wood floors with a microfiber mop and a floor cleaner like Bona.

You may be able to go up to 3 months between damp mops. It depends how dirty your floors get, and that depends on who’s been tracking dirt, pet hair, etc. You can judge for yourself.

Clean in the Direction of the Grain

When mopping or wiping the floor, follow the direction of the wood grain. This helps to prevent streaking and ensures a thorough clean.