What is the Best Way to Clean my Hardwood Floor?

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  • Written By: Dana Hinders
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2019
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Solid hardwood floors can be used to add richness, warmth, and natural beauty to your home. They are available in unique textures, colors, patterns, and styles. Solid hardwood flooring can be a bit pricey, however, so you’ll want to protect your investment by making sure your floor is properly maintained. Use rugs in high traffic areas and clean up any spills quickly. Sweep regularly but carefully, and use a wood cleaner specifically designed for hardwoods.

When it comes to caring for your hardwood floors, taking a few simple preventive measures will make the cleaning process much easier. To keep your floors in top condition, you’ll want to minimize contact with sand, dirt, and other abrasive agents that can cause dents, scratches, and a dulling of the finish by strategically placing decorative rugs and floor mats in high traffic areas. Standing liquid can warp the finish of the wood, so it’s important to wipe up all spills immediately. Never drag chairs or tables across your floors, since this will cause large scratches. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight may discolor the floor’s finish, so it’s a good idea to invest in high quality drapes and blinds.


To care for your floor on a regular basis, simply sweep away excess dirt and grit with a broom. A canister vacuum with a special bare floor tool can also be useful for removing dust and debris, although you should always use vacuums with brush attachments to avoid creating dents in the wood. When you dust mop your floors, spray the treatment into the mop head 12-24 hours before mopping for maximum effectiveness.

Damp mopping hardwood floors is somewhat controversial among cleaning professionals, although damp mopping is highly unlikely to damage a floor that has been properly finished. Since you should avoid using an excessive amount of water, you’ll want to wet the mop and wring it until it’s about half dry before using it. It’s best to use a pH neutral wood cleaner, or a product recommended by your flooring manufacturer. Vinegar is sometimes recommended as an inexpensive cleaner for hardwood floors, but it does a poor job of removing greasy spots.

Waxing can be a great way to restore the luster to the finish on older hardwood floors, although poor application may cause adhesion problems and limit your options for refinishing your floor at a later date. If you’re not sure how to wax your floors, it’s best to consult a professional cleaning service for advice. Don’t risk causing permanent damage by attempting to do the job on your own.


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Post 6

When we were choosing new flooring I went with hardwood laminate floors instead of the real wood. The salesman told us they were just as durable and were much less expensive.

I loved the look of the real wood, but unfortunately that wasn't in my budget. I don't think you have to be quite as concerned with liquid on the laminate floors, but it is still a good idea to wipe up any water right away.

Post 5

@honeybees-- I used to have this problem with special hardwood floor cleaners too. It was frustrating to spend so much money on a cleaner that didn't work very well.

Recently I have been using a biodegradable environmentally safe cleaner. This comes in a concentrate form so I just mix a little but in a spray bottle of water and use it that way.

I can control how much cleaner is in the bottle and as long as I don't pour too much in, I don't have to worry about the streaks. I know I could also try vinegar, but I am not so sure I would like that smell.

Post 4

For those of you who have hardwood floors what do you use to clean them that won't leave streaks? I bought a professional cleaner at a specialty store that was supposed to be fantastic for cleaning hardwood floors.

I have been disappointed as this expensive cleaner doesn't work any better than anything else I have used in the past.

Post 3

I have oak hardwood floors on the entire main level of my house. While I love the look of natural wood, sometimes they are not all that practical.

With a busy house of three kids and two dogs, my hardwood floors can take a beating. I try to make sure and wipe up any spills right away. I have a central vacuum with a brush attachment that I use that won't scratch the floor. Then I use a slightly damp mop to give it a thorough cleaning.

I don't think I would ever choose to have hardwood floors in the kitchen area again, but it is a better alternative than carpet.

Post 2

I would really love to have hardwood floors. Carpets are so overrated and I think the most clean way to keep your house is by having hard flooring.

When you have carpets, vacuums will often clean up a good amount of large debris on the surface of the fibers. The problem lies in the fact that small particles and dust will build up beneath the reach of the vacuum. I am just never satisfied how clean my carpets are.

Hardwood floors on the other hand are capable of being cleaned almost to the point of sanitized. Sure, wood is a porous surface but when the proper type of finish is applied, the surface is capable of being cleaned thoroughly. Hardwood is the only way to go for cleanliness.

Post 1

When I was growing up forty plus years ago there was not such a big hype of wood floors. People actually desired full carpets, if you could afford it. I guess us old timers are just not up to snuff on what looks good.

Hardwood floors were beat up but useful in my household. We didn't get upset if the baby managed to create a foot-long gash into the finish. We also didn't hire professionals to clean or finish our floors.

My Dad always made sure that he could repair or replace anything in our home and that saved thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the house. Mom would use a specific type of oil and lemon juice on the floor every few months or so. Other then that we would simply sweep up the debris that accumulated on the surface of the hardwood.

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