6 SIMPLE Ways to Clean Hardwood Floors

Never heard you should clean your hardwood floors ? I am here to help!

By | Updated October 17, 2020 |
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Hardwood floors bring an air of class and elegance to your home. However, when they turn dirty and gross, it harms the hygiene of your house as well as the aesthetic.

For this reason, it’s super important to regularly clean and cares for your wood floors. But—cleaning hardwood floors isn’t as simple as you would think.

Of course, the methods are pretty straightforward. For dry cleaning, you can either use vacuum cleaners, brooms, or wood floor mops. For wet cleaning, you can use water, vinegar, or hardwood floor cleaner.

The hard part comes when you’re deciding which of these methods to use on your hardwood floors.

Why?

All hardwood floors come with different types of finishes and wood quality. Each finish and wood type requires different maintenance.

I’ve discussed each method in this guide, listing the individual pros and cons. By going through each method, you can decide which one best suits your hardwood floors.

Here are six best ways to clean hardwood floors.

Table of Contents

The Dry Cleaning Methods

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Firstly, let’s go over the dry cleaning methods. What do I mean by ‘dry’? To properly clean hardwood floors, you must sweep away the dust and grime, which builds up over time.

Dry cleaning methods should be part of your day-to-day cleaning routine. If you suffer from allergies, in particular, keeping up with dry cleaning is super essential.

Otherwise, allergens such as dust, pollen, pet hair, and dander accumulate and increase your symptoms.

There are three main ‘dry cleaning methods’  to clean hardwood floors:

1.Vacuum Cleaners

Of course, vacuum cleaners are the easiest and most efficient in clearing away surface dirt and grime. Theoretically, there are many types you can use to clean hardwood floors.

From robot vacuums for hardwood floors to canister vacuums, there are many types out there. However, which type is the best for wood flooring?

You need to keep certain things in mind to answer this question. If you’re thinking about getting a vacuum, you must think about these things.

After all, vacuums can be costly, and you don’t want to waste your hard-earned money.

Related reading

 

Presentation for Hardwood Floors

Ideally, you want a vacuum with three things:

  • Seamless mobility
  • Powerful suction
  • Soft-thistled brush attachments

A canister vacuum with an oval dust floor attachment gives you all these things.

Canister vacuums are better choices than upright or stick vacuums on bare floors as they’re less likely to re-release dust and dirt back into the air.

As for the floor attachment, an oval-shaped one glides better on bare floors than rectangular ones. Rectangular ones such as the beater bar attachment are too tough for hardwood floors.

Also, oval floor attachments make cleaning between narrow crevices and around obstacles more convenient.

But—remember to get a vacuum specifically made for hardwood floors. Unless you have multiple types of surfaces at home, it’ll be smarter to invest in a hardwood floor vacuum.

From Shark to Hoover to Miele, all vacuum cleaner brands have hardwood floor options. You can readily find affordable options online.

Frequency of Use

I can’t tell you the exact frequency with which you should clean your home.

The frequency depends on a few things, including:

  • How often you use the room that you’re vacuuming
  • How quickly dirt accumulates in your home
  • Whether the rooms are high traffic or low traffic
  • Whether you live with pets or children (who cause frequent messes)

Vacuum cleaners, notably canister vacuums, are incredibly powerful. Therefore, using them too frequently can damage wood surfaces.

Typically, twice a week is enough, particularly for homes with low-traffic rooms. However, with high traffic areas, dust accumulates more quickly, requiring daily vacuuming.

Similarly, homes with pets or children also require daily vacuuming.

Firstly, pet hair and dander fall daily and can cause serious harm if inhaled too frequently. Secondly, both children and pets make lots of messes, such as food spills or urine stains.

It’s important to clean the house frequently to maintain hygiene.

Benefits for Hardwood Floors

How is vacuuming more efficient than other dry cleaning methods?

For one, it’s more powerful. Vacuums can suck grime and stains away from wood planks almost immediately.

For another, vacuuming means less effort and work on your part. Other methods, as I’ve listed below, are physically taxing.

The only downside to using vacuum cleaners is the potential scratching. If you use the wrong type of vacuum or floor attachment, you can scratch your floors, ruining the look.

However, if you use vacuums specifically for hardwood floors, this isn’t likely.

 

2.Brooms

Unlike vacuums, brooms are less modern. However, they’re still reliable cleaning tools. You can never go wrong with good old fashioned broomsticks.

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When cleaning hardwood floors, you want something with gentle and soft bristles. Get a microfiber broomstick as these are the best for bare floors.

Microfibers are tough enough to loosen stubborn dirt and grime. However, they won’t damage the floor.

Also, microfibers naturally create electrostatic force and hence, attract hair, dust, and fur. The static energy helps trap the dirt once the fibers have a hold of them.

Like with vacuum cleaners, you can find brooms specifically for hardwood flooring. These brooms also cater to pet owners and multi-surface cleaning.

Frequency of Use

Since brooms are less grating on wood surfaces than vacuums, it’s okay to use them every day. However, this is only the case for soft-bristled brooms.

Again, think about how often your home needs cleaning and decide for yourself.

Benefits for Hardwood Floors

Brooms will never scratch or damage your hardwood floors. If you’re looking to preserve the look of your wood flooring, invest in a broom.

Also, brooms are much cheaper and easier to replace than vacuum cleaners. Vacuum cleaners come with lengthy maintenance processes. With brooms, you face no such issues.

Despite their benefits, brooms are more inefficient at cleaning than vacuums.

How so?

Firstly, cleaning floors with brooms pushes dirt, dust, and other debris into narrow crevices. You can get a broom with an adjustable floor handle, but it’ll be challenging to sweep in these crevices even then.

Secondly, unless you remove it by hand, there will always be some dirt and grime leftover. Brooms aren’t very good at picking up finer dust and dirt particles.

 

3.Mops

Last but not least, you can also use dust mops to deep clean hardwood floors. In this day and age, there are many types of mops in the market.

From steam mops to microfiber mops to powered floor scrubbers, which one is right for hardwood floors?

Presentation for Hardwood Floors

In terms of non-powered mops, microfiber mops are the most reliable. They’re gentle on hardwood floors and get the job done.

Microfiber mops are more durable and versatile than vacuums and brooms. In addition to hardwood floors, they work perfectly on tiles, cement, stone, and laminate flooring.

Moreover, microfiber mops are smoother on bare floors than broomsticks. They come with scrubbing pads, which make it easier to remove stubborn stains and specks of grime.

Since these pads are washable, it’s easy to reuse them.

Powered mops are better in terms of maneuverability. If you choose to buy a powered mop, make sure the specifications are for hardwood floors.

Brands such as Bissell and Shark sell high-tech powered mops for hardwood floors.

Frequency of Use

Again, this depends on how often you can clean without damaging your floors. With non-powered mops, it’s safe to clean every two to three days.

However, with powered mops, take extra care. If you’re using powered mops, limit your cleaning to once or twice a week.

Benefits for Hardwood Floors

Mops combine the benefits of both brooms and vacuums. Powered mops allow you to clean more efficiently. They’re powerful and effective, so you’ll undoubtedly have a clean and hygienic home.

Non-powered mops don’t leave scratches and are easier to maintain than vacuums. You can even find microfiber mops with 360-degree heads, which make turning easier.

Therefore, cleaning is smoother than with brooms or vacuums.

Like brooms, microfiber mops leave dust particles behind. You have to remove them manually.

As for powered mops, if you don’t get the right one, you risk damaging the floors. Hard-bristled mops will leave scratches.

 

The Wet Cleaning Methods

Now, let’s go through the wet cleaning methods. How are they different from dry cleaning methods?

The Wet Cleaning Methods
Well, wet cleaning methods are for deep cleaning or maintaining hardwood floors.

Through these methods, you treat things like stains, odors, and discoloration. You can also use these methods to help preserve the quality of your hardwood floors.

Like with the dry cleaning methods, there are three ways to ‘wet’ clean your floors:

1.Water

Can you clean hardwood floors using only water? Although the answer is yes, you must follow some rules.

Presentation for Hardwood Floors

Cleaning with water can be a bit risky with certain types of floors. If you’re using water, make sure the wood is completely sealed.

How do you know whether the floor is sealed or not? It depends on how old the finishing is. If you’ve got prefinished floors, your finishing is probably too old unless the house was recently constructed.

As the floor gets older, the finishing wears away, leaving the wood unsealed. Therefore, if you use water on an unsealed floorboard, the water will leak onto the wood, causing discoloration, swelling, and mold buildup.

If you have sealed floors, you can use water. However, use distilled water only.

Why?

Distilled water has a neutral PH level, so it won’t wear away the finishing or the wood coloring. You can mix the water with a wood-friendly disinfectant.

Frequency of Use

As a rule of thumb, don’t use wet cleaning methods too frequently. Since water is non-corrosive, you can use it to disinfect your floors once a week.

Again, make sure the wood is fully sealed. Also, if you notice any damage or streaking, stop immediately. Streaking means the water contains minerals that are harmful to the wood finish.

Benefits for Hardwood Floors

It’s both ecological and economical to use water. You don’t have to buy anything as you can readily make distilled water at home.

Also, water is more ecological than using hardwood cleaner with toxic chemicals and substances.

You have to be very careful about the amount of water you use. Too much water can cause irreparable damage to the wood as well as the finish.

I suggest taking a bit of water and gradually adding more. In this way, you don’t waste any, and you use the right amount.

 

2.Vinegar

If you’re wondering how to clean wood floors naturally, vinegar is an excellent solution. Vinegar may be an everyday household staple, but it’s also a useful cleaning tool.

Presentation for Hardwood Floors

For hardwood floors, it’s better to use distilled white vinegar. However, you can also get cleaning vinegar, which is more acidic. Don’t use colored vinegar such as red wine or balsamic vinegar as these may leave stains.

To make the vinegar homemade cleaning solution, mix vinegar (one part) with water (three parts).

But—before you do anything, it’s essential to test the vinegar on a small patch of wood. Select a small area that’s usually covered by furniture and rub a few drops of vinegar into the floorboard. If there’s no visible or tangible effect, the vinegar is okay to use.

Frequency of Use

Since vinegar can be both acidic and alkaline, don’t use it more than once a month.

Benefits for Hardwood Floors

Unlike chemical cleaners, vinegar is inexpensive and non-toxic. You don’t even have to wear gloves as it’s safe to touch.

Since you have to use vinegar with water, you risk water damage. Too much water exposure causes discoloration and swelling, mainly if the floorboards are unfinished.

Again, monitor how much mixture you use.

3.Hardwood Floor Cleaner

Lastly, you can use hardwood floor cleaners as a wet cleaning method. Don’t confuse hardwood cleaners with carpet or tile floor cleaners. These cleaning products are specifically for artificial and natural wood.

Presentation for Hardwood Floors

Sometimes, it’s better to use wood floor cleaning products as they cater to different types of wood floors. For example, you can find hardwood floor cleaners for laminate floors, polyurethane-treated floors, and vinyl floors.

I recommend finding out what type of floor and finish you have, and then buying a hardwood floor cleaner accordingly.

Frequency of Use

Most hardwood floor cleaners are adapted to your floor type. Consequently, you can use them more frequently.

However, don’t use them more than once or twice a week.

Benefits for Hardwood Floors

Again, the main advantage of using natural wood floor cleaners is the specifications. These cleaners specifically cater to certain types of wood floors.

They will help maintain your floors, revitalize color, and even fix scuff marks in the process.

Unlike water and vinegar, hardwood floor cleaners are expensive. You have to keep buying them, so it adds to the maintenance cost of your floors.

 

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Bonus: Steam Cleaner

Before I get to the next section, let’s quickly go over steam cleaners. Can you clean hardwood floors with a steam cleaner?

The answer is an emphatic no. As I mentioned, water can do a lot of damage to wood floors. Similarly, steam cleaners, which infuse water into the floor surface, also cause damage.

Therefore, stay away from them.

 

How to Clean Hardwood Floors: Step by Step

Through the previous sections, you have learned both the dry and wet cleaning methods for hardwood floors. However, how do you go about using them? What are the steps? Also, is it okay to combine some of them?

I’ve answered these questions down below. As a rule of thumb, you should divide your cleaning routine on a weekly and monthly basis. Day-to-day cleaning is a weekly job, while deep cleaning is a monthly job.

Here are my weekly and monthly cleaning routines for hardwood floors:

1.My Weekly Cleaning Routine

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With a weekly routine, your tasks primarily revolve around prevention and quick cleanups.

You must try to prevent damaging your wood floors. At the same time, you should treat stains and messes as they happen. Don’t wait too long, or else the stain will be hard to remove.

Here’s what you should do every week:

 

2.My Monthly Cleaning Routine

How to Clean Hardwood Floors_My Monthly Cleaning Routine
Monthly cleaning is a bit more extensive than weekly cleaning. It’s about deep cleaning your home as well as maintaining the quality of your wood floors.

Here’s what to do during your monthly deep cleaning:

 

Maintenance Tips

Lastly, it’s essential to know how to maintain your hardwood floors. The maintenance process involves a lot of dos and don’ts to prevent damage to your floors. However, maintenance isn’t just about prevention. It’s also about repairs.

For example, scratching and scuffing is a very common issue with hardwood floors. If you have a wax-finish floor, for instance, you can remove scratches by re-waxing.

Removing stains isn’t as simple, though. There are many types of stains, all of which require different treatments. Most stains are treatable through vinegar and household bleach mixtures.

However, grease stains, for example, require hydrogen peroxide in wax-finished floors. With surface-finished floors, urethane works better.

If you want to know how to remove different stains, you can check out these methods.

For the basic dos and don’ts, however, let’s go over these tips and warnings:

 

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Firstly, let’s go over the tips. By following these tips, you can prevent damage to your hardwood floors.

Since most hardwood floors are highly expensive to install, it’s worth working some of these tips into your daily routine.

 

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Try a Humidifier

Wood expands in the summer and shrinks in the winter. By maintaining indoor temperature and humidity, you can easily limit the wood movement.

Shrinkage is particularly dangerous as it can cause cracks in the floorboards. Humidifiers will help you out in winter months by preventing wood shrinkage.

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Adopt a No-Shoes Rule

Many Asian cultures adopt a no-shoes policy in their homes. Similarly, you should also consider a no-shoes policy.

Shoes and foot traffic causes a lot of scuffing on the hardwood. Adopting such a policy and wearing only home slippers will be more gentle on the wood surface.

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Buff Instead of Wax

Wax buildup is also a significant issue you can face with hardwood floors. Wax buildup is bad because it dulls the wood’s color, creates odors, and makes the floor prone to scratches.

Instead of overwaxing your floors, consider buffing them instead.

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Place Soft Guards on Furniture Legs

Like shoes and leg traffic, furniture legs can also cause scuffing. Apart from this, furniture legs can dig into the floor, wearing away the finish.

If you want to avoid this, you can place soft guards on each furniture leg. You can readily find such guards at your local home convenience stores.

 

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Now, what are the things you should avoid? Preventing damage to a surface as delicate as hardwood floors isn’t a complicated task as long as you heed these warnings.
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Avoid Oils, Waxes, and Furniture Sprays

When the wood floor loses its shine, avoid using oils, waxes, and furniture sprays. As I mentioned above, re-waxing wood surfaces make re-coating challenging.

Using oils, on the other hand, leaves a sticky residue, making cleaning more difficult. Likewise, furniture sprays also ruin the texture of the finish, making the floor too slippery.

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Avoid Sliding Heavy Furniture

Again, furniture causes scuffing. Therefore, if you need to move furniture, always lift instead of sliding it away.

In this way, you can avoid both the horrible noise and the annoying scuff marks.

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Stay Away From Abrasive Cleaners

Abrasive cleaners such as ammonia or other alkaline products ruin the color and finish of the wood flooring.

Consequently, you should only use natural cleaners such as vinegar and water or use wood-specific cleaners.

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Again, Don’t Use Too Much Water

Throughout this guide, I’ve mentioned this tip again and again. I’ll reiterate it as a final warning. It’s very easy to damage wood floors with water.

Even if you don’t realize it at the time, you could be using too much. Therefore, use as little as possible when you’re mopping the floors.

If you can, avoid mopping, and use a damp cloth instead. However, this tip isn’t practical for large areas.

Those with large rooms should use a mop and immediately go over it with a damp cloth, especially if there’s standing water.

 

Now It’s Your Turn

In sum, cleaning hardwood floors isn’t a difficult task. It’s just a bit tricky. However, I hope you have learned enough to clean and take care of your wood floors efficiently with my guide on how to clean hardwood floors.

Now, I’d like to hear from you:

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below.

REVIEWED BY

Harold is a Flooring Specialist at The House Wire, educating people on Flooring by writing guides about the topic. He is a well-seasoned flooring specialist with experience in the industry for nine years. During his time with customer service, Harold worked with a billion-dollar company and another high profile company. He is sufficiently comprehensive in the art of communication as a team player, achieving tasks, and meeting goals set.

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