How To Deep Clean Hardwood Floors: A Step by Step Guide

By
Jeneva Aaron
Jeneva has over years of passion for home decorating and cleaning. She is the founder and CEO of thehousewire.com where she provides honest and objective reviews on home and cleaning products.
Learn more about The Housewire’s Editorial Process
Updated April 12, 2022

Let your hardwood floors shine.

Let your hardwood floors shine.

Cleaning Hardwood Floors
Hardwood is a very popular flooring choice, as it adds a rustic warmth to any home.

It’s also long lasting and strong when cared for, but not immune to damage from spills, scuffs and stains. Hardwood is more delicate than other types of flooring. So it requires regular routine cleaning, beyond just a vacuum or dust mop.

And the more you know about wood floor cleaning and maintenance, the longer your hardwood will last. To make things easy for you, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide of the best way to deep clean hardwood floors.

How Often Should You Deep Clean Hardwood Floors?

Regular maintenance is the key to long-lasting and beautiful hardwood floors. A regular maintenance schedule can be built around the following timelines:

Once a DaySweep, dust or dry mop your floors to collect dust bunnies and debris.
Once a WeekVacuum using the hard floor setting. This helps get the dirt that settles in between the floorboards.
Twice a MonthClean high-traffic areas with a damp mop. Make sure you use a mop designed for hardwood floors like this Turbo Microfiber Cloth
Once a MonthDamp-mop with a designated hardwood floor cleaner..
Every 3-5 YearsApply a coat of finish to refresh the glossiness.
Every 10 YearsSand and refinish your hardwood floor.

Before You Begin

Gather All Your Cleaning Supplies

Gather All Your Cleaning Supplies

  • A hardwood floor broom or mop: Use a soft bristle broom that will remove dirt and pet hair without scratching up your hardwood. If you’re using a dust mop, choose an untreated electrostatic model. These mops use static to help attract dust to the mop head.
  • A vacuum cleaner: Make sure the vacuum you use doesn’t have a beater bar attachment, as this will damage the wood surface. Use a floor brush attachment if you have one. An upholstery attachment will also do the job.
  • A floor cleaner: Harsh chemicals can damage natural hardwood. To clean wood floors naturally, only use a cleaning solution designed to deep clean wood floors, like this Bona Cleaner. You can also use water, but remember water and wood don’t mix. So don’t saturate the floors and dry them thoroughly.
  • A wet mop: Damp mopping with a flat, microfiber mop cleans hardwood with the least amount of liquid. You can also use one single mop with several cleaning heads: one for dry mopping, one for wet mopping and a last one for drying the floors. Some mops also have a spray function —just be sure not to saturate the floor as this can cause damage. Hardwood floor Mops like this Bona Hardwood Floor Spray Mop are designed specifically to deep clean hardwood floors.

What To Avoid

  • Do not use abrasive cleaners or home-based solutions, especially any involving white vinegar or lemon juice. Also avoid bleach, ammonia-based cleaners, or steel wool and other abrasive cloths. These products can dull your hardwood over time. And cause them to become slippery, or affect its re-coat ability.
  • Stay away from dish soap. As harmless as it may seem to use dish detergent and water to clean wood floors, manufacturers actually recommend against this. Cleaning material like plain soap, oil soap detergent, furniture sprays or paste wax can cause warping, delamination, swelling and joint-line separation. Be aware that using these types of products can void the warranty on your hardwood.
  • Avoid the use of steam mops to deep clean hardwood floors. Tests by Consumer Reports showed that steam mops left residual moisture in the floor. (1) The heat from the steam can also damage the wood finish, and cause waxed floors to look hazy.

Instructions

1. Sweep

Sweeping Hardwood floors

Sweep your floor with a soft bristled broom or a dust mop.

Tiny particles of grit and debris act like sandpaper and will scratch your hardwood. Removing them will keep your floors looking smooth and shiny.

2. Vacuum

Vacuuming Hardwood Floors

Vacuum using a floor brush or an upholstery tool to get any debris trapped between the floorboards.

3. Damp Mop

Damp Mop - Wood Floors
Damp mop the floor with water or a designated wood flooring cleaner solution.

Apply wood floor cleaner directly to a microfiber mop or damp cloth, never directly to the floor. You can also opt for a spray mop with a fine mist, or use a spray bottle.

If you’re using water, make sure it’s slightly damp. Or if you soaked your mop, wring the mop as much as possible to avoid flooding the floor.

Tip

Never soak wood floors when mopping them. Blot spills or wet boot prints with a dry clean cloth as soon as you can. Standing water on hardwood can cause staining and warping.

Mop in a back and forth motion. When the mop head is soiled, replace, launder, or rinse with water.

Mopping with a dirty mop head will cause dull streaks to show on your wood floor.

4. Dry

Dry - Your Hardwood Floors

Wipe any excessive water or cleaning solution from your wood floors with a soft cloth.

TESTING INSIGHT:

Here we changed the dirty cleaning head of the dust mop with a clean one to dry the floors.

Remember, always try to keep your hardwood as dry as possible when you clean.

Note

Consider this step as optional if the cleaning solution you’re using does not saturate your floors.

Maintenance and Preventive Tips

Avoid Dents and Scratches

Dents and scratches are the main issues to avoid when it comes to hardwood floors. One way to avoid scratches is by adding felt pads to the bottom of your chairs and table legs.

Make sure these pads stay free of grit, and change them regularly once they start to wear.

Avoid walking with footwear like high heels or cleats on your wood floors. These hard edges can dent hardwood over time, and even void your warranty.

Pet owners should also ensure their pet’s nails are trimmed short enough to prevent scratches on wood floors.

Use Rugs to Protect Wood Floors

It’s a good idea to place floor mats such an area rug in rooms that get high amounts of traffic.

If you have hardwood in your kitchen, an area rug in front of your stove or sink can prevent wear. Make sure you shake out these rugs regularly in order to prevent dirt from getting embedded in your floor.

You may notice that hardwood tends to wear mostly at the entrances to your house. This is especially true if you have a busy household or live in a climate with wet or snowy weather.

Avoid water damage to your hardwood by placing mats at any entrance ways to your home.

Lots of dirt gets tracked into the house through your dog’s or cat’s paws, so entryway mats are a must.

Move Heavy Furniture With Care

When moving heavy furniture on wood floors, it’s important to avoid dragging or rolling.

Always lift and carry furniture, as this will avoid causing any scratches. If you have to roll any furniture, protect your hardwood by laying down plywood or some other firm material first.

To avoid any long-term dents, it’s a good idea to rearrange your heavy furniture periodically.

Hardwood is sensitive to sunlight and will fade over time. So rearranging your furniture allows the wood floors to change colour and age evenly.

Apply a Fresh Coat of Finish

Cleaning wood floors with a dust mop can only do so much to achieve that natural shine.

Hardwood floors should get a new coat of finish every 3-5 years to bring back the wood’s original shine and appearance. Whether it’s wood floor polish or floor wax, consult with a professional to find out if your hardwood is due for a new coat of finish.

A professional may lightly buff your floor before adding a new layer of finish, to get rid of any floor surface scratches.

Applying a new coat of finish is not just for aesthetic reasons either. This glossy coat also adds a layer of protection to your wood floors, to keep them glowing for years to come.

Related Reading

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.