Hardwood floors are stunning when they are shiny and clean, giving an organic and vibrant feel to any room. But due to its nature, it requires a certain level of care when cleaning to prevent stains, scratches, or ruining the finish.

Don’t worry though, none of it is complicated. You just have to know the best way to clean hardwood floors, as well as what you should prevent doing. Follow this guide to know exactly how to do it and make them last much longer! 

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other." – Walter Elliot


One of your greatest allies when it comes to cleaning hardwood floors is vacuuming. Sweeping is also fine, but naturally it takes more time and effort than vacuuming, which is faster and more efficient overall.

Vacuuming gets rid of all dust (even in awkward nooks and corners) and leaves your hardwood floors primed and ready for the following steps. This is important because using a damp mop when the floor is still dusty won’t do any good, and could even scratch it.

Basically, whether you just want a quick clean or to prepare your floor for a new refinish, vacuuming is the way to start. Just be sure to use a soft floor nozzle and not the bare plastic tip for corners, because that one will definitely scratch your hardwood floors.

Damp mop

To continue your hardwood floor cleaning, it’s time to get a mop. A microfiber mop is perfect for this, though you can always cheat by wrapping a damp cloth around a broom if you prefer.

The idea is to use a simple mixture of water and neutral soap (nothing abrasive) and wipe the floors with a damp mop – and “damp is the keyword here. You want to get it wet, then wring it almost dry so that water isn’t pooling over your floors. Standing water can either stain or get absorbed into the wood depending on your current finish, so you should avoid that.

Instead, use the damp mop to wipe the floors and it should dry very quickly because no water is left standing. If you make any blunders with the water, use a dry cloth to absorb it back into a bucket.

There are products specific for hardwood floor cleaning that you can use, but remember that you don’t need anything too strong here. Depending on your finish, some products can damage it, so a mixture of water and neutral soap is more than enough.

What to avoid

Avoid abrasive solutions. This includes any solutions that include vinegar, baking soda or lemon juice. These are great for cleaning certain things around the house, but they can damage your hardwood floor finish and leave it exposed.

Use the correct products. Products meant for vinyl or tile floors should never be used on hardwood!

Never leave standing water. If your wood finish isn’t up to par, standing water will be absorbed into the wood, which can cause serious problems. But even if your floors are protected, standing water will create stains.

Need a new finish?

Let’s say you’re cleaning your hardwood floors and you notice the texture is a bit rough, and even worse, you make a test and you notice that water is being absorbed. This means you need a hardwood floor refinish and fast!

The process of refinishing requires specific tools and a great deal of work, but luckily we already have a guide on refinishing floors!

Cleaning old or unfinished floors

OK, let’s say you have to clean your hardwood floors and they’re old and unfinished, but you have to clean them anyway and there’s no time to refinish them right now. What can you do?

Well, stick to vacuuming and sweeping only. Avoid using a damp mop or any products at all for now – as mentioned before, liquids can be absorbed into the wood and will damage them. If you must, you can also oil hardwood flooring to give them a nice shine, but unless you refinish them, the shine will wear off fairly quick.

Ready to refinish your hardwood flooring? Get free quotes from flooring pros in your area today!


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