How to Clean Hardwood Floors So They Shine Like New

How do you clean hardwood floors without damaging them?
When it seems dirty, use a damp mop with a flat-head mop and microfiber pad or a microfiber string mop that has been completely wrung out. Move in the direction of the grain and use a spray bottle to manage the amount of cleaning solution. Aim for a thick mist or gentle squirt of roughly a half teaspoon per 2 square feet.

Expert advice to prolong the lifespan of your flooring

You must become proficient at cleaning hardwood floors. Once you’ve made the decision to swap out your carpet or laminate flooring for gorgeous wood floors, you want to maintain them looking their best. In actuality, the key to maintaining these lustrous, dark surfaces is a straightforward deep clean.

Whether your house has solid, engineered, or reclaimed wood flooring, the fundamental cleaning regimen should be the same to keep them looking pristine. Fortunately, the routine isn’t too demanding. However, there are still some details that are crucial for upkeep, which is why we consulted the specialists.

We spoke with Tommy Sancic, owner of Ohio-based custom antique reclaimed and wide plank flooring manufacturer Olde Wood, Mark Whatley, production manager at Bay Area retail showroom and contracting company Amber Flooring, and Brett Miller, vice president of technical standards, training, and certification at the National Wood Flooring Association, to get the full story. Here are some cleaning tips for wood floors that can help you avoid harming the finish.

Regularly vacuum

It goes without saying that a significant challenge to cleaning hardwood floors might be dirt and grime accumulation. Keep clutter off the floor, advises Miller. Additionally, routine cleaning is suggested. Not only does it appear dirty, but if you step on a piece of trash on a wood floor, it feels like sandpaper on the bottom of your shoes. That surface might be damaged or scratched. It’s advisable to take preventative measures because even pet hair has the ability to harm your wood flooring.

If you can, try to sweep your house once a day. After that, use a dry mop or dust mop to remove any last traces of dirt and dust. Even better would be to use a dry microfiber towel or mop. If you are unable to sweep your entire house every day, attempt to sweep high-traffic areas like hallways or entryways as frequently as you can. Developing a quick cleaning regimen might assist you make sure you’re successfully and regularly cleaning every room and area.

Additionally, you should vacuum often. This will assist in collecting any small particles that simple sweeping would miss, and the powerful suction of a vacuum cleaner is especially helpful to remove dust and dirt from crevices and spaces between boards. To prevent scratching, just make sure the hard floor setting is selected, which disables the brush roll or beater bar. The last thing you want to do is scuff the floor you’re attempting to clean, so you could also use a flat attachment to protect it from bristles.

Choose the appropriate cleaning product

There is no set formula to follow when selecting a cleaning solution for a thorough wash. All three experts advise paying attention to the product recommendations of your finish and flooring maker because various finishes require different treatments.

It is reasonable to state, nevertheless, that there are some cleaning products you should never use. Sancic says, “I don’t advise using any type of harsh chemicals to clean any hardwood floor.” “Applied chemicals to the finish will cause haze. This may significantly accumulate over a six to twelve-month period and doesn’t look good. If you’ve already made this error, it’s easy to fix by wiping away the foggy film with a moist microfiber cloth soaked in warm water.

Additionally, Miller advises against using anything that promises to “polish, shine, renew, or reinvigorate the wood floor.” These “cleaning options” may seem helpful, but they aren’t actually doing your hardwood floors any favors. According to Brett, “it basically tells you that you’re setting out something that’s a complementary product.” “It’s applying something to that surface that will make it lovely for a while, but it’s not made to wear,” the speaker said.

When in doubt, return to the fundamentals. Combine four cups of warm water with a few drops of Murphy Oil Soap to make a cost-effective homemade hardwood floor cleaning. Another traditional home remedy for cleaning is water and white vinegar, however experts disagree on its efficacy.

Maintain (fairly) dry flooring

Use a moist mop to apply the appropriate wood floor cleaning to the floors after you’ve located it. You shouldn’t start soaking the flooring with a damp bucket since it would make the wood swell, advises Miller. Because of this, think about using a microfiber mop rather than a cotton one because it uses less water and won’t leave you with a damp mop. In fact, microfiber mops are the best for the task and use around 20 times less liquid, according to Bona, a global leader in the hardwood floor cleaning market. Additionally, you’ll spend a lot less time attempting to wring out the mop head, benefiting both you and your wooden floors.

Additionally, Brett warns against using a steam mop and steam. Even though it could provide wood floors a thorough cleaning, it permits vapor to penetrate tight spots and harm the floors in your living room.

Recognize the caution indicators

When it comes to maintaining spotless wood flooring, knowing how to clean hardwood floors isn’t the only thing to think about. The surrounding environment has a significant role in the maintenance and durability of your floors. Even though they are beyond of your control, temperature and humidity have a significant impact on how wood behaves. Recognizing red flags is your greatest line of protection. The benefit of wood is that it is a natural product and will communicate its unhappiness to you, according to Brett.

The wood will cup if there is an excessive amount of moisture on, around, or below it. To avoid this, get rid of the water source, particularly any standing water. Arid conditions cause splitting, cracking, and gapping. In this case, a humidifier should work. “Your floor will be able to settle back down if you add a little moisture to the air. It’ll make it joyful once more,” asserts Brett.

Repaint surface blemishes

Scratching floors hurts, but it’s entirely natural. It comes with owning a wood floor, explains Brett. It’s a rather easy DIY technique to restore surface scratches, if you decide to do so. Use a stain marker from a touch-up kit for wood furniture.

Another approach to personalize your room while protecting the floor is with a straightforward area rug or doormats.

Before it’s too late, repaint

It’s time to intervene and recoat the floor when it begins to deteriorate. Sanding is not necessary for a recoat, according to Whatley. In order to avoid having to sand the floors, “it’s essentially adding another coat of finish to the top of the floors to bring back the shine and vitality of that finish.”

This activity can give a layer of protection whenever it’s necessary, extending the life of a floor for many years. The finest option for refinishing may depend on the requirements and specifications of your wood floors. There are many various floor treatments available. The ability to be repaired, refinished, and recoated is what Miller calls “the beauty of wood flooring.” On a wood floor, “a lot of typical wear and tear may be taken care of.”

What is the best thing to use to clean hardwood floors?
Making a habit out of cleaning your hardwood floors is the best strategy. For everyday wood floor cleaning, use a brush or hardwood floor mop. Dust and filth may be removed and scratches avoided by using a microfiber dust mop that has been pre-treated with a cleaning chemical. Once a week, vacuum your hardwood floor.


What should you not put on a hardwood floor?

  • Use the floor-cleaning product that the floor finisher suggests, or just use regular soap and water.
  • Use no furniture sprays, oils, or waxes.
  • Avoid using pure ammonia, chemicals that are alkaline, or abrasive cleansers.
  • Never use vinegar and water or lemon juice to clean hardwood floors.

Is it OK to mop wood floors with water?
Because wood naturally expands when wet and can cause your floor to fracture or splinter, manufacturers and industry experts advise against washing hardwood floors with water.

Can you use Dawn dish soap on hardwood floors?
Grab your hardwood floor mop, a bottle of dish soap, and a bucket if you want to clean your floors with supplies you already have in your pantry. Dish soap is a mild cleaning that won’t harm the natural wood and is ideal for both small chores and routine maintenance.

Can I use Pine Sol on hardwood floors?
Pine-Sol may be used sparingly and dilutedly on wood floors without risk. Before applying the product to your hardwood floor, be sure to check the label for the dilution ratio. The easiest way to clean hardwood floors is to dry mop, so use as little water and Pine-Sol as possible.

Why do my hardwood floors always look dirty?
For a variety of reasons, floors may seem or feel unclean. Hard surface floors that are dirty are typically brought on by the environment, excessive chemical usage, and heavy traffic. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to prolong the appearance and cleanliness of your floor.

How do I make my hardwood floors look new without refinishing?

  • Without refinishing, hardwood floors may be restored to look brand new.
  • Try using a commercial-grade buffer to buff and polish surfaces.
  • Use a polishing sealant for hardwood floors.
  • With toothpaste and a fresh cloth, clean markers.
  • For a high-gloss clean, use an oil soap or wood floor cleaner.

Should you use a rug pad on hardwood floors?
Hardwood floor protection against rug pads
You’ll see that your rug’s bottom is rather rough if you just look at it. Your rug will be pushed up against the flooring as you walk on it, possibly resulting in scratches. A rug pad offers a much-needed layer of protection between the rug and the flooring.

How often should you mop hardwood floors?
Wood flooring in heavy traffic areas should be mopped down with a damp mops once per week. Less regularly, such as once a month or once every three months, might be done in low traffic areas. Make sure that the mop is only slightly moist since unsealed wood floors are more prone to water damage.

How can I get my floor really clean?
Never use soap-based detergents since they might leave a dull coating on the floor; instead, vacuum, dust, or wipe with a lightly saturated mop. Also, avoid overwetting the surface. Additionally, avoid using wax polish since it will make the floor slick. Use a water and vinegar solution that has been diluted to get rid of stains and blemishes.

Why are my wood floors still dirty after mopping?
Even if it was freshly mopped, using unclean water to mop frequently results in that buildup and nasty appearance. Every time you dip a mop into water, filth is added to the bucket; if you don’t change the water, you’re merely spreading the dirt and grime from the floors with the unclean water.

How can I make my hardwood floors shine without sanding?
Three Methods to Refinish Wood Floors Without Sanding

  • Make use of a chemical abrasion kit from the store.
  • Recoat flooring with polyurethane after buffing.
  • Use a rejuvenator.

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