How To Clean Hardwood Flooring Like A Pro

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The key to making your hardwood floors look their best all boils down to how well you clean them. Basic cleaning will not bring out the best in them- you need to have the right hardwood cleaners, the right cleaning tools, and use the right technique to bring out the splendid luster in them.

In other words, the most important thing when it comes to hardwood floor cleaning is to use the right tools, cleaners, and techniques to ensure that you don’t end up damaging the finish of your floor.

That’s why we have prepared this guide to help you clean your hardwood floor in a safe, thorough, and effective way.

But before we discuss the steps to cleaning your hardwood, do you know what type of finish your floor has?

Find Out What Finish Your Hardwood Flooring Is

modern kitchen with stainless steel stove top placed on a hardwood floor

You may skip this part if you already know what type of coating is on your wooden floor. However, if you are unsure, do this- pour 3-4 drops of water on your floor and leave it for two minutes. If you find out that the water is still on your floor, then know that your floor has acrylic or polyurethane finish.

However, if you find that the drops have soaked into the floor, then know that you either have varnished or an unfinished floor.

In today’s topic, we discuss the right way of cleaning finished or coated hardwood flooring;

The Process of Cleaning Hardwood Flooring

A person using a microfibre mop to clean hardwood floors

Since moisture doesn’t easily seep through the coating on your floor, cleaning up spills and dirt as well as removing stains is an easier task.

To help you get it right, here is what you should do;

Remove dust and dirt

Kitchen with hardwood flooring

Dust and debris are the two main things that make your floor look dull and old. You must get rid of them before you proceed with your cleaning process, or else you will smear dirt and dust across your wooden floor and leave unpleasant marks all over it.

If you have a vacuum cleaner, use it to pick up dust and dirt. If you are to use brush attachment, make sure to choose a suitable one that doesn’t have metal parts that may scratch or damage the coating on your floor.

You can also use an electrostatic broom to sweep dirt and dust on your hardwood flooring. These brooms offer an easier way of sweeping hardwood floors as they eliminate the need to clean the same area twice. Besides, they can pick up dust and dirt from those hard to reach areas that a vacuum cleaner cannot reach.


Empty bedroom with white built in wardrobes

While you can get specially-made products on the market meant for cleaning hardwood flooring, a homemade cleaning solution can as well be effective for regular mopping. You can create a hardwood cleaning solution using baking soda and water.

Stained hardwood floors may require one to use an alkaline cleaning solution to ensure thorough cleaning. However, you may need to dilute such a cleaning solution to make them mild.

Although you can use any type of mop to clean hardwood floors, microfiber mops are very effective and the preferred choice for many professionals.

Another thing to mention is that it is advisable to keep wetness to a minimum to avoid damaging the coating. Therefore, wing the mop properly so that it is not merely damp. 

For a professional-looking wooden floor, don’t just mop- buff the floor after it has dried. You don’t have to use a buffing machine as you can buff the floor by hand. All you need is water, white vinegar, and a soft cloth. If you would not like to be on your knees all the time, you can get a microfiber mop.

To make the buffing solution, mix a cup of white vinegar with a gallon of warm water. After that, dampen the mop or cloth in the mixture and wing it.

When buffing, do so in circular motions. After you are done and the floor has dried up, that’s when you will see the satisfying shiny results.

Note: If the floor is stained, do not use steel wool, sandpaper, or harsh chemicals as these can cause permanent damage to your floor finish. You can use vinegar to clean dark spots or pet stains. For marks left behind by pointed items or heels, rub in floor max.

That’s all. But before we finalize our guide, let’s briefly talk about the dos and don’ts of cleaning and maintaining wood floors.


The Dos

a window with curtain drapes situated next to hardwood floors

  • Clean your hardwood floor on a regular basis as dust can get dragged and leave noticeable scratches on the surface
  • Soak up any spills immediately you notice them to avoid excess moisture sitting on the floor coating
  • Place rugs and carpets over areas that are hit by direct sunlight coming through windows and doors as this can cause wood to fade
  • Place rubber protectors on the legs of furniture to avoid leaving marks
  • Check for any major scratches or damages on your floor surface once in a while; call a professional to rectify it if needed


The Don’ts

modern white living room with hardwood flooriong

  • Don’t use abrasive cleaning tools or scrubbers when cleaning your floors or removing stains; stick to using sponges, soft clothes, as well as soft-bristled scrub brushes
  • Avoid walking on hardwood floors with spiked shoes
  • Don’t leave damp items or liquids lying on the floor for long
  • Avoid using cold/hot water to mop hardwood as this can dull the floor
  • Steer away from using wax-based cleaners as they may leave a film over the surface that may attract more dirt
  • Avoid using cleaning solutions designated for vinyl or tile floors as these can damage wooden floors

The Bottom Line

Two suede grey chairs in a living room with hardwood flooring


Equipping yourself with the right information regarding the right and simplest way of cleaning hardwood floors will save you from causing premature damage to your floors.

If you follow the steps above on safe hardwood floor cleaning, your hardwood floors will sparkle and look professionally-cleaned.

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