How to Clean Hardwood Floors the Best Way

Hardwood floors add a beautiful touch to almost every home, but it takes a bit of effort to keep them clean. You can’t just pour a bucket of soap water out on the floor and let it soak, and it isn’t a good idea to scrub stains vigorously in order to get them off.

We’ve researched for several hours and tested some of the best guides out there, to find the best way to clean your hardwood floors. See what we came up with, and what you should be aware of – continue reading below!

Before Getting Started: Check Your Floor Type

Hardwood floors come with different coatings and treatments. Some are left untreated for a more raw and natural look, but some have a layer of wax, oil, varnish, or lacquer, which makes the floor easier to clean, as it doesn’t absorb any liquids.

Old floors usually have a layer of wax, oil, varnish, or lacquer, while newer floors have a surface-sealing consisting of some sort of coating made of polyurethane, polyacryl, or similar.

This extra layer adds a seal to your hardwood floor, which means stains and grime are usually easier to wipe off. However, it also means you should be extra careful when cleaning your floor, because you might end up spoiling the surface treatment or coating.

How to Test the Floor Type

These are some of the most common methods used for determining which type of hardwood floor you have:

  • Leave a few drops of water on a worn area of the floor.
  • If it’s absorbed into the wood, you probably have an old type of floor coating, or an untreated floor.
  • If it’s still beaded after a few minutes, you most likely have a new type of floor coating.
  • ALWAYS test a new type of cleaning agent and/or equipment on a small and inconspicuous area of your floor, to determine whether it works the way you want, or not.

Better Safe Than Sorry: Hardwood Floors Are Not as Robust as They Look

No matter what type of coating your hardwood floor has, it goes without saying that you should always be careful when dealing with natural materials.

There are a lot of guides on how to clean hardwood floors out there, but they don’t always warn about the risks of using certain types of soap or equipment to get the floors clean.

If you’re just a tiny bit in doubt of which coating your hardwood floor has, of if you’re unsure what’s in the soap you’re planning to use, you should NOT clean your floors. Instead you should consult a professional, and have him/her carry out an analysis of your floor, to determine its condition and how to clean it the right way.

How to Regularly Clean Your Hardwood Floors the Best Way

It is highly recommended to vacuum or sweep your hardwood floors daily, to avoid buildup of dust, dirt and grime. Especially dirt might end up scratching your floors, and all types of grime might find its way in between the cracks forming along all boards.

You should also mop your floors at least once a week, and usually a mild cleaning agent mixed with water will do the trick.

Here’s How to Clean Your Hardwood Floors Regularly:

  • Vacuum your floors once a day, preferably using a soft roller head, or a hardwood floor brush.
  • Mop your hardwood floors once a week, using either clean water, or water with a bit of mild cleaning agent added.
  • ALWAYS make sure to wipe up all excess water, after mopping the floors. Otherwise it might end up damaging the wood.

How to Deep Clean Your Hardwood Floors the Best Way

Your hardwood floors will last a lot longer, if they’re cleaned thoroughly at least 6-12 times a year, depending on the size of your household, and whether you’re wearing shoes inside, have pets, etc.

Here’s what you want to do for a perfect deep cleaning of your hardwood floors:

  • Remove all small items from the floor. This means putting shoes outside, lifting up chairs and place them on the table, smaller plants, boxes, etc. Especially in areas with lots of traffic, it’s important to clear as much of the hardwood floor area as possible.
  • Bring out the vacuum. You want to be really thorough when vacuuming, and get into all corners, crevices, baseboards, and underneath all furniture. You could consider adding a stick vacuum to your collection of cleaning equipment, to easily to get into those inaccessible areas around the house.
  • Mop the floor. And do it again. Mopping the floor twice helps you get rid of tougher stains, as they loosen up during the first round, and then they’re easier to wash off during the second round.
  • Inspect your floors, and bring a damp cloth. If you’ve missed a few stains, you can easily wipe them off using a damp cloth.

Do’s And Don’ts When Cleaning Hardwood Floors

There are a few things you’d definitely want to do when cleaning your hardwood floors, and some things you should definitely NOT do. Here are some of the most important do’s and don’ts:

Don’t use cleaning agents you don’t know. This is a nobrainer, but it’s an important one. If you’re just a tiny bit unsure about the contents of the cleaning agent you’ve purchased, DON’T use it. You’ll risk spoiling the surface of your floors, and your floors are quite expensive, especially compared with the price of a cleaning agent.

Do use plain soap and water. If in doubt, a mild plain soap is always the safest choice. However, it is always recommended to test the effect on an inconspicuous area of the floor, to make sure it doesn’t leave any marks, or spoil your floor.

Do use distilled water, if you want to avoid streaks from hard water. This is especially useful on hardwood floors in darker colors.

Don’t soak your hardwood floors. Too much water might cause damage to your floors. Always make sure to wring your mop properly, so it won’t leave traces of excess water as you go.

Don’t use a steam mop on hardwood floors. You’ll run the risk of your floors getting damaged from either the high heat or excess water left on the floor boards. Save it for other types of floors, e.g. tiles and vinyl.

Don’t scrub your floors too hard. While scrubbing the floors vigorously might get them clean, you’re likely to end up with scratches in the surface. If your floor has tough stains, you’d be much better off by trying to wipe them with a damp cloth.