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How To Clean Wood Floors Step by Step

April 6, 2022

Understanding how to clean wood floors- particularly hardwood- is an excellent way to protect your investment. Caring for wood flooring properly means it could last for decades. 

Keep reading as we expose a few myths about cleaning wood floors and then dive into the step-by-step guide. 

As they say, news often travels through the grapevine. Meaning, not everything you hear about hardwood floors is true. Many people fall prey to myths about this flooring type, but we are here to set the record straight. 

FALSE: If wood is shiny, that means it is clean. 

Shine does not equal clean. It simply means the surface of the floor is smooth.

Shine happens as light bounces off the surface, just as dullness occurs when light hits an uneven surface. 

Do not take either situation to be a reflection of your hardwood’s cleanliness.

Rather, it is a good indicator of the wood’s surface health- the top coating, protectant, that seals the wood. 

FALSE: Vinegar is a safe wood-floor cleaner. 

Years ago, vinegar was somehow introduced to the hardwood floor cleaning mix as a way to remove the sticky residue left behind from old-fashion soaps.

While white vinegar is a great substance to clean copper or even clean tile floors, you should avoid using it on the hardwood. 

The acidity in vinegar softens polyurethane, which damages the surface finish and causes susceptibility to scratches.

So, skip out on vinegar the next time you clean wood floors. 

FALSE: You must use oil soap to nourish the wood. 

Antique floors were mostly finished with a wax coating, allowing moisture to escape and creating a need to use oil soap.

How To Clean Wood Floors
How To Clean Wood Floors

However, that methodology has not been used for decades. Polyurethane seals modern wood floors, which is a hard and waterproof coating. 

An oil soap may be great on non-polyurethane floors, but oil soap may not be effective on modern hardwood.

The finish may block the oil from soaking in, turning the surface into a slip hazard. 

How to Clean Hardwood Floors Step by Step

Whether your home has pine, oak, or some other type of wood floor, the how-to for cleaning will be similar.

You should always check the manufacturer’s instructions for specific cleaning recommendations as a good rule of thumb.

If you cannot find those, try to identify your flooring type by eye with the help of the internet. 

1. Sweep or Vacuum 

The first step in knowing how to clean wood floors is removing debris or dust. Particles of dirt can scratch against the surface, causing wear and dulling the finish.

You can either sweep or vacuum hardwood; both methods will work well. 

Grab a soft bristle broom, hardwood floor mop, or vacuum with a hard floor setting.

Turning your vacuum to “hard floor” will deactivate the brush roll and use suction to lift dirt, leaving your hardwood unharmed. 

2. Mop 

After removing loose debris, the next step in cleaning wood floors is mopping.

We recommend using a flat mop, such as a Swiffer WetJet, paired with hardwood floor cleaner.

Swiffer uses a wet disposal pad and spray-and-mop function that uses just the right amount of liquid.

How To Clean Wood Floors

If using a regular mop, wring out most of the water so that it is damp.

You do not want to put a soaking wet mop on hardwood.

Avoid mopping with vinegar, harsh detergents, and steam. 

You can speed up the drying process by turning on a ceiling fan.

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3. Maintain 

Perhaps your floor is need of more than a quick sweep and mop. If it looks dull or scratched up, it’s time for maintenance.

Part of knowing how to clean wood floors is knowing how to keep them looking new for years to come. 

If scratches are a concern, you can try a liquid scratch concealer. Ensure the concealer also matches your floor’s finish. 

A wood floor polish is excellent for restoring shine, healing small knicks, and simultaneously protecting your floor from wear. 

Real Cleaning, Real Simple

Ready to experience what a truly clean house feels like?

Our team is professionally trained and vetted to ensure only the highest-quality cleaners step foot into your space.

We are also insured, so that means you can rest easier knowing your space is protected while we work. 

Whether you need a one-time deep clean for your home or a thorough office cleaning, we get our hands dirty in it all to give your space a real clean.

Request a quote today to gift yourself a fresher environment tomorrow.