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How to maintain and clean hardwood floors

woman cleaning hard wood floor with a mop

Maintaining and cleaning hardwood floors is quite tricky, as if you apply wrong methods or cleaning solutions, you may easily damage or ruin them. However, many homeowners really like installing such flooring, as first of all, it looks really, really nice. They warm up the entire house, making it more cozy and homely. When properly taken care of, hardwood floors last for a long time. Their durability is quite impressive, as even incredibly old houses may feature great hardwood flooring that has never been changed. Such flooring is also easy to restore, when a professional gets down to business.

Most importantly, they’re made of natural wood, which may be made of various kinds of trees with different characteristics. For instance, flooring planks made of red oak, ash and maple are probably the best choice when it comes to dent resistance. They may easily preserve their best state even when holding quite heave furniture. Bamboo is also quite hard material for wooden floors, which also gives the house design an unintentional contemporary touch, while previous materials are considered traditional and classic.

On the contrary, heart pine is not really dent-proof. Most flooring specialists don’t even consider it as hardwood. But, pine is one of the first materials ever used to make the floors. It looks bests it its natural state, when it’s almost untreated and unstained, but just covered with transparent finishing topcoat.  And they last for a long time as well. Moreover, they become even more beautiful and create a unique patina. That’s why antique floors, made of reclaimed pine planks are so popular and often much pricier than hard oak and ash floors that may hold various stain colors and are much more suitable for modern living conditions.room with hardwood floor

No matter what kind of wood your floors are made of or what kind of wood you’re going to choose when remodeling your house, it’s really important to figure out the best way to clean the hardwood floors. They’re much sensitive than laminate or tiled ones. Besides, it takes some time and skills to make them look flawless. Also, it’s necessary to pick out right cleaning products and supplies not to ruin the flooring and get it cleaned at the same time. And, hardwood floors require regular professional cleaning and treatment, just like carpeting.


There’re special floor cleaning equipment only professionals have, which allows clearing out the dirt deep out of the hardwood’s finish without damaging it. They involve minimum water use, which is highly beneficial for wooden floors. In addition to that, professional cleaners carry out a throughout hand cleaning you won’t probably have time and energy to perform all over the house. So, if you want to bring back fresh, bright, polished and clean look of your hardwood floors, go to HireRush.com to hire experienced cleaners in your local area. Don’t forget to specify the search to the city or town you live in. Use an opportunity to call cleaners directly from the site.

However, you’ll still have to maintain and clean you floors on a regular basis without professionals’ assistance (unless you hire a housekeeper). That’s why I’ve decided to prepare for you several hardwood floor cleaning and caring tips. Hopefully, they’ll help you preserve the original state of your hardwood floors while keeping them clean, bright and free from stains and streaks.

10 tips to maintain and clean hardwood floors

1. Rugs and door mats to help out

If you place area rugs throughout the house, especially where furniture (like chairs, tables and coffee tables, etc.) stands or at the high traffic areas, you’ll ensure that the floor is getting scratched less. Also, adding door mats outside the house and near the door inside, you’ll prevent a lot of dust and dirt getting into the house and spreading all over the floor.rug on hardwood floor

2. Take your shoes off

Wearing shoes on hardwood floors is not probably the best idea, as you’re more likely to scratch them than while wearing just socks or soft slippers. The thing is that not only the shoe sole will mess them up on its own, leaving marks and scratching the wood while contacting with the smallest dust and dirt particles. And, heels are just hardwood floor killers. So, take off the shoes as soon as you walk into the house. Don’t step with your shoes on any further than the door mat. Keep several spare pairs of slippers for your guests. Or, purchase those hotel-looking ones for that matter.

3. Can you sweep the hardwood floors?

Surely you can. In fact, removing the dirt particles, dust or food crumbs frequently enough will reduce scratching and keep your floors clean all the time. And, it’s much more convenient to grab a sweeper to clean up after a meal than pull out a vacuum cleaner for that case. However, professional cleaners highly recommend that you should pick the right tool. A broom with soft bristles will help you get rid of big particles that may scratch the floor when you step on them. Just run your fingers through the hardwood brooms section at the store to make sure that it’s not going to damage your flooring.

4. Regular hardwood floor vacuuming

If you haven’t noticed yet (as I’ve not mentioned it 10 million times already), even smallest dust and dirt pieces may cause micro scratches on the hardwood floor finishing. That’s why such flooring loses its brightness and shine and starts looking quite dull overtime. Of course, you can’t remove the dust completely.

But you can get rid of most of it and postpone the hardwood refinishing if you vacuum hardwood floors once a week. Most used areas may be vacuumed more frequently. Just make sure to install a hardwood floor attachment to your vacuum’s brush not to scratch the flooring even more.

Take the brush off and use the vacuum’s nozzle to vacuum along the baseboard.woman vacuuming dark hardwood floor

5. Taking care of spills and spots

You should wipe them out as soon as possible, so that they don’t leave a mark or make the wood smell weird. Use a slightly damp soft rig to do that. Add a drop or soap to the water to wet your rag if the spot is more likely to leave a stain. Most importantly, you should wipe off the liquids immediately. Otherwise, it will soak into the wood and make it rise and ruin your perfect floors just at one annoying spot.

6. Choosing the right cleaner for your type of hardwood floors and their finish

Your flooring contractor will normally tell you the types of cleaning supplies you should use on your floors. And, you should better stick to their recommendations to keep your floors clean safely. But, if you’re buying or renting a house/apartment and the owner/seller can’t tell you the kind of finish their hardwood features, you can still define it on your own.

It’s quite easy to determine whether your hardwood floors are stained or unfinished, as those floors won’t be glossy. If they are, you’ll have a hard time figuring out the kind of floor finish you have. But, modern polyurethane or polyacrylic finishes may be defined with several drops of water placed at the most used flooring area. If those drops stay in beads, you have modern finish on your floor. If they start spreading, leaving dark marks and even soaking into the floor, you have older shellac, or lacquer seal, which should be cleaned quite gently.

To see if your floors are waxed, get a piece of fine steel wool and rub a little hidden hardwood spot with it (under the kitchen furniture, for instance). If you notice grey smudge on the wool, it means that the hardwood is waxed.

Once you have determined the type of hardwood finish you have at home, you can pick out cleaning supplies, designed for certain hardwood surfaces.

7. Hardwood floor deep cleaning

Don’t forget to book hardwood floor deep cleaning service several times a year to make sure that not only the floor’s finish, but also the wood itself is being cleaned. Also, you should probably renew the finish every 5 to 7 years to make your hardwood floors shiny and free from scratches again. Polishing your floors or adding wax (if your floors were waxed initially) will help you fill in the scratches a little bit and improve the look of the floor.professional hardwood floor cleaning

8. DIY cleaners for hardwood floors

They may be quite good if you customize your DIY cleaners to your hardwood type. Just don’t use something abrasive not to leave the scratches. On the other hand, you may get rid of deep dark spots and heel marks on soft oil finished wooden floor applying some floor wax with a piece of fine. Dishwasher detergent and water solution will help you remove oily stains.

9. Should you use vinegar on hardwood floors?

There’re plenty vinegar-based DIY recipes of hardwood cleaners, which promise great stain removal results. Some people even add a cup of vinegar to a gallon of water each time they mop their hardwood floors. But, most flooring professionals and experienced cleaners remind that you shouldn’t really include vinegar into your hardwood floor cleaning routine. The fact is that vinegar, just as oil-based cleaners, makes most hardwood finishes dull in the long run. So, you’ll have to hire a hardwood flooring contractor to refinish your floors much sooner than you’d normally have to.

10. Two best ways to clean the hardwood floor

Hardwood floors have to be cleaned (with water) as rarely as possible. But you still have to wash off the dust and dirt, don’t you?

So, when you want to clean the hardwood floors, grab a bucket of warm (not hot!) water and a special soft mop, designed for hardwood flooring. You may add some pH-neutral cleaner, suitable for your floors.hardwood floor cleaning with a mop

Dip the mop into the water and wring it as much as you can up to the point, when no water is running out of it. Mop the floors along the hardwood’s grain. Go through one area and hand dry it with a soft microfiber cloth before the water manages to dry on its own and leave streaks.  Also, you may use a convenient double sided microfiber mop for extra convenience. Wash the floor with the damp side and dry it with another one.

Professional cleaners suggest using even easier method. You have to spray the hardwood with arm water and mop it with a dry microfiber pad. This will reduce the amount of water that gets onto the floor. And, you’ll get fewer streaks. Don’t spray the entire room at once, but do it as you go to be able to wipe off the water in time.

Comments (21)

  1. sandria warne

    Amazing post!! I am a home maker and so planning for redesigning my house with all the latest trend. Kitchen is my favorite area and i want it to look best. I have called for a hardwood flooring company as i want a wooden floor and its decoration. By the time i read your article and got more tips. Thanks for posting. Truly appreciate.

    Reply
    1. Elena Sheplyakova (Post author)

      I’m really glad you liked it! Hope your kitchen floors will be amazing. Check out our flooring contractors in your local area if you still need qualified pros.

      Reply
  2. Charles Kemp

    Having wood floors is a big deal because you really have to take care of them to make the floors last a long time. I am really glad that you mentioned the need to use the right chemicals. You can permanently ruin your floors if you don’t pay attention to the floor.

    Reply
  3. Kendall Ryder

    I love the look of wood flooring, but it can get colder easily. I like that rugs can help to balance that out, as well as add comfort and style to certain areas of your home. That way, you can get the best of both worlds.

    Reply
  4. Scott

    I find it interesting that you suggest to take off your shoes when you going to step on the hardwood floor. I can see why maintaining the shiny look of the floor would be important to those who are wanting it to last a long time. My sister is thinking of buying a house that will need to have its floor replaced. She might consider looking into the benefits of hardwood floor, in case she decides to buy the home.

    Reply
  5. Daire Ashworth

    Nice post. Wood furnishings and décor add a warm touch to homes and businesses. To keep the wood looking its best, it needs to be cleaned properly.

    Reply
  6. Jade Brunet

    I appreciate this information about how to maintain a wood floor. It is good to know that keeping it dry is a beneficial thing to do. I am glad to know that this can prevent warping. I have also heard that it is best to clean it with cool water. Hot water would open the fibers and allow for excess dirt to enter.

    Reply
  7. Taylor Hicken

    I’ve always tried to remind my kids to keep there shoes off when they enter into the house. I’ve always tried to make sure that my floors are all clean, and never messy. It’s been a tough goal, but I’ll reach it some day. My husband has been talking about installing some hardwood floors, that way it’d be easier to maintain with all the kids.

    Reply
  8. Juanita Davis

    Hey really nice article very informational.

    Reply
  9. angel

    These really great tips how to maintain & clean floor. All the ideas are fantastic for improvement.

    Reply
    1. Elena Sheplyakova (Post author)

      Thank you so much for such a positive feedback!

      Reply
  10. Jade Brunet

    My mom is happy to have replaced her old linoleum floors with new hardwood flooring. We are looking to learn how to maintain this flooring so that it can last as long as possible. It is good to know that one should wipe away spills and spots as soon as possible. It would be best to prevent marks that make the wood smell weird. I will talk to my mom about this, thanks.

    Reply
  11. Sandra Hexner

    Thanks for the great advice on how to maintain a hardwood floor. We’ve been looking into getting timber flooring for our house, but want to learn as much as we can before deciding. If we decide to move forward with timber floor we’ll be sure to pick the right cleaning products and supplies, so we don’t ruin the floor.

    Reply
  12. Brandon Platts

    This is a informative post. I can see why maintaining the shiny look of the floor would be important to those who are wanting it to last a long time. My sister is thinking of buying a house that will need to have its floor replaced. She might consider looking into the benefits of hardwood floor, in case she decides to buy the home.

    Reply
  13. Emily Turner

    Thank you so much for this tip. I’m definitely going to try it. I have been having the worst time getting my engineering wood floors in my new house to look clean. After mopping, they are immediately covered in foot prints from our bare feet. I can’t figure out how to prevent it.

    Reply
  14. Christian Kingsbury

    Love the blog! It’s always nice to learn tips like these from a professional!

    Reply
    1. Yulia Poltavets

      Thank you!

      Reply
  15. Derek Dewitt

    My wife and I are thinking about getting new hardwood floors installed, but we’ve never had to take care of them before. I had no idea that vinegar wasn’t recommended to use as a cleaner because it’s oil based and might damage the finish. We’ll be sure to have a professional tend to it instead so it doesn’t get dull. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  16. Sharon Wilson-Smith

    I like that you talked about how professional hardwood cleaning companies have special floor cleaning equipment that can allow them to thoroughly clear out dirt deep out of the hardwood’s finish. My husband and I are looking to have our hardwood floors cleaned. It’s important for us to restore its natural beauty and cleanliness in the most effective way without damaging it. Since we don’t have the right tools to do it, it will make sense for us to hire a hardwood cleaning company that has the necessary things to help us clean our floors in the best possible way. I will make sure to contact a professional hardwood cleaning company as soon as possible.

    Reply
  17. John

    Thank you for sharing this great article. It’s a pleasure to visit here.

    Reply
    1. Yulia Poltavets

      Thank you!

      Reply

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