How to Clean Hardwood Floors

How to Clean Hardwood Floors

  • Posted January 15, 2019

Have you recently installed new hardwood flooring in your Columbus, Ohio, home? Hardwood floors are beautiful and can last for many years if you clean them properly. Unfortunately, many homeowners damage their hardwood flooring because they don’t know what they can and can’t do to clean it. Make sure you know how to clean your hardwood floors and protect your investment. Here’s America’s Floor Source’s guide on cleaning hardwood:

The best way to clean hardwood floors

The best way to clean hardwood is to sweep and dry mop it regularly. Start by sweeping up visible pieces of debris with a soft bristle broom. Once the floor is clear, lightly mist it with a hardwood cleaning product and dry mop it with a microfiber mop pad. Microfiber mop pads are more effective than traditional mops because they use electrostatic action to attract dirt and allergens.

Remember: water and wood don’t mix! If you decide to use water, wring out most of it beforehand so that the mop is just damp. Hardwood is porous, so it absorbs moisture. Excess moisture can cause hardwood floorboards to swell, resulting in permanent damage.

Polyurethane vs. wax finishes

Hardwood finishes are usually either polyurethane or wax. If your hardwood is sealed with polyurethane, it’s safe to use a bit of water when you mop. If your hardwood is waxed, however, it can be damaged by even small amounts of water. Sweep, dust mop and vacuum waxed floors instead. If you’re not sure whether your hardwood is finished with polyurethane or wax, rub your finger on its surface. If it smudges, your hardwood is probably waxed.

Mopping with the grain

Always mop with the grain of your hardwood whether you’re using a mop pad or a traditional mop. Mopping with the grain means you follow the direction of the wood planks. Don’t just mop any way you want to. Zig zagging and swirling your mop will leave streaks and standing water behind.

Mopping with the grain is like mowing a lawn. You wouldn’t mow a lawn by randomly pushing the mower wherever you want to—you mow in lines. Use the same technique when you mop your hardwood floors to achieve a streak-free shine.

Vacuuming a hardwood floor

If you want to vacuum your hardwood floor, make sure the beater bar isn’t dragging on the ground. The beater bar is the rotating brush on the bottom of your vacuum. Beater bars and vacuum wheels can scratch your hardwood and damage its finish. Luckily, some vacuums have a hardwood setting that raises the beater bar. Check your vacuum’s manual to see if your vacuum has this setting.

Hardwood cleaning schedule

We recommend you sweep your hardwood floors daily and mop them once every two weeks. You may want to clean your kitchen and high-traffic areas more often. For low-traffic areas of your home, you can get away with only mopping once a month.

Hardwood cleaning products

Here are a few hardwood cleaning products we recommend:

  • Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner
  • Libman Hardwood Floor Cleaner
  • Pledge Floor Care Squirt & Mop
  • Swiffer Wet Jet Mop

Always check your flooring manufacturer’s website to see if there are cleaning products they don’t recommend using.

Long-term hardwood care

In addition to regular cleaning, it’s a smart idea to have your hardwood refinished every now and then. Refinishing helps minimize scratches and water damage to your floor, extending its life. If you’re not sure if your hardwood needs refinished, put a few drops of water on it. If it soaks in immediately, it needs to be refinished.

Refinishing a hardwood floor involves sanding down the top layer and applying a new finish. A typical ¾ inch hardwood floor can be sanded 6 to 8 times throughout its lifetime. In general, you should refinish your hardwood floors every 10 to 15 years.


Cleaning your hardwood floors properly can keep them looking like new for years. Always ask for cleaning recommendations whenever you purchase new flooring. You can also check your flooring manufacturer’s website for more details on best cleaning practices. Specialty hardwood might require unique products or cleaning methods. If you have any questions about how to clean your home’s floors, visit one of America’s Floor Source’s locations or schedule a Mobile Floor Source appointment today.

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