How to Clean Your Hardwood Floors

Homes that have hardwood flooring often exude a nice classical atmosphere. They also help in improving the resale value of your home.

However, unlike surfaces made from marble or ceramic which are very easy to clean, even from things like spills and pet urine, wood has to be given more attention.

Here is how you clean them to keep them in good condition.

The first thing you need to ascertain is which type of hardwood flooring you have. That way you will know which products and methods will work best in maintaining the wood’s quality and look.

Surface Sealed Wooden Flooring

Newer floors are ‘surface sealed’ meaning they are covered and protected so all you need to do is vacuum or sweep then mop and you are done. The result is a high shine clean floor. It can be a little confusing as to how the wood surface has been treated so here are some pointers.

When using a vacuum cleaner, make sure you either use a hard floor brush attachment or turn off the beater bar. For brooms, use those with soft bristles. Either of these cleaning tools will not scratch the flooring.

dry mop

If your floor is new it is possibly surfaced sealed which means covered by one of the following materials:

1. Urethane
2. Polyurethane
3. Polyacrylic

If you have this type of hardwood flooring the tools you need are simply a mop, bucket, and vacuum or broom. Use a mild mixture of soapy water and dish-washing liquid will suffice.

Do not use any waxy or oily floor cleaners or those you have to buy to clean wooden surfaces. They often have oils in them causing a residue to form over the floor. This can trap dust and make your wood look dull. Also never use anything abrasive like a scouring brush or steel wool. The proper vacuum or a soft mop will be enough. Avoid products with ammonia too.

This type of flooring should be washed at most twice a week. Never overload your mop with water, wring it out well and move the mop in the direction of the wood grain. Overwetting a floor can cause problems later on.

Penetrating Seal and Oil Treated Floors or Untreated Floors

These types of surfaces are ‘seal treated’ this is done with an oil that is beneficial to that particular wood. Or the hardwood may be left untreated.

Here are the various types:

1. Varnished finish
2. Lacquered finish
3. Shellacked
4. Oil Treated


Liquid wax is your best bet since this is absorbed into the floor and unlike acrylic-based products does not create a build-up. You will need to use a wax stripper now and then to get rid of the build-up and start again.

Don’t use water or mops on these areas, the moisture will sink in and cause your wood to distort amongst other things. Instead, use a vacuum cleaner making sure that its beater bar is up or turned off and not scratching the surface of your wood.

Try to keep cleaning high-traffic areas as too much wax can have the opposite effect of dulling your floor. A soft buffing action with a cloth or buffing machine will bring up the shine. Do not use the hard broom, but a softer bristle made for hardwood flooring. Hard brooms can scratch the wood surface.

Get the Right Tools

Finally, you should always seek advice on which tools to use when cleaning a floor. There are specific brooms and cleaners made for areas that are wood. You can ask the manufacturer of your floor or do some research on the Internet.

Keep wet mopping to a minimum, wipe spillages immediately and cover in soft rugs to protect the hardwood surface. Depending on how you prize your floor, you can also install blinds to stop direct sunlight from spilling onto the wood causing bleaching.

See which Vacuums are best suited for Hardwood Floors