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The Complete Guide to Cleaning Your Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors add a touch of elegance and style to any home, but they can also be difficult to maintain. If you use incorrect materials and methods when cleaning your hardwood floors, you could end up doing more damage than cleaning.

Our guide will show you the best way to clean and care for your hardwood floors to ensure that they last for generations to come.

Cleaning Equipment and Materials 

You’ll need to invest in some quality cleaning equipment and materials to make sure that your hardwood floors aren’t warped or scratched.

Vacuum with Hardwood Floor Attachment or Setting

Make sure that your vacuum has either a hardwood floor attachment or a setting which will lift the vacuum and deactivate the bristle bar so that it does not scratch the floor.

Dry Mop (Sometimes Called a Dust Mop)

These mops have a head wrapped in a microfiber cloth, which will be much gentler on your hardwood floors. They’re great for attracting and picking up dirt instead of simply pushing it around.

Hardwood Floor Cleaner

To really make your hardwood floors sparkle, you’ll want to buy a special cleaning solution designed for hardwood floors. You can find cleaning solutions designed to fill in scratches as well as some that are high or low gloss. Just make sure to choose a product that your floor manufacturer has approved so that you will not void the warranty.

Soap and Water

If you can’t get your hands on an approved hardwood floor cleaner, you can stick with good old soap and water. 

Beware: too much water can cause your floors to warp, so you’ll need to be very careful if you choose this option. 

What To Avoid with Hardwood Floors

There are a lot of products out there which can destroy your hardwood floors, and even more “tips and tricks” which can cause damage over time. It’s important to understand what you should avoid when cleaning your hardwood floors and why so that you don’t fall for misinformation and ruin your beautiful investment. 

Too Much Water

When water pools on your hardwood floors, it can cause the boards to warp and swell. In fact, some manufacturers even state that using water will void the warranty, so it’s best to avoid using water whenever possible.

Waxes and Oils

Waxes and oils can actually make your hardwood floors look dull. While wax will not necessarily harm your floor, it makes it difficult to recoat your hardwood floors. Oils leave a residue which is difficult to remove.

Furniture Polish

Though it might make your floors look shiny, you should never use furniture polish on your floors because it will create an extremely slippery surface. 

Vinegar and Products Containing Citrus

Acidic cleaning agents like vinegar and citrus will eat away at the finishing on your floor and cause it to dull over time.

Scrub Brushes

Anything like hard bristled scrub brushes or steel wool pads will scratch your hardwood floors. Stick to gentle materials like microfiber.

Steam Cleaners

Avoid these at all costs – the high heat forces the moisture to penetrate deep into the wood, which causes severe damage to the boards. You might notice swelling, shrinking, splintering, or even delamination.

Deep Cleaning Your Hardwood Floors

To ensure the best care for your hardwood floors, you should aim to deep clean them once a month. Use the following steps to make your floors sparkle with little effort.

Clear the Area

Make sure everything is out of the way so that you can easily clean the entire floor. If you’re moving heavy furniture, you should use furniture movers so that you don’t scratch the floor.


Vacuum the room slowly using a hardwood floor attachment or setting. This will remove large particles which can scratch the floor as you clean. It’s best to start from one end of the room and vacuum along the grain of the hardwood. Pay close attention to any cracks and corners.

Dry Mop

Start with the outer edges of the room and work your way inward. Although the dry mop is great at picking up dust and dirt, you’ll probably be left with a little pile. You can use a broom and dustpan to remove this or you can simply vacuum it up. 

Tip: Make sure you shake out the microfiber head if you find that you’re leaving behind lots of dirt or if your final pile is large. Do this either outside or above your existing pile to make for easy clean up.

Use a Hardwood Floor Cleaner

Next, it’s time to apply the hardwood floor cleaner you’ve chosen. Again, we recommend finding one that is designed for the specific type of floors you have and approved by your floor manufacturer. If you use a specialized cleaner, make sure to follow the directions on the bottle exactly.

If you choose to use soap and water, use a spin mop and make sure that it is only damp, not wet. If you leave too much water behind it will damage the floor. If you do notice a pool forming, wipe it up so it doesn’t have a chance to cause damage.

Tip: Always apply your floor cleaner with the grain of the wood.

Dry the Floor

Once you’ve applied your floor cleaner, you should avoid walking over it until it is completely dry. To help with drying, you can turn on a fan or wipe the floor with a clean microfiber cloth. 

If you have a large room, you may even want to use a cloth to dry some areas before moving to others so the cleaner or water doesn’t sit on the boards for too long.


Although deep cleaning your hardwood floors can feel like a difficult chore, it’s important that you do it frequently to keep them looking great. In fact, the more frequently you deep clean your floors, the easier they are to maintain because they’ll be less likely to get scratched or dull.