The Dos And Don’ts Of Cleaning Your Hardwood Floors

What’s okay and what’s *really* not

One of the many reasons you love your home is those great wood floors. Problem is, they tend to show off dust bunnies and mud tracks as well as showcase your amazing design style.

play speed icon

So, there are a few things to consider when cleaning and regular maintenance are concerned. Consider this: It’s as easy to ruin your wood floors trying to clean them as it is to neglect them entirely. Try explaining to your roommate or house guests how that 10 x 10 section of the floor lost its varnish or why that corner is peeling up from the ground entirely.

As such, we thought it’d be helpful to break down some major do’s and don’ts when it comes to caring for those gorgeous planks. Reading this article will put you in charge of your wooden floor fate and ensure that its shiny aesthetic stays intact for the long haul.

DON’T do these things:

Turning your favorite part of your home into the most stressful is just an innocent spray away. Let’s dive into the things you SHOULDN'T do when maintaining your wood floors.

  • Don’t use vinegar or baking soda.
    Many DIY home cleaning solutions involve the use of vinegar or baking soda, but these are, in fact, the worst things you can apply to your wood floors. They actually damage and dull the polyurethane, which can irreparably ruin them. When it comes to DIY anything and your wood floors, just say no.

  • Don’t let moisture sit on there.
    Any kind of standing water on your wood floors is a bad thing. Spills, ice cubes, or even overly wet mops cause moisture to seep between the floorboards and into the cracks of the wood. Over time, this will cause the wood to bubble or warp. Yikes!

  • Don’t steam clean your wood floors
    In the same way that standing water can saturate the wood, so too can steam, which eventually turns into moisture. Save steam cleaning for vinyl, tile, or linoleum and never use it to clean your wood floors.

  • Don’t ignore spills
    Anyone with kids knows that spills are a part of daily life. Sippy cups gone wrong or airborne cereal bowls are your wood floor’s worst enemies. If a spill happens (it’s okay, they’re part of life), address it immediately. That includes ice cubes that spill out of the freezer, wet doggy paw tracks, and those muddy boots.

  • Don’t use the wrong cleaning products
    Acrylic products and paste wax do more harm than good on your wood floors. In fact, they actually strip the wood of polyurethane and can even create an accident-prone slippery surface. Best to skip these entirely.

  • Don’t use heavy equipment
    Using a hard-brush broom meant for outdoor spaces may scratch your wood floors, so make sure to use an indoor variety. Similarly, a floor cleaning machine meant for tougher surfaces will permanently damage your wood. Instead, use our recommended techniques, listed below.

Do these things:
There are plenty of things you can do to clean and maintain your wood floors, and they’re all fairly easy and straightforward.

  • Do use a cleaning solution with the right PH level
    Look for a cleaner with a PH level of about 7. Anything higher has too much alkaline and anything too much lower is fine for your multi-purpose surface areas but not your wood floors.
  • Do clean with a broom and dustpan It’s important to sweep often. We recommend at least once a week. If you’re faithful to this routine, your wood floors won’t have enough time for dirt and grime to collect. A regular broom and dustpan work well but we recommend a Swiffer Sweeper for even better results. Its dry cloth has ridges that conform to the grooves in your floor, trapping and locking dirt and hair—while it’s wet cloth dissolves dirt and traps it for an amazing clean. Yes, please.
  • Do use a vacuum cleaner You will also want to consider vacuuming at least once a week. If your vacuum has a “hard floor” setting, use that for the toughest suction. Conversely, using a “brush roll” setting can actually scratch the surface of your floors, which is no bueno indeed.

  • Do use a microfiber-like mop For dealing with dust and dirt, look for a mop with a microfiber-like dusting agent. Microfibers are made up of super-soft synthetic materials that absorb dirt and grime without leaving behind any scratches. The Swiffer Wet Jet Wood is a good choice since it uses a thick, dry, sweeping cloth to conform to the surface of your floors, trapping and locking the dirt.

The key to keeping your wood floors looking sharp is simply to pay attention to them every once in a while. Knowing which cleaning methods are okay and which ones aren’t is more than half the battle. If you’ve made it this far down the page, you’re well on your way. Now, it’s just time for a little muscle.

Related Articles

Tricks for Cleaning Your House Like a Pro

With all of these tips and tricks, you, too, can clean your house like a professional.

The Ultimate Guide To Deep Cleaning the Kitchen

Months and years of heavy usage lead to a kitchen that deserves a truly deep clean. Use our helpful checklist to learn all the spots in your kitchen that need special attention every few months — and how to clean them.

The Essential Cleaning Supply List

Your home will only be as clean as the tools and supplies you choose. Our essential cleaning supply list will put you on the fast-track to a sparkling home without breaking the bank (or filling your space up with things you don’t need).

How to Clean Your Baseboards In 5 Steps

Cleaning your baseboards is super easy with our helpful 5-step guide.

How Often Do You REALLY Need to Vacuum?

You may know how to vacuum your home, but how often should you actually be vacuuming? We’ve got everything you need to know in this helpful primer.

A Realistic House Cleaning Schedule

A realistic house cleaning schedule, built specifically around your household and needs, can be the key to a cleaner home, more equal distribution of chores, and more time relaxing on the couch.

How To Clean Your Home In 5 Easy Steps

An easy-to-follow guide to cleaning your home and creating a cleaning routine that you can stick to. Plus see the best products that will keep your home clean.

34 Pro Tips on How To Get Rid Of Musty Smells In Your Home

Need to rid your home of a musty smell? We have the only guide you’ll ever need to banish musty smells once and for all.