Yes, You Can Mop Hardwood Floors. Here’s How

Brandon Pleshek

Tips and tricks for cleaning any type of hardwood floor.

I don’t know about you, but I was raised on the idea that a truly clean hardwood floor should shine so brightly that you can see your face in its reflection.

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To get this result, my family would use cleaners filled with wax that ended up covering the beautiful wood floor in a film that would cloud over the minute we started to walk on it. We would then have to go to extremes to reverse that cloudy effect, like using acidic cleaner or harsh soaps, which would then cause the finish to become damaged or dry. It was a vicious cycle, and also—what a headache!

Cleaning the floors on your hands and knees is also a common misconception about what it takes to do an effective deep clean of hardwood floors. I’m in pain just thinking about it! Not to mention, who has time for that?

Instead, look to mopping as the solution. It sounds simple, but mopping not only lets us stand comfortably upright, but also cover more surface area on the floor, meaning no recovery is needed after a cleaning spree. Then we’re able to get back to what really matters—life!

Cleaning hardwood floors

Hardwood floors get a bad rap for being easily damaged and difficult to maintain. But the truth is, they’re durable and lower maintenance than you think when you take the right approach and use the right tools. Read on for my expert advice for how to get that bright shine easily.

Different solutions for different floors

In our parents’ day, real hardwood floors such as oak, maple, cherry were far more common. Today, there are many types of imitation wood flooring: vinyl, laminate, parquet, solid wood, or engineered hardwood. These are generally easier to maintain than finicky hardwoods, although I think we can all agree: the real deal worth the trouble it may take to clean it correctly if you’re lucky enough to have it in your home. Whatever variety of hardwood floor you’re cleaning, there’s one thing you should always keep in mind: Be gentle.

General do’s and don’ts

  • Contact your flooring manufacturer. If possible, this is a good place to start so you can determine what kind of hardwood flooring you have. The manufacturer will usually have a listing of the exact products you can use, especially if a warranty is involved.
  • Avoid using cleaners with a heavy shine. This can leave buildup or residue that make the floors appear dirty even after you’ve cleaned them.
  • Stay away from cleaners that are overly acidic. These cleaners can permanently damage the finish of your flooring.
  • Don’t go overboard with water. It’s important to remember that less is more when it comes to the amount of water you use to clean your floor. Too much water on your flooring can warp the wood or cause buckling.
  • Inspired to clean all the floors in your house? Check out this article that breaks down how to clean all different floor types.

My master list of products for cleaning hardwood floors

To get started, here is my go-to list of favorite tools and supplies:

  • Angled broom, microfiber dry mop, or Swiffer Sweeper Cleaner Dry Mop. It’s important to remove any dirt from the floor before adding moisture. By using these products, you won’t have to worry about creating a big mud puddle when you go to clean your floors.

  • Mop using reusable microfiber mop heads and a two- to three-gallon bucket. There’s a reason these are the classic floor-cleaning tools. The microfiber mophead traps dirt, while the bucket lets you mix your own cleaner to better address the needs of your exact type of flooring.

  • Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid. Don’t let the name fool you, this is an amazing multipurpose cleaning product that’s effective while still being gentle. But no need to overdo it—a little goes a long way!

  • Swiffer WetJet Wood Floor Starter Kit. This is the perfect option for anyone who doesn’t want to take chances mixing their own ingredients, or who needs their floors cleaned, NOW! It’s a convenient and less messy riff on the classic bucket-and-mop solution that combines everything you need into one tool. No more worrying about mixing your own solution, cleaning the bucket afterwards, or putting your hands into dirty mop water again. It doesn’t leave a waxy residue behind nor does it dry out the wood and affect the finish. Plus, the solution included is approved by the National Wood Floor Association, so you know it’s good!

Step-by-step instructions for cleaning hardwood floors

  1. Remove all dry dirt and debris with an angled broom or dry microfiber dust mop. Microfiber will trap the dust and hair, so there is no need to mess with dust pans or having to go over surfaces multiple times. You can also use a vacuum for this step, but keep in mind that the roller brush can cause abrasions on the wood or finish.

  2. This is where the deep cleaning (and fun) begins! You have two options for this step depending on timing and cleaning preferences:

  • Fill a bucket with warm water and a teaspoon of Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid. For this tried-and-true method, you’ll want to use a mop with a removable microfiber pad because it allows you to dip the mophead in the water solution and completely ring out the excess dampness. You will then want to clean the floors in a horizontal figure-eight motion, pulling any excess debris toward you to be wiped up at the end.
  • Use the Swiffer WetJet Wood Floor Starter Kit with the cleaning solution. This option might be preferable if you’re in a hurry or want to avoid dipping your hands into dirty mop water. The tool’s mophead functions like a microfiber pad, so it collects dirt as it cleans. It produces an ultra-fine mist that covers the floor as you go, so there’s no need for a bucket or to worry about making the surface too wet. Overall, this is a great alternative to using a bucket and mop.
  1. Make sure the floor is completely dry after you’re done cleaning. This final step can be accelerated by using a microfiber flat mop and to buff the floor dry.

Brandon Pleshek

Article by Brandon Pleshek

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