how to clean hardwood floor

Best Way to Clean Hardwood Floors

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they clean any kind of hard surface floor is that they clean all of them the same way.

While this makes things simple, cleaning all hard surface floors the same way can lead to some irreversible effects in the long term.

Nowhere is this more true than with hardwood floors. 

While hardwood floors are one of the most impressive looking hard surface floors in existence, but if you clean them the wrong way, you will not only compromise the floor’s appearance, but you can also damage the floor.

If you want your hardwood floors to be properly maintained as well as continue to look impressive, you need to learn about how to clean them the right way.

Fail to do this, and not only will your hardwood floors not look as good as they used to, but they will also be damaged over time, and you will eventually might need new hardwood floors installed.

Fortunately, it is not difficult to discover better ways to clean hardwood floors that will ensure that they will hold up as well as retain their impressive look.

What makes a hardwood floor different from or the same as other types of floors?

  • Hardwood floors are not nearly as common as ceramic tile, linoleum, or vinyl floors, and this is what can make it so complicated to clean optimally.
  • Optimal hardwood floor cleaning techniques begin with comparing hardwood floors to its counterparts.
  • Understanding what makes hardwood floors different and the same as other floors will naturally guide you towards making the right decisions in what kinds of cleaning materials you will need to use for your hardwood floors. It will also make you much more informed during the cleaning process.
  • Any given room contains one of these five kinds of floors: Ceramic tiles, carpet, vinyl tiles, linoleum, and, of course, hardwood. Each of these floors have their own specific properties, but only the general properties of each floor and their comparison to hardwood floors will be covered here.
  • Carpet, ceramic tiles, and vinyl tiles are typically installed by being laid out on top of a foundation. While linoleum and hardwood floors also utilize a foundation, they are typically designed to blend in with the foundation.
  • Hardwood floors are similar to linoleum floors in that the floor itself is much more thin than carpet, ceramic tiles and vinyl tiles. This makes them much more suspect to breaking down.
  • That is the most significant difference between linoleum and hardwood is that linoleum is made of reinforced, synthetic wood that is much tougher than the materials used in a hardwood floor.
  • Hardwood floors do not have this luxury, but they look much more impressive than linoleum floors. That is what makes them preferable to linoleum floors for some. However, it also means that hardwood floors must be cleaned much more than their linoleum counterparts.
  • This makes hardwood floors similar to carpets in that hardwood floors can and will absorb dirt and especially liquids. In fact, liquids and fluids will do more damage to a hardwood floor than carpet, because the more fluids and liquids that wood absorbs, the more it reduces its lifespan. 
  • Replacing hardwood floors is much more difficult than replacing other kinds of floors. This is why you need to be able to clean these floors optimally.
  • Notice that ceramic and vinyl tiles were not mentioned yet. That is because there is no comparison between ceramic or vinyl tiles and hardwood floors. Vinyl tiles are reinforced plastic and ceramic tiles are, of course, made of ceramic. They do not share any qualities with hardwood floors in terms of absorption or their thickness in relation to foundation.
  • These are some very basic similarities and differences between hardwood floors and their counterparts. Knowing these should give you some kind of information as to what the correct strategy to clean hardwood floors should be.

Ineffective ways to clean hardwood floors

One of the biggest mistakes anybody can do when cleaning hardwood floors is to clean it as if it were a ceramic or vinyl tile floor.

Doing this is a big mistake because hardwood floors are not nearly as durable as their tile, vinyl, or even linoleum counterparts. The kinds of materials used in cleaning a ceramic or vinyl tile floor will do much more harm than good when used on a hardwood floor.

Why is this?

Remember that hardwood floors are much more absorbent, especially when it comes to wet substances.

While you will indeed be using those kinds of substances to clean hardwood floors, ceramic and vinyl tile floors react much differently than do hardwood floors when it comes to these cleaning substances.

Also, if you mop or scrub hardwood floors with the same kind of intensity as the other two kinds of floors, the chances of you damaging the floor is very great. It is much easier to scratch or chip hardwood floors than tile, vinyl, or even linoleum floors.

Another mistake that is made when cleaning hardwood floors is not sweeping or vacuuming beforehand. If you ignore doing this, you won’t clean the floors perfectly.

While this may seem negligible, it is much more important than you think. If you need to go back and do additional cleaning on a hardwood floor, you’ll run the risk of damaging the floor or reducing the gloss or lacquer that may have been applied to the floor.

The importance of cleaning your hardwood floor in one complete session will be explored in its entirety later on, but for now just remember that cleaning your hardwood floor in one session is just one of the many things that comprise the best way to clean a hardwood floor.

Avoiding these mistakes is the first step in cleaning a hardwood floor perfectly.

But optimized hardwood floor cleaning isn’t just about avoiding ineffective methods of cleaning them. You also need to know what to use.

What you’ll need to clean hardwood floors optimally

One thing you need to understand about hardwood floors is that their surfaces are a little different from other kinds of floors.


Cleaning these floors with any kinds of solutions that are designed for their tile or even linoleum floors are guaranteed to damage them in some way. This is because hardwood floors will absorb any kind of substance, including cleaning solutions.

While it isn’t totally impossible to clean hardwood floors with these kinds of solutions, you’ll damage those floors if you use even a little bit of cleaning solution.

However, there do exist cleaning solutions that are designed for use on hardwood floors. 

Cleaning these floors with these kinds of solutions will ensure that your hardwood floor will retain its shine as well as prevent it from potentially deteriorating from the cleaning solution.

Mop Head

Most tile and linoleum floors can be cleaned with a traditional mop head. These mop heads are able to remove a lot of stains and dirt and do not damage the floor.

Traditional mop heads will scratch up hardwood floors, as they are too abrasive. Because of this, you’ll need to use a mop head that is not as abrasive. In most cases, flat mop heads are ideal for your hardwood floor.

Flat Mop

Flat mop heads glide smoothly across hardwood floors and will usually effectively remove any kind of dirt and stains on the floor without damaging it.


When it comes to removing dust and other kinds of particles that cannot be removed by mopping, you might want to refrain from using a broom on a hardwood floor. 


Remember that hardwood floors have a surface that is much more delicate than other floors. Because of this, you’ll want to use a vacuum that is specifically designed for clearing dust and other particles that will not damage the floor.

If you absolutely must use a broom on a hardwood floor, you’ll need to work very slowly and carefully. If you do not, you’ll scrape the surface of the floor.

These are the things that you’ll need if you want to clean a hardwood floor properly. You might need to go out of your way to acquire them, but they will clean your hardwood floor much more effectively than cleaning supplies for other kinds of floors.

However, just owning these supplies is not enough. You need to also know how to use these supplies properly, this way you do not damage your hardwood floors or compromise their appearance.

How to physically clean hardwood floors optimally

Now that you possess the right supplies necessary to clean your hardwood floors, it is now time to put these supplies to use.

Remember that even though you have the correct supplies to clean hardwood floors, you still need to be careful and understand that these floors are still delicate and even if you use the proper cleaning supplies, you can still affect the floor negatively if you do not use them in the right order or in the right way.

Remove the Furniture

The very first thing you need to do when cleaning a hardwood floor is to make sure that you remove whatever furniture that you can from the room. This is important because it can be difficult to clean around furniture, especially if you are cleaning a hardwood floor.

Sweep or Vacuum

After you have removed whatever furniture you can, you must now sweep or vacuum. You need to be very careful and take your time if you are sweeping and using a broom, this way you do not scratch up the floor.


While you are sweeping or vacuuming to remove dust and other particles that need to be disposed of, check to see if there is anything on your hardwood floor that requires attention that goes beyond cleaning, such as cracks or any form of deterioration. A good time to do this is right before you clean this way you know what you might need to fix.

Cleaning Solutions

After doing this, the floor is ready to be mopped. Remember two things when mopping your hardwood floor: First, you absolutely need to use cleaning solutions that allow the floor to retain its finish. Also, make sure to use a mop that runs smoothly across the floor. This will prevent the floor from being scratched.

Mop Slowly

When mopping, make sure you move the mop in straight lines and go very slow. If you more the mop back and forth like you were cleaning a tile floor, you’ll not only risk scratching the floor but you will also risk streaking the floor. Be very patient when mopping a hardwood floor and err on the side of using too little solution instead of too much.

If you do these things with the proper materials, your hardwood floors will retain their impressive look and will hold up very nicely.


Cleaning hardwood floors the right way is incredibly important for a couple of reasons.

First, if you do not clean them the right way, you’ll compromise the appearance of the floor. Keep in mind that one thing that makes hardwood floors look so impressive is that they are polished. Using the wrong materials and wrong technique can affect the polish on the surface negatively.

When you clean a hardwood floor the right way, you’ll also prevent the hardwood floor from breaking down. Do not forget that if a hardwood floor comes in contact with any kind of substance, it will cause the hardwood floor to eventually deteriorate, which increases the likelihood of you needing to replace the floors.

Fortunately, it is not nearly as difficult to clean hardwood floors the right way. All you need to do is find the right materials and cleaning solutions and use them properly and you’ll find that it is no different than cleaning any other kind of floor.

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