How to Clean a Wooden Floor: Techniques, Tools and Tips

Wooden floors are a beautiful addition to any home, lending elegance and warmth to your interiors. However, they require special care and maintenance to keep their shine and prevent damage. Cleaning these floors can be a challenge, as the wrong cleaning method or harsh chemicals can strip the finish off the wood or even cause it to warp.

The common mistakes many homeowners make when cleaning wooden floors can lead to dulling, scratching, or even serious damage. Without the proper knowledge, you might be unknowingly harming your floors while trying to keep them clean.

Our comprehensive guide to cleaning wooden floors offers simple and effective methods to help you maintain your floors’ luster without causing any harm. Backed by research, expert advice, and product testing, we’ll take you through a step-by-step guide, provide a list of essential tools, and offer tips for cleaning different types of wood floors. With this guide, you’ll be equipped to handle wooden floor cleaning with ease and confidence.

How to clean a wooden floor

Understanding Your Wooden Floor

Different types of wood floors require different care. The first step to effective cleaning is understanding what type of wooden floor you have and how it’s finished.

Hardwood floors are made of solid wood, which can either be prefinished or site-finished. Prefinished hardwood floors arrive from the factory already sealed. This type of flooring often holds up better to moisture than site-finished floors, where the sealant is applied during installation. The common finishes include polyurethane, wax, or oil. Each of these finishes has different properties, and understanding the type of finish can guide you on how to clean hardwood floors effectively.

Engineered wood floors are composed of a hardwood veneer layer bonded to plywood or fiberboard. These floors can be a bit more resilient to humidity and heat compared to hardwood flooring. The top veneer layer is typically prefinished.

Laminate wood floors are not real wood. They are comprised of a wood composite base and a photographic layer of wood with a protective clear finish. Cleaning them involves methods quite different from those used on hardwood or engineered wood floors.

For wooden flooring, it’s crucial to determine the finish because the finish, not the wood type, determines how you should clean wooden floors. Here’s a simple test: rub your finger across the floor, if it smudges, you likely have a wax finish. If not, it’s probably polyurethane. Oiled floors leave an oil residue on your fingers. Wood flooring with an oiled finish requires different cleaning and care from polyurethane-finished wooden floors.

Understanding your wood floor’s finish will ensure you apply the right cleaning technique to maintain the floor’s luster without causing any damage. Whether you have hardwood flooring, engineered, or laminate, each type of floor warrants a unique approach to keep your hardwood floors clean longer.

Next, we will cover the equipment and materials required for cleaning your wooden floors effectively.

Tools and Equipment for Cleaning Wooden Floors

When it comes to cleaning wood floors, the tools you use can make a significant difference. Essential equipment includes a dust mop or vacuum, a damp mop, and a microfiber mop. Each of these tools has its specific use and plays a crucial role in maintaining your floors.

A dust mop is a must-have for picking up dust and debris without scratching the surface of your wooden floors. The microfiber dust mop is particularly recommended because it has soft, fluffy fibers that capture and hold onto dust particles. It also reduces the amount of tracked-in dirt, prolonging the shine and health of your floor.

A damp mop is used for a deeper clean. It’s crucial to ensure the mop is damp, not soaking wet. Too much water can seep into the wood grain, causing it to swell and crack. A microfiber mop is again preferred due to its high absorbency rate and gentle action on the floor surface.

Warm water combined with a pH-neutral soap can act as a perfect cleaning solution for cleaning hardwood floors. For those seeking to clean wood floors naturally, a solution of vinegar and water can be used, but only on sealed, non-porous floors. Always remember to wring your mop out thoroughly before using it on the floor to avoid a wet mop situation which can be damaging.

For stubborn spots or stains, a cleaning solution and a soft cloth can be used. If a stain persists, fine steel wool can gently rub out the mark on wax or oiled-finished floors.

It’s also a good idea to keep a soft, absorbent cloth or a damp cloth handy to quickly clean up any spills immediately, preventing them from soaking into the wood and causing damage.

For homeowners with hardwood floors, investing in hardwood floor cleaners can also be an option for maintaining the floor’s shine and longevity. However, be sure to choose a product designed for your specific floor finish to avoid unintended damage.

Lastly, a nice clean door mat placed at entrances can help trap dirt before it’s tracked onto your wooden floors, making your hardwood floors clean for longer periods.

Step-by-step Guide to Cleaning Wooden Floors

Keeping your wood floors looking their best involves a series of steps that need to be followed consistently. The goal is to remove dust and dirt without damaging the floor’s surface or finish. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you achieve the best results:

  1. Dry cleaning: Start with a dust mop or a vacuum cleaner to remove surface dust and debris from your hardwood floors. For vacuuming, use the hard floor attachment to avoid scratching the wood. This process should be done regularly – at least once a week, or more if the floor sees heavy use.
  2. Wet cleaning: Once all loose dust and debris are removed, it’s time to use a damp mop. Dip your mop into your chosen cleaning solution (such as a mix of warm water and mild dish soap), and wring it out thoroughly. The mop should be damp, not wet, to prevent water damage to your wood floors. Mop the floor, following the wood grain for best results. If you’re seeking to clean wood floors naturally, a mild solution of vinegar and warm water can be used, but ensure it’s very diluted to avoid potential damage.
  3. Deep cleaning: Occasionally, your wood floors may need a more thorough clean, especially in high-traffic areas. This is when you need to deep clean hardwood floors. Consider using a wood floor cleaner that’s designed for your specific type of floor and finish. Apply the cleaner according to the manufacturer’s instructions, using a soft cloth or mop. For stubborn stains on wax or oil-finished floors, you can lightly sand the area with fine steel wool, followed by a new application of wax or oil.
  4. Maintaining: To maintain the appearance and longevity of your hardwood flooring, consider reapplying a finish every few years. The process involves lightly sanding the surface and applying a fresh coat of finish. For oiled-finished floors, applying a new coat of oil whenever the wood begins to look dry can help maintain the lustre.

Remember to clean up any spills immediately with a damp cloth to avoid water soaking into the wood. Place mats at entranceways to reduce the amount of dirt tracked in and to keep your hardwood floors clean for longer.

Throughout this process, avoid the use of steam cleaners. They force moisture into the wood, which can cause damage over time.

How to Clean Different Types of Wooden Floors

While all wooden floors require care and attention, the type of wood and finish can dictate the specific cleaning techniques and products to use.

Hardwood Floors:

As a rule of thumb, you should sweep or dust mop your hardwood floor daily and clean it with a recommended hardwood floor cleaner weekly. When cleaning, avoid using excessive water and steer clear of oil soaps or harsh chemicals which can dull the finish of your hardwood flooring over time. Always make sure to dry the floor after mopping to prevent water damage.

Engineered Wood Floors:

These floors are more resistant to moisture compared to hardwood floors, but they should still not be soaked. Use a damp mop rather than a wet one and dry the floor thoroughly afterwards. Always use cleaning products recommended for this type of flooring to avoid any potential damage.

Laminate Wood Floors:

These floors are pretty resilient, but they can warp if exposed to water for extended periods. Hence, avoid using a wet mop and instead use a damp mop or cloth. A cleaning solution of vinegar and water can be used, or you can use a cleaning product specially designed for laminate flooring.

In all cases, be sure to clean up spills immediately and consider using protective pads under furniture legs to avoid scratches. Additionally, area rugs and door mats can help reduce the amount of tracked-in dirt and extend the time between cleanings, keeping your wood floors clean for longer.

Tips and Precautions

Here are some additional tips and precautions to keep your wooden floors looking their best:

  1. Avoid soaking the floor: Never leave any standing water on your floor. A damp mop is the most water a wood floor should ever see. Excessive water can seep into the wood grain and cause it to warp and swell.
  2. Clean spills immediately: Liquid spills can damage the wood floor’s finish and seep into the wood, leading to stains and other damage. Always clean up spills immediately with a damp cloth.
  3. Use the right cleaner: Always ensure that you use a cleaning product suitable for your wood flooring type and finish. The wrong product can cause streaks, leave a residue, or even damage the floor.
  4. Avoid harsh tools: Scrubbing brushes and steel wool (unless it’s fine steel wool used carefully on wax or oiled finishes) can scratch and damage the hardwood floor. Instead, use soft cloths and mops.
  5. Use protective pads: Furniture can scratch and scuff your hardwood flooring. Use protective pads under the legs of furniture to prevent damage.
  6. Regular maintenance: Keeping your hardwood floors clean on a regular basis will extend their lifespan. Regular maintenance reduces the amount of dirt and grit that can scratch the floor’s finish.
  7. Avoid steam cleaners: Even though steam cleaners can be very effective for other types of flooring, they should never be used on wood floors. Steam can penetrate the wood and cause warping and other damage.
  8. Use rugs and mats: Utilize door mats and area rugs to keep dirt off your floors and reduce wear and tear in high-traffic areas.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure your wooden floors will keep their beauty for many years to come.

Product Recommendations

Vileda Turbo Microfibre Mop and Bucket Set

The Vileda Turbo Microfibre Mop and Bucket Set is a comprehensive solution to keep your wooden floors looking as good as new. This unique mop system features a foot pedal-operated wringer that allows you to control the amount of water in the microfibre mop. With an easy-carry handle and a telescopic handle that extends from 55 cm to 130 cm, it’s easy to move around as you clean. But, what sets this mop apart is its effectiveness – it removes over 99.9% of bacteria with just water, no harsh chemicals needed!

Key Features & Benefits:

  • Foot pedal-operated wringer: Control the level of moisture to ensure your hardwood floors are not overly saturated.
  • Microfibre mop: Removes over 99.9% of bacteria for a hygienically clean floor.
  • Telescopic handle: Adjusts to a comfortable height, reducing the need for bending.
  • Corner cleaning: Its unique triangular head design is perfect for cleaning corners and hard-to-reach areas.
  • Machine washable mop head: Easy to clean and replace for maximum cleanliness.

Want to explore more options? Check out our best mops for hardwood floor guide.

Bona Wood Floor Cleaner Liquid

The Bona Wood Floor Cleaner Liquid is specifically designed to remove dust, dirt, and grime safely from wood floors. This ready-to-use, fast-drying pH-neutral solution cleans wood floors gently and effectively, revealing the floor’s natural shine and beauty. Safe for all unwaxed polyurethane-finished wood floors, this cleaner is an excellent choice for your cleaning needs.

Key Features & Benefits:

  • Fast-drying and residue-free: Ensures a clean, no-stickiness finish that doesn’t damage your floor’s finish.
  • Safe for wood floors: Suitable for all varnished or hard-waxed wooden floors.
  • Greenguard Gold Certified: This certification means the product is safe for your family, pets, and our planet with very low VOC emissions.
  • pH Neutral Formula: Protects your floor from discoloration and harm.

Laresar Cordless Hardwood Floor Vacuum Cleaner

The Laresar Cordless Hardwood Floor Vacuum Cleaner packs a powerful punch with its 26Kpa ultra-quiet suction power. Ideal for cleaning multi-surfaces and pet hair, this vacuum cleaner is powered by a 7*2600mAh rechargeable Lithium battery, providing up to 30 minutes of uninterrupted cleaning experience. Its double-roller design protects your floor from scratches while effectively lifting dust and debris.

Key Features & Benefits:

  • Powerful Suction: 26Kpa powerful suction capability for multi-surface cleaning.
  • Long-lasting Rechargeable Battery: Provides up to 30 minutes of uninterrupted cleaning experience.
  • Replaceable Rolling Brushes: Protects your floor while delivering an effective clean.
  • Efficient Filtration System: High-density HEPA filter filters out 99.99% of dust and bacteria, preventing secondary pollution.
  • Portable Multifunctional: With a 2-in-1 upholstery brush and long crevice nozzle, it can be easily converted to a handheld vacuum cleaner.

By incorporating these high-quality tools into your cleaning routine, you will find maintaining your wood floors is a breeze. Clean homes are happy homes, and your wooden floors deserve to be both!


Taking care of your hardwood floors can seem like a daunting task given the potential for damage and the unique cleaning requirements. However, with the right techniques and products, it is not only manageable but also quite easy. Cleaning hardwood floors doesn’t have to be a chore. By implementing a routine cleaning regimen, addressing spills immediately, and deep cleaning occasionally, you can keep your hardwood floors clean and looking their best for years to come.

Remember, investing in the right tools such as the Vileda Turbo Microfibre Mop and Bucket Set, using proper cleaning solutions like the Bona Wood Floor Cleaner Liquid, and having a reliable vacuum cleaner like the Laresar Cordless Hardwood Floor Vacuum Cleaner can make a significant difference in maintaining the longevity and aesthetics of your hardwood floors.

Whether you have a deep love for your wooden floors or simply appreciate the value they add to your home, it’s crucial to give them the care they deserve. With the guidelines provided in this article, you’re well equipped to keep your hardwood floors sparkling clean and sustainably preserved. So, why wait? Let’s bring back the shine and glory of your hardwood floors today!

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