This Just In: Here's Everything You Need to Know About Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Kitchen with blue island

Erin Williamson Design

There's no question that hardwood floors can make a home look beautiful and classic. While they can definitely be easier to keep clean than carpet, that doesn't mean they don't require a bit of upkeep to stay clean and shiny. Keeping your hardwood floors clean not only looks great, but can also extend the life of your wood and reduce scuffs and scratches that may be impossible to remove.

How often you will need to clean your floors depends on how trafficked they are. Heavily trafficked floors (say, in an open concept living room) may need a quick clean at least every week, but expect to do a deep clean once a month.

Materials You'll Need to Clean Your Wood Floors

  • A broom or vacuum
  • Dish soap
  • Vinegar
  • Large bucket
  • Microfiber mop
  • Hardwood floor cleaner
  • Floor wax or crayon (optional)

Once you've gathered your supplies, it's time to dust off those beautiful floors and bring your room back to life again. Here's how.

First, Vacuum or Sweep Your Floors

Kitchen with hardwood floors
Ashley Montgomery Design

The first step is to clean up any dust or debris on your floors. If opting for an old fashioned broom, pick one with soft bristles and an angled head to get into cracks and crevices without scratching your floors. For your vacuum, pick the hard floor setting and gently sweep up any dirt, hair, or dust.

If you're really having a hard time staying on top of the dust or you have pets, a robot vacuum is a great way to keep hardwood floors dirt-free.

Place doormats at all of your entryways and encourage guests to remove their shoes before they enter to reduce dirt on your floors.

Mix Up a Homemade Solution

Open living room doors
Britt Design Studio

If you want to clean your floors with stuff you already have in your pantry, grab a bottle of dish soap. Dish soap is a gentle cleaner that won't hurt your wood and is perfect for light jobs and daily upkeep.

In a large bucket, mix two to three tablespoons of dish soap with a gallon of warm water and gently soak a hardwood floor mop (look for one made of microfiber). Wring the mop and run it over your floors, staying careful never to over saturate your flooring, as too much water can hurt your finish.

Rinse your floors with a damp mop with just water, and wipe up any standing water. Use a ceiling fan to help your floors dry.

Use a Vinegar Solution Monthly

For a slightly deeper (but still all-natural) clean, mix 1/4th cup of apple cider vinegar with a gallon of warm water. Vinegar is gentle enough on your floors, but excessive use could start to break down the finish, so reserve this method for your monthly or bi-monthly deep cleans. Follow the same technique above, using just enough solution to dampen your mop and never oversaturate it.

Try a Commercial Cleaner

Kitchen with hardwood floors
Cathie Hong

If you're looking for a waterless cleaning method or you want a cleaning solution that can attack dirtier jobs, consider using a commercial cleaning solution made for hardwood floors. Companies such as Bona and Black Diamond make products formulated specifically for your hardwood floors.

Most cleaners come in two forms: a spray bottle for spot cleaning and a solution meant to be diluted for mopping. Both options are great to have on hand for quick jobs and deeper cleans. Follow the instructions on the bottle and do a spot test in a corner before using any cleaner all over your floor.

Bona hardwood floor cleaner
Bona Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaning Spray (2 Pack) $20
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Cover Up Any Scuffs

Once you clean your floors, you may notice scuffs and scratches that were hidden before. While really scuffed floors may need a total refinishing job, you can blend smaller scratches with a hardwood floor crayon or wax. Using a hardwood floor crayon similar to the color of your wood, gently fill in gaps or gouges and blend with a bit of wax for an even finish.

Take Preventative Steps

Closeup of wooden floors
Corner House Creatives

The best way to clean your hardwood is to prevent dirt from piling up in the first place. First, focus on your entryway and set up a system to help reduce the amount of dirt that comes into your home. Invest in a heavy-duty floor mat and have towels handy to wipe down dirty dog paws or muddy boots.

You can help prevent gouges or scratches by adding floor protectors under all of your furniture and investing in soft rugs in higher trafficked areas such as playrooms or living rooms.

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