How to Clean Hardwood Floors [Best Detailed Guide – 2023] and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. is indeed a tough task, and many people find it really hard to clean effectively. Starting from the sophisticated clothes all the way down to the hardwood floors, each and everything requir some special attention while cleaning. You won’t be able to wipe out all the stains with a single brush from all the things you got in your house. One such example is your flooring. Especially if you got a hardwood floor, you are likely to find it seriously tough to remove the stains from it, like whiten yellow stains on vinyl floors. So, here is my detailed guide on how to clean hardwood floors quickly, starting from the common mistakes to avoiding it.

The Common Hardwood Floor Mistakes

There are a few things that can make your floor look dirty and dull. Wooden floorings require special care, and you have to pay extra attention to how you walk on it. While these floors do look great in your house, maintaining them is pretty tough. It is one of the reasons why people avoid using wooden floorboards in their vicinity. However, the appeal and lavish appearance that comes along with it can never be denied. So, if you are opting for the wood carpeting, here are some common errors to watch out.

Wearing Shoes at Home

When you come into your house, you bring some dirt and dust along. Many people state that they have doormats in place to deal with this problem. However, there are instances when some of the dust and dirt is left out with your shoes. As you walk around in your house, the dirt and grit can stick to wood from your feet.

This dirt is abrasive, and it can stick to your floor for a long time. Some people say that it goes away with time, and soon, there won’t be anything on the floorboard. However, what you may not realize is the fact that it will leave some particles behind that lead to fine scratches. These fine scratches, in turn, can take away the shine and finishing of your carpeting (see ‘How to Get Rid of Scratches on Hardwood Floors‘).

Irregular and Improper Vacuuming

If you are interested in removing the dirt and debris from your wood flooring, nothing can do it better than a good vacuum cleaner. However, not everybody knows how to use it appropriately on a wooden surface. People who are interested in buying a vacuum should opt for the canister models because they can provide better results on such surfaces.

However, if you already have a vacuum, especially the upright model, assure that you turn off the rotating brush. Else, you may end up scratching your flooring, and it would be disastrous for you.

Taking too Long to Clean Spills

When something spills, most of us tend to take some time to clean it. This can damage your wood base to a great extent. The worst thing you can do with a wooden floorboard is to let the water gather on it and make a puddle. So, if a drink is dropped on the floor, don’t wait for long to clean. Not only does it stick to the floor and dulls the finish, but it also attracts dirt.

Therefore, immediately use an absorbent cloth to clear out all the fluid that falls on the ground. Make sure that you thoroughly absorb all the liquid. Then use a paper towel to get rid of any residual particles before you buff it dry.

How to Clean Hardwood Floors? Important considerations

Coming towards how to clean hardwood floors, there are a few things that you need on hand. One can consider these as the tools and supplies that are essential for cleaning a wooden floor. While they may vary from person to person, you will find most of these items around your house.

Top Quality Vacuum Cleaner

As listed above, vacuuming a floorboard at regular intervals is critical for keeping it clean. But you have to be careful about the use of such a machine on a flat surface. A common mistake many people commit is that they start using a vacuum that is for carpets and rugs to hard flooring. It leads to improper cleaning, and all your space will appear dirty.

Therefore, one must choose a machine that is designed in particular to be used on a hard surface. Some people might consider that they have a carpet in their homes as well. So, do they have to buy two vacuums, one for each? Well, you have the options available in the market that allow you to clean carpets and rugs as well as hard floors, so no need to worry about that. Also, an excellent cordless vacuum cleaner can make your job a lot easier.

Moreover, whichever brand you choose, make sure that it has strong suction power. This allows the machine to pick up all the dust and lint particles in your house without you having to do much. Also, a lightweight and easy to move the machine with tires assure you won’t end up scratching your floor finish. One should also consider an adjustable beater bar when selecting the product. Most of the time, the canister vacuums and cordless stick are the preferred choices (see this vacuum from BISSELL). However, some individuals also end up using the upright models that come with different attachments.

Best Brooms for Hardwood Floor

A good broom is a requirement of every house, and you may not find it necessary to mention it here. However, as we are discussing how to clean hardwood floors, it is essential to list every aspect. Using a good bristle broom can help you to a great extent. However, people tend to shy away from the traditional brooms because of how old-fashioned they look and the fact that better options are also available in the market.

Today, you can get microfiber brooms for hardwood floor in the market. They are known to many as dust mops, which come as a durable replacement for the traditional bristle broom. The head end of this broom is wrapped in a microfiber cloth. Different brands come up with various models that may allow you to dispose of, reuse, and even machine wash the broom.

Sometimes, you’ll find people recommending the dust mops over standard broom brushes. The reason is that they are far better at attracting dirt and picking it up from your floor. Make a pile and use the dustpan to throw it out.

Top Rated Mop for Hardwood Floor

There are times when you’ll find some additional dirt and grime on your flooring. Getting it out with the broom won’t be possible. So here, you need the services of a damp mop to clear out this embedded grime.

Again you have different options available – see ‘Steam Mop on Hardwood Floors‘ – and the advancement of technology is certainly visible. With the microfiber damp mops, you get removable and washable heads. Moreover, some choices appear to be your traditional yarn mop. However, the difference here is that your standard yarn loops get replaced with the modern-day microfiber strips.

The best part about using a damp mop made of microfiber is that it does not hold a lot of moisture in it. With just a little humidity, its cleaning matches up with the cleaning of yarn mop, only if not more. So, on one side, you can clean your hardwood floor while on the other hand, you won’t saturate the wood. You can also check our guide on the best steam mops of the year as well.

Cleaning Products for Hardwood Floors

There is a huge range of cleaning products available to you in the market. Many people tend to experiment with a few and end up destroying the surface. Therefore, you need to be very careful as you begin to use these products, and you must pay attention to the type of floorboard you have in your house. Most of the time, people get away with water only. However, there are instances when one wishes to deep clean the flooring. On such occasions, it would be wise to use some cleaning products.

However, that does not mean you must pick up any floor cleaner that appears in front of you. There are a few things to consider when you are going to apply it to the wood. The first and foremost is that the pH of that cleaner has to be neutral. Certain floor washers are particularly made to cater to the needs of urethane finished floors. So, you must read the label before you buy it. All the items labeled safe to be used on hardwood do not necessarily yield good results.

Moreover, some people have varying finishes of the wood. For instance, you may get a monocot, wax, or oil finishing. If this is the case, you have to put in more effort and avoid using excess water. Usually, you will receive some suggestions regarding cleaning products from manufacturers for cleaning such flooring.

Some DIY geeks prefer making their own DIY floor cleaners at home. So, they use dish soap and add a few drops to water to make their own hardwood floor cleaner. If you plan on doing this, you must not shy away from it. This makes an eco-friendly and effective washer that is a perfect alternative to the store-bought products. However, be careful with the cleaning. Use a clean damp mop and clear out any residual soap that may be left on the surface.


Another noticeable aspect of cleaning wooden grounds is the use of water. As stated above, you should consider your finishing type before you start using any amount of water. Furthermore, one has to take care of the fact that the water used for cleaning should be distilled. If you end up using the hard water that comes from wells or the chlorinated city water, you will have problems. Even the tap water that you may treat with softeners can damage your wood.

It can take out the shine and finish from the floor. Therefore, the safest bet for you, whenever you are about to clean a wooden space, is the use of distilled water.

Cleaning the Wooden Flooring: A Step by Step Guide

Knowing about something is not enough. You need to put the knowledge into practice and implement the details to get the results. So, get your supplies all lined up because now we are going to start cleaning your hardwood floors like a pro. Here is a step by step guide that you can follow.

Step 1: Removing Furniture

First of all, start by removing the furniture and clearing out space. Take out all the belongings and make sure that you have enough space to clean every spot. There are furniture coasters and felt pads all across the homes, as well as blankets that you can use to slide the heavy furniture with ease. Don’t shy away from asking your friends and family for help. A tip here is always to remove the furniture coasters because any able-bodied creature might be able to slide it around.

However, the problem arises when you are living in a small space or have a lot of furniture around. If this is the case, you can adopt the trick of clearing one side after the other. Move all the furniture and belongings to one side of the room and clean the spacious part. Then, move the things back to cleaned space and wash out the remaining area.

Step 2: Dusting and Vacuuming

Next up, we need to clean out all the dirt from the area. Many people commit the mistake of not paying attention to the dust in the room. Straight away, they pick up water, throw it all the way around, and start washing. It is always handy to use a vacuum to grab all the dust in the room. A tip here is to take a good look at the wheels and head of your vacuum before you move it around to avoid any mishap.

Also, there are instances when you will find abrasives stuck with your vacuum wheels. Especially if the tires are made of plastic, things can get a bit tough. People spend a lot of energy and effort to move these vacuums around. Moreover, the coffee grounds, gravel, and other abrasives that get attached to the wheel of your vacuum may act like sandpaper. If this happens, you will end up destroying the wood. There will be scratches and deep gouges all around.

Sweeping or vacuuming with the grains of wood can come in very handy. It allows you to pick up the additional dirt. Moreover, there are times when you will find dirt trapped in the joints. Using a top quality vacuum cleaner can help you get rid of it as well.

Furthermore, there are some convenient attachments available with vacuums. For instance, you can use the stair wand attachment. While most people use it for cleaning the area across the stairs, you can benefit a lot from it by cleaning the edges of the wall. The dust around baseboards can be trapped easily with this tool.

There are times when you’ll be looking to keep the furniture at its place while you are cleaning. But at the same time, there is a desire to get rid of the dust and dirt that is underneath your couch. You can do it with the help of stair wand or upholstery attachments that are available with the best lightweight vacuums. However, the traditional method of using an extended dust mop can’t be overlooked.

Step 3: Lining up Your Cleaner

If you are to make a cleaning mixture yourself, now is the time to do it. Use your concentrate cleaner and mix it with water in a spray bottle. Most people use this method because it allows them to use varying concentration and gives more control over the strength of the cleaner. However, you got to be careful because a weak solution won’t clean appropriately, while a strong solution will destroy your flooring.

There are times when people end up purchasing the premixed cleaners. While it does not offer you any flexibility, it saves you a lot of time and effort. Most of the people who have a hard time dealing with the strength and mixing of the concentration with water opt for premixed solutions.

Step 4: Testing it Out

Many people commit the mistake of not testing the cleaner appropriately. Instead, they start spraying it around everywhere and cleaning the floor until they realize that it has destroyed a fair bit of their flooring. It is one of the most critical but most neglected tips in many guides that deal with how to clean hardwood floors. One has to test the solution before cleaning the house (see ‘House Cleaning Checklist‘).

However, the question here is how to do the testing? Well, start by spraying the cleaner in a small area. You should prefer the locations that are far in the corner where an eye hardly reaches or the ones that are covered by a particular object. This way, even if the cleaner damages the floor, you can cover it with ease. Make sure that you watch out for the discoloration and bubbling of floor finish along with residues as you clean.

Step 5: Let the Mopping Begin

The dust is all cleared out, and your cleaner is ready to be used, now is the time for you to pick up your mop and start cleaning. Make sure that you just don’t go overboard with the spray cleaner. Put the mixture in a small area or a particular portion and mop that first. For instance, from your back wall to the front door, make a line, and mop it first.

As we plan on cleaning wooden floors like a pro, we must adopt an appropriate technique. What most people do is just push the mop hard in that small section and try to force out the dust from their floor. It is tiring and probably a less effective method as compared to the simple figure-eight motion technique. Simply, mop the area in a figure-eight motion and go with the grains as much as possible.

Another notable thing when you are mopping the floor is that you should not create puddles. Just make sure that enough product reaches the ground that can help you clean it decently. Don’t overflow the surface and create water puddles. You must work in a way that the floor dries up as soon as possible.

In case you end up with a floor that appears to be too wet, use a dry mop head for cleaning. A soft cleaning with a buff or cloth can also help you get rid of the excessive dirt and dust from your mop.

Step 6: Pay Attention to Spot Cleaning

Spot cleaning is another important aspect of cleaning hardwood floors. Especially if you have a vast area where you have gone with a wooden floorboard, keeping it clean and shiny can be tough. Therefore, you should pay attention to spot cleaning and use the brooms, pans, and mops in order to clean the stains as quickly as possible.

For that, you got to keep the things ready and on hand. A suitable liquid absorber is necessary to absorb the water before you apply the cleaning solution on it to mop the floor. Moreover, get it to dry out quickly with the help of a dry mop. Mostly, people use spot cleaning kits to clean anything that goes out on the floor immediately. If you have wooden flooring in a high traffic area, you must never neglect it.

Special Wood Considerations

As you begin to clean the hardwood floor, you must consider the type of wooden flooring on your ground. The most prominent problem people face with the wood floors is that they don’t realize the finishing of the wood. While you get a solution to help you with the spot cleaning, it may end up damaging your floor then doing good to it. The reason is that the finishing differs depending on the manufacturers, and there are a ton of different options for it.

So, you should know about the finishing type and wood type before you purchase the cleaner. If possible, get some recommendations from the ones who got you the flooring. It is because they can guide you about the chemicals that can harm the floor and the ones that will clean it nicely. The difference must be kept in mind, or else you may use a perfectly reasonable and labeled wood cleaner and end up destroying and discoloring your floor.

Tips on Cleaning Wooden Flooring

There are some tips that can help you clean the wood and keep it shining for a long time. These are important for maintaining the looks of your wooden floor.

Vacuum Weekly

Start by vacuuming your floor every week. Many people do it every week, while others go for a monthly schedule. Considering that it is not the carpet but hardwood, you may find it perfectly alright to go around the ground with a vacuum monthly. However, the fine grit in the dust has all the power to act as sandpaper for your wood. The longer you leave it on the ground and walk around over the floor, the more it damages the shine and appearance of your wood.

While you may not notice it at first, the outlook of your flooring starts to fade away slowly and steadily. It may make you wonder what happened to the floor, while all that is wrong was the dust that you may have left for the whole month.

So, use a vacuum with appropriate attachments that can help you suck all the dust and dirt from the ground. If you don’t like vacuuming often and find it a tough task, the modern-day microfiber sweeping dust brooms and mops can be the perfect solution for you.

Hairsprays and Furniture Polish

Most of the people think that furniture polish can help them with a better wooden appearance of their floorboards. However, it does not stand true by any means. Both the hairspray, as well as the furniture polish, can damage the floorboards to a great extent – we explained how to polish wood floors here. Therefore, you should wipe them out immediately with a damp cloth and use a dry one to assure that no residue is left off. Moreover, individuals who prefer a more thorough cleanup can always opt for the non-ammonia window cleaner. The safest way would be to go with the best floor polish in your cleaning routine. 

Keeping Out Rain and Water

One of the biggest enemies of your wooden flooring is water. Notably, the rainwater can do some severe damage to it. Think of the wood that you may leave out in the rain for the time being. What happens to it? Surely you don’t want the same to happen with your flooring too. Thus, try to close out the windows and don’t let raindrops impact the shine and outlook of the hardwood.

Even the water we have in our taps can be hazardous for it. Usually, we have water with softeners or chlorinated city water running through our taps. Even if you are opting to snatch it out from a well, it is still hard water. All these have some sort of minerals in it that can damage the surface of the wood.

Then the question arises: What kind of water should one must use? What about the cleaning of wood? Well, we already mentioned in our step by step guide on how to clean hardwood floors that one should opt for the distilled water.

Rules for Using Waxes and Restorers

Most of the people buy waxes and restorers in the hope that they will bring back the shine of the floor. However, the problem is that they end up with the wrong products and don’t know how to use them appropriately, dulling the floor rather than improving it. So, if you have a wax finish and you look up to restore its shine, you should keep the rules of using wax in mind.

In case that your wood finish comes from varnish or shellac, even from polyurethane, you cannot use wax on it. The reason is that wax finishing interferes with the earlier finishing, and it can make the floor too slippery to walk on.

If you have the floor with polyurethane finishing, you can restore its shine, as we explained here, with the help of the polish that is crafted especially for this finish. However, if you have other finishes, you may be better off with the general-purpose floor restorers.

Using Mats and Rugs

With wooden floors, investing in mats and rugs can come very handy. If you are a person who has wooden floors with certain high traffic areas, you can always use rugs there. Moreover, longer doormats assure that all the dust and dirt are trapped before someone steps onto your wooden floors.

However, not only does it come in handy with the maintenance of the wood, there are times when a particular patch becomes off-color, and the shine fades away. In this case, the rugs can help you cover the area and maintain the lavish appearance.

Also, you must take care of the back of your mat when you put it on wooden flooring. Using a rubber or vinyl back mat will trap humidity. As the case stands with water, the moisture will destroy the finish of the floor and damage the patch of the wood.

Furniture Pads

Last but not least, you may place furniture on the wood flooring, but you need to be careful with the placement. Usually, people neglect furniture pads because they won’t be moving around the items too much. However, it is always good to get yourself a few supporting pads, particularly for the heavy furniture, because the legs of the furniture can scratch the wood underneath it.

Final Words

So, this was our guide on how to clean hardwood floors and some important tips that will assist you in maintaining it for a long time. While keeping the wooden products safe and in its shine is a tough task, nothing can give you a better feel and lavish appearance than wood. So, if you invest in it, make sure that you take the measures to keep it running for long.


1. How do you clean dirty hardwood floors?

Your wood floors are dirty because of dust, bacteria and other microorganisms that stick to the floor. These microorganisms build up overtime, which can make your floors look dull and boring. There are several way how to clean hardwood floors. Although many people recommend using a mop and bucket, it's actually the least effective way of cleaning your floors. What you should do is to wipe your floors with a soft cloth daily. Avoid wetting the floor, as it can cause it to warp. The best way to clean hardwood floors is to use a vacuum cleaner. There are several models available on the market. Go for a vacuum with a rotating brush designed for hardwood. It will be able to pick up dust, dirt and other particles from the floor. You might also want to try steam cleaning, it's a far more effective way of cleaning your floors!

2. How do you clean and shine hardwood floors naturally?

Mix equal parts vegetable oil and white vinegar in a spray bottle and shake well to clean your hardwood floor. It's a no-brainer to clean with vinegar since it's a natural polish. Due to its acidic nature, dirt and filth can be dislodged.

3. Does mopping damage hardwood floors?

Wood floors and wet mops are not a good match. Make your floors gleam again using a microfiber mop and a wood floor cleaner. Using too much water while mopping your floors might cause issues such as: boards that cup or swell.

4. Can vinegar damage hardwood floors?

Cleaning your hardwood floors at home with a vinegar and water solution is an option. While this can be good for your hardwood floor, it can have an adverse effect. A dull floor can be caused by vinegar because of its acidity, which will wear away your floor's coating over time.

5. Why are my hardwood floors still dirty after mopping?

Because they mistakenly believe that wet = clean, many housecleaners use a lot of floor soap. As a result, they fail to rinse out their mop pad, resulting in a mop pad that is soaked with unclean water. Dirty water dries on the floor as a result.

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