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Cleaning Hardwood Floors: Dos and Donts

March 3, 2024
Cleaning Hardwood Floors: Dos and Donts


Hardwood floors can be a beautiful addition to any home when properly cared for. However, they do require some special considerations when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. As someone who has hardwood floors throughout my entire house, I have learned through trial and error what works and what doesn’t over the years. In this article, I’ll share my tips on the dos and don’ts of cleaning hardwood floors so you can keep yours looking their best.

Regular Maintenance

  • Do sweep or vacuum your floors frequently to remove dirt, dust, and debris. This prevents it all from being ground into the floor. I try to quickly vacuum my hardwood daily.

  • Do mop your floors on a weekly basis with a hardwood floor cleaner. I use Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner and love it. Be sure to follow the dilutions instructions on the bottle.

  • Don’t use traditional cleaners like ammonia, vinegar, or bleach products on hardwood floors. They can strip the finish.

  • Do wipe up spills immediately to prevent stains and water damage.

  • Do place mats at entryways and area rugs in high traffic areas to prevent wear and scratches. Be sure to clean underneath them regularly.

Deep Cleaning

  • Do give your floors a deep clean 2-4 times per year. I like to do this seasonally.

  • Do vacuum thoroughly before deep cleaning. This gets rid of abrasive dirt and debris.

  • Do use a hardwood floor deep cleaning machine or rent an industrial one for best results.

  • Don’t soak or flood your hardwood floors with water. Use a barely damp mop.

  • Do clean in sections and immediately soak up dirty water as you go.

  • Do buff floors with a soft cloth when fully dry to restore shine.

  • Don’t wax or use oil-based products on poly-finished hardwood floors.

Problem Solving

For pet stains:

  • Do blot the area immediately with a clean, dry cloth. Avoid excessive rubbing.

  • Do spray the area with a hardwood floor cleaner and let sit for a few minutes.

  • Do use an enzyme-based pet stain remover if cleaner alone doesn’t work. Bissell and Nature’s Miracle make good ones.

For food or grease stains:

  • Do scrape off any excess food or grease gently with a plastic scraper. Avoid abrasive scrubbing.

  • Do spray on a degreasing cleaner like Simple Green and blot it up immediately.

  • Don’t let the degreaser sit too long, as excessive moisture can damage the floors.

For scratches and gouges:

  • Do consult a hardwood floor refinishing company if deep scratches are present. Sanding and refinishing may be required.

  • Do use floor putty sticks to fix minor scratches. Apply putty, let dry completely, and buff smooth.

  • Don’t try to stain scratched areas with markers. This usually looks unnatural.


The keys to keeping hardwood floors looking beautiful over time are gentle yet frequent cleaning, prompt attention to spills and stains, and avoiding abrasives. But even with diligent care, floors may eventually need professional refinishing. By following these dos and don’ts, you’ll be able to keep your hardwood floors shining for years to come. Let me know if you have any other hardwood floor care tips!

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