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The Complete Guide to Cleaning Hardwood Floors

March 3, 2024
The Complete Guide to Cleaning Hardwood Floors


Hardwood floors can be one of the most beautiful parts of your home. However, keeping them clean and protected takes some work. As someone who has spent years caring for my own hardwood floors, I’ve learned the best practices for keeping them looking their best. In this complete guide, I’ll share everything I’ve learned about cleaning hardwood floors.

From the proper tools and cleaners to use to techniques for removing stains and restoring shine, I’ll cover it all. My goal is to equip you with the knowledge to keep your hardwood floors gleaming. With the right maintenance and cleaning methods, your floors will look great for years to come. Let’s get started!

Basic Cleaning Tools and Supplies

Before we get into cleaning techniques, let’s go over the basic tools and cleaners you’ll need:

Cleaning Tools

  • Broom or dust mop – I prefer a soft-bristle broom or microfiber dust mop for quick daily sweeping. They pick up dust and dirt without scratching.

  • Mop – Choose a mop with a washable microfiber pad. Microfiber absorbs dust effectively.

  • Floor cleaner – A machine like the Bissell Hard Floor Expert captures dirt easily.

  • Scrub brush – For hand scrubbing, a soft nylon brush is perfect.

  • Microfiber cloths – Use these for wiping up spills and liquid cleaner.


  • Hardwood floor cleaner – Use a cleaner made specifically for hardwood. Avoid oil soap.

  • Vinegar – Great for cleaning and removing grime. Mix 1 cup vinegar per gallon of water.

  • Baking soda – Helps remove dullness and gives floors a shine boost.

  • Hydrogen peroxide – Disinfects floors and improves shine. Mix 1/2 cup per gallon of water.

Now let’s get into my step-by-step guide for cleaning hardwood floors.

Daily Hardwood Floor Cleaning

Daily cleaning is essential to prevent dirt buildup and keep floors looking fresh. Here are my tips for quick daily hardwood floor cleaning:

1. Sweep Floors

Sweep floors daily with a broom or dust mop. This lifts dust, dirt, pet hair, and debris off the floor before it gets ground in. Sweep under furniture and in corners.

2. Spot Clean Spills

Immediately wipe up any spills or dirty footprints with a damp microfiber cloth. Don’t let moisture sit on floors too long.

3. Address High Traffic Areas

High traffic areas like entryways may need extra attention. Give these areas periodic sweepings or quick moppings.

With daily sweeping and spot cleaning, you can go days between deep cleans. But when it’s time for a thorough clean, follow my deep cleaning method.

Deep Cleaning Hardwood Floors

For a sparkling clean floor, I recommend deep cleaning 1-2 times per week. Here is my process:

1. Remove Furniture and Rugs

If possible, move smaller furniture and rugs out of the room to access the entire floor.

2. Sweep and Dry Mop

Sweep the floor thoroughly or use a dry microfiber mop to remove surface-level dirt.

3. Fill Bucket with Cleaner

Fill a bucket with hardwood floor cleaner mixed with warm water per the cleaner’s instructions.

4. Mop the Floor

Dip your mop in the solution and mop the floor. Use overlapping strokes. Rinse the mop pad frequently.

5. Dry the Floor

Let the floor air dry or use clean, dry microfiber cloths to dry the floor quickly.

6. Replace Furniture and Rugs

Put furniture and rugs back in place. Avoid walking on damp floors.

Restoring Shine to Dull Hardwood Floors

With time, hardwood floors can look dull and scratched. Here are my best tips for renewing shine:

  • Clean thoroughly – Deep clean using my method above. Dirt and buildup can create a dull appearance.

  • Use baking soda – Make a paste with baking soda and water. Gently rub onto floors and let sit 15 minutes before cleaning. The light abrasion restores shine.

  • Use vinegar – Mix 1/2 cup vinegar per gallon of water. After deep cleaning, mop floors with the solution. Vinegar helps remove buildup.

  • Consider refinishing – If above methods don’t restore shine, professional refinishing may be needed. This sands away top layers and applies new protective finish.

With a little elbow grease, you can bring back the beautiful shine!

Removing Stains from Hardwood Floors

Life happens, and spills and stains on hardwood are inevitable. Here are my best stain removal techniques:

Water-Based Stains

For stains from beverages, food and mud, immediately blot the stain with a dry cloth. Mix equal parts vinegar and water and scrub the stain with a soft brush. Blot to soak up the vinegar solution.

Grease and Oil Stains

Sprinkle baking soda or corn starch directly on the greasy stain. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes. The powder will absorb the grease. Vacuum up the powder. If needed, scrub gently with vinegar and water.

Wax and Crayon Stains

Freeze wax or crayon stains by putting an ice cube in a plastic bag and holding it on the stain. Once frozen, the wax will chip right off. Then clean the spot with vinegar and water.

Dark Water Spots

These spots occur from moisture damage. Rub the spots gently with extra fine steel wool and reapply floor polish to help blend in. Avoid excessive water exposure to prevent dark spots.

With the right techniques, you can get those hardwood stains up for good!

Caring for Hardwood Flooring in Wet Areas

Kitchens, bathrooms, and entries can be rough on hardwood floors. Here are my tips for protecting the floors in wet areas:

  • Immediately wipe up spills and standing water.

  • Add area rugs in high moisture spots. Routinely pull back and clean underneath.

  • Install protective mats at exterior doors to prevent outdoor grit coming inside.

  • Use floor protectant like polyurethane to add moisture resistance in susceptible areas.

  • Consider using waterproof vinyl or tile flooring in bathrooms or laundry rooms.

With extra care, you can have beautiful hardwood floors throughout your home, even in wet areas!

Hardwood Floor Cleaning FAQs

How often should I mop my floors?

For light cleaning, mop 1-2 times per week. For deeper cleans, mop every 2-3 weeks. The goal is to prevent buildup that can dull the floor. But over-mopping can damage floors, so find the right balance.

Should I vacuum my hardwood floors?

Only use a vacuum with a hard floor attachment, never a beater bar. Vacuuming can offer a deeper clean for pet hair, dirt and debris. Just make sure not to scratch floors with the vacuum head.

What’s the best way to clean under furniture and appliances?

Use attachments like a vacuum crevice tool, small dust mop, or microfiber cloths on a stick. Move lighter pieces when you can. For immovable appliances, wipe as far underneath as possible.

Can I use steam mops on hardwood floors?

In general no, steam mops are not recommended. The moisture and pressure can damage floor finish and cause warping over time. Stick to dry mopping methods instead.

How can I add shine to dull, dated floors?

Deep clean grime first, then apply a hardwood floor refresher. These products contain polishes and oils to enhance shine. Follow product instructions carefully. Refinishing may ultimately be needed for lackluster floors.


I hope this complete guide gives you the confidence to keep your hardwood floors looking like new! The most important thing is establishing a regular cleaning routine. With frequent dusting and cleaning using proper products and techniques, you can maintain a beautiful floor.

Remember to sweep daily, deep clean weekly, restore shine promptly when needed, and clean up spills right away. With the proper care and maintenance, your hardwood floors will shine for years to come and add beauty throughout your home.

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