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Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Updated on January 10, 2010

Hardwood floors are quite durable and can maintain their beauty and luster for many years if they are cared for properly. In this guide we will discuss how to clean hardwood floors, and what you can do to extend your floor's lifespan.

Cleaning Methods

Cleaning methods will vary depending on the installation and the kind of finish used. For “Finish in Place” hardwood floors, its recommended you use a 8”x14” terrycloth mop with a rotating head. This makes cleaning corners and under cabinets an easier task. Spray a professional wood floor cleaning product recommended by the manufacturer to remove stains and spills without dulling the finish of your floor. Manufacturers of “pre-finished” hardwood floors recommend using their specific products for routine maintenance.


Never wax a floor with a urethane finish since this will leave a film and residue. Use a hardwood floor cleaner to remove scuff marks. Never use ammonia or oil soaps on a wood floor since these will also dull the finish. These products will also affect the ability to re-coat the floor at a future time. Never wet mop or use an excessive amount of water to clean the floor as water causes hardwood floors to swell and can even cause the floor to crack. Immediately wipe up spills and water from flooring since water is a hardwood floors worst enemy. Keep the floor dry at all times.

Cleaning Hardwood
Cleaning Hardwood

Screening And Recoating

If your floor is showing excessive wear you may want to consider screening and re-coating. After screening and re-coating fresh coats of urethane are applied. Screening and re-coating will rejuvenate and prolong the life of the floor. If the damage to the floor is severe and has gone through the stain of the boards, you can sand and refinish it. This should only be done if screening and re-coating does not take care of the issue since this an extensive process where the floor is sanded down to the bare wood, re-stained and then refinished. If the damage is only in a small area you might consider replacement boards instead of refinishing an entire area. Be sure to hire an experienced professional when having any work done on your hardwood floor.

Preventing Damage

Protecting the floor is the best prevention with maintaining it. Wood floors will fade, darken or change shades with time. Sunlight will increase this process and window treatments are recommended to minimize this effect. Rotating area rugs and furniture regularly to allow floors to age evenly can also slow this process. Use protectors to cover furniture and table legs to protect the floor from damage. Pay special attention when moving heavy objects across your floor to avoid scratching and scuffing. Walking on hardwood floors in Stiletto heels can cause dents and scratches to the floor. This is not usually covered by the manufacturers warranty. Removing shoes at the door will help to prevent this. Pets nails should be trimmed on a regular basis to avoid scratches or damage to the floor. Be cautious of sharp objects that may scratch the floor.

Hardwood Cleaner
Hardwood Cleaner

Using Mats And Rugs

Floor mats and throw rugs should be placed at each entry door to minimize dirt and small pebbles being tracked indoors on the soles of shoes since this will scratch and dull the flooring. Make sure the throw rugs and mats do not have rubber backings since this damages hardwood floors. Mats that do not have ventilated backings are also damaging to hardwood floors and should be avoided.Choose mats that are specifically made for hardwood floors. Many times these mats are marked indicating there use for hardwood flooring. Regularly shaking out the mats and throw rugs will prolong the life of the flooring. Place mats where there is water being used such as at the kitchen sink since water is not a hardwoods best friend. Invest in a good quality broom and sweep on a regular basis. Use the broom to get to hard-to-reach places such as baseboards and under lower cabinets. Use a vacuum with a beater bar to vacuum the floor. Buffing the floor will bring the luster back to a dull appearance floor. Cleaning hardwood floors actually starts by taking prevatative measures to deter dust and dirt from gathering.


Regular cleaning and professional maintenance will help to insure the beauty of hardwood floors. The best way to clean hardwood floors can;t be summed up in just one method. Use the knowledge contained in this guide to find the one that's best for you.


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      TipTopFlooring 7 years ago

      These hardwood care tips are helpful. The hardwood floor brings warm and comfort to any home, it can serve for decades if it is maintained in the proper way.

      Always it is better to prevent the harm for the hardwood floor then trying to fix difficulties when they already are. Keep your floor clean and you can enjoy it longer.