Project Guide

How to Clean Wood Floors

Sweep or Vacuum
A person vacuuming a hardwood floor.
  • Hardwoods need to be kept clean and free of dust and debris that can scratch and dull the surface. 
  • Use a broom or hardwood floor mop, for daily cleaning; a wood floor vacuum should be used weekly.
  • If you only have a standard vacuum, check to see if it has a “hard floor” setting. This raises the vacuum, deactivates the brush roll, and works only by suction. 
  • Be careful to always turn the brush roll off since it can scratch your floors. 
  • Some models offer rubber wheels which are less likely to leave scratches than models with hard plastic wheels.

Tip: Try a microfiber mop pre-treated with a dusting agent. It’ll help pick up dust and dirt and prevent scratches.

Mopping over wood floors.
  • Make sure to wring out most of the water out of the mop so it’s damp. 
  • Heavily trafficked areas should be cleaned more often, every week or two. 
  • Avoid leaving any standing water on the floor, for this can damage the wood. This is especially true for prefinished hardwood floors. 
  • If your floors are well sealed you can add a diluted hardwood floor cleaner according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Rinse with a clean mop dampened in clear water, but only if the cleaning product requires it. 
  • Avoid using harsh detergents or they’ll dull the surface. 
  • You can also use a spray-and-mop product. They don’t require a bucket and dry quickly. 
  • For a quick clean, use disposable wet pads. Make sure you use a variety that is safe for hardwood floors.
  • Steam cleaning is not advised for hardwood floors. Steam can dull the finish and damage the wood. There are hardwood floor steam cleaners [link:   ] designed for use with hardwood flooring, however, the floors must be properly sealed for the tools to be considered safe to use.

Tip: Your floors should dry pretty quickly, but you can speed up the process by turning on a ceiling fan, air conditioning or by drying the floor using a soft, microfiber cloth.

A person buffing out scratches on a wood floor.

No matter how often you clean your hardwood floor, scratches are inevitable, especially if you have pets. Here’s a few quick fixes:

  • Try liquid scratch concealers. When they dry, they form a permanent seal that won’t come off during cleaning. Be sure to select a concealer that best matches the color of your floor’s finish.
  • If your floor is real hardwood, lightly sand it, then apply a new finish to restore the wood's natural beauty.
  • You can restore the shine with floor polish. It’ll also protect your floor from wear and help fill small scratches.
  • Use floor wax to revitalize and deep clean worn floors. Always apply floor wax to go with the grain of the wood.

Tip: Don’t over-wax a wood floor. Try buffing your hardwood floor instead if it looks dull.

Cleaning Frequency

The best way to clean wood floors and keep them in shape is to stick to a regular schedule of maintenance.

Daily or as often as possible: Sweep, dust or mop

Weekly: Vacuum on bare floor setting

Bi-Weekly: Clean heavy-traffic areas with a damp mop

Monthly: Clean with recommended wood cleaner

Every three to five years: Apply a fresh coat of finish

Every few decades: Sand and refinish