Project Guide

How to Clean Hardwood Floors

Sweep or Vacuum
A person vacuuming a hardwood floor.

The first step in learning how to clean hardwood floors is removing dust or debris that can scratch or dull their surface. 

  • Use a broom or hardwood floor mop for daily cleaning. A microfiber mop pre-treated with a dusting agent will pick up dust and dirt and prevent scratches.  
  • Vacuum your hardwood floor once a week. Use your vacuum's “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: Use throw rugs and floor mats near doorways to stop dirt from being tracked in and damaging your hardwood floor. 

Mopping over wood floors.

Heavily trafficked areas should be cleaned more often, every week or two. One way how to clean hardwood floors is to use a mop and hardwood floor cleaner according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

  • Make sure to wring most of the water out of the mop so it’s damp. Rinse if necessary.
  • Avoid leaving any standing water on the floor, for this can damage the wood. This is especially true for prefinished hardwood floors. 
  • Avoid using harsh detergents or they’ll dull the surface. 
  • You can also use a spray-and-mop product or disposable wet pads that are safe for hardwood floors. 
  • Unless you use a steam mop designed for cleaning hardwoods, steam cleaning is not advised for hardwood floors. Steam can dull the finish and damage the wood. 

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

A person buffing out scratches on a wood floor.

The last step in knowing how to clean hardwood floors is taking care of occassional scratches and dullness. 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.
  • 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.
  • If your floor is real hardwood, lightly sand it, then apply a new finish to restore the wood's natural beauty.

Tip: Don't overwax a wood floor. If it looks dull, try buffing your hardwood floor instead.

Hardwood Floor Maintenance Tips
A bedroom with hardwood floors, a beige accent chair and bed.

Keep your hardwood floors in shape by sticking to a regular schedule of maintenance.

  • Sweep, dust or dry mop daily.
  • Vacuum weekly.
  • Clean heavy-traffic areas with a damp mop twice a month.
  • Clean with recommended hardwood floor cleaner once a month.
  • Apply a fresh coat of finish every three to five years.
  • Sand and refinish every 10 years.