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  • Sally Norton

The Dos and Don'ts of Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

The allure and timeless elegance of hardwood floors are undeniable. Their warmth and charm can transform any space, adding to the aesthetic appeal and the overall value of a home. However, maintaining this enduring beauty hinges significantly on proper maintenance and care, including eco-friendly cleaning products. Cleaning hardwood floors, while seemingly simple, requires precise execution. Use of inappropriate cleaning solutions, even if they are not eco-friendly, or incorrect techniques can dull their shine and hasten wear, detracting from their natural beauty and longevity.

This comprehensive guide demystifies the dos and don'ts of cleaning hardwood floors. Perfect for both first-time homeowners seeking to preserve the lustrous charm of their flooring and seasoned homeowners aiming to rejuvenate their floors' former glory. It covers everything from selecting the right cleaning products and avoiding common pitfalls to sharing professional tips for maintaining the pristine condition of your floors. Prepare to discover the essential aspects of hardwood floor care and how to keep them looking as good as new.

Wooden staircase

Why Proper Cleaning Techniques Matter

Understanding the material and structure of hardwood floors is fundamental to their proper care. When exposed to abrasive cleaning tools, harsh chemicals, or excessive water, these floors are susceptible to damage. This understanding becomes especially vital when considering house cleaning tips for people with allergies, as dust and allergens can accumulate in scratches or warped areas. Improper cleaning methods can lead to these issues, detracting from the floor's aesthetic appeal and reducing lifespan. Hence, adopting appropriate cleaning techniques is essential not only for preserving the floor's visual charm but also for ensuring its durability and integrity and maintaining a healthier home environment.

A photo of a hardwood floor with a smooth surface
Showcase the timeless elegance and warm allure of hardwood floors.

Dos of Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Use the Right Cleaning Products

The choice of cleaning products plays a vital role in maintaining their shine and durability. Avoid using ammonia-based cleaners, wax, or steam cleaners, as they can damage the protective finish and dull the luster. Instead, opt for pH-neutral, non-aerosol cleaners designed specifically for this type of floor. These products effectively remove dirt and grime without stripping the floor's finish or leaving residue behind.

Cleaning products in bottles and a bag on the shelves
Essential tools and eco-friendly products the ready for effective and gentle hardwood floor cleaning.

Sweep or Dust Regularly

Regular sweeping or dusting is more than just a cleanliness routine; it's vital in preserving their beauty and prolonging their lives. Fine dust and dirt particles can act like sandpaper, abrading the finish of the floors over time. You can minimize this abrasive effect by incorporating daily sweeping or dusting into your cleaning routine, protecting your floors from premature wear and tear.

Dry Spills Immediately

Hardwood floors, while robust, are vulnerable to liquids. Spills left unattended can penetrate the protective finish, causing staining and even warping. It is crucial to wipe up spills immediately using a dry or slightly damp cloth. Regular spot cleaning can prevent water damage and help maintain the pristine appearance of your floors.

Use Pads Under Furniture

Furniture legs and bases can cause scratches and dents, damaging the aesthetic appeal of your floors. This damage becomes particularly evident during moving, making it essential to have trustworthy movers to rely on, especially when moving in or to Glendale, CA, and hiring residential movers. Protective measures like using pads or coasters under furniture legs can prevent such damage. These buffers distribute the weight evenly, reducing the risk of scratches or dents and helping maintain your floors' integrity. It's essential to check and replace these pads regularly, especially on frequently moved furniture, and when planning a move, ensure you choose professional and experienced movers.

A big kitchen with a hardwood floor

The Don'ts of Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Don't Use Excessive Water

While water is a common element in many cleaning routines, it can be detrimental to hardwood floors. Excessive moisture can seep into the wood, leading to swelling, warping, or mold growth. When cleaning, it's best to use a damp (not wet) mop or cloth and promptly dry any residual moisture to prevent damage. Remember, the aim is to clean the floor, not to soak it.

Don't Use Abrasive Cleaners or Tools

The allure of a hardwood floor lies in its smooth, polished surface, which harsh cleaners or abrasive tools can easily damage. Acidic or ammonia-based cleaners can strip the floor's finish, while steel wool or hard-bristled brushes can leave scratches. It's always advisable to use gentle cleaning solutions specifically designed for hardwood and soft, non-abrasive tools for effective, safe cleaning.

Don't Forget to Protect High-Traffic Areas

High-traffic areas, like hallways or entrances, are more susceptible to wear and tear, gradually losing their shine and luster. It's essential to add an extra layer of protection to these areas. Use area rugs or runners, preferably with non-slip pads, to avoid shifting. These protect the floor and add an aesthetic touch to your space. However, avoid rubber-backed or non-breathable rugs, which can discolor the wood.

Pro Tips for Long-lasting Floors

Preserving the splendor of your floors goes beyond regular cleaning and involves being wary of some home cleaning hacks you should avoid. Opt for professional refinishing every few years to restore shine and remove minor scratches rather than attempting DIY solutions that may cause more harm than good. Consider using window coverings to protect your floors from UV rays that could discolor the wood for daily care. Additionally, maintaining a consistent indoor humidity level between 30% and 50% helps to prevent the wood from expanding and contracting instead of trying quick-fix humidity solutions.


Cleaning hardwood floors involves much more than surface care—understanding and respecting the material's nature. The correct approach includes using suitable cleaning products, routine dusting, immediate spill management, and employing furniture pads. Conversely, avoiding water overuse, harsh cleaning agents, abrasive tools, and neglecting high-traffic areas is crucial. By implementing these principles, alongside professional tips, cleaning becomes a sustainable routine. Embrace these guidelines to maintain the timeless elegance of your hardwood floors for generations.


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