How to Clean Wooden Floors the Right Way – A Comprehensive Guide

Wooden floors are a great way to add beauty and character to a living space, giving a sophisticated and timeless look for all to enjoy. However, as much as wooden floors accentuate a room’s appearance, they also require a fair degree of maintenance and care.

Floors experience a lot of wear and tear, and if you want to keep them looking their best, they need to be cleaned and polished regularly. You can also take preventative measures to help maintain your floor, like placing floor mats and rugs at doorways to prevent dirt and debris from accumulating inside.

While mopping wooden floors with soapy water is a popular option, there are many other creative ways to clean a wooden floor using different products. Let’s go through the best methods to ensure your floors are sparkling clean and last for the long haul.


Identifying Your Hardwood Flooring


Before you start, you need to find out what kind of hardwood flooring you have. From newer floors that have a polyurethane or lacquer finish to older ones that have been refinished over the years, it’s important to clean in the right way to avoid damage.

If you’re unsure of what flooring type you own, rub your finger across the floor. If it leaves a mark, your floors are finished with wax. If no smudges are present, then your floor surface is sealed.


Finished Wood Floors


These floors are usually made from higher quality wood, generally containing a polyurethane coating (sealed). While maintenance for this flooring type is relatively easy, always remember to stray away from oil or waxes.


Step One:

Begin by using a vacuum cleaner or microfiber dust mop to clear your floor. Doing so will remove larger particles of dirt, pet hair and debris laying around on your flooring.


Step Two:

Mix dish soap and water in a bucket, then soak a microfibre cloth into your mixture. Wring your cloth and proceed to wipe your flooring in linear motions.


Step Three:

Turn on your fan or open up your windows. Doing so will help to dry the floors faster, reducing the risk of mould growth and damage due to excess moisture.


Unfinished Wooden Floor


This floor type is unfinished wood, and has a matte finish. As the wood is old, avoid water as it can easily be absorbed into the material. Excess moisture can cause the wood to warp and even accelerate the growth of mould and mildew.

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Step One:

Repeat step one mentioned above by removing all dust and debris.


Step Two:

Once a month, apply linseed or jojoba oil to a rug and rub stains away. Afterwards, use a dry mop to buff your floor to give it a nice shine. The oils help to nourish the wood without causing any damage or leaving behind residue.


Step Three:

When you’re not cleaning wood floors, you can apply a petroleum-based, waterless wax product to drastically improve and protect your floor’s appearance. Apply wax on a rug and wipe down your floors, and wait half an hour to dry. Proceed to buff wax with a dry cleaning cloth.


Using Vinegar as a Wooden Floor Cleaner

If you’ve done your fair share of cleaning, you’ll probably know the remarkable and versatile power of white vinegar. It’s a great natural cleaner and can be used to clean most surfaces around your house, including wooden floors.


Step One:

Remove all your furniture, including your rugs as these items generally get in the way when cleaning. Proceed to remove all dust and debris using a vacuum cleaner or cloth. Using a fabric is the best choice to avoid scratching the surface.


Step Two:

Mix one gallon of hot water and vinegar to create a solution – this will help cut through any dirt or grime on your floor. Stir well until it is thoroughly mixed, then soak a microfibre cloth into the solution.


Step Three:

With your microfibre cloth or mop, proceed to wipe your floors in an S motion using the same side. Always wring your material out to prevent the buildup of excess water, as too much of your solution can cause damage to your floors.


Step Four:

Turn on the fan or open up the windows. This step is crucial as it will help to dry your floors faster, preventing the risk of damage due to too much moisture.

Step Five:

Once floors are completely dry, use wax or a floor polish to add shine and protect your floor from wear.


Other Natural Ingredients to Deep Clean Hardwood Floors

If you’re looking for alternative natural ingredients to clean your wood floors, there are plenty of options. Natural ingredients are not only readily available and accessible in most households, but they’re also more safe for your home and family.


Baking Soda


Baking soda is a low abrasive product to clean your wood floors, especially compared to enamel and dentin. To clean scratches, pour one tablespoon of baking soda onto a sponge and rub the stained area.


Lemon Juice


Love the tremendous cleaning benefits of white vinegar but can’t stand the smell? Try adding some lemon to reinvigorate your senses. This fruit works as a natural bleach, containing acid which deters microbes from growing on your surfaces.

Washing Up Liquid


As mentioned above, washing up or dish soap liquid can be an effective way to clean your floor by removing tough stains. The soap helps lift dirt, grime and even oil buildup from the floor surface.


Fine Steel Wool


Steel wool is an effective way to remove tough stains on your wooden flooring. Use it sparingly, though, as steel can damage the surface of the wood if used too roughly. If stains are still present, lightly sand the area with sandpaper, and proceed to polish.


Castile Soap


Castile Soap goes far beyond just making you look beautiful, it can help clean floors too. Free from animal fat, this soap comes in various scents and is a fantastic alternative to white vinegar if you can’t handle the smell.

Proceed to mix 1/4 cup of Castile soap with hot water in your bucket and begin mopping. However, use this solution sparingly on waxed floors as it can damage the protective coating.


The Do’s and Don’ts of Cleaning Hardwood Floors


Caring for and maintaining your hardwood floors ensures they’ll look their best while lasting well over their usual lifespan of ten years. By taking the necessary precautions, you can minimise wear and tear and maximise the long-term life of your wood floors.


Do’s –


  • Use furniture pads when installing heavy items such as bookcases, speakers and entertainment systems to prevent scratching.


  • Wipe up stains and spills with a soft cloth to remove any excess moisture as soon as you can. Water is the number one enemy of hardwood floors so avoid heavy wet mopping, as it can lead to warping and mildew.


  • Use doormats at every entry point and place rugs over high traffic areas. This will help to prevent the floors from scratching and damaging easily.


  • Remove furniture and rugs in areas prone to excessive sunlight. Hardwood floors are photosensitive, and prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause your floors to darken and fade.


– Don’t’s –


  • Expose your hardwood floors to too much moisture, such as steam from a shower or dishwasher that may be running directly over it. This will weaken the wood fibres and cause warping or cracking of the surface.


  • Use abrasive cleaning products that contain ammonia. This chemical can wear down the surface of your hardwood floors, dissolving the wood’s lignin.


  • Apply too much oil for polishing. While small amounts of oil will make it shine, excessive amounts can make your floor slippery, and prone to accidents.


  • Use too much vinegar to clean your floors. Although this is a highly effective cleaning product, too much can damage the finish of your wood flooring by stripping away the protective seal.


In conclusion, knowing how to clean wooden floors the right way is essential for maximising its lifespan and appearance. Using this guide will ensure you use the proper techniques and products so that your hardwood flooring stays in tip-top shape for years to come.

Always read labels carefully before using any product on your hardwood floors to ensure they are compatible.


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