Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Updated April 29, 2021

How do I clean my hardwood floors? Daily customers are asking me this question. After completing work in their homes, customers wish to preserve the like new shine on their floors. Often we have just completed a hardwood floor refinishing, installation, repair or maintenance coating and the luster is returned to the hardwood floors.

Keeping your hardwood floors looking like new comes down to simple steps and maintenance tips.

Sweep and Vacuum

The first step in cleaning your hardwood floors is to sweep or vacuum lose dirt, dust, crumbs and debris. Depending on the activity in your home you may need to sweep or vacuum daily to clean up dirt and debris tracked into the home by the family, guests or your four legged friends. When dirt piles up on the hardwood floors it acts like an abrasive and will wear away the protective layer of polyurethane.

After the floors have been cleared its time to “mop” or shine. The word mop here does not imply a string mop or mop you place in a bucket of water. Water and wood are not a good combination and standing water will damage your hardwood floors. The mop reference here is a swivel head hardwood floor mop made by the Bona company. The Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaning Kit is a great starter product. It contains the mop, a terry cloth mop cover, microfiber dry mop cover and a spray bottle of hardwood floor cleaner. You can find product recommended here. You simply spray the cleaner and “mop” the floors.

Cleaning Products

There are many different brands of hardwood floor cleaners on the market today, be wary of products that may contain wax or silicone. These products can dull the finish and prevent the polyurethane from adhering properly.

The importance of cleaning products used on hardwood floors is underrated. There are so many products on the market now that it is no wonder consumers are confused. Basically any cleaning products with oil soap, wax  or silicone will interfere with polyurethane adhering to the hardwood floors. A few products to avoid: Murphy’s Oil Soap, Pledge, Mop and Glow, Orange Glo, Zep. Remember to be mindful when cleaning your hardwood floors as the maintenance coating will not adhere to the floor’s surface due to the build-up.


Clean Spills and Water Promptly

Damage to hardwood floors can occur when standing water or liquid is not cleaned up promptly. Water can be tracked into a home from winter boots, wet bathing suits, or wet towels. Glasses and water bottles can be inadvertently knocked onto the floor. Being diligent about prompt cleanup will prevent damage to the hardwood floors.

Walk-Off Mats and No Shoes Policy

Placing floor mats by the entrance and exits of your home limits the amount of dirt and debris tracked into a home. Better yet have a no shoes policy and a convenient place for shoes to be placed when entering and exiting the home. This simple step reduces cleanup and wear and tear.

Consider area rugs or runners in high traffic areas to reduce the wear on frequented routes in your home. Rooms like a foyer or hallway are great areas to consider.

Avoid High Heels

Did you know high heels can cause damage to your hard wood floors? High heels concentrate a person’s weight on to a small point. High heels that have lost their protective cap thus exposing the fastening nail will exert over 8,000 pounds per square inch of pressure on a floor. That’s enough to damage hardened concrete!

High heels in good repair depending on the heel width may not damage a wood floor, it is best to have a “no high heel” policy.


You can prevent scratches by installing wood floor protectors on your furniture (felt pads). Keep pet claws trimmed and keep appliances in good working order.