Quick Tips

Hardwood Floor Maintenance Tips

If you have hardwood floors, you probably know how annoying it can be to keep them looking clean and not scratched up. Learn more.

Hardwood floors in dining area

Hardwood floors are beautiful, stylish and durable, but they’re not cheap. That’s why you need to be diligent when it comes to keeping your hardwood floors clean and well-maintained.

Fortunately, It’s easy to learn how to clean hardwood floors. Hardwood floors can be swept or dust-mopped daily, vacuumed weekly and mopped with a cleaner appropriate for hardwood every month. Deep clean your hardwood floors every few months to a year. Every few years, refinish your floors to keep them looking warm and inviting. Sand and refinish your hardwood floors every few decades, when they become scratched and pitted.

Follow these tips to keep your hardwood floors looking like new.

Sweep or Dust Mop Hardwood Floors Daily

A daily sweeping or dusting with a broom or microfiber dust mop will keep your floors clean and looking great. While daily sweeping might seem excessive, it’s the best way to clean up large pieces of debris that can cause scratches and other damage to your expensive floors.

While a broom can be an effective cleaning tool for daily dusting of hardwood floors, a microfiber dust mop is the best tool. Microfiber creates a static electricity charge that attracts and traps dust, allergens and dirt particles, whereas a broom just pushes the dirt around. Avoid lifting your microfiber dust mop off the floor as you push it around. This will keep the dust and dirt firmly attached to the cleaning pad.

If you don’t have time to sweep or dust your hardwood floors daily, a robot vacuum might do the trick. Most robot vacuums are suitable for use on hardwood floors, because they don’t have the beater bars that most upright vacuums have, and those beater bars can scratch or otherwise damage your floors. If you do use an upright vacuum, make sure to put it on the bare floor setting first, and be careful that the wheels don’t damage your floor.

Mop with a Hardwood Floor Cleaner Monthly

When it comes to mopping your hardwood floors, remember: water and wood are not friends. What’s the best thing to use to clean hardwood floors? An oil-based, soap-free hardwood floor detergent is ideal, especially for older hardwood floors with penetrating finishes, but if you have a newer floor with a surface finish, warm water mixed with dish soap or a water-based hardwood floor cleaner can be used.

However, remember that using excessive liquid on your hardwood floor could cause water damage to the wood, even if it has a protective surface finish. Stick to a light misting of a cleaning solution appropriate for hardwood floors. Avoid DIY floor cleaners made with vinegar, lemon juice, tea or other acidic substances, as these can break down your floor’s finish over time. Gently mist a small section of your hardwood floor with the cleaner in a spray bottle, then mop it up before moving to the next section. Again, a microfiber mop is the best tool for removing dust, dirt, allergens and other debris from the surface of your floor. Polishing your hardwood floor monthly will fill in minor scratches and keep the finish in good shape.

Deep Clean Hardwood Floors Every Few Months to a Year

How often you deep clean your hardwood floor will depend on your lifestyle. If you have kids and/or pets, you may want to do it every three to six months. Otherwise, you may choose to do it just once a year.

Start by identifying your floor finish. If you installed the floor yourself, you’ll already have this information. If you bought the house with hardwood floors already installed, pour a small amount of water on an out-of-the-way floorboard to determine what type of finish you have. If the water soaks in, you have the older-style of penetrating finish, but if the water pools, you have the newer style of surface finish. (Skip this test if your house was built before 1920. If that’s the case, you can safely assume your floors have a penetrating finish.) Choose a hardwood floor cleaner appropriate for your finish type and mop with a microfiber mop in the direction of the floor boards to get out grime stuck between the boards.

Apply a New Coat of Finish Every Three to Five Years

The finish on your hardwood floors will become worn with traffic and time. Apply a new coat of finish every three to five years to restore the look of your floors and help them last longer. 

Sand and Refinish Scratched, Pitted Hardwood Floors Every Few Decades

You don’t need to completely sand down and refinish your floors very often, but many homeowners choose to do so when they first move into a home with original hardwood floors to start fresh with a new, vibrant surface. If you’ve installed new hardwood floors in your home, plan to sand and refinish them every few decades. Sanding and refinishing can restore deeply scratched, pitted and stained hardwood floors. To keep new or newly refinished floors looking nice, use mats or rugs at entryways and in high-traffic areas, and clean high-traffic areas more often.

The warm, inviting, classic look of hardwood floors makes them worth the extra cost and upkeep. 

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