Natural Ways of Cleaning Hardwood Flooring

Your “cleaning wood floor” questions must have you frustrated. You wonder which “perfect” wood floor cleaners are best to use on which of your flooring types. For example, is there one way that’s better than another than cleaning hardwood flooring, or should you use wood floor stripper cleaners? What steps should you take to preserve the beauty and value of your flooring? It’s simple.



Hardwood flooring maintenance


You’ve taken the first step in transforming your home with wood floors. You’ve added warmth, elegance and a feeling of space, but how long it will last is the bigger question.Installing hardwood flooring can indeed produce all these qualities, but in order to maintain them properly, cleaning and maintenance is required. Cleaning hardwood flooring and correct hardwood flooring maintenance are just as important as making the decision to install hardwood flooring. As the years pass you will see just how important it is.


Cleaning hardwood flooring using appropriate wood floor cleaners will help to improve the longevity of your hardwood flooring making sure that your investment lasts. So how do you go about cleaning hardwood flooring?


No Water Please!


The first and most important rule when it comes to cleaning hardwood flooring is NO WATER. That’s right, no water. Water will damage your hardwood floor and all the time and expense will be wasted. Water spills should be cleared immediately, as standing water can seep into the wood causing the finish to split and causing your floor to warp. Using water when cleaning hardwood flooring can also void your warranty. Contrary to popular belief, installing hardwood flooring can be done in bathrooms and other wet rooms such as laundries and kitchens, but extra care must be taken in these areas and all water spills must be taken care of immediately.

Related: Check out our article portraying the best types of hardwood flooring for your home!


Use Soft Brooms
When cleaning hardwood flooring, you should sweep with a soft, fine bristle broom daily to remove surface dirt and grit. Dirt and grit are your enemies when it comes to preserving your hardwood flooring and can reduce the longevity of hardwood flooring. Just like sandpaper, they can cause scratches, dents and dulling, and can damage your hardwood flooring finish. Preventative measures include strategically placing mats and rugs around your home to trap the dirt and grit. Vacuuming is another way of cleaning hardwood flooring and should be carried out twice weekly with a soft brush attachment to minimize scratching. When it comes to washing your hardwood flooring a damp mop can be used.







Avoid Oil Soaps


Some people say when cleaning hardwood flooring, you should avoid using oil soaps as they can leave a residue build up. Of course, others say those are good ingredients to use. There are lots of tips available on how to restore shine to wood floors; I like this one because of the natural ingredients involved. Neutral pH wood floor cleaners are recommended. For tough spots and stains such as oil, markers, cigarette marks, paint, lipstick, or ink, you should use acetone or nail polish remover on a clean cloth ensuring you dry the area quickly afterwards. Also,hardwood floor cleaner can be used, but it is advisable to check the manufacturer’s guidelines first before using any wood floor cleaners.


Damp Mopping


Damp Mopping is another method recommended by hardwood flooring experts as a natural way of cleaning your hardwood flooring for increasing the longevity of hardwood flooring. It is a method in which you wet the mop slightly in the water and use it all over the floor, once to remove the dirt present on the floor and the second time to remove any left over, so that your hardwood floor is perfectly clean. And in case if you installed a pre-finished hardwood floor, it’s always good to dry the floor using a dry towel or buffer.


Schedule your Cleaning


Daily cleaning is always the best option to protect your hardwood flooring from scratches and stains that can damage your flooring. Vacuum cleaners are a good alternative to get the dirt out of areas that your broom cannot reach like the corners, areas under your sofa and dining areas. A weekly maintenance schedule needs to be followed to deal with all the dusts and stains your floor accumulates over the week, which is not cleared during your daily cleaning routine.




Cleaning your wood floor is not enough and preventing damage is also important. Some methods of preventing damage are using furniture guides which will help prevent scratches. It is also important to remember that direct sun light can discolour hardwood flooring and whenever possible you should close curtains and blinds to protect your hardwood flooring from direct UV rays.


Hardwood floors are among the easiest floors to keep clean and they will repay your care and attention with a lifetime of value. Installing hardwood flooring adds warmth, elegance, and natural beauty to your home, so why not keep it this way with proper care and maintenance.

20 thoughts on “Natural Ways of Cleaning Hardwood Flooring”

  1. I have a very old rustic cabin that has yellow pine hardwood flooring. There is no “shine” to the floor which is OK. I do want to give it a thorough cleaning however and want to be careful I don’t damage the wood. The cabin floor often gets snow, ice mud, etc because of the activity of the cabin. The color of the floor is dark as the floor is from 1937.
    How should I go about giving it a thorough cleaning?

  2. Hi Bob,
    You mention that it has no shine……. is it sealed? There are products that seal and still give wood flooring a natural look.
    Cleaning is going to be a real pain if it’s not sealed. Sealing is going to protect your floor from all that snow & mud too.
    Is the floor ‘dark’ all over, or just in high traffic areas?
    Sorry to ask so many questions. Though you didn’t mention if the floor is sealed, I’m getting the feeling that it’s not. Heh ……. either I’m trying to be psychic or I’m just flaking out.

  3. I bought a new home (new construction) with wood floors (prefinished) and I can’t find a good cleaning product. Most products either streak, or leave the floor dangerously slippery. But my biggest pet peeve is that no matter what I use, my family’s bare foot prints appear as soon as they walk over the floors. Is there any thing out there that will keep the foot prints off my floors?

  4. Hi Jo Annie,
    This is a common complaint with today’s prefinished flooring products. There isn’t anything that can be done with the flooring ‘as is’. If you know who manufactured the flooring, you can call them to see what you can safely strip the finish with and then apply your own poly finish. You cannot put a poly over this factory finish.

  5. We just had our floors resanded and sealed with a water based sealant. The seams between the pieces of wood are visible and a bit rough when walking.
    I would like to put on another coat of sealant. What would you suggest.
    Thanks for your help

  6. We just installed hardwood floors, brazilian cherry, I love them, at first we cleaned it with murphys oil, it left the floor looking greasy. Then we were told to use the old fashioned method, water & vinegar, this worked great and gives a great shine, but the only thing is every time after cleaning, depending on the light I see all footprints, it get so smudgy, Does anyone know how I can resolve this, its so wearing me out trying to clean my floors,

  7. Hi Fran,
    You should not be using water at all on your hardwood floor because it will damage it. There are professional wood floor cleaning products and you can contact your retailer about those. If you are really weary of footprints everywhere, you might want to consider an area rug to take the brunt of the traffic.

  8. I had to clean a cherrywood floor with vinigar and water last night to remove food that was spilled. Now the whole floor has water spots. What do you suggest to go over it lightly and easy to remove the water spots now?

  9. Hello. Your site is wonderful, but I’m not sure where to go because I’m not sure what I /have/. We have recently purchased a home that has GORGEOUS 5 1/4″ wood flooring in most of the older rooms. The original part of the house was built in 1907. Now comes the problematic part. We have never owned a home before. We have /no/ idea what kind of wood it is, nor what finishes may or may not be on these floors. It seems to be the same wood in the three bedrooms and the dining room, but I have no clue what kind of wood it is, or if they were all finished the same way and just weathered differently, or have different products on them since some floors have more shine than others. The only thing I know is there is damage in spots, the shine is not even, there is some distress, and I’m not sure how to save these great floors!

  10. My husband and I just bought a wonderful new home with hardwood flooring throughout. Unfortunately, the previous owner had a dog and we are now just starting to notice a “doggy” smell that seems to be emanating from the floor and walls. We tried sprinkling baking soda on the floor and leaving it for a while (then vacuuming up) but that did not seem to work. Any suggestions for getting pet smells out of hardwood without damaging the wood? Thank you.

  11. We need some help. We have a 8,000 sq ft house with wall to wall Cherry wood. Cabnets floors postings all in Cherry. We have used every product known to man and also plain vinegar and it seems everything makes it look dull. Because my entire main level is cherry hard wood floors I need to find a product to polish it to bring it back to its original shine but also find something to clean it on a regular basis that doesnt strip the polish. I think what we have been doing is working aginst one another and what we are cleaning it with is taking away the ” buffed ” look?? Please advise!!

  12. Melissa,
    If I understand correctly both your cabinets and the floor have lost their shine.
    Perhaps in the myriad of cleaning you’ve created either a film or even perhaps stripped the wood.
    I personally would use a MicroFiber towel to dry mop and dust. I would then clean the floors using StainSolver. To finish the floor I would use a clean, dry microfiber cloth to *buff* the floor and cabinets to their former shine. You can also contact the manufacturer of the flooring and inquire of the suggested cleaning instructions.

  13. HELP! I have real prefinished medium oak hardwood floors. In the entry way from the garage and this entry way also leads to laundry room & Master Bedroom. I have an oily residue its AWFUL! I have cleaned with everything. Vinager just balls you on top. I called my local flooring center the installed the floor & she said to use Mineral spirts; place it on a soft rag & wipe it on. I did that & it worked GREAT! I was so excited. HELP! I have an entry wrong in the house & garage. We ALL know to wipe feet shoes well. Can you please tell me what could be causing this? I have a Yorkie 3.5 lbs could he be causing this film. I would GREATLY appreciate any advice/help that you or anyone can PLEASE give me. Thanks!

  14. Valorie,
    Hi. Cleaning with oil soaps can sometimes leave a residue on your floor. The mineral spirits would be strong enough to remove the oily film left behind.
    I would try cleaning with a product made specifically for wood floors, and would discontinue cleaning with the mineral spirits.

  15. We have a new house with a lot of Brazilian Cherrwood floors – hate them. They scratch easily and never look clean.
    Now I am noticing that the planks are starting to split along the grain lines. Is this normal?
    What is the best way to clean the floor from the fingerprints. A spray and microfiber brush??
    Can you recommend one?
    Also I was told that over time the wood would darken but reading your website it sounds like it will lighten. Is this true?
    I deeply regret spending the large $$ on our floors.


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