This Just In: Here's Everything You Need to Know About Cleaning Hardwood Floors

how to clean hardwood floors - kitchen with natural wood flooring

Erin Williamson Design

We love the way hardwood floors can instantly make a home look beautiful and classic. But while they can certainly be easier to keep clean than carpet, your hardwood floors still require a bit of upkeep to stay polished. Flooring is one of the most permanent fixtures in your home—so it's important to ensure its condition is maintained through years of wear and tear.

Regular cleanings can not only keep your floors looking great, but also extend the life of the wood and reduce those inevitable scuffs and scratches that come with time. Whether they're brand-new or you're proudly displaying the original plank flooring in your home, there are a few key cleaning tips to help you make those wood accents shine.

Keep scrolling to learn how to clean hardwood floors and keep your home looking its best.

How Often Should You Clean Hardwood Floors?

how to clean hardwood floors - kitchen with hardwood floors
Ashley Montgomery Design

How often you need to clean your floors depends on how much traffic they see. Heavily trafficked floors (like those in the living room, kitchen, or bathrooms) may need a quick clean every week, but plan to put a deep cleaning on your schedule at least once per month to keep your floors in their best condition. In guest bedrooms or hallways that aren't used as often, you can cut the basic maintenance down to bi-weekly cleanings.

Things You'll Need

  • Broom or vacuum
  • Dish soap
  • Vinegar
  • Large bucket
  • Microfiber mop
  • Hardwood floor cleaner
  • Floor wax or hardwood floor crayon (optional)

Step 1: Vacuum or Sweep Your Floors

Once you've gathered your cleaning supplies, it's time to dust off those beautiful floors and bring your room back to life again. Get started by cleaning up any dust or debris with a vacuum or broom. If you opt for an old-fashioned broom, pick one with soft bristles and an angled head to get into cracks and crevices without scratching your floors. For your vacuum, choose the hard floor setting and gently sweep up any dirt, hair, or dust.

If you're dealing with a lot of regular dust or you have pets, a robot vacuum is a great way to keep hardwood floors dirt-free between deep cleanings.

Step 2: Choose Your Cleaner

After your floors are clear of debris, it's time to use your hardwood floor cleaner. If you're looking for a waterless cleaning method or you want a solution that can handle dirtier jobs, consider using a commercial cleaning solution made for hardwood floors. Companies such as Bona and Black Diamond make products formulated specifically to maintain wood finishes.

Most cleaners come in two forms: a spray bottle for spot cleaning and a solution meant to be diluted for mopping. Both options are great to have on hand for both quick jobs and deeper cleans. Simply follow the instructions on the bottle, and do a spot test in a corner before using any cleaner on the entirety of your floor.

Step 3: Mop and Dry

With the cleaner of your choice, gently soak a hardwood floor mop (microfiber options are best for a gentle scrub). Wring the mop and run it over your floors, being careful never to over saturate your flooring as too much water in diluted cleaners can hurt the finish. Allow the floors to air-dry without walking on them while wet to prevent visible footprints from appearing.

Step 4: Tend to Scuffs and Scratches

Once your floors are clean, you may notice scuffs and scratches that were hidden before. While stubborn scuffs may require a refinishing job, you can blend smaller scratches with a hardwood floor crayon or wax. Using a hardwood floor crayon similar to the color of your wood, gently fill in gaps or gouges and blend with a bit of wax for an even finish.

DIY Hardwood Floor Cleaning Solution

Kitchen with hardwood floors
Cathie Hong

If you want to clean your floors with items you already have in your pantry, simply grab a bottle of dish soap, a bucket, and your hardwood floor mop. Dish soap is a gentle cleaner that won't damage the natural wood, and it's perfect for light jobs and daily upkeep alike.

In a large bucket, mix two to three tablespoons of dish soap with one gallon of warm water. Dip your mop and wring it over the bucket, then gently mop the surface of your floors. Rinse your floors afterward with just water on a damp mop, then wipe up any standing water.

If you have a lot of surface area to clean, a ceiling fan or box fans placed on the floor can help your hardwood floors dry faster after mopping.

For a slightly deeper scrub that still uses all-natural cleaners, mix 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar with a gallon of warm water using the same technique as cleaning with dish soap. Be sure not to use distilled white vinegar: The higher acid content can damage your floors. Apple cider vinegar is a gentler cleaning agent, but it's best to reserve this method for monthly deep cleans to protect the hardwood finish.

Tips to Keep Your Hardwood Floors Clean Longer

how to clean hardwood floors - closeup of wooden floors

Corner House Creatives

The best way to keep your hardwood floors clean longer is to prevent dirt from piling up in the first place. First, focus on your entryway and set up a system to help reduce the amount of dirt that comes into your home. Invest in a heavy-duty floor mat, and keep towels nearby to wipe down dirty dog paws or muddy boots. It's also helpful to encourage guests to remove their shoes before entering your home to reduce the buildup of dirt.

To prevent excess scratches and scuffs, add floor protectors underneath your furniture. Investing in soft rugs in higher-trafficked areas (such as playrooms and living rooms) can also help maintain the condition of your floors where guests, children, and pets congregate often.