How to Clean a Hardwood Floor

A clean hardwood floor is not as easy as you may think. A clean floor is glorious when done right and looks amazing. This article will go over the things to do to make your floor clean, also the things not to do when cleaning your hardwood floor. I am sure you know but there are many techniques and products on the market that are sold in the hardwood flooring cleaning aisle that are not truly hardwood flooring products. To learn more about maintaining your hardwood floor overall please click this.



What Products Not to Use

Did you just have your hardwood floor refinished – did you know that your floor finish doesn’t need to be cleaned/shined/waxed. In-fact, that is the opposite you want to do. The following products are not the ideal products to be using on your floor.

– Murphy’s Oil Soap
– Polish
– Soaps
– Waxes

Your floor finish is meant to be a protectant. By using the above products you are trying to adhere a new product to your floor finish and will have a very weak bond to the floor. In extreme cases some of these products can chip and peel off. Another issue with these products is that they often change the sheen of the floor making it look terrible. This can cause blotchinees, uneven sheen and overall odd appearance. One last issue with the above products is that they can change the slip coefficient of the finish. This could make you to fall!

Products to Use

A good cleaning product adds nothing to the floor, cleans up the mess  and leaves a floor that is not slippy. I like to suggest that homeowners use the cleaning product that the floor finish manufacture makes. Common good cleaning products (JUST THE CLEANING PRODUCT РNOT THE SHINES/POLISHES).

– Bona Cleaner
– Squeaky Cleaner
– Glitsa Cleaner

Those 3 cleaners are a good option if you need a “floor” cleaner. The other option I find has good results is to use water with a few drops of dawn soap. This leaves no residue, cleans and does not try to do anything fancy.



The process of cleaning a hardwood floor is easy, but needs to be done in the right order to have optimum results.

Step 1: Vacuum the floor – Vacuuming gets the dust off the floor and is the best way to get the most amount of bigger particles off the floor. Bigger particles are hard to get off the floor without smearing them into the grains/cracks of the wood.

Step 2: Swiffer / Micro Fiber – These pads are great for getting smaller particles to stick to them. Vaccums are great but have a hard time with smaller particles of dust.

Step 3: Wet Cleaner – Wet cleaner is the last step to get the floor fully clean. Wet cleaner gets rid of sticky, and the last particles on the floor. The one note here is that you want to use only a light, very light amount of water/cleaner to clean your hardwood floors. Too much cleaner/water can raise your hardwood floor moisture content and could potentially in the long run cup your floor.



We now know the process of cleaning a hardwood floor. The next step is how do we clean the floor, and what I mean is how do I apply the cleaner, use the micro fiber, how much solution etc. The #1 thing that makes floors look dirty is… not properly cleaning the floor off before using a cleaner. If the floor has debris on it before you clean your hardwood floor, that debris will build up on the mop and make a sludge. This sludge will be caught in any grain or crack and thus not clean the floor!

Now, once the floor is “clean” it is time to apply cleaner. You really don’t want to apply too much cleaner to the floor.

  1. you are wasting product
  2. more cleaner doesn’t mean cleaner results
  3. water/solution is bad for the floor as it will raise the moisture content of the floor if too much is applied

What I recommend for the amount is 2-3 sprays per room max. Then each room I clean off the micro-fiber towel/pad before going to the next room.

What Direction Do I Clean in??

While it sounds nuts, the direction you clean your hardwood floor in actually makes a difference. No, it won’t make anything a million times better looking. However, if you clean in the wrong direction you will see “lines” or “streak” marks on the floor. To avoid seeing this and making the floor look more consistent you want to clean with the grain of the wood. Going with the grain of the wood means you want to clean your floor going the direction the boards are going length wise.


I have mentioned moisture in the article “how to maintain your hardwood floor” – but, this is a good place as well. Moisture is the #1 cause of issues with a hardwood floor it might account for over 80% of issues. So when cleaning a hardwood floor it is very, very, very important to only use a little water/solution. Using too much #1 makes the floor look bad but most importantly over time will make your floor cup.


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