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How to Clean Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floor cleaning products all laid out ready to be used.

Hardwood floors are a great choice for flooring throughout your home as they’re durable and beautiful. In this handy guide, we’ll show you how to keep your hardwood floors looking great by cleaning, shining and even refinishing them if needed.

Skill Level: Beginner
  1. Step 1 Sweep or Vacuum to Remove Any Loose Dirt

    A vacuum is used to remove dust and debris from a hardwood floor before cleaning.

    Use a broom or specially-designed hardwood floor mop to clear dust, dirt and debris from your floors. Many specialty products from brands like Bona allow you to sweep floors with an attached pad that attracts debris, even without water.

    Vacuum your floors about once per week to remove dirt and debris between cracks and to get those hard-to-reach areas. Vacuums with a hard floor setting work best. Look for a vacuum designed to be safe for hardwood floors if you’re in the market for a new one.

    High-quality stick vacuums are a particularly popular choice since they’re easy to maneuver and have a variety of settings to keep your hardwood floors scratch-free.

  2. Step 2 Mop Using the Appropriate Products

    A person mops their floor.

    Mopping your hardwood floors isn’t something you should have to do daily. However, about once per week, using appropriate products to mop your hardwood floors will keep them clean and looking their best. When mopping hardwood floors, it’s particularly important to use products made specifically for hardwood floors. Always avoid cleaning products with harsh chemicals or solvents for hardwood floors.

    Pro Tip:

    Use hardwood floor cleaning products sparingly. You don’t need a lot to get the job done. Try applying spray cleaning products to your mop or mop pad instead of spraying them directly onto the floor.

  3. Step 3 Restore the Shine

    A person wipes their floor with a cloth.

    Sweeping, vacuuming and mopping are must-do activities if you want to keep your floors clean. Over time, your floors can lose a little bit of their shine and a proper polishing routine can help restore that shine with ease.

    Polish your floors roughly every two to three months using a specific hardwood floor polish product. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Simple, easy to use products generally only require you to use a microfiber mop pad to rub the polish onto your floors, quickly restoring their shine.

    One of the major benefits of regularly polishing your floors is that you will make scratches and scuffs less visible to the naked eye. Polishing your hardwood floors also gives them an extra coat of protection against new damage.

  4. Step 4 Remove Stains and Scratches

    A person applies scratch filler to their hardwood floor.

    Stains, scratches and scuffs are inevitable, but you don’t have to live with them. Liquid scratch concealers are an ideal option since they form a permanent bond with your wood when properly applied. These will make scratches less visible. They’re also easy to apply in a matter of minutes.

    Hardwood floor markers that match the coloring of your flooring can also be used. With these, you’ll simply fill any scratch or scuff with a small amount of coloring just as if you were drawing on a piece of paper. Lightly buffing the area with a microfiber cloth is usually recommended to remove excess color.

  5. Step 5 Protect Your Floors and Prevent Further Damage

    Table legs are padded to prevent them from damaging the floor underneath.

    Here are a few tips to help you protect your floors and prevent damage:

    • Be vigilant when it comes to wet spots and spills. Cleaning up accidents or water right away will preserve your floors.
    • Use the right tools. Heavy-duty brooms and industrial-strength vacuums aren’t good for your hardwood floors. Use specialty products whenever possible to keep your floors looking their best. They generally aren’t any more expensive, but they are a great investment.
    • Don’t use abrasive products. The wrong product can leave a dull residue. Others can make your floor slippery. Even worse, some products can actually eat away at your floor’s finish.
    • Don’t steam clean your floors. Steam can warp your floors and damage the finish
  6. Step 6 Refinish Your Hardwood Floors When Needed

    A person stains their hardwood floor.

    Over time, getting rid of scratches, nicks and scuffs may not be as easy. You may also spot discoloration, water damage or sun damage. That’s when its time to refinish your hardwood floors. Not sure if it’s time for a refinish? Call a professional to look for damaged spots and areas that need fixing.

    It’s also important to keep in mind that most hardwood floors can only be refinished a certain number of times. While this number may be high, refinishing every three years might mean sanding down all of the layers of your hardwood in 20 years.

What You Need for This Project

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