How to Clean Your Hardwood Floors

The timeless look of hardwood floors appeal to many people and they can be a beautiful focal point in your home. Taking care of your hardwood floors can be a simple process. Before you get started, you need to know if they are solid hardwood, bamboo, engineered wood, or laminate.

This page only covers care for solid hardwood and engineered wood floors. Also note, some cleaners not mentioned below may be appropriate for certain types of wood finishes. There are MANY types of hardwood floor finishes. This page covers general care and is applicable to ALL wood finishes. You may find a product that works for you on your specific floor that is not mentioned here.


Regular Care for Your Hardwood Floors
  • Keep mats on the inside and outside of all entrances to your home.
  • Wipe up spills and muddy prints immediately.
  • Put floor protectors under furniture legs to keep your floor from getting scratches.
  • Sweep as often as you like.
  • If you must vacuum, use your hard floor vacuum attachments. Never use the beater bar on your hardwood.
  • Frequently dust mop your floors to keep dust and dirt from being ground into the grooves of the wood, if desired.
  • If you have older floors or have deep openings between slats, vacuuming is recommended.
  • Spot clean as needed with a bit of 70% isopropyl alcohol sprayed onto a cloth (Unless you have older floors with original finish. Alcohol will remove shellac).


Mopping Hardwood Floors
  • We do NOT recommend wet mopping. Wood floors do not need this kind of maintenance, and most commercial cleaners actually hurt your floors. If you have a high traffic floor that must be scrubbed, do not use water, vinegar, or any of the commercial products except the ones listed below.
  • The LL&CS team has been through numerous SDS sheets and found TWO cleaners that are unlikely to damage your floors in the long run. Remember, we DO NOT recommend WET MOPPING hardwood floors. Instead, we recommend dry (dust) mopping and occasionally spray mopping with the products below:
    • DuraSeal Hardwood Floor Cleaner
    • Bruce Hardwood and Laminate Floor Cleaner
    • Bella Hardwood Floor Cleaner


To Dry (Dust) & Spray Mop Safely
  • In order to dry (dust) mop and spray mop safely, our recommendations for mopping are:
    • Invest in a good quality microfiber or terrycloth mop and a hardwood floor spray mopping solution.
    • Start with vacuuming and dust mopping your hardwood floors to get the most dirt, hair, and debris off the floors as possible.
    • Start in the furthest corner of the room you are working on. Simply spray your mopping solution and take long strokes with your mop in the direction of the wood grain, working your way towards the exit. With the proper mop spray, there is no need to rinse afterwards and in fact, adding water to your floors can damage them. Try not to oversaturate your floors; a light spray is all that is needed.


A Note About Unsealed Hardwood Floors
  • Unsealed hardwood can be both more difficult and less difficult to take care of. Any liquids will absorb quickly into unfinished wood, so stick to vacuuming and sweeping whenever possible. Because they do not have a protective coating on them, most liquids will penetrate the wood and cause immediate staining. Vacuum and dust mop these floors frequently. If needed, try scrubbing out stains with a microfiber cloth and some hardwood floor cleaner (of the ones listed above).


  • Hard floor cleaning machines are not recommended on hardwood floors due to the amount of water deposited on the floors.
  • Wet mopping or mopping with wax/oil based cleaning products are not recommended. They can leave a build up on your floors, making it difficult to remove and in some instances will require re-sanding and sealing.
  • For most hardwood floor manufacturers, the use of hard floor cleaning machines and wet mopping will actually void your warranty.
  • Do not use the beater bar on your vacuum because they can scratch your floors.
  • Dramatic fluctuations in the temperature or humidity of your home can cause swelling and shrinking in the wood planks of your floors. You may see openings between the planks during certain seasons. This is completely normal. Do not attempt to seal the openings!
  • Do NOT let anything liquid ‘set’ on your hardwood floors in an effort to soak or remove a stain. You may, quite literally, ruin your floors. Rubbing vigorously may also ruin the finish on your floors.


  • Wax – Use a plastic scraper (or your fingernails) to gently scrape the wax off the floor. For any residue that remains, use your spray solution and gently wipe with a microfiber or cotton terry cloth.
  • Crayon – First, try to use your hardwood floor cleaner and gently wipe with a microfiber cloth. If this does not work, try to use mineral spirits. Since crayon is a wax, you may be able to scrape some of it off as well.
  • Sharpie – If you know the manufacturer of your floors or if your floors are still under warranty, please contact them first because the following methods may void your warranty. The first thing you can try is to actually cover the Sharpie with a dry erase marker and then “erase” the dry erase marker with a clean soft cloth. If this does not work, try to use rubbing alcohol on a clean dry cloth.
  • Cat urine – If you get to the cat urine immediately and wipe it completely, you should be in good luck. Simply use your hardwood floor cleaner after you completely wipe up the urine. If the urine is an old stain, you can try to use an enzyme solution (Nature’s Miracle for example) to attempt to break down the urine, however the wood will most likely have absorbed the urine and you may need to sand and refinish your floor.


Recommended Products
  • DuraSeal Hardwood Floor Cleaner
  • Bruce Hardwood and Laminate Floor Cleaner Spray
  • Bella Hardwood Floor Cleaner



Bowyer, J.L., Shmulsky, R., Haygreen, J. G. (2007) Forest Products and Wood Science: An Introduction, 5th Ed.


By Laura Reznicki and Jadina Summerfield