How do you clean your hardwood floors?

Emily H
4 years ago

What method do you use to keep your hardwood floors looking great? Do you have any special tips or products that you swear by?

Share your tips! (photos encouraged)

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Comments (60)

  • Judith

    I vacuum or swifter almost every day (lots of dust shows up on dark hardwoods) and use Bona twice a month with a mop dedicated just for the hardwood floors. That way, I know that other cleaners that I use for mopping bathroom tiles, don't get on the wood.

  • Pam Wojcik

    I recently had installed 3/4" maple hardwood floors, but they have an acrylic (?) finish that Lumber Liquidators says lasts 100 years ! Unfortunately, I'm stuck with them and wish I had just installed a natural finish. That being said, I don't consider that I'm cleaning a 'wood' surface. So, my go to cleaner is my all-time cleaner of Glass-Plus. (no ammonia). I use a wet Swiffer pad, and spray the floor generously with the glass-plus.

    First though, I also use my new pet friendly IRoomba since we have along haired kitty and cat litter :)

    So far. so good.

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  • 2manycats
    Depends on the finish. Oiled wood and water don't mix, so no Swiffer. Poly finished wood is more water friendly. No wood likes to be really wet for a prolonged time.

    With my oiled finished wood, a light sweep with a dampened rag has been my staple. I also would buff the floors occasionally.

    For the others, I'm too cheap to buy Swiffer stuff. I made a few terry pads to fit a Bona mop head and make my own dilute cleaner. Spritz it on with an old spray bottle and wipe dry.
  • rosiegabby
    Pam, I agree. I wish I had a natural finish and your also right that the top coat is what I am cleaning. It is not the same as cleaning wood with a natural finish.

    I also use glass plus on my wood kitchen cabinets. I haven't found anything that works as well. These cabinets also have a poly or other finish.
  • Bonita

    I have tried many of the wood floor cleaners and have never been happy with any of them, having had wood flooring in my last 3 houses. I read in HOUZZ a short time ago about vinegar & water and I use a slightly damp string mop and have a fine mister bottle with vinegar and my floors look fabulous. I use this on my tile floors as well. And I also have lots of glass table tops which I use - you guessed it - vinegar and a microfibre cloth. As a matter of fact - this house is for sale, and everyone that comes in comments on how beautiful the floors look! So sorry to all the manufacturers of floor cleaners - I have not parted with any money to them as of late!

  • Leslie Brooks
    I use Bona. But I use a microfiber cloth rather than the Bona pads...those are worthless. I sweep, then dry dust with the microfiber. Then I use the Bona cleaner. Once every three months, I use the Bona Polish. Without the polish, my floors look dingy (I have hand scraped and distressed oak). Also, never use water. It will ruin the finish and eventually penetrate into the wood. You will ruin your floors...maybe not in a year or two, but eventually.
  • donandlisa725

    What would you use on a laminate floor, the same?

    What are some of the cautions?

  • rosiegabby
    I think the Method Squirt and Mop for wood floors is also for laminate. I recommend trying both Method and Glass Plus. But I get better results putting the products directly onto the mop or cloth and not directly on to the floor.

    Walmart sells Glass Plus. It's cheaper than Method but I like the almond scent of Method.
  • handmethathammer

    I would use vinegar and water on laminate with a string mop. Mop it often, as IME, laminate can get dingy fast.

  • rachuba
    Vinegar, over time will dull the finish. Steam mopping can raise the grain of hardwoods, or delaminates engineered wood. I like to use homemade cleaners too, but not at the expense of the integrity of the floor. I've even stopped using vinegar on grout and stone, because it etches. Vinegar for glass and porcelain only.
  • jmagness2

    I vacumn then swiffer (to get all animal hair up) then I use windex and vinegar mixed in the water and a string mop to clean. Will steam floors too once in a while.

  • rherb36

    I'm disappointed in Bona. It streaks on my wood floors. I use the Bona pads too. What am I doing wrong?

  • Peggy Hicks

    I have dark engineered hardwoods-- and use a Rumba to vacumn at least every other day. ( husband prone to spills and 3 white fur-babies). This leaves me the energy to mop high traffic areas with Bona weekly. You have to really dry it to prevent streaking-- some muscle power needed!

  • rosiegabby
    Rherb36- bona streaked for me too. Using the same process but with Method or Glass Plus, no streaking.
  • mrsstem
    We are a no-shoes-inside house, which helps...but...
    Vacuum every other day, Bona mop once a week. No problems!
  • littlemissk

    I have about 3000/sf of 3/4" cherrywood, nailed in place in 2007. My wood guy (old-school craftsman) told me not to use any of the cleaning products on the market and to simply use hot water ... so I listened to him and use a wood floor mop from Home Depot (about 15" X 6") and buy the cloth refills when needed. I run a dry mop around daily on those areas where dust tends to settle (not allot but it's dark wood), I vacuum once a week and then give things a double wash with the large wood floor mop every other week or so ... depends on house traffic and weather. We have ceiling fans in every room and I put the fans on high to dry them quickly. I have rugs inside every door and we take our shoes off inside the house ("that" took some retraining) and even the dog gets her feet cleaned when she comes in the house. This has worked well and the floors still look beautiful.

  • Elizabeth San Roman Fernandez

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  • A P
    I find vacuuming scratch wood floors. I would sweep. then swifter mop. I would avoid mopping if I can.
  • A P
    rherb, it may be because the floor wasn't sweep or vacuum the floor well enough.
  • abramsonka
    Weekly vacuuming, followed by very slightly damp "swifer" type mop is my game plan. Periodically, I also use Bona floor cleaner. Although, I think the biggest contributor to keeping our hardwood looking great is not wearing shoes indoors.
  • martae

    have been reading all of this hoping that someone else would have experienced my problem. When I use ANY cleaner (including Bona) and try to spread it, my mop seems to really drag and stick. It's done this since day 1 when we moved in. Therefore I soon pitched the Bona, and changed to Pledge for hardwood. Now I also find that when the grandkids remove their shoes coming in, and walk across the floor in sweaty feet it leaves dull foot prints. What can I do to get back to square one? Please help.

  • doctornancy

    I have laminate floors and I have the same problem as martae. No matter what I use, the floors streak and show foot prints. Very frustrating.

  • Tori

    I use vinegar, alcohol, a couple drops of mint are lemon extract, little hot water and a drop of dish soap.....Floors are super shinny and I know the vinegar is strong at first but it does go away. I just use this instead of chemicals because I have a little one crawling on the floor. the same thing minus the soap is awesome at cleaning glass too.

  • mariannex
    Murphy's oil soap for hardwood floors. Dilute with water and mop after vacuuming.
  • rhnorman
    I vacuum once a week and use Bona once a month. My house has very little traffic and shoes stay at the front door.
  • sharlene67

    I used hot water and mop with microfiber mop every alternate day, i use Cobra No wax polish on my floors. It is true that Vinegar does dull your wooden floors after a period- the trick with vinegar is not to use very often- once every 6 months is good. Alcohol not matter how much you use is bad. I have my nieces and nephew- tots, who crawl and they are very sensitive- i veer clear of this. I am not sure what Bona is- from the comments- it sounds awesome. I have been in my house with wooden floors for 40 years- but my house is 150 years old. I was told not to ever use Vinegar or alcohol. If you have polish build up- use bicarb and soda and steel wool to remove or the expensive way- sand it down and have a light layer of polish put over it to keep the texture in. Hope this helps

  • nellacucina

    We just had our filthy 30-year old carpeting removed from our condo. Although we cleaned it professionally twice, old stains would reappear in a few days, and it was frustrating. Now we have refinished hardwood floors (highest quality white oak) on the main floor and 2 adjoining staircases. Wow! The house feels clean, and climbing the bare staircases has helped exercise my leg muscles. I highly recommend it.

    My husband is stubborn and simply will not remove his shoes when he enters, so I have a thick rug in place downstairs for him to wipe his feet when he comes in. I vacuum this carpeted area frequently (as well as vacuuming our carpeted third floor) so dirt doesn't get dragged onto the hardwood.

    I never vacuum the hardwood as dragging it across the floor may scratch the virgin floor, and I don't want to risk it. Also, why use a heavy vacuum and waste electricity? I use Swiffer once a week, getting under furniture so easily. But I never place a very wet pad on the floor. I'll damp mop a part of the kitchen tile floor until the pad is just moist. Then I'll use it on the hardwood. I use 2 pads, both sides of the pads, and I'm thrilled with the floors.

  • martae

    I've tried Murphy's and it seems to leave a film too. Once the dull footprints started showing up from sweaty little socks I concluded that I had a waxy oily buildup and the dampness off the socks caused the dull footprints. I'm trying just clear hot water applied with a spray bottle from the dollar store and it seems to have helped a little. I'm hoping over time, that oily buildup will wear off and I won't use anything but water (dampened cloth) on it afterwards. I can't imagine getting on all fours with steel wool and stripper-the area is too big. Call me lazy, I guess.

  • Nico

    I have this dull, oily print problem from hands on our wood doors...

  • M B
    I forgot to mention in my earlier post that when I wash my micro fiber pads and dusting pads for my Bona system, I do not use fabric softener. Fabric softener should never be used with any micro fiber cloth, duster or mop head. All it will do is leave a coating on the micro fiber and it will cause streaking to be left behind. I've learned this from experience.
  • rachuba
    @MB, I use vinegar in the rinse cycle, no softener. About 1/2 cup per load. It helps clear any residual soap, deodorizes, and helps fibers, like in towels absorb better.
  • PRO
    Down2Earth Landscape Design

    Mine have a shine finish to them and I tried everything but all products left a residue, I actually use a steam mop. The hot steam and the micro fiber pad, do the trick very quickly!

  • GreenDesigns

    Steam will ruin your floors and void any wood flooring warranty. Oil soap or orange anything are only slightly behind steam in their ruinous nature. Vinegar isn't recommended either.

    Dust mop, and then a microfiber cloth slightly dampened is all you need. Spot clean with microfiber, detergent and water. But not wet. Just damp.

  • PRO
    Precision Floor And Decor

    Be careful to follow manufacturer's recommendations to protect your floors and keep your warranty in place.

    DO: sweep, dust or vacuum frequently (use a hard floor setting or attachment for your vacuum - no beater bar) and clean as needed with a product specifically formulated for hardwood flooring (major flooring manufacturers like Shaw have their own, Bona is also recommended).

    DON'T: wet mop, steam clean, or use vinegar, oil soap, wax, citrus or tung oil, silicon, or clean+polish products that have acrylic or urethane. Excess moisture can damage wood floors and most of these products will void your warranty.

    Most manufacturers recommend spraying a fine mist of hardwood floor cleaner and wiping with a clean microfiber cloth - it picks up more moisture than a traditional mop.

  • PRO
    Masterpiece Hardwood Flooring Ltd.

    As said above it's best to use the proper hardwood cleaner only and never steam or use soaps or vinegar. Bona is best for urethane lacquered floors but if your floor is an oiled finish, especially hard wax oil, you must use the correct product made for oiled finishes. Bona may dry it out and the oil cleaners generally have some wax solids that help to moisturize the floor. Not following proper cleaning can void finish warranty and over time you may notice the sheen changing or the finish wearing.

    Sometimes if the wrong product has already been used, the finish may be damaged and cannot be fixed without re finishing.

  • PRO
    Gray & Walter, Ltd.

    There are many factors to consider, first of all are your floors waxed or poly? Always consult the person who did your floors first rather than asking a bunch of strangers. When in doubt have a well respected flooring installation company come out and look at your floors.

  • evilfij
    Just vacuum and a slightly damp microfiber mop (I have a big flat one).

    Did I mention I hate poly? The refinished floors in my house are all scratched. The ones that were not refinished have a lovely patina.

    I think I am going to refinish everything and use waterlox, but the $25k or so I would need to do the whole house is putting that project on the back burner for now.
  • martae

    Evilfij, why do you hate poly? I'm curious because I think that's what I have. I have used the Bona, but I can't believe how much resistance the finish puts up when I am trying to push that mop. I can hardly move the mop along the floor it has so much resistance. I don't understand how this Bona can be so popular. Does anyone else experience this resistance? Is this poly finish the urethane lacquer???

  • greenfish1234
    I'm considering waterlox v poly. Weighing the orange factor which I think comes with the Tung oil.
  • PRO
    Cancork Floor Inc.

    Bona is not useful for every floor. Plenty of people have complained about the results they get with Bona. It is great with bona finish...anything else is suspect. Martae, contact the maker of your floor/finish to find out what you should be using. Almost everyone produces a cleaner that works with their products.

  • evilfij
    I hate poly because it looks fake and scratches in a non-patina like way. I also don't like when things look new and perfect (which is what poly gets you at least at the beginning). I have seen some nice poly jobs, and certainly if I had kids or a dog that is the way I would go, but for my needs some sort of tung oil or waterlox finish is what I am leaning toward (I have not sorted it out yet). I wish I could figure out what was used originally (still learning about wood).

    Keep in mind I am an historic preservationist and poly is not period correct so that is clearly a part of it.
  • Tara
    vinegar and water on the wood floors
  • mandy_moo_pants
    I use a swiffer dry dust mop every day bc of pet hair, bona once a week, and Murphy's oil soap once a month. The Murphy's really makes the floor shine
  • PRO
    Cancork Floor Inc.

    @Amanda...I just had to tell a client she has voided her warranty on both her hardwood and her cork floor (different maker than me, but same finish) because of Murphy's oil. She may never be able to refinish her hardwood nor her cork because of Murhpy's Oil Soap.

    Please check with the flooring people whom you purchased from to ensure you are allowed to use Murphy's with your hardwood. It is probably too late if it is not allowed. But better late than never.

  • greenfish1234
    What!!! "Iiii've beeeen using Murphy's Oil soap on these wood floors of mine..." for ten years! What's the problem?
  • greenfish1234
    Thanks-I can see the importance of following MFR recommendations on manufactured wood products, but I found little evidence and lots of opinion here about using it on hardwoods. All soaps work as sufectants, and can leave a residue if not rinsed. I'm no zealot, but my 11 years of WEEKLY Murphy's cleaning has resulted in nothing more sinister than clean, like-new floors.
  • greenfish1234
    Thanks-I can see the importance of following MFR recommendations on manufactured wood products, but I found little evidence and lots of opinion here about using it on hardwoods. All soaps work as sufectants, and can leave a residue if not rinsed. I'm no zealot, but my 11 years of WEEKLY Murphy's cleaning has resulted in nothing more sinister than clean, like-new floors.
  • Carmelina Racioppo
    my hardwood floors have lost their shine. has anyone used the bona hardwood wax? if so what is your view on it. I have used it twice and it does a great job but after using it I heard not so goof stories about it.
  • Mary Elizabeth

    RE: mariannex

    Good article here - & advice to NEVER use Murphy's oil soap - just fyi...

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