How To Take Care of Hardwood Floors

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  October 4, 2020
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A hardwood floor is a beautiful part of a home because it elevates the overall aesthetic. Carpets can get dirty and worn out, but a hardwood floor lasts a lifetime if you care for it properly.

Wooden floors are harder to clean as they actually need you to be careful with them. Carpets can usually take (relative) punishment. On the other hand, a hardwood floor is very easy to score, scar, and damage when you apply too much force.

To avoid that, here are some tips for making sure you can clean your hardwood floor without issue.

How to take care of hardwood floors

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Common Problems with Hardwood Floors

If you’ve had hardwood floors for a while, you know that they require more maintenance. Each season brings new challenges for your floors. During the winter months, hardwood floors can take a beating from exposure to water, snow, ice, and salt. During the warmer months, the rain and mud can really make your floors look lackluster.

Then of course there are those scratches and dents that seem to appear out of nowhere. Even when you pull out a chair, it can cause a scratch if the chairs don’t have protective pads on the bottom.

But, if you appreciate hardwood flooring, you know that well-maintained hardwood floors have a beautiful shine and high-end look.

Tips to Care for Your Hardwood Floors

Now that you have beautiful hardwood floors, all that matters is that they stay that way.

Careful and Frequent Vacuuming

Don’t Walk on the Floor with Outdoor Shoes

Use Water Sparingly

Clean up Spills Immediately

Use Furniture Pads

Sweep and Clean Daily

Re-finish every 5 years

How to Clean Hardwood Flooring

It’s easy to keep hardwood floors clean and hygienic if you use the right products for the task. In this section, we’ll suggest the best products to help you keep floors spotless.

What tool to use

A microfiber mop with spray function like this Spray Mop for Floor Cleaning:

Microfibre mop for hardwood floors

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Here’s why you need this type of mop:

Take into account the finish of your floor

Hardwood floors come with a variety of different finishes. These protect the wood and also enhance the grain to make the floors look gorgeous. Let’s take a look at the top 5 finishes for hardwood floors.

  1. Water-based Polyurethane – this is the classic clear finish for hardwood floors. It gives the wood a smooth and lustrous kind of look. Think of it as a wet look, so it always looks like you can glide across it as you would on ice.
  2. Oil Sealer – this type of finish enhances the grains and really brings out the color of the wood. Best of all, this finish is easy to apply at home. It is a non-glossy finish and most people use it on antique and vintage wood. You can always do touch-ups when the wood looks worse for wear.
  3. Hard-Wax Oil – this is a low-luster type of classic wood finish. This is susceptible to stains but it’s easy to re-finish and should be done every couple of years.
  4. Aluminum-Oxide – this is the most durable type of finish that lasts up to 25 years. This finish is only available on the prefinished wood you buy at the store.
  5. Acid Cured – this is another very durable flooring but it gives a smooth finish. It is also ideal for textured woods and exotic woods as it offers more protection.

What is the best thing to use to clean wood floors?

The best tool to clean hardwood floors is a mop.

Then you also need a washable microfiber pad. Use that to dust and remove any allergens, dust fibers, and dirt. A high-quality dusting pad attracts and traps dirt, microparticles, and common allergens floating around your home.

What products to avoid when cleaning hardwood floors?

Avoid using the popular water and vinegar mix. Also, avoid soap-based cleaners that are not specifically formulated for hardwood flooring. Finally, don’t use any wax or steam cleaners. The steam vapors enter the small spaces in the wood and damage it.

What products to use to clean hardwood floors

Clean hardwood floors with products specifically formulated for this type of flooring.

Look for products that are suitable for both unwaxed and waxed hardwood floors. Plus, if you can, choose a biodegradable and safe formula. This type of formula keeps floors looking shiny and clean without damaging the wood.

If you want a classic solution with a lovely fresh scent, we recommend this Murphy Oil Soap Wood Cleaner:


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This is a natural cleaning solution that’s been used for over 80 years and customers still love it! It gives your floors a deep clean and sheen.

Don’t soak the floor with water

A common mistake many people make is that they use a mop and bucket. When you put lots of water onto the floor, you are essentially soaking it and therefore causing damage. If you soak the wood with too much water, it causes the wood to swell and your floors become uneven.

Always use a semi-damp mop and avoid oversoaking.

How to Touch-up Scratches

Scratches are practically unavoidable. At some point, you’ll pull out a chair quickly and it will cause some visible scratches. When this happens, don’t fret. It’s important that you touch-up the scratches immediately before they get deeper.

So, the best solution is a wood stain marker. Simple swipe the marker and color in the scratch and let it dry. This is an easy way to keep the floor looking beautiful.

These Katzco markers are an affordable wood furniture touch-up solution with a variety of marker colors:

Katzco wood touch up set

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Common Questions about Hardwood Floor Maintenance

Perhaps we missed answering some of your questions, so in this FAQ section, you can find additional information about hardwood floor maintenance and care.

How do I get my hardwood floor to shine again?

When the floor starts to look dull, it’s definitely time to bring back the shine.

Check out this Quick Shine High Traffic Hardwood Floor Luster and Polish:

Quick & Shine floor polish

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All you need to do is use a special polish that restores the color and richness of hardwood floors. It adds a protective layer and fills in the small holes and cracks to make floors look flawless. And finally, this kind of product makes the floors nice and shiny again.

Simply lather on this product with a damp mop pad and your floors regain their natural beauty.

How can I restore my hardwood floors without sanding?

When sanding just isn’t an option, there is a second way to restore the hardwood floors. Use a technique called screen and recoat. Simply scuff up the finish using a goof floor buffer. Then, apply a refreshes coat and let it dry. The results won’t be as perfect as with sanding, but it still makes the floors look great.

How do you clean and shine hardwood floors naturally?

If you prefer to use natural products in your home, it’s understandable. After all, we all know about the dangers of chemicals in our home. So, we are sharing this natural hardwood floor cleaner, and chances are you already have these ingredients in your kitchen.

Use a combination of water, lemon juice, and olive oil. Mix them and put them in a bucket to use with your mop.

Store-bought cleaning products tend to leave a dirt-attracting film behind on your hardwood floor. Therefore, dust settles down quickly. Olive oil is a much better alternative. It hydrates and polishes wooden floors naturally. Best of all, it doesn’t leave that sticky film residue.

So, with this homemade natural cleaner, you can polish and clean simultaneously and bring dull spots back to their original sheen.

Can I use water and vinegar solution to clean my hardwood floors?

Contrary to popular belief, this is not a good idea. Many DIY articles claim that vinegar and hot water mixture is the best way to clean hardwood floors naturally. But, this is simply not true. Natalie Wise is an expert on natural cleaning solutions and she doesn’t recommend using vinegar for cleaning any wooden surface.  In fact, if you use vinegar to clean on a regular basis, it will damage your hardwood floor. It damages the floor’s seal and so you’ll start seeing discoloration and more scratches.


Using the above, you should find it a bit easier to manage hardwood flooring. Being light and gentle is the order of the day, as this kind of flooring is usually easy to damage permanently. Always clean up messes as soon as they happen because the longer you leave them, the more damage they cause. And remember, a good microfiber mop or simple broom and dustpan go a long way.

Also read: this is how you effectively dust hardwood floors

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new equipment, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.
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