The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning a Hardwood Floor


Hardwood floors can enhance the look of any room, but if not kept clean and well maintained they’ll start to look shabby and unloved.

So what’s the best way to keep your floor looking shiny and new?

Deep cleaning

Depending on how busy your household is, your floor will require a deep clean two or three times a year. If you have a large expanse of wood floor to clean then buying cleaning products in bulk will save you money in the long term.

First, vacuum or sweep the floor to remove all dust. If you don’t do this first you’ll simply be moving dirt around your floor!

Next, mop the floor. There are many wood cleaning products available on the market, however you can also use a mixture of washing up liquid and water. When mopping the floor, ensure that you wring the mop out thoroughly so that it’s barely damp rather than wet. Try to clean in the direction of the grain. Once finished, rinse and mop the floor again with a dry mop, then leave to dry.

Never use furniture polish on a hardwood floor – it will leave a slippery residue which won’t be fun to walk on!

Be careful with water

Excess water can soak into the wood and cause the floor to bubble, crack or splinter. It’s important that you don’t leave puddles of water on the floor. Use of a steam mop is also not recommended as over time the steam will penetrate the floor and cause similar damage.

Remove any marks and scuffs

Marks and scuffs are easily made on a hardwood floor, particularly if you have a busy household with children and/or pets! Luckily, light scuffs can usually be easily removed. A little baking soda on a damp cloth rubbed gently on the mark should see it disappear, or you could even try rubbing gently with a clean fuzzy tennis ball.

Water stains can be removed with steel wool and floor wax. If this doesn’t work, apply vinegar to the mark and allow it to soak for a couple of hours, rinse with a damp cloth and buff with wax.

Small scratches can often be dealt with without having to sand your floor. Firstly, clean the area and allow to dry. Smooth with wire wool in the direction of the grain and apply floor wax to the scratched area. Leave the wax to dry before buffing with a cloth.

Wax your floor

Waxing is a great way to brighten up any floor that’s starting to look a little dull. Wax will also preserve the wood and protect your floors from stains, scuffs and scratches, making it easier to clean up spills.

Before waxing your floor, ensure that is clean and dry. Remove any varnish, oil or wax using a stripper or by giving the wood a light sand. At this point you’ll need to clean the floor again to remove any accumulated dust. 

Apply wax in thin, even coats with a brush or roller, leaving to dry between each coat. It’s important to ensure that the coats are evenly applied as this avoids a poor finish. Once complete, leave the floor to dry and then buff with a cloth in the direction of the grain.

Always check the manufacturer’s guidelines before applying any stripper or wax products to your flooring.

Prevention is better than cure

All of the above are great ways to get your hardwood floor looking fresh and new. However, routinely looking after your floor will mean you won’t need to do a deep clean so often and will reduce the need for restoration.

  • Clean up any spills as soon as they happen by blotting with an absorbent cloth and buffing dry.
  • Try to avoid wearing shoes indoors – grit from your shoes can scratch your floors.
  • Use protector pads under furniture to prevent scratches.
  • Sweep or vacuum your floors daily to prevent build-up in the cracks and crevices.
  • Never use abrasive cleaning products on your hardwood floors as they can scratch the surface.

If you choose to vacuum rather than sweep your floor, ensure you have the correct tools and have your vacuum on the correct setting to avoid scratching the floor. Similarly, if you’re sweeping your floor, use a soft brush to prevent scratches.

Following these measures will mean that you can prevent issues that will later require expensive or time-consuming remedial work, freeing up time to enjoy your pristine floor and get on with the more important things in life!



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