How to Clean a Hardwood Floor

Hardwood floors add a touch of elegance and warmth to any space. If you want them to look their best and maintain their longevity, regular cleaning and maintenance is a must.

Here we will walk you through the step-by-step process to clean a hardwood floor effectively and safely. The team at Virgin Carpets and Flooring has got you covered from prepping the floor to choosing the right cleaning solution!

Steps to Clean a Hardwood Floor

woman cleaning hardwood with a swiffer

When it comes to hardwood cleaning, here are some important steps to follow:

Step 1: Vacuum or Sweep Your Hardwood Floors

It is important to remove any loose dirt, dust, or debris from the surface before diving into the cleaning process. Start by using a soft-bristle broom or a vacuum cleaner with a floor brush attachment to gently sweep or vacuum the entire floor.

Pay close attention to corners, crevices, and hard-to-reach areas.

Step 2: Use a Cleaning Mix Solution

Combine one cup of white vinegar with a bucket of warm water to create a gentle yet effective cleaning solution.

Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and will help remove stubborn stains and residue without causing damage to the wood. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners. This is because they can strip the finish and dull the shine of your hardwood floors.

Step 3: Mop Your Hardwood Floors

Once you have your cleaning solution ready, dampen a soft microfiber mop or a mop specifically designed for hardwood floors. Wring out any excess liquid to avoid saturating the wood.

You must remember that excess moisture can seep into the floorboards and cause them to warp or buckle.

Gently mop the floor, moving in the direction of the wood grain by starting from one corner of the room. Be mindful not to apply excessive pressure or scrub vigorously, as this can potentially scratch the surface. Rinse the mop regularly in the cleaning solution to ensure you’re always working with a clean mop.

Step 4: Let Your Hardwood Floor Dry

After mopping, allow your hardwood floor to air dry naturally.

Don’t walk on your floor until the floor is fully dry. This practice is necessary to avoid accidental slips or smudges. If you are in a hurry, you can also use a dry microfiber cloth or mop to speed up the drying process.

Dos and Don’ts to Clean Hardwood Floors

Let’s explore the best practices for cleaning hardwood floors. It includes essential dos and important don’ts to maintain their beauty and longevity.


mopping hardwood floor

1.      Use a Vacuum or Dust Mop Daily

Regular dusting is essential to prevent dirt, dust, and debris from scratching the surface of your hardwood floors. A vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment or a microfiber dust mop will effectively remove loose particles without causing any damage.

2.      Use a Dry Cloth to Remove Spills

Accidents happen, and when spills occur on hardwood floors, be aware. It is important to act quickly. Use a dry cloth or paper towels to blot the spill gently. Avoid rubbing the spill, as this may spread it or push it deeper into the wood.

3.      Use a Damp Cloth to Remove Sticky Stains

Lightly damp a cloth with water or a mixture of water and mild hardwood floor cleaner for sticky stains or residue. Wring out any excess moisture, and gently wipe the affected area.

Remember to dry the spot thoroughly afterward to prevent any moisture from seeping into the wood.

4.      Use Non-Stick Rugs at Entrances and Sinks

Prevention is key when it comes to maintaining hardwood floors. Place non-stick rugs or mats at all entrances and sinks to trap dirt and moisture before it reaches your hardwood floors.

This simple step will significantly reduce the amount of dirt and debris that can scratch or damage the surface.

5.      Harden and Remove Chewing Gum with a Plastic Scraper

Chewing gum can be a nightmare to remove from hardwood floors. Harden the gum by placing a plastic bag filled with ice cubes over it to fix this sticky problem. Once the gum hardens you should scrape it off gently with a plastic scraper. This will help you to avoid scratching the wood.

6.      Use Protection on Furniture Legs

Furniture legs can cause scratches and dents on hardwood floors, especially when they are moved or dragged. Use felt pads or furniture protectors on the bottom of chair legs, table legs, and any other furniture. It will help to prevent this problem for the furniture that comes in direct contact with the floor.

Regularly check and replace these pads to ensure continued protection.


1.      Don’t Use Oil-Based Items

Oil-based cleaners, polishes, and waxes can leave a residue on your hardwood floors. This is making them slippery and dull over time.

Avoid using these products as they can also attract more dirt and grime.

2.      Don’t Use Abrasive Cleaners

You should not use abrasive or harsh cleaners. This is because they can scratch your hardwood floor surface. This includes products with ammonia, vinegar, or bleach.

Stick to mild cleaners specifically formulated for hardwood floors, or even better. This will make your own using a mixture of water and vinegar.

3.      Do Not Leave Spills

Quickly clean up any spills on your hardwood floors to prevent moisture from seeping into the wood. Otherwise, it will be causing warping or staining on your hardwood floor.

Additionally, standing water can also damage the finish and lead to mold or mildew growth. So, you must act quickly and ensure the affected area is completely dry.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning and maintaining hardwood floors can be a straightforward process if done correctly. You can keep your hardwood floors looking perfect by using a simple routine to clean a hardwood floor. This routine can also extend their lifespan by following the steps outlined in this guide. Remember, regular cleaning and gentle care are key in preserving the natural beauty and elegance of your hardwood floors.

If you are looking to install a hardwood floor or want to get the best quality rugs to protect your hardwood flooring, contact Virgin Carpets. They have the best flooring solution for you.