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How To Clean Hardwood Floors Safely + Best Tips For Wood! [Infographic]

Cleaning a hardwood floor is easy; the challenge is avoiding damages during the process! Harsh cleaning products are the main risk, but moisture can wreak havoc on the hardwood surface too. In this blog post, you’ll learn the safe method to clean dirty hardwood floors!

How to clean hardwood floors

As mentioned above, cleaning your hardwood floor is not a difficult task. However, a simple mistake could take a toll on the floor. Since flooring should last for decades, damaging it is a big deal!

The following process focuses on telling you the considerations to avoid any risk of harming your floor. Maybe you know most of them! However, it is worth taking a look to make sure.

Step 1. Sweep and remove loose debris

Removing large particles is the first step before a more thorough cleaning session. To avoid scratches on the finish, use one of the following tools:

  • Soft-bristle broom
  • Dust mop
  • Vacuum cleaner with a hardwood floor attachment (beater bars will scratch your floor!)


Sweeping (or vacuuming) a hardwood floor should be part of every cleaning routine! That’s why Think Maids includes it in its regular cleaning checklist!

Step 2. Choose a cleaning product for the mop

Most hardwood floors have a finish that works as a protecting coat. However, not all wood finishes are the same, and each one has a different reaction to cleaning products. 

Since, in reality, you are cleaning the wood finish, you need to find a safe cleaner for it. You should avoid bleach and ammonia in all cases! But popular green choices like vinegar could also do more harm than good on your floor. 

To choose the best cleaning product for your floor, consider the following:

  1. Learn what type of wood finish you have: It could be wax, polyurethane, urethane, and many other hard-to-pronounce chemicals products!
  2. Read the manufacturer’s guidelines: You don’t need to be an expert chemist to clean your hardwood floor properly. If your hardwood floor reacts badly to some cleaning product, the manufacturer will let you know!
  3. Use the safest option first: Plain water and a good microfiber mop can remove build-up dirt! If the grime remains, try a few drops of pH-neutral dish soap. Don’t bring your stronger products if you can avoid them!

Think Maids recommendation:

You can clean most dirty hardwood floors with a gallon of warm water and a few drops of castile soap—or dish soap. Unlike vinegar, soap is not acidic, and it’s safer for most types of wood finish.

However, if you have a waxed floor, soapy water could remove the coating. Use plain water instead!

Step 3. Clean the floor with a slightly damp mop

During this step, your main focus should be to avoid wetting your floor. 

With a microfiber flat mop or a sponge mop, the process is simple. Dip your microfiber pad or sponge into the cleaning solution and wring it out completely.

If you have a string mop and a bucket with a built-in wringer, use the device until the mop is almost dry. Otherwise, you’ll need to get your hands on and wring out the mop—or invest in a new mop! Bob Vila compiled a list with the best mops for hardwood floors; check it out!

Step 4. Mop the floor

If you are cleaning a big room, it’s better to work in sections. Mop the first section in the wood grain direction. Then, rinse the mop with plain water and wring it out to give a final rinse to the area. Keep mopping until the entire floor is clean!


A string mop can seem dry but wets your floor anyways! If this happens, dry the floor with a cloth or towel and go back to the wringing process!

Step 4. Spot clean tough stains with a microfiber cloth

If a stain remains after mopping, it is best to remove it with a soft microfiber cloth. Dip the cloth in the cleaning solution and wring it out thoroughly. Then, get down on your knees and scrub the stain! Finally, rinse the spot with a slightly damp cloth.


It could be tempting, but you should never use steel wool, scrubbing pads, or excess cleaning solution. Elbow grease is enough!

Daily wood care and cleaning routine!

Wood is easy to clean and can give your home an excellent look. However, it needs care! You can apply most wood cleaning and maintenance tips to your floor and furniture alike.

Check this infographic to learn the best wood cleaning tips!

Think Maids -Wood Cleaning Apply These 6 Tips To Your Furniture!

How often should you clean hardwood floors?

As mentioned before, you should remove dust, crumbs, pet hairs, and other loose debris during your regular cleaning routine. 

However, mopping the floor is not necessary until grime starts to build up. Roughly, every few weeks for high-traffic areas and more than a month in low traffic areas.

To keep your hardwood floor spotless for longer:

Place rugs on the entryway, hallways, and other high-traffic areas. Place a doormat, so people can wipe their shoes before stepping on your hardwood floor. You can also place rugs on other high-traffic zones inside your home—like hallways and play areas.

Need help with the chores? 

Think Maids knows that cleaning services become a necessity in fast-paced areas like Washington, DC. Do you have little time for your cleaning chores? Get your quote here!