How to Clean Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are one of the most popular choices for home floors, due to their polished look and low maintenance.

While they may not trap as much dirt and bacteria as carpets or rugs do, they still need to be cleaned regularly. If you are not sure where and how to start, we walk you through how to clean hardwood floors. 

There are many types of hardwood floors, and the material will determine how exactly you need to approach the cleaning. It will also depend on what your cleaning needs are, as a regular tidy-up will differ from stain removal. 

In this article, we show you how to effectively clean your hardwood floors without causing damage to the wood. 

What this article covers:

What Is The Best Thing To Use To Clean Hardwood Floors?

how to clean wood floors

Hardwood floors can be sensitive to certain products, so if you are looking to do a regular clean, it is best to keep it simple with your products.

For a general clean, you cannot go wrong with warm water and mild soap or detergent. This should work well to clear any dirt or grime on the floors. If you are dealing with a more severe stain, you may need to go for a slightly harsher chemical to deep clean the hardwood floors

To get the floors properly polished, it is best to use a floor cleaning machine. Equipment like the Task Pro 17” Floor Machine is perfect for this. The product works well to gently scrub down and polish the floors so that they are left looking brand new and shiny. 

best way to clean hardwood floors

How To Clean Polished Hardwood Floors

If you have polished hardwood floors in your home, you will want to maintain the shiny surface as best as you can. This requires regular cleaning, once or twice a week, to keep it spotless. 

With most hardwood floors, the last thing you want to do is flood them with too much water. This can cause serious and irreversible damage to the wood, so it is best to keep the water and moisture to a minimum where possible. 

Sweep Or Vacuum Any Dust

The first step is to clear any dust or loose debris from the floor. If dust is present, adding soap and water to it will make it stick to the floors, which makes it far more difficult to remove. 

Use a broom to sweep up the dust and debris. If it is a large area, you could use a safe and approved vacuum to clean this up. Always ensure the vacuum is gentle and on the lowest setting to avoid any damage. 

Mop The Entire Area

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Next, combine 6 parts water with 1 part liquid soap in a small bucket, and mix well. Dunk a clean mop into the solution, and squeeze tightly to remove any excess liquid before mopping the floor. 

Mop with light pressure so that you are not pushing water into the wood, and every time you dunk it back into the bucket, be sure to squeeze it out properly to avoid applying too much water onto the wood. 

Leave To Dry

The floor should dry fairly quickly as you mop, so try not to walk onto the damp areas as this will leave behind a dirty print. Mop from the back of the room, moving towards the front, to allow it to dry undisturbed. 

To speed up the drying process even more, open up a few windows to let some air into the room. 

How To Clean Matte Hardwood Floors

clean hardwood floors

Matte hardwood floors are a trendy, modern option for the home space as it creates a smoother, more subtle effect with the wood finish. 

In comparison to polished hardwood floors, dirt on matte floors can show up more clearly due to the finish. This means that you should ideally clean it regularly, at least 2-3 times a week so that it remains tidy. 

The matte floors are also susceptible to damage if exposed to too much water, so it is key to keep this in mind when cleaning. 

Clear Debris

Use a broom or vacuum to gently remove any loose dust or debris from the floor. This makes the cleaning process easier, and also allows you to see what is loose versus what is a stain so that you know how to clean it. 

Do not apply too much pressure in this step, as it may damage the wood. 

Mop Or Wipe the Floor

Next, you will mix a small bucket of lukewarm water with a drop or two of dishwashing liquid. Make sure that the water is not too hot, as this could damage the wood.

You can either use a mop to clean the floor or do it with a cloth. This may depend on the size of the floor you are cleaning, and whether any areas are extra dirty or grimy. 

Dip the mop or the cloth into the water solution, and squeeze well to remove any excess liquid before applying it to the floor. Mop or wipe thoroughly, ensuring you do not miss any spots. If any water spills onto the floor, mop it up as quickly as possible to prevent it from soaking into the wood.

Leave To Dry

how to clean hardwood floors

Once you have covered the entire floor, leave the room or area to allow it to dry. This should be a quick process. 

How To Clean Brand New Hardwood Floors

Once you have brand new hardwood floors put in, they will generally need a clean-up as there might be dust and debris present from the installation process.

To get your new hardwood floors well polished and in nick condition, it is best to apply a mild homemade cleaner that is going to get it squeaky clean and eliminate any odors that may be lingering from the installation, such as glue or paint. 

This is also a great method to clean unfinished wood floors.

Eliminate Excess Dirt

Use a broom to sweep away any loose dirt or debris from the floor. Start from one corner of the room, and gather all the dirt as you go to dispose of it afterward.

Be careful not to press too hard into the floor, as this may scratch the surface. You may also want to opt for a broom with softer bristles so that it is not as harsh on the wood.

Apply Vinegar Solution

clean wood floors

Combine 10 parts water with one part white spirit vinegar, and transfer to a small bowl or bucket. 

The vinegar acts as an effective cleaning agent that will cut through and eliminate any dirt or grime from the floor. It also works as an odor-remover, which will make any strong or unpleasant smells vanish from the wood. 

It is important to dilute the vinegar well so that it is not too harsh on the wood. 

Dip a soft cloth into the solution and wring it out well so that excess liquid is drained out, and the cloth is only slightly dampened. Gently wipe the floor, starting from one corner and working across the entire surface. 

If there are any areas with stubborn stains or grime, apply slightly more pressure to that spot to remove it. 


Once you have covered the whole floor, replace the vinegar solution with plain, cold water. Use a fresh cloth to dip into the water, and wipe over the floor again to remove any traces of vinegar. 

This is an important step to clean hardwood floors without streaking

Leave to air dry for 15-20 minutes before placing furniture or rugs. 

How To Clean Old Damaged Wood Floors

how to clean hardwood floors naturally

If you are moving into a new home with old hardwood floors, or your current floors are incredibly lived-in, the age and wear of the floor might be visible. 

Even quality hardwood floors start to show their age over time, but instead of a costly replacement, there are ways to refresh, even out tears, and clean old hardwood floors without sanding.

Vacuum Out Dirt

The first step is to vacuum out any dirt or debris from the floor. 

Use a vacuum and remove the beater bar, as this can scratch or damage the wood. Put it on the lowest setting so that it does not damage or lift the wood. 

Vacuum the entire surface, without leaving out any areas. The vacuum will not only remove any loose debris from the surface but also draw out any dirt that is lodged in cracks or crevices of the wood. 

Apply Solution and Clean

Mix 2 cups of warm water with a teaspoon of liquid soap, and transfer this to a spray bottle. 

Spray a small amount of the solution onto an area of the floor, and then use a cleaning brush with very soft bristles to gently scrub the area. Do this as lightly as possible, as you do not want to scratch the wood or remove the varnish or protective layers. 

what to use to clean hardwood floors

Continue this throughout the entire floor. Start from one corner, work across, and then move down and across again. This will make it easier to keep track of where you have already cleaned and ensure you do not miss a spot. 

You may need to top up your spray bottle with more solution, depending on how big the floor area is. 

Rinse Floor

Once you have gently scrubbed the entire floor, you will need to rinse out the soapy solution. Fill up a small bucket with plain water, dip a clean cloth in, and squeeze out any excess liquid. Wipe down the entire floor to remove the solution. 

Leave to dry for about 30 minutes.

How To Clean Oak Floors

Oak floors are often thought of as one of the best quality types of wood to use for hardwood floors. Not only does it look elegant, but it is incredibly durable, and can last a lifetime in your home. 

Because of the quality of oak floors, it is important to clean and maintain them regularly to maximize their lifespan and take good care of the valuable floors. 

With oak floors, it is worth investing in a good floor-cleaning machine. In addition to mopping up the floor a few times every week, you can pull out the machine for deeper cleaning every month to keep it tidy and polished. 

how to clean natural hardwood floors

Clear Out Debris

Your first step is always to get rid of any loose dust or debris on the floor. This can be done using a vacuum or sweeping up the dirt with a broom. 

Do this thoroughly to remove all loose dirt, as this will make the next steps a lot easier. 

Use Floor Cleaner

Next, get your floor-cleaning machinery ready. One of the best tools to clean hardwood floors available at the moment is the Truck Mount Forum Orbot Vibe floor machine

what to clean hardwood floors with

This top-of-the-line cleaner works efficiently and easily to get hardwood floors spotless in minutes. It has a spray system for gentle water application that works simultaneously with the action of polishing the floor.

The Orbot Vibe is safe for use on wood, but can also be used for stone and carpet, so you can use it throughout your home. 

Power up the cleaner, add water where necessary, and then run it over the entire floor surface. You can go over the floor more than once if needed. 

Check the floor carefully to ensure you have not missed any areas, and then leave it to air dry fully before replacing rugs or furniture. 

How To Clean Timber Floors

Timber is another quality type of wood that is sturdy and long-lasting, making it a popular choice for floors. 

Timber floors should be cleaned and mopped regularly, at least twice a week, especially if it is located in a room or area with lots of traffic and activity. This could be a living room, bedroom, entrance hall, etc. 

Over time, the floors will naturally begin to gather signs of wear and tear. To minimize the appearance of scratches, dents, or fading, it is important to clean with a slightly stronger, specialist wood cleaner. 

This type of cleaning can be done every month or two.

Clean Out Dust

how to clean wooden floors

Using a vacuum or broom, clear out any loose dirt or debris from the floor. A vacuum works better to remove the dust that might be trapped between the floorboards. 

Do this gently to avoid scratching or damaging the wood. 

Apply Cleaner

Prepare a quality wood cleaning product according to the instructions on the packaging, and then transfer it to a spray bottle. These products are perfect for wood, as they are specially formulated to clean hardwood floors, and will be safe enough to avoid damage. 

Spray the solution onto one small area of the floor at a time, and then use a soft, dry cloth to polish the solution into the wood. Work your way across the floor, avoiding missing any areas. 

If there are particularly grimy areas, you may need to spray and polish them more than once to clean and shine the wood floors.

Once you have cleaned the entire floor, it should be spotlessly clean. If need be, you can go over the entire floor more than once. 

How To Clean Hickory Floors

Another durable flooring option is hickory hardwood. A strong hickory is a solid option for a polished floor finish. 

It is generally best to avoid too much water in the cleaning process, as far as possible. Water can settle into the floors, and over time this can cause staining, rotting, and softening of the wood. This is why it is key to keep water to a minimum or avoid it altogether if possible. 

what is the best to clean hardwood floors

Sweep Out Dust

To begin, clear out any rugs or furniture from the area. 

Dust can build up fairly quickly on a wooden floor, and because it does not settle into the fiber like on carpets, it all sits on top. Use a soft-bristled broom to sweep out the loose dust and debris on the floor.

You can use a small dustpan to pick up the gathered dirt. Dispose of it immediately, because a small gust of wind or a bump can result in the dust falling everywhere again. 

It is best to move out furniture and rugs out of the way because the dust could settle on them while sweeping.

Clean With A Flat Mop

Use a flat mop tool to effectively clean the floors. A popular option is our Flat Mop Finish Applicator, as it is one of the best mops to clean hardwood floors.

 how do you clean hardwood floors

It can be used to apply finish to wood or stone but doubles up as a cleaner for these surfaces, too. All you need to do is put on a cloth cover over the bottom, and begin with your mopping. 

This can be used to dry mop, removing dirt and stains without the need to apply water. However, stubborn dirt may need a light spritz of water to eliminate properly. You can also use a wood cleaning solution with it for deeper cleaning. 

How To Clean Walnut Floors

Walnut floors are a classic option for a cozy home. The walnut brown shade makes it perfect for living spaces or entryways to create a classy finish to the space. 

Because of the darker shade of the wood, dirt and dust are typically more visible on the surface. This means it is important to be consistent with cleaning the floor. 

A sweep and/or mop-up using minimal water once or twice a week keeps walnut floors fairly clean, but it is generally best to do a slightly deeper clean once or twice a month. This can also be applied when cleaning cherry wood floors.

Sweep First

what is best to clean hardwood floors

First, use a soft broom to sweep out any loose debris from the floor. Be gentle with this, as even the smallest of scratches show clearly on the darker wood. 

Mix And Apply the Solution

Combine 6 cups of warm water with a tablespoon of liquid soap and a teaspoon of white spirit vinegar. This will work together to clean any dirt and bacteria and eliminate all odors, leaving the wood shiny and spotless. 

Dip a mop with soft, non-abrasive fibers into the solution and wring it out tightly to squeeze out excess liquid. Then mop the floor gently, being careful not to press too hard on the surface as this can push water in and/or cause damage to the wood. 

Once this is done, leave it to air dry fully. 

How To Clean Acacia Wood Floors

Acacia wood is a special type, as it is extremely durable and has a unique appearance. It is often used for furniture and floors because of this. 

A highlight is that it does not scratch as often as other wood, and it does not absorb water as easily. While this means there is less risk to cleaning it with water, it is still good practice to limit the amount of water used to be on the safe side. 

Remove Excess Debris

Sweep out any loose dust or debris from the surface of the floor using a soft broom. Clear it out with a dustpan and brush, and dispose of it straight away. Try to be as gentle as possible during this step to avoid scraping or scratching the wood. 

Use Cleaning Machine 

Our Orbot Slim Cordless VLM Machine is the best machine to clean hardwood floors safely and effectively. It can be used for a wet or dry clean. For acacia wood, it would be best to do a dry polish for a general clean or add a small amount of solution for stubborn stains.

 what to use to clean wood floor

The most convenient part of this machine is that it is cordless, meaning you will not get tangled up in cords while cleaning your floor, and you do not have to move it around to different outlets in larger areas. 

It can also be used to clean carpet or stone, so it is a versatile tool to have to clean any area within your home, making it a worthy investment. 

How To Clean Greasy Hardwood Floors

It happens to us all: a food or drink spill while walking between the kitchen and dining room, dropping an oily cosmetic product in the bedroom, or a splattering pan while cooking. Grease stains on wooden floors are almost inevitable, but there are ways to clean them out properly. 

It is best practice to mop up this type of stain as soon as it happens so that it does not have enough time to settle into the wood. If you do not spot the grease straight away, you should use a specialized wood-cleaning chemical to get it out effectively. 

Clear The Area

Use a dustpan and brush to clear out any dirt and debris that are present in the affected area. Be gentle with brushing this away to avoid damage to the wood. 

Mix And Apply Hardwood Cleaner

what to use to clean wooden floors

In a small bowl or bucket, prepare your hardwood cleaner, which is the best product to clean wood floors. Choose a reputable brand, as this will be safest to use on wood without causing any damage. 

Dip a soft cloth into the solution, wring it out to remove excess liquid, and then gently wipe the greasy area. You may need to wipe over the area a few times to remove all the grease, but do not apply too much pressure to the wood. 

Once clear, dip a fresh cloth into cold, plain water and wipe over the area again. This will remove any lingering cleaning solution. 

Leave to dry, and then check the area to ensure the grease is gone. If not, repeat the process. 

How To Clean Ground-In Dirt On Hardwood Floors

Often we think that, unlike a carpet, any dirt or dust present on hardwood floors would sit on top, making it easy to spot and remove. But over time, dirt might settle in between the floorboards. 

While it may not be visible, it is not ideal to have bacteria sitting on the wood on your floor. This can damage the wood over time, and may even be a health hazard if left for too long. 

To clean this out, it is best to combine the use of a cleaning machine and a vacuum. 

Remove Dust

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First, you will sweep up any visible dust that is sitting on top of the wooden floor. This can be done using a soft broom and should be done thoroughly. 

Use Floor Cleaner

Next, use your floor cleaning machine for dry cleaning of the floor. This can work to polish the actual wood, but also unearth any dirt that is stuck into the wood. This makes it easier to vacuum out as much as possible in the next step. 

Vacuum Floor

Use a vacuum for the next step. Be sure to remove the beater bar before you begin, as it can often cause damage to the wooden floor. 

Set the vacuum to a low setting, and go over the floor without missing any areas. The vacuum will eliminate any dirt that has been unearthed but also suction up any remaining dirt hidden between floorboards. 

It is best to do this type of cleaning at least twice a year to prevent a serious build-up of dirt and bacteria. 

How To Clean Hardwood Floors Without Water

Hardwood floors do not mix well with water, especially in excessive amounts, as they can cause irreversible damage in the form of rotting, softening, discoloration, bubbling, and so on. 

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If cleaning with water, it should be kept to a minimum at all times. Mops or cloths should be squeezed out well so that they are lightly damp, and if water is being applied directly to the wood, it should be lightly sprayed and not poured. 

The best way to clean a hardwood floor without water is with a flat floor mop or a floor cleaning machine. Both effectively clean the floor without the need for water. 

Remove Dust And Debris

First, it is important to remove any loose dust or debris from the floor using a broom or vacuum. This is especially important when dry cleaning a floor, as it may scratch the floor during the process. 

Use A Mop Or Machine

Next, use your mop or machine to clean the floors. 

A flat floor mop is used with a soft cloth placed over the end, so it picks up any dirt from the floor when run over the surface. Ensure you go over all areas without missing a spot. 

The cleaning machine is an excellent way to clean and polish hardwood floors with ease. Run the machine over the entire surface to effectively clean out all dirt and bacteria, leaving it spotless. 


No matter what type of hardwood floor you have, there is an effective method that you can use to safely clean and maintain your floors. 

how to clean hardwood floor

With any type of wood, it is best to avoid using too much water. If you use water, make sure you keep it to a minimum to avoid causing moisture damage to the wood. 

When using cleaning agents, it is safer to go for the milder options. A light dishwashing soap works well, as does vinegar. If you need something stronger, go for a hardwood cleaner as this will be formulated for use on wood. 

To avoid the need for intense cleaning, do regular cleaning of your hardwood floors. A light mopping every few days, and a slightly deeper clean once a month, will reduce wear and tear and keep them looking brand new for longer. 

How Do You Clean Hardwood Floors? (FAQs)

How often should you clean hardwood floors?

You can do a light cleaning of your hardwood floors at least 2-3 times per week. This can be a sweep, a simple wipe-down, or a mop-up, using little water, with a form of mild soap as an optional extra. 

You should do a deeper clean once or twice a month with a liquid soap or a hardwood cleaner. 

Do a proper clean and vacuum once or twice a year to pick up any dirt or bacteria that has settled into the wood, or between the floorboards. 

Can you clean hardwood floors with water?

how to clean wood floor

You can clean hardwood floors with water, but it should be in small amounts. 

Using a lightly dampened cloth or mop, or lightly spraying the floor with water can be harmless for the wood. But flooding the floor with too much water, or not drying a floor properly, can lead to irreversible damage. 

Water soaks into wood quite easily which can soften the wood, cause rotting, discolor the surface, and eventually could even lead to the disintegration of the floor. 

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

When cleaning wood floors, the best approach is to keep it simple. Using a small amount of water and a mild cleaning agent goes a long way. 

For a regular clean, water and liquid soap is sufficient. Even mopping with plain water can be effective. 

For a deeper clean, opt for a hardwood cleaner. This is safe to use as it will be specially formulated for use on wood, so you do not have to stress about damage to the floors.

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