The Best Way to Clean Wood Floors

IMAGE: Eclectic Domestics

Last week, Some questions came in regarding the best way to clean hardwood floors, so today's post will hopefully give you some answers.

I will start first with what NOT to do: Do NOT mop wood floors! Do NOT use vinegar, bleach, products with de-greasers or harsh cleaners. Standing water and chemicals can seep into the bevels and cracks of the wood, causing it to swell and layers to peel. 

Mopping wood floors with vinegar, chemicals or water is the best way to shorten their life span. The same goes for bamboo and laminate floors. Water from a bucket left on the surface can leave stains and cause peeling and buckling. 

The absolute best way to keep your wood floors clean is to be sure to remove shoes before coming in the house, vacuum or dry mop daily, and avoid spills. But we need to be realistic, and we need to live in our homes.

So the trick is, to use as little water as possible, and to dry washed areas completely.  To accomplish this for our clients, we only use microfiber cloths and mop pads. If the manufacturer recommends a specific floor cleaner, use a small amount diluted in a spray bottle. Spray small area to be cleaned, and be sure to remove any leftover spray as you are washing and dry completely with a clean cloth. 

Keeping these basics in mind, here is our own method, and what we believe is the simplest and most efficient procedure for cleaning your wood floors:

  • Prepare the area to be cleaned by clearing it of any toys, trash cans, shoes, pet bowls, throw rugs, random items and smaller pieces of furniture. (Its a good idea to purchase some furniture pads to move furniture pieces. Pads will not only protect your wood floors from scuffing, but also make it much easier to move furniture.)
  • Vacuum floor entirely, paying special attention to the perimeter, corners, under counters and appliances, and the cracks in between wood planks. It is important to not skip this step. The surface dirt and debris needs to be lifted first or you will just be grinding dirt and particles into your floors when you clean them. We don't recommend using a 'Swiffer' type dry duster for this step as it will not fully pick up sand or dirt that has been tracked in from outside. It also will not pick dirt up
    O-Cedar Flip Mop
    out of cracks. Use the brush attachment and the hose OR a microfiber dust mop such as this one to the right. 
  • Spot clean: Inspect floor for any spills, sticky spots or stains that may need attention first. Using a lightly wet microfiber cloth, by hand, wipe up the spills and spots so that your next steps will be much easier.
  • Damp mop floor part 1: starting in one corner of the room, and going around the perimeter first with a long smooth stoke, and picking up any left dirt at the end with a hand cloth. Use a damp microfiber cloth, attached to a mop or Swiffer with  rubber bands, or a mop with a large microfiber pad. Wet the pad or cloth and wring out until almost dry. Rinse and wring out again once perimeter is finished.
  • Damp mop floor part 2:  Starting again in the same corner, with your cleaned, wrung out mop pad or cloth, working in a small section and going with the grain of the wood, use and "S" motion and long smooth strokes to damp mop across the length of the floor. (We position ourselves to work with a "left to right" motion.) If any standing water is left, use a clean, dry microfiber attached to a Swiffer or other large mop head to dry the area, using the same "S" motion. Rinse mop pad or microfiber, wring out completely and start a new section using the steps above.
  • Buff floor: (Optional) To get rid of any left over streaks, using a clean dry microfiber mop pad or cloth attached to a Swiffer, go back over cleaned area, going with the grain of the wood, across the length of the floor in an "S" motion, and rubbing gently. If you cleaned and dried it thoroughly in the previous steps, you probably can skip this step.
  • Put back Furniture and other items, making sure floor is completely dry.

Sound complicated and involved? Maybe, but a small price we pay for having beautiful wood floors! Of course, you can always count on us to clean your wood floors for you-and save yourself about 2-3 hours a week on this particular task!

How do you clean your wood floors? Please tell us in the comments.