How to Clean Your Hardwood Floor

Hardwood floors? Lucky you! Hardwood floors are resilient, versatile—they work with everything from classic furnishings to modern style to dorm room décor—and they don’t attract allergens like carpets do. Whether old or new, hardwood floors can be absolutely stunning. They are also the easiest type of flooring to keep clean, once you know what type of wood floor you have.

If you’ve just moved into a new place that has hardwood floors, or if you have been in your place for a while but you haven’t cleaned lately, your first step is a good sweep. This is as basic as cleaning gets… any broom will do. If you don’t have a broom, for heaven’s sake, go get one!

Did you find a broom? In an absolute pinch—for example, you’ve got guests arriving in ten minutes—you can, of course, use paper towels, old (clean) socks or a small towel to sweep up all the dust.

As you’re sweeping, you might notice that little specks of dust and dirt get caught in the grooves between the planks. If you have a vacuum cleaner, plus time and patience, you can use it on the hardwood flooring. But you’ll never get everything out so don’t be too hard on yourself. Besides, who’s going to look in those cracks?

Next step: clean up spots, sticky stuff and stains. Use warm water on a sponge to scrub away the goo. Even the gentlest of soaps might leave a soap spot, and the favorite DIY cleansing staple, vinegar, can dull the floor’s finish.

For scuffs and scratches, one tried and true (and inexpensive!) method works as well today as it did for our grandparents: seal the scratch with a walnut.

For cleaning the entire floor, the best approach will depend on whether your hardwood floor has a “surface finish” (shiny) or a “penetrating finish” (matte). Our friends at have outlined all the dos and don’ts for each type of hardwood floor here. Before I read Care2’s guide, I thought all hardwood floors—and cleaners—were the same. But you don’t want to use a wax cleaner on a shiny floor or a water-based cleaner on a matte hardwood floor. Hey, who knew?

Luckily, the deep cleanse of your floor is one of those “spring cleaning” (or pre-dinner party) events. So you’ve got time to figure out what type of floor you have, and find the soap that will enhance, not destroy, it.

For the rest of the year, you can always bust out the Swiffer® when things get a bit dusty.

Conna Shannon

Conna Shannon

Conna is a writer, editor and aspiring filmmaker. She's into DIY, upcylcing and macrobiotic cooking. She lives in Monterey, California, with a yellow lab named Daisy.
Conna Shannon

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