No other flooring enhances and enriches a room or facility like the warm luster of a wood floor. One of the most common questions asked regarding cleaning floors is “How do I clean a wood floor?”

Cleaning Wood floors is not complicated as long as you adhere to a few basic principles and follow some precautions. There are 4 basic principles to cleaning any surface including floors. We will outline the two most important principles as the Do’s and two of them as the Don’ts for cleaning wood floors.

Most wood floors are sealed. The seal or finish is a protection coat for the wood floor. If you are dealing with an unsealed wood floor, we highly recommend that you seal it. There are several types of wood flooring, Hardwood (solid and veneer), Softwood (solid and veneer) and Cork. There are several others but these 3 types will cover the vast majority of wood flooring. Just always remember when it comes to wood…WOOD HATES WATER!

4 Principles of Cleaning

  1. Time
  2. Agitation
  3. Chemical
  4. Temperature


Cleaning Wood Floors – Do’s and Don’ts

Relative to this topic – cleaning wood floors, we are breaking the 4 principles of cleaning wood floors into Do’s and Don’ts. Following these principles will allow anyone to end up with good cleaning results.


Wood Floor Cleaning – Do’s

Time- the amount of contact time between the cleaning chemical solution and the sealed wood floor is critical to cleaning without destroying the wood flooring itself. For wood floors, always minimize the amount of dwell time the cleaning solution on the floor.

Chemical – The proper chemical is critical. Again, as stated in previous articles, professional grade cleaning products out perform over the counter cleaning agents. They normally also provide you with a better dilution range which saves money by using less chemical and more water. Using a wood floor cleaner that is specified for wood floors will assist in reducing the risk factor of damaging the sealed wood floor. Most soils are acidic and require a base or alkaline cleaner to remove the soil. Cleaners with high surfactants also commonly known as wetting agents, break the surface tension of the water and allows the cleaning chemical to rapidly penetrate the soil and assists in putting the soils in suspension. This allows it to be removed from the wood floor and discarded. Otherwise, the soil would not be completed removed from the surface of the wood floor. Always use the selected cleaning chemical according to label directions.


Wood Floor Cleaning – Don’ts

Agitation – Excessive agitation can cause scratches in the seal of the wood floor and allow water to seep in to scratches that may have penetrated deep enough to bare wood. This would allow the water/chemical mixture to come in contact with the bare floor and cause damage to the wood flooring. It is always best to minimize agitation. Especially, if using aggressive pads to assist in cleaning. The rule of thumb for general cleaning of sealed wood floors is not to use any aggressive pads or cloths to clean. Soft or mild pads will perform adequately.

Temperature – Hot water can and will assist in a speedy cleaning process but it when it comes to wood floors, it can also increase the risk of damaging the wood and/or the seal on the floor. So it is best to use cleaning products that do not require the use of hot water when it comes to cleaning wood flooring.


Cleaning Wood Floors – Simplified Steps and Procedures

  1. Dry Clean – Dust mop or sweep using an untreated dust mop. The preferred tool is a microfiber flat mop system. Use a Blunt plastic scraper to remove gum, labels, candy, etc that may be adhered to the floor. Remove the loose debris from the floor and discard in the trash.
  2. Damp Cleaning – Damp clean using a flat mop microfiber system. Be sure to use minimal moisture to damp clean the wood floor.  Apply the cleaner and mop with the grain of the wood. If you notice that the floor is not dry within 60 to 90 seconds cut back on the amount of cleaner solution you are applying to the floor. The longer the wood floor remains wet, the greater the chance of damaging the floor.A real life example of how this works would be setting of a glass filled with ice and a beverage on a wood table. If left on the wood table without a coaster, a moisture ring will appear on the table from the condensation of forming on the outside of the glass. Almost all the time, this moisture left by the glass has damaged both the seal and the wood leaving a permanent ring or mark on the table. This can be repaired but the table would have to be stripped and refinished with a seal which is costly and time consuming.

Note: There are many various types of wood cleaning products and tools on the market today for both commercial and residential use that will deliver results and protect the wood floor from damage.

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