How To Clean Wood Floors With Soap and Water

Care for your wood floors with this gentle, yet effective cleaning solution.

Hardwood floors are one of the most highly sought-after features in a home. Wall-to-wall carpets simply have a way of making any space look a tad dingy; while there is a right way to do carpets, more often than not they're relics of decades past. Not only do hardwood floors look sleek and shiny, but they can be much easier to clean than carpeting, which stains oh-so-easily (although we must say, these machine-washable area rugs may have just solved that problem).

While wood floors can be more durable and easier to clean than carpeting, it's crucial to ensure that your cleaning techniques are good for the wood. Despite what Nancy the nosy neighbor may tell you, there is a right way and a wrong way to clean wood floors. If you mistreat your wood floors and scrub them down with too many chemicals, the wood can warp and its shine can fade. Care for your wood floors with this gentle, yet effective cleaning solution. That's right: The best way to clean your wood floors is with good, old-fashioned soap and water.

Considerations Before Getting Started

Yes, we know, water and wood floors do not play nicely together. But a little bit of water goes a long way. When cleaning your wood floors, you want to make sure you're not using too much water, which can get underneath and damage the wood. Wring out your mop before slapping it down on the floor so it's damp, not dripping wet. Follow this simple rule and you're good to go.

How Often to Clean Wood Floors

Keep your wood floors clean to prevent scratches from crumbs, dirt, and grit. High-traffic areas should be swept or vacuumed regularly—that could mean daily—and cleaned with a damp mop once a week. Low-traffic areas may only need this treatment once a month.

What You Need

  • Mop
  • Bucket
  • Dish soap
  • Broom and/or vacuum
  • Towel

How To Clean Wood Floors With Soap and Water

  1. Use a broom or vacuum on a hardwood setting to remove debris, dust, and pet hair.
  2. Mix a few cups of water with a few drops of dish soap in a bucket. Gently mix to the point that you can see a few traces of foam, but no large bubbles.
  3. Dip your mop in the mixture and wring it out until it's slightly damp.
  4. Rub the mop in circular motions on your floor. Rinse out any dirt, squeeze until damp, and repeat until the entire floor is clean.
  5. Allow the floor to mostly dry, then wipe down the floor with a dry towel.

When You Need a Deep Clean for Wood Floors

If you're looking to do a deep clean, skip the dish soap and mix water with white vinegar and lemon essential oil. This DIY cleaning solution will cost you much less than a hardwood floor cleaner. You can use specifically-designed wood cleaning products if it suits your fancy—just ensure to select a product approved or recommended by the floor finisher to ensure it won't damage your wood or ruin its shine. But why spend the money when a good ol' water-and-dish-soap concoction does the trick?

Tips for Keeping Your Wood Floor Clean

Not every household is into stripping off shoes at the door, but experts say that removing your shoes will do wonders for keeping your floors clean and protecting them from damage. After all, every step you take grinds tiny bits of grit into the wood. Whether you want to be a shoeless household or not, regular vacuuming and sweeping will go a long way in keeping your floors shiny and clean.

We also recommend using our low-maintenance damp-mop technique every week or two to keep your floors looking fresh and shiny. So put down the harsh chemicals and keep your wood floors in tip-top shape with this easy cleaning trick.

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