5 Mistakes To Avoid When Cleaning Your Hardwood Floors

You might be over-mopping. Yes, really!

When you call to mind the concept of cleaning your hardwood floors, it might conjure up the image of a weary soul who's been lifting a sopping wet mop from a heavy bucket of suds onto a spattered floor. Thankfully, in real life, the process of cleaning hardwoods is much simpler—but it can be just as easy to make a mistake as it can be to get it right. Avoid these missteps and your floors will be shining like new in no time. Just don't forget the spin mop!

Spin Mop in Red Bucket Hardwood Floors
Getty/© Santiago Urquijo

Assuming Your Floors Are Sealed

Before you go further with cleaning, now's the time to check that your hardwoods are sealed. If they are, a little wet mopping from time to time is okay. But if not, wet mopping can harm your floors since there's no barrier to stop water from soaking the wood. Know what you're working with before you begin.

Failing To Do Dry Maintenance First

The secret to keeping your flooring beautiful is to start by cleaning dry, not wet. Regularly vacuuming and sweeping are foundational in hardwood care. If you're doing it right, you'll be dry cleaning way more often than wet cleaning. Routinely clearing your wood of the dust, dirt, and grit that comes with daily wear and tear makes an enormous difference to the final product and makes any wet cleaning you do more efficient by a mile.

Using Your Vacuum's Carpet Setting After You've Moved Over to Hardwoods

This is a mistake so many of us make, and though the consequences won't be immediately obvious, you'll notice over time. When a vacuum is set to clean a carpet, it lowers bristles and a tool called a "beater bar" designed to agitate the carpet and lift out the maximum amount of dust and debris. Failing to switch heads or change settings on your vacuum after you've moved surfaces means that a beater bar can scratch and dull your glistening hardwoods, breaking the seal and leaving them exposed to impurities.


If your cleaning schedule involves regularly mopping entire rooms, this one's for you! For best results, mop your high-traffic areas no more than once a week. Other areas that see less foot traffic can be cleaned once a month, or (prepare to put your feet up) even once a quarter. Too much mopping can wear down the seal on your floors or oversaturate them with water.

Using a Dripping Wet Mop

For those moments when you must wet your floors, keep it minimal: opt for a floor spray or a nicely wrung out, damp mop. The enemy of hardwoods is moisture, and once water has gotten in, it's hard to get out—buckling, swelling, and warping will inevitably follow.

Use these tips to avoid damaging your floors and in the end, you'll save time cleaning. Good looking flooring and less time bent over a suds bucket? Yes, please!

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