Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibilitySkip Navigation

How to Clean Wood Flooring

cleaning hardwood floors graphic overlaid over room scene of living room with blue couch

There seems to be a lot of confusion around the best way to clean and maintain hardwood flooring. One of the biggest points of confusion is that homeowners don’t realize that there are multiple types of hardwood on the market and different finishes require different care.

We’re here to set the record straight. With the right materials, tools, and guidelines, you’ll have your floors showing great results in no time.

Cleaning for Engineered Hardwood Flooring and Laminate

Engineered Hardwood Flooring is real wood, that is engineered into layers, unlike traditional hardwood flooring. Laminate flooring is created the same way as engineered hardwood but more synthetic products are used in the layering process whereas engineered hardwood flooring is constructed entirely of wood.

Both products thrive with just a quick sweep, vacuum, or dust mop a couple times a week and each can be damp mopped as long as a minimal amount of water is used. Neither product should be wet-mopped, waxed, or sanded.

Standing water can be damaging to both engineered hardwood and laminate, so make sure to clean up spills ASAP and avoid soap-based detergents, as they can leave a film on the surface of the floors.

brush and dustpan hanging in kitchen

Cleaning for Classic Hardwood Flooring

Classic wax-sealed hardwood flooring, which can be found in older houses, is cleaned differently than urethane-sealed floors, which we will get to in a minute.

Hardwood flooring that is classically waxed requires a bit more work in order to clean and maintain them.

Just like with laminate flooring, clean up spills immediately in order to prevent stains because these floors are especially vulnerable to liquid. We recommend never using a wet or even damp mop to clean them, but instead vacuum, sweep, or dust mop and periodically buff the floor to make it shine.

Sometimes these floors may need to be partially sanded and re-waxed to remove individual stains. Once wax builds up thick enough and the floors lose their luster, the wax must be stripped and a new layer of wax should be applied.

Cleaning for Hardwood Flooring Sealed with Urethane

Newer houses with hardwood flooring typically have urethane-sealed floors and have a similar cleaning process to engineered or laminate floors.

They are, however, more susceptible to moisture damage and should therefore never be mopped or waxed, as this can severely damage the finish or even void your warranty.

Urethane finishes are more durable than wax finishes, but they can still be scratched. We recommend vacuuming, sweeping, or dry mopping frequently to prevent damage and scratches.

Refinishing Hardwood Floors

One of the easiest ways to refresh and drastically improve the look and feel of your hardwood flooring is to refinish it. Whether you have hardwood floors that are in need of a facelift, or you’ve ripped up carpet or linoleum and discovered hardwood floors lie underneath, this home improvement project can add so much value to your living space.

dog on hardwood flooring in living room

When Should I Refinish My Hardwood Floors?

This answer is completely dependent upon the state of your floors; you have to take into account the present state of your floors and how many times they’ve been refinished in the past.

If you’ve got a floor that’s been dulled and scratched over the years, you’re a prime candidate. Or if you’ve just recently found that you have hardwood floors underneath your existing flooring, refinishing the wood will probably improve the shape they’re in and will most likely be a necessity.

If your floor sags, bulges, or is badly warped in places or is extensively water damaged, refinishing the hardwood floors probably won’t give you the results you want. You will most likely have to replace all or part of the floor instead.

How Many Times Can I Refinish My Hardwood Floor?

Believe it or not, hardwood floors can only be refinished but so many times. Why? Because it involves sanding the floor down to a new, untainted surface. As you can imagine, you will eventually reach a point where there’s just not enough wood left to refinish.

To see how much you have to work with, look for a register vent and remove it to see how much hardwood is left on the surface.

Once you’ve decided you have enough to work with, you can start the planning process!

solid hardwood flooring in home office

Can I Refinish My Hardwood Floors Myself?

Absolutely! Chances are if you’ve come to our site, you are a DIYer so you’re in the right place. Just keep in mind that refinishing hardwood is a dirty, time-consuming, and meticulous process.

If you decide that this is a little too much for you to take on, you can hire an expert to refinish your floors. Just make sure that you ask them how to maintain the floors when they are done. They will be able to give you the most accurate information on cleaning the freshly refinished surface.