3 Simple Steps to Keep Your Hardwood Floors Looking Good!

I have been a disobedient daughter. :-(   My parents moved into a new house several weeks ago, and my Mom asked me for advice about how to clean and care for her new wood floors. Apparently she has been getting conflicting advice on how best to clean them.

Well, while I don’t have personal experience with cleaning wood floors, I have spent a good amount of time now researching it and have been surprised to find out it’s actually VERY SIMPLE. So this is for you Mom….better late than never? :-)



3 Simple Steps to keep your hardwood floors looking good!



Take your shoes off! When you walk on a wooden floor with dirty shoes, you are leaving lots of sand and dirt behind. These abrasive particles can ruin your wood floors. Position mats both outside and inside exterior doors to lessen tracked-in dirt. In snowy or rainy weather, include a boot removal area to avoid damage from water and de-icers.


Next, make sure to get rid of dirt and grime with a vacuum or dust mop before you attempt to wash a wood floor. Rubbing dirt into your floors is never a good idea. Dust the floor with a mop that has been treated with a dusting agent (or use a microfiber duster) to pick up dust, dirt, and pet hair.



For occasional deep cleaning (dirt, oil and grime will build up over time), the best solution for cleaning wood floors is one cup of vinegar mixed with one gallon of water. Immerse a clean mop into the solution and wring it until it is damp-dry. Mop the floor in the direction of the floorboards, so if the water dries with a bit of a streak in it, it will not be as visible.  After mopping, use a soft, clean towel to dry it or let it air dry.



If you want to get a little creative….steep 1 bag of tea in 2 cups of boiling water and leave until it comes to room temperature. Remove tea bag and soak cloth in liquid, wring out then wipe floor clean. Dry with a soft cloth. The tannic acid in the tea will help bring wood to a shine.


Finally….after cleaning your hardwood floor, if you find any scratches, here’s a simple trick to try:

Take a crayon the color of the floor and rub it on the scratch to fill the gap. Turn a blow dryer on high, heat the area where the crayon was applied and buff it with a soft cloth.

Keep these simple wood cleaning tips in mind, and your wooden floors will sparkle all the time.



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  1. Dina says

    I have hardwood floors as well-not laminate or the pressed wood pergo type) thanks so much for the info. One of the major conflicts in advice I’ve gotten is how often to clean the hardwood. When you were researching did you happen to come across this? I’ve heard at the most 3 times a year to once a month.

  2. Heidi says

    This is great information…. I have a question though…. is it the same for laminate floors? I keep finding info for wood floors but not laminate floors. I’ve read that I should use a steam mop, others say NOT to use a steam mop, etc. Does the vinegar ruin the finish on a laminate floor. UGH. Any tips or suggestions????

  3. Mama T says

    I’ve had laminate floors for 2 years now. I follow much of this advice on my laminate floors, and they have stayed looking nice.

    Everyone in my house, or visitors to my house, know that shoes come off at the door.

    I use a Swiffer vacuum on my floors, then follow with a damp dust mop to pick up all of the dirt/dust that the Swiffer may have missed. To mop, I change the dust mop head, and spray it until just damp with a vinegar/water solution, and mop until clean. This helps cut down on the streaking. For deep cleaning, I use the same method, only a mop and a bucket instead. Then, I use a dry dust mop to “buff” so it doesn’t streak.

    This takes me at most, 30 minutes a day to do. 10 minutes to Swiffer, 10 minutes to damp mop, and if I have to actually mop, another 10 minutes. It takes longer to pick the kids’ toys up, than it does to do my floors!

  4. Marybeth says

    I used to think vinegar was the way to go with wood flooring – that’s what the installer led us to believe. However, ten years later and my floor is very dull; no shine hardly at all. I have done a lot of research on this lately and I found this article and it explains how vinegar is acidid and can etch the coating on the wood of the floor. I have stopped using vinegar and use Bona floor cleaner now. It is easy and dries quickly. I want to use the wood floor polish and see if that helps.

    Sorry to disagree with you, but my advice would be – NO vinegar.


    • Nalu says

      I agree with you, Marybeth. I tried vinegar several times only to have dull floors. I have used Bona on my floors for over 5 years. It’s water based and I love the luster it leaves behind. I have bought the polish by accident and decided to try. It clearly says on the bottle it’s not supposed to be used as a cleaner. More like a re-finisher. To be honest I was not very impressed with the results.

  5. says

    Thank you, Jillybean, for helping me to know how to deal with my new wood floors. I am anxious to try this. I couldn’t help but think…How the tide has turned! It used to be me telling you. ;-) Love you.

  6. Mary Alice says

    Laminate floors can take vinegar (mix it with water, a bit of alcohol to speed drying time, and a couple drops of dish detergent to take care of water surface tension).

    For my hardwood floors, I only use Bona. Spray on the floor and then wipe up with a microfiber mop. I also did a ton a research looking for a homemade solution (tightwad that I am), but came up empty. For hardwood, Bona is best. (And I am not affiliated in any way with this company.)

  7. deniseinark says

    I can weigh in here. One of the things you have to remember is that you’re cleaning whatever the top of the floor is finished with. If it’s a laminate floor, it’s plastic, just like laminate countertops. The same chemicals that take care of your countertops will also keep your floors clean. If it’s a sealed hardwood floor, what’s it sealed with? If it’s polyurethane, how would you clean a piece of furniture, say, a wooden bench, sealed with polyurethane? I use dish detergent water – 1t Dawn (or other) in a bucket of hot water. Soap and hot water cleans something. Imagine that! I also go over the floor again with a bucket of water that contains a cup of vinegar. Vinegar cuts the soap and rinses all of the residue off of the floor. Now, if it’s an old wood floor that has to be waxed, again, dishsoap water. What you DON’T want to use is anything that will cause wax to dissolve- avoid strong ammonia solutions and you won’t have to strip and wax as often. When the floor is dull, it’s because there is either dirt buildup or detergent buildup, or a mix of both. The way you tell is to rub the floor with a wet white cloth after you’ve mopped. If it comes up dirty, the floor is still dirty. If it comes up grayish, there’s a buildup of floor cleaner. TIP: when the mop water is still pretty clean after mopping, the floor is clean. If the mop is still picking up dirt, the floor is still dirty. Hard water will leave a filmy residue on the floor just like it does in the bathroom; dry the floor with an old towel and pick up the water before the minerals have a chance to re-crystalize on the floor.

  8. Nancy says

    Great tips! We lived with hardwood floors in our last two apartments – even did the refinishing in the last one! They are relatively low-maintenance as long as you clean up spills quickly and keep them vacuumed.

    DEFINITELY, take care with vinegar on hardwood, though. As I said, we refinished the floors before we moved into the last apartment. In the kitchen, there was sticky tile, thin plywood and old linoleum on top of the original hardwood. The linoleum was glued directly to the wood – I used hot water, vinegar and baking soda to get that glue off and watching that vinegar work – wow. DO NOT use undiluted unless you’re planning to refinish soon!

  9. Tonda says

    I read and kept the instructions when we installed our laminate floors it said to only use vinegar. Our bamboo floors which have a polyurethane finish said the same. I did notice the bamboo was a little dull. We tried the Lysol (same as Swiffer) wipes on both surfaces and had horrible results. The floors were streaky and looked dirty. We refinished the bamboo with Orange Glow Hardwood Floor Refinishing system. The cleaner in there has been great for the bamboo but I have not used on the laminate.

  10. Heather Walker says

    When we moved into our new house the hardwood installer told us that they do a very simple and effective solution of 1:4 Windex (non-ammonia) and water. The ratio is 4 parts water to one part windex. I vacuum and then damp mop with this solution and the shine and beauty of the wood comes right back…and it is cheap!

  11. Belle says

    First I sweep and then use my steam cleaner.. If guests are coming or a VIP (my mum or mummy inlaw!) then I use afterwards Method Hardwood floor cleaner… It is the best thing ever, the floor looks fantastic afterwards and the entire house smells of almonds. I would bath in it if I could I love the product so much…

    Another good trick to keep your floors clean is to keep your children outside and not let them in….. EVER ;-)

    • krysta says

      I want to try the Method one because I absolutely LOVE anything with an almond scent. Guess what castile soap I use? :) I had tried the vinegar & water method, but it left my floors streaky. I then added some alcohol and it helped, but I had to find another recipe due to other people in my household complaining of the smell! I found one on Pure Natural Diva’s website that personally worked better for my floors. The one I use is 2 TBPS CASTILE SOAP, 2 TBSP ALCOHOL & 24OZ OF WATER. Plus, I have to admit I added a little bit of organic almond extract to enhance the almond scent of the castile soap. It worked wonderfully! I just use the original Swiffer floor duster/mop with a microfiber cloth on it. (I use binder clips to hold the excess, although, you could cut them to size. you can get a huge bag of mirco cloths in Home Depot for less than $10) You can add 2TBSP of oil (grape seed, sunflower, etc..) if you need to condition the wood. She has another one on there too with I think vinegar, lemons & alcohol. Also, there was a similar recipe to Jillee’s with the tea trick. I haven’t needed to try it yet, but it’s something I keep in my pocket just in case. :)

  12. Amanda says

    I have a confession to make. I’m lazy. Incredibly lazy. So when it comes time to clean my wood floors, I take the lazy approach. I sweep twice (because I live in the country and have a L O T of dirt and dust), then mop once. And by mopping I mean I do small areas at a time with one of those microfiber rags attached to a swiffer-like pole while spraying each area with the foamy window cleaner from the dollar store. (Seriously, I use that stuff on everything!) I’ve been doing this since I got my floor installed 4 years ago and its still as shiny as the day it was put in. About once every two months I stop being lazy and actually clean the floor on my hands and knees with a rag and bucket of soapy water just to get off any residue that my fake swiffer may leave behind.

  13. Dawn says

    I do have the rugs outside and immediately inside the door but I have plantar fasciaitis and have to wear my tennies with inserts at all times…how bad is this for my floors?

  14. Cathy says

    We have very dark Handscraped Laminate floors. which means they have a sort of wave to them to make them look more “real”. For 4 years I have searched and searched for a cleaner that won’t streak. vinegar/water did not work for me(left streaks). what does work for me is: Sweep with a good old fashioned broom really good. mix 1/2 teaspoon of dawn in a sink of warm water. (here comes my lazy) lol- two old washcloths wet and ring out excess. Then I turn my 6 year old loose “skating” through the house on the rags. She loves it, floor is clean, and I get to finish my one alotted Mt.Dew for the day!! lol

  15. LeeAnn says

    Be careful using cleaners (even natural) on your wood floors. Years ago wood floors were waxed, etc. but the fact is that today, they are not. Most (real) wood floors today are sealed and finished with natural (green) products such as a well known product in the wood flooring business called Bona. This is a really good thing because it’s been around for many years and is generally safe for your family and pets to be around. Using acidic products even if they are natural can adventually eat away your floors finish or start to collect dirt and dust which eventually dulls your finish and can cost you more money.. *sigh* Yes, vinegar in moderate use is fine on wood floors if you ring out your mop very well. My advise is to use the Bona hardwood floor cleaner.
    ***Laminate floors should NEVER have water used to clean them!!! Bona also makes a cleaning product for your laminate flooring that is safe and does not generally void your warranties… Plus, since laminate floors dull or look dirty easily, this cuts down that problem and dries very quickly.

  16. cuddlina says

    I have been at my wits end since Christmas. We have a new house and beautiful cherry floors throughout. The Sunday after Christmas we had 10 people for dinner. There was ice melt outdoors and our guest came in after stepping in the wet ice melt with treaded soles on theirboots. Needless to say we were appalled, but decided to get through dinner.

    Once everyone left I proceeded to do my usual after-company cleaning and lastly wash the floors. We have been in the hous almost four years and have also instructed our cleaning people that Bona is what the builder recommended so for all this time Bona is all we’ve used. When I washed the floor with Bona it dried with a whitesh haze and loked terrible. I tried the Bona again, white vinegar and water, murphy’s floor soap (no oil), plain water and the haze would not dissappear. I called Bona and they sent me a polish remover thinking that maybe there was buildup on the floor. I knew there was no buildup but I used it anyway……..disaster. The floors were I thought destroyed.

    I took it upon myself to dampen a microfiber cloth with straight ammonia. I washed the floors twice with two clean cloths and I now have the most beautiful mirror shine on all the floors. What I think happened was that the ice melt and water from under the boots just spread on the floor and made them hazy. The ammonia cut through the haze and I now have my beautiful floors back.

    I don’t recommend using ammonia unless, as in my case, it is a one shot application. Leaason learned..shoes off, nothing more than a combination of four parts clear water and one part Windex, which has amonia in it, but when mixed with water it’s just enough to clean the floors and make them mirror shine.

    Hope this helps!

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  20. Bailey says

    I have Anderson hand scrapped hickory hardwood flooring. I only use Clear Green hardwood cleaner. That is what Anderson recommends for their floors. It is also good for laminate. You can purchase it online. No streaks, just leaves the floors clean.

  21. says

    I usually use Vacuum cleaner with steam mop to clean the floor.
    First I use the vacuum to remove all dust and small rubbish then use steam mop uses to kill bacteria.
    Because my son was younger, he often lies on the floor so steam mop is really helpful.


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