7 Mistakes That Are Ruining Your Hardwood Floors

clean hardwood floors

This post is sponsored by Stanley Steemer. As always, all opinions and ideas are entirely my own.

Back when the main floor of our house was covered mostly in carpet, I yearned for hardwood floors. I was certain that making the switch to hardwood flooring would increase my quality of life dramatically. How could it not, I wondered, when keeping the floors clean would be so much simpler?

We did end up making the switch from carpet to hardwood on our main floor a few years ago. And now I have to laugh a little at how idealistic (or possibly naive) my beliefs were about what it would be like to have hardwood flooring! Because the truth is that if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s all too easy to cause serious damage to your hardwood floors. And I’ve already learned some of those lessons the hard way!

Related: Clean Hardwood Floors Easily in Just 3 Steps

But I’d like to put that knowledge to good use by helping others to avoid making the same mistakes. So today I’ve teamed up with the flooring experts at Stanley Steemer to share some of the most common ways that people accidentally damage their hardwood floors. If you can avoid these seven pitfalls, it will go a long way towards keeping your floors in great shape!

Related: 9 Things In Your House You Should Never Clean With Water

7 Things That Can Ruin Your Hardwood Floors

wood floors

1. Too Much Sunlight

The sun’s damaging UV rays aren’t only a threat to your skin—they can also be bad for your floors! Too much direct sunlight can cause your hardwood floors to become dull and discolored over time. On really sunny days, you can help protect your floors by closing the blinds or drapes against direct sunlight.

wood floors

2. Using The Wrong Area Rugs

It’s important to know that certain types of rug backings can harm your hardwood floors. Certain rug backings can stain or discolor your flooring, while others can trap gases that warp your floors and ruin the finish. When you’re shopping for an area rug to put over your hardwood, make sure that it’s safe for use on hardwood floors!

wood floors

3. Vacuuming With The Brush On

Many vacuums now feature an attachment designed to be used on hardwood flooring. Be sure to use it whenever you clean your hardwood floors! If you don’t have a hardwood flooring attachment, just be sure to turn off the brush or beater before vacuuming hardwood. While a brush or beater is great for cleaning carpet, it can easily leave behind marks or scratches on hardwood flooring.

wood floors

4. High Heels & Pet Nails

It’s always a good idea take off your shoes before walking inside, it’s especially important when it comes to high heels and hardwood floors. Heels can scratch hardwood flooring, and even leave behind indentations if the heel has a small surface area. Pet nails and claws can also scratch up your floors (as I can personally attest to thanks to my grandpuppy Milo!) so be sure to trim them often.

wood floors

5. Using The Wrong Cleaning Tools

The way you clean your hardwood flooring can have a huge impact on its appearance and lifespan. Avoid using abrasive tools or harsh cleaning solutions, which can easily damage your flooring. The safest technique for cleaning hardwood is to sparingly apply a mild cleaning solution with a soft microfiber mop or mop pad.

Beware of using cleaning products like oil soaps to clean certain types of hardwood flooring. Many modern types of hardwood flooring have a finish that doesn’t require waxing. Using oily or waxy cleaners on these floors can leave behind a residue buildup that can be extremely difficult to remove. (I recently experienced this very issue with my own floors, and I had to resort to the tedious work of removing it all by hand on my hands and knees!)

Bonus Tip: Stanley Steemer doesn’t just offer services—they have great cleaning supplies and tools too! If you’re in need of a new mop or a better cleaning solution, check out their Hardwood Floor Cleaning Kit on their products page. It includes both a residue-free hardwood cleaner and a reusable microfiber mop!

wood floors

6. Sliding Furniture Around

Always take the time to lift furniture when you’re moving it around on hardwood floors. Sliding your furniture is a quick way to scratch up your nice hardwood floors! And make sure to add felt furniture pads to anything that rests directly on your floors as an added safety measure.

wood floors

7. Not Getting Professional Help

Around once a year, I take my car in to have the interior cleaned and detailed. It helps preserve the value of my car over time, and makes it easier for me to keep it clean afterward! You can experience the same sorts of benefits from having your hardwood floors deep cleaned by the professionals at Stanley Steemer. Professional services like these aren’t a luxury—they’re part of responsible ownership and maintenance!

wood floors

When your Stanley Steemer technician(s) arrive for your appointment, they’ll start by identifying exactly what type of flooring you have so they use the best methods to clean it. After vacuuming up any loose soil, they’ll use a pH-balanced cleaning solution, hot water, and a gentle, high-speed scrubber to extract all of the grime out of your floors. And once they’re clean, your technician will even make sure they’re perfectly dry using a fan and a microfiber mop! This eliminates any chance of water damage and leaves your floors ready to walk on.

wood floors

And you can get even more out of your Stanley Steemer visit by coupling your hardwood floor service with an area rug cleaning. That’s exactly what I did, because once I saw how clean my floors looked, I couldn’t stand the idea of covering them up with my dusty, dirty area rugs! Their quick cleaning treatment left my rug looking brand new, and it ended up looking great against my super clean floors!

I hope the seven tips I’ve shared today prove as useful to you as they have been to me! Armed with the knowledge we need to avoid these pitfalls, we’ll all be able to keep our beautiful hardwood floors in tip-top shape for years to come! :-)

What’s your best tip or trick for cleaning and maintaining hardwood floors?

Read This Next

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

    • I completely agree. Sometimes the articles with all of the ads seem to be different than what u think the site is for … (( DIY)) and it’s disappointing.

  • One more note, no one paid for my in put …Stanley steamer. Lol.

    I buy a cheap black tea in the bags. I use like 6 bags in a large bucket.

  • I have beautiful and very old hard wood floors.

    I use black tea bags in hot water to clean with a microfiber string mop. (I believe I got the idea from someone on here). If you want to add a scent, you can add lemon or lavender. Again, I don’t.

    If you do
    If you have a lot of dirt on your floors you can add a tablespoon of Castile soap but I don’t.

    Then I go over them with a nice oil solution that I make in a spray bottle using 1/8 c. olive oil and 1/8 c. vinegar with 2 cups water and add in some lemon essential oil here if you don’t like the smell. Spray and mop with a fresh dry mop head or get down on the floor and use a hand towel. You will not be disappointed.

    One thing to note, the tea will lightly stain over time so you don’t want to miss spots over and over again. The beauty of it is that I do have 2 very large dogs and you wouldn’t know it by looking at my wood floors.

    This link for a photo might or might not work. Best of luck everyone.


    • I think this works for older floors that may have a lot of the finish worn down, but for newer floors, especially pre-finished floors (you can usually tell if your flooring is prefinished, since the edges of each board are chamfered slightly) you may want to not use the oil but I can see how the tea would help especially darker flooring.

      • FYI – My floors have old wood but , yes, they are refinished. Not darker. A beautiful golden color. Tea deodorizes the wood. It’s actually listed everywhere on the Internet as the BEST way to clean wood floors. I would rather grab a bottle of something from under the kitchen counter but I researched the best way to clean them and tried a couple of ways and had been extremely happy since.

        Note: I would not use this on the newer floating wood floors or any floors with a lot of shine but hopefully common sense should tell you not to put oil on those floors. ..

      • Hopefully if you’re old enough to want to read about caring for your wood floors, you are able to tell not just from the edge but they usually have a high gloss and there is no need to put a shine on them. This is probably reserved for those of us with OCD and it moisturizes the wood and just looks lovely. I have some of the most beautiful wood floors that I have ever seen. I’m nearing 50 yrs young and live near Gettysburg PA. We have a lot of beautifully restored homes in our area and I’m fortunate to have one of those homes. My home is pre 1900 and my wood floors are about … guessing here… 10”+ wide.

        Best of luck with your project and I hope that if you have similar floors that you will research it and find something in my post helpful.

      • The boards are about 10” +/- wide. I re read that and thought it read like I have floors that wide. Lol. That wouldn’t make sense either.

  • >