How to Clean Wooden Floors

If you’ve got wood or laminate floors in your home, it’s inevitable that they will get covered with tracked-in dirt, pet hair or spills. Learning the the best way to keep them clean with not only make your home feel more tidy, but will keep the floors in good condition for a long time.

a broom sweeping a wooden floor

It seems like wooden floors are all the rage these days, but when I was growing up, we always had carpet or linoleum floors in the houses we lived in. So when my husband and I bought our first house, we were delighted with the beautiful wooden floors on the main level, however, there was just one problem: I had no idea how to clean wooden floors.

I wasn’t sure if it was OK to use water and soap on them, because I knew that water can damage a piece of wooden furniture, yet I also knew that with dirty shoes, wet dog feet and goodness knows what else walking on them, the wooden floors were going to pick up a lot of grime, so I had to figure out how to clean them and soon. Here are the tips I learned.

Hardwood Floor Cleaning Products

The first thing I learned about wooden floors is that dirt and pet hair tends to float around on top of the floor, which was new to me, because with carpet, the dirt and hair seems to sink into the carpet fibers. The first thing I needed to do was to get rid of the dirt before I attempted any cleaning.

Our whole main floor is rather large, so I knew that sweeping up everything with a broom would be rather difficult and time-consuming. I opted for vacuuming instead, which would allow me to quickly suck up any and all pet hair, crumbs and bits of dirt, without it floating out of a pile into which I swept.

My favorite vacuum in the whole world (yes, it’s true…I really do love this vacuum, since it has made cleaning so much easier for me!) is the (affiliate link) Panasonic Upright Vacuum. I previously used a bagless vacuum, but found that its cleaning power was very poor. Plus I was constantly cleaning the filter on it, which was a huge pain (and it tended to smell moldy from time to time).

a Panasonic Upright vacuum!

The Panasonic Upright is especially great because it adjusts to bare wooden floors or carpet on its own, so you never have to adjust any settings. The cleaning wand is very powerful too, and I use it to vacuum my stairs easily. The best part if that it sucks up my dog’s hair with no problem…he is part Husky, so his hair is very coarse and is hard to get off furniture and carpet.

After you vacuum the dirt from your wooden floors, it’s time to clean. There are a few things that you can use to make your floors shine: a wooden floor cleaning solution, or a steam mop.

Safe for hardwood floors, this Shark Steam Mop cleans and disinfects with only water.

I started using a steam mop when my kids were young, because I had a thumb-sucker who liked to crawl everywhere, then stick his thumb right into his mouth. As I talked about in my household cleaning products post, I wanted to avoid any chemicals on surfaces that my kids could touch, so I turned to a steam mop, which uses only water to clean and disinfect.

The (affiliate link) Shark Professional Steam Mop does a great job at cutting through the dirt and spills on my wooden floors. I use mine on the mop setting (there are three settings…dust, mop and scrub) and find that it works the best at cleaning, while leaving my floors streak-free (you can see some streaking if you use the scrub setting). The steam also disinfects, which is great if you have little ones crawling.

If you have young children, you want to make sure to use natural hardwood floor cleaning products like Method Squirt + Mop.

I’ve also had great results with the Method Squirt + Mop Wooden floor cleaner and (affiliate link) a microfiber mop like this one. It leaves a nice smell, which you don’t get from the steam mop, dries quickly, and it’s safe for children and pets.

How to Clean Laminate Floors

Cleaning laminate floors is very similar to cleaning hardwood, using care to avoid letting water stand on the floor, and making sure that your steam mop doesn’t stay too long on one section of the floor.

diagram of the direction in which to clean a wood floor

Whether you are vacuuming or mopping your floor, you’ll want to start at the farthest end of the room, working backwards towards a place where you can easily exit the room to avoid walking on the area that you just cleaned, so that no footprints are left behind.

I usually start at the front of the room and work back towards my kitchen sink, where I can empty the steam mop of extra water when I’m finished. If I’m using my microfiber mop, I work back towards the stairs so that I can go upstairs and do something else while waiting for my floors to dry.

I hope these few tips have helped you learn how to clean wooden floors so that they always look sparkling clean!

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8 thoughts on “How to Clean Wooden Floors”

  1. blank

    We have cat and dog hair that floats around on our floors too and it looks so messy on the hardwood floors. I think I can clean it one day and the next day it’s already building up again.

    I have a steam cleaner with a mop attachment I love how nice it cleans. For my hardwood floors, I usually use my ecloth mop which I really like. It cleans so well and doesn’t leave water behind on the wood floor.

    Once I waxed our hardwood floors, it seemed like the right thing to do for our 50-year-old hardwood floors. It was a big job but they looked so great when I was done. Then we tried to walk on them in our socks. It took a good week for us to stop slipping on them. I wouldn’t recommend waxing hardwood floor at all, they just become way to slick. 🙂

    1. blank

      Oh no! I’m sure they looked beautiful after you were done, but it must have been hard to keep from falling down! Thanks for the warning about eaxing wooden floors 🙂

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