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Cleaning

Here’s how to clean your hardwood floors like a pro

Porous surfaces don’t have to be daunting

A woman cleans a hardwood floor on her knees Credit: Getty Images / Jovanmandic

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It’s that time of year for spring cleaning—yes, it’s here again. Whether you’re someone who keeps a tidy home or someone whose spaces need a big clean, there are ways to keep cleaning chores simple and straightforward.

If you have hardwood flooring, you probably already know that you can't use just any product off the grocery shelf. Depending on the age of your home, you may also have to take extra precautions to protect your floor’s surface and longevity.

We talked to some cleaning experts for their tips on how to clean hardwood floors. Here is what they have to say.

A woman mops the floor.
Credit: Getty Images/Lisegagne

Be sure to sweep and vacuum your floors before using any cleaning products.

What you’ll need

A wet mop on a dirty floor.
Credit: Getty Imaeges/Dario Pena

As you mop, keep the mop damp instead of sopping wet and change the water out once it's dirty.

How to clean hardwood floors

Step 1: Sweep away loose debris

Before you add any products to your floor, you’ll want to clean any loose debris or dirt. Start by sweeping your floors to gather dust, crumbs, hair, etc. This step is not only important to reduce what you need to clean up in the next steps, but it also ensures that you won’t scratch your floors by wiping any rough or sharp debris around.

Step 2: Vacuum the floor

After sweeping, follow up by vacuuming your hardwood floors.

Lauren Bowen, from Two Maids & A Mop, says, “Make sure to clean the trim, baseboards, and edges of the floor—not just the main surfaces—as dirt can build up easily in those nooks and crannies and make its way to the floor.”

Step 3: Mop your floor

Next, you’ll mop your hardwood floors. Some cleaning experts, like Leanne Stapf, the COO of The Cleaning Authority, suggest using warm water and mild detergent.

Other online resources recommend cleaning products made for hardwood like Better Life Natural Dirt-destroying Floor Cleaner.

Stapf notes that you want to avoid products that contain ammonia (it can damage your hardwood floors), and instead opt for household items like lemon juice or olive oil that will add shine in addition to cutting through grime.

When it comes to mopping, don’t saturate your floors with water; it can damage the hardwood and will take a long time to dry. Also make sure to mop with the grain of the wood to avoid streaking.

Lastly, change the mop water when it begins to look dirty; otherwise, you’re just spreading dirt around.

Step 4: Let your hardwood floors dry

Let your wet floor dry for about 15 minutes. If it takes longer, you can wipe up excess water with microfiber cloths or a squeegee.

Keep your hardwood floors tidy by sweeping regularly and vacuuming and mopping on a weekly or biweekly basis depending on need.

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