Skip to Content

Effective Hardwood Floor Cleaning Tips and Techniques

Cleaning hardwood floors, Hardwood floors infuse the home with a relaxing cozy rustic ambiance that is timeless and prized across the board.

The last thing that you want for your hardwood floors is for them to discolor or scuff in a manner that destroys that beautiful facade.

Most if not all carpet cleaners are formulated for a wide array of cleaning needs including cleaning hardwood floors, tiles, laminate flooring, painted walls, certain kitchen, and lobby surfaces, and even windows.

What is essential is to check the labeling for the specific surfaces that your carpet cleaner is indicated for. If hardwood floors are not mentioned then it is likely that the carpet cleaner is not indicated for cleaning hardwood floors.

Cleaning hardwood floors

cleaning hardwood floors

Another important factor is whether the hardwood floors you have are sealed. It is incredibly rare to come across any hardwood floors that are unsealed but in case this is what you have then carpet cleaner is not the option for you. 

The bare wood will readily absorb moisture and soap causing the wood to warp and deform which will deface your flooring. Unsealed hardwood must never be cleaned using a carpet cleaner. When using a carpet cleaner to clean sealed hardwood floors, you cannot use the vacuum cleaner or the steamer to clean the floors.  If you use these carpet cleaning machines you will have to deposit too much water on your hardwood floors and much as they are sealed, water and soap are very likely to seep into the seams and get trapped. 

With time this moisture will encourage the growth of mold and mildew that will destroy the seal, seep into the hardwood itself and cause warping. You will end up with ugly distortions on your floor. The only way to use carpet cleaner is to use it together with a mop and some water.

Can you use a carpet cleaner on hardwood floors? This is How To Do It

If your carpet cleaner is indicated as safe to use on hardwood floors, then your job is simple.

Hardwood floors and more so sealed hardwood floors are easy to clean and hardly need much done.

  • Sweep dirt and other particles off the floor before washing. This makes the cleaning process that much easier.
  • Dilute a small amount of carpet cleaner in a mop bucket and mix.
  • Do not use too much carpet cleaner since the soapy residue will be too stubborn to get rid of.
  • Do not let water sit on your floors as you clean.
  • Instead, soak the mop but wring it just enough to ensure the wetness can absorb any dust since there are no larger pieces of dirt to collect. 
  • Wash a small area and wring the mop.
  • Rinse out the mop and wipe off the wetness from the floor thoroughly.
  • The floor should be safe for walking on within a few minutes. 
  • If water lingers on hardwood floors there will be streaks left all over your floors and the warping problem mentioned above could arise later.
  • Cleaning hardwood floors using carpet cleaner is as simple as this.
  • Regular cleaning is recommended depending on how dirty the floors get. 

Important tips for keeping hardwood floors clean

Sealed hardwood floors are especially easy to keep in great condition since treated stained and sealed wood already comes protected from staining, heat, and water damage and from attacks by pests and rot.

Cleaning demands mostly a regular wiping with soap and water.

  • Do not let spills and stains linger on your hardwood floors since these may bond with the resin that forms the sealant destroying it when you attempt to scrub or scratch stuck food items from the floor once they have dried.


  • Deal with spills immediately.


  • When it is time to clean, regular dish soap or carpet cleaner is sufficient. These multipurpose liquid soap brands are made pH-friendly enough to avoid scarring the sealant on your hardwood floors while still removing dirt satisfactorily.


  • Avoid detergent use and disinfectant. The alkaline values of these products may wear the sealant of your hardwood floors thin over time. They are also quite concentrated which may leave ugly streak marks when cleaning is done.


  • Hardwood floors hardly ever need to be disinfected so if you must do this, ensure it is infrequent or that the situation calls for it such as is the case when you are nursing invalids and crawling children who may need cleaner floors in general.


  • Vinegar and lemon juice are often touted as safe for cleaning hardwood floors. These two substances are a household must. They are safe for cleaning hardwood floors but the issue is how often you intend to use them and in what quantities.

Hardwood floors

cleaning hardwood floors

  • Vinegar is alkaline and lemon juice is acidic. They are not concentrated but hardwood floors can still sustain damage from long-term use of the two. Since they both have excellent and safe disinfecting ability, they are a good idea if you intend to get a more sterile floor but if the need does not arise, you risk slowly exhausting the sheen of your sealant which in turn makes your floors look old and haggard.


  • Do not ever scrape anything off of hardwood floors. Instead, find out how to cajole the offending dirt off the floor. If you scrape things off the floor you will definitely scratch the surface of your floor and destroy the sealant.


  • If you have furniture such as a dining set, use buffers on all the legs of the chairs and tables so that they do not scuff the floors whenever they are moved about. Scuffs tend to harbor dirt and this will tempt you to scrape that dirt off of the floor using tools such as knives to get it out.


  • Instead, if you have scuffed your hardwood floors, try elbow grease to seal the scuff before it can expand and become an eyesore.