How to Clean Hardwood Floor
Vinegar is NOT The Answer for Hardwood Floor Care!

You've just spent a lot of money on a beautiful new hardwood floor. Now protect your investment! Follow these few basic guidelines on how to clean hardwood floors and they will look new for many years to come.

Please note: this information specifically applies to hardwood flooring finished with a polyurethane coating. This is NOT appropriate for the older wax-based finishes!

hardwood cleaning: broomAlways vacuum or sweep the hardwood floor first to remove all traces of dust or abrasive residues before cleaning. The grit acts like sandpaper and will do more damage to the finish than years of clean walking.


hardwood floor cleanerSpray lightly a proper hardwood floor cleaner on a small section of the floor or directly onto a terry cloth wood floor mop. DO NOT wet- mop the floor. This may leave puddles of water, that can leak down between the boards and cause the finish to lift.

wood floor cleaning:... mopWipe the floor with the mop, lengthwise with the floor strips using a back-and-forth motion. Finish one section before starting another one. Check to make sure no cleaner has been left on the floor, especially in the V-grooves.

With Wood Flooring Never....

  1. Hardwood floor care should never include wax, or oil-based detergents or vinegar. Vinegar will etch the surface. Waxes and oils leave a sticky residue on the surface of the wood and prevent the polyurethane from shining. When cleaning hardwood floors you need to use a proper hardwood floor cleaner.

    My definition of a "proper hardwood floor cleaner" is NOT a "wood floor polish". That usually implies a wax based product (see above). Select a hardwood floor cleaner that is made to be chemically neutral, specifically designed to clean hardwood floors. Vinegar and water or lemon based cleaners, are acidic and will over time pit the polyurethane finish, and ultimately reduce the shine of any wood floor. Choose a brand name product like the Bruce Hardwood Floor Cleaner.

  2. Never allow large amounts of liquid to puddle on any floor for long periods of time. Dry winter months cause the floor to shrink, leaving gaps between boards offering pathways for puddled water to penetrate below. Trapped water will swell and discolour all woods.
  3. Never use a dirty mop to clean hardwood floors! Any grit caught in the mop will scratch the finish.
  4. Never drag heavy furniture across your wood floor without something underneath the feet to prevent scratches and distribute the weight..

To Clean Hardwood Floors Always....

  1. Sweep regularly to remove sand & abrasive dust!

  2. Use doormats at all entrances to catch and prevent sand from getting onto your hardwood floor.

  3. Use a rug in front of your kitchen sink.

  4. Use floor protection under all furniture legs and rigid pads to distribute weight .

  5. Proper hardwood floor care includes maintaining a relative humidity as close as possible to the year round average in your geographic region. Hardwood is a living substance which reacts to changes of relative humidity. It absorbs or releases humidity according to seasons. Consequently, its dimension changes. In summer, when humidity is at its highest, moisture is absorbed by the wood causing it to expand. These variations can be minimized with proper ventilation, dehumidifying or heating. In winter, on the other hand, when the heating system is on, the relative humidity level in the house is much lower. It is then recommended to use a humidifier, in order to minimize extreme shrinkage effects.

  6. Leave your "high heel" shoes at the door. Damaged or worn high heels may expose a metal tip which will certainly damage your hardwood floor.

  7. Trim your pet's nails.

First and formost, use proper hardwood floor cleaners! Most manufacturers retail their own brand of cleaning products like the Bruce Floor Cleaner and the Mirage Wood Floor Cleaning Concentrate.

Remember to use these basic guidelines on how to clean hardwood floor s and it will last many years without refinishing.

Further information on the best vacuum cleaner for hardwood floor...