What Can and Can’t You Use to Clean Hardwood Floors?

How to clean hardwood floors

At each and every jobsite, hardwood floor contractors have to put on their teaching hats.

Making sure your clients know how to properly clean a hardwood floor is essential to protecting the integrity of your work in the long run. (It also helps you avoid angry phone calls.)

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Before we get into the products that your clients should use to clean their floors, let’s go over some…

…things that should never, ever touch a hardwood floor:

Wet mops: The #1 source of damage to finishes – Although people might think that sloshing a soaking wet mop back and forth over their floors is a good idea, this will actually ruin the finish and damage the wood itself. A mop that is used to clean hardwood floors should only be slightly damp.

Vinegar is good for cleaning many things, but not hardwood floors – White vinegar was once a popular product used to clean hardwood floors. And a quick Google search reveals that a lot of people still recommend using it. But vinegar should not be used as a hardwood floor cleaner because its acidity can lead to etching in the wood’s surface.

Don't use ammonia to clean hardwood floors

Avoid ammonia – Ammonia will discolor, deteriorate, and dull the finish. Using ammonia to clean a wood floor will take years off of its life.

Steam cleaners are bad news – You should only use steam cleaners on carpets and other surfaces that they are designed for. Using a steam cleaner on a hardwood floor can cause peeling, cracking, and cloudiness in the finish.

Popular cleaning products – Most of the cleaning products sold in grocery stores aren’t friendly to wood. They’ll damage the finish if used over a long period of time. Pair one of these products with a soaking wet mop and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Approved cleaning products for hardwood floors

When it comes to long-term care and maintenance, make sure your clients are aware of what they should and shouldn’t use on their floors. You should include information about approved cleaning products and processes in the floor care guides that you hand out to your clients. Click here to read our guide to floor care guides.

How to properly clean wood floors

To further encourage good cleaning practices, you might even consider giving out floor care kits to your clients. Click here to purchase a floor care kit.

As a contractor, it’s up to you to lead by example. A few good products to use during and after a hardwood floor installation or refinishing include:

Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner – For long-term maintenance, you should advise your clients to invest in a product like Bona’s Hardwood Floor Cleaning Spray. This product is designed for use on hardwood floors, so it’s wood and finish-friendly.

Basic Coatings IFT – This intensive floor treatment (IFT) is designed to remove the toughest of dirt and grit from hardwood floors. It also removes scuff marks, waxes, oils, and polishes. Using IFT is the first step of the Tykote Dustless Refinishing System process.

Basic Coatings Squeaky Clean – This product is designed to clean hardwood floors without damaging the finish. It’s a commercial-grade cleaner that’s safe to use on all wood and laminate floors. This product is the second step in the TyKote Dustless Refinishing System process.

Using Basic Coatings IFT and Squeaky Clean to prep for refinishing will ensure that you start every job on a professional note, and will encourage your clients to take care of their floors with the proper products.

For more information on how to properly clean a hardwood floor, or to find out more about any of the products discussed in this blog post, call us at 1-800-737-1786 or email info@cityfloorsupply.com.

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12 thoughts on “What Can and Can’t You Use to Clean Hardwood Floors?

  1. Pingback: How to Protect Hardwood Floors in the Summer | Philly Floor

  2. John Mahoney

    I didn’t realize that cleaning your hardwood floors with a wet mop could damage it. It makes sense that understanding what the best way to keep your floors spotless can help you make sure they also last a long time. I can see how anyone looking into this would want to consult with a professional and make sure they have the best liquids and materials to protect their investment.

  3. Burt Silver

    Thanks for the information on wood floors! My wife and I really want to replace out old carpet with wood, but we haven’t known exactly what we need to know! I didn’t realize that wet mops were bad for the finishing. We will make sure we keep those away from our wood!

  4. John Ferrell

    You said that we should only use steam cleaners on the carpet. If I was going to clean hardwood floors I would want to know that it is going to stay in good condition. Maybe I should ask a professional for assistance when I need to clean my floors.

  5. Mary

    Hey! My entire house has light colored laminate floors. Actually, I am suspicious of using the wet cleaner for them? Because I heard about that wet cleaner is harmful to laminate. What do you think should I use wet cleaner for my hardwood floor?. Thanks!!.

  6. Kenneth Gladman

    After reading the article it seems there is a lot more that could damage your floors than I thought. I invested a lot into my hardwood and would hate to make a simple mistake and ruin them. For this reason I would rather trust a professional.

  7. Hazel May

    Amazing tips! I think most of the people did not know about how to clean laminate floor. Thanks for sharing such nice tips! I really love this blog and content is really useful. Thanks for telling us about the importance of solvency. Keep sharing this post more and more.

  8. Connie Merrell

    We purchased this house with old hardwood floors quick fixed with minwax stain. Looked good for a minute. Besides its peeling now, it’s showing every footprint etc. after cleaning. Have used every type cleaner from Murphy’s oil soap, pine sol, dawn dish soap, rejuvenate, and more. Looks horrible shortly after. I don’t even care about shine, just want a clear floor!

    1. City Floor Supply Post author

      Without seeing the floor but focusing on the “peeling now” it sounds as if this may need a full sanding.

  9. Mop and More

    I can tell you, this is the best information I have found. It is what I have done successfully for 16 years cleaning hard wood floors and everything in between. I found a secret, rinse ring out, rinse ring out,rinse ring out and only use Bona. All the homes I clean have a bona kit. They don’t even clean their floors, they dust them, I clean them.


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