The best thing for your floor is frequent vacuuming or sweeping. You will need to sweep or vacuum once or preferably twice a day to prevent buildup dirt. Dirt that is ground in will ruin your floors. If you see anything on the floor wipe it up immediately: spills, dirt/mud and water.  Wood hates water and it will permanently damage your floor.

If you want to keep dirt from being tracked onto your floors make sure you choose your rugs wisely. The backing can harm the wood finish.

You may think that you need to know what type of wood your floor is before you clean it, but you don’t.  It’s the finish that count.  The best way to tell the type of finish is to rub your finger across the floor.  Is there a smudge? If so, then your floor is sealed.  If your floor is not then your floor is probably treated with a penetrating seal and then waxed.

Most floors are sealed with: polyacrylic, urethane, or polyurethane.  If it is sealed with any of those you can sweep it, and wet mop it and that is all that it needs.

They can also have an oil finish, or varnish or shellac. These types of wood floors need wax on it.  There is liquid wax and paste wax to choose from.

Sealed Floor Don’t’s

  • Use wood furniture spray or oils – I tried furniture spray once and we we slipping and falling all over the place.
  • Use abrasive cleaners or ammonia – It will ruin the finish.
  • Use water or a vinegar and water solution – Although vinegar cleans many things it leaves a build up of dirt and eventually your floors will look dull.
  • Use a “wet” map – Make sure it is damp.  If you soak a mop and don’t wring it out completely you will ruin your wood floors. Make sure you empty the bucket often so you are mopping with dirty water. If you are using a cleaning solution, make sure the last pass with the mop is with plain water so your floor is completely rinsed (again damp mop).
  • Use a sponge every time.  Once in a while get down on the floor with a cloth and clean it.

Oil/Varnish/Shellac Floor Don’t’s

  • Don’t use water-base wax or furniture wax – Your floors will look sort of white, or you will slip and slide like you are on ice.  Do use liquid wax.
  • Don’t mop – just sweep or vacuum – Once or twice a year you will want strip the old wax and apply a fresh new coat.

Random Tips

  • Check out this article from ABC News about  making your hardwood floors sparkle:


  • Baking soda on a damp cloth gets rid of scuff marks.
  • Always check manufacturer suggestions for cleaning your wood floors.  Sometimes you may need to use commercial cleaners.
  • You may see cracks appear during winter months and close up during the summer – its normal.  No need to try to find a remedy for it.
  • Be careful when you search Google and try to find home remedies. Not every suggestion on the internet is the right one.

Check this blog for tips or call a local professional before you try something new.