How to Clean Hardwood Floors

Today I’m sharing some tips on how to clean hardwood floors. About 85% of our floors are original hardwood, which means they are 116+ years old young. Before we moved into our house a few years ago we refinished them on the entire second level. They get extremely dusty and since they are so dark, you can see everything that falls on them.

People think old hardwood has to be specially cared for, but cleaning wood floors is is pretty simple and today I’m going to show you my step by step of how I wash our wood floors. If you have a newer house, or even tile or other surfaces, stick around, you can use my method too. This post contains affiliate links.

How to Clean Hardwood Floors

First, some tips on a floor cleaning routine. Here is what I keep in mind for keeping the underfoot especially sparkly:

  • Go shoe free – We keep most shoes at the door and use slippers that are meant for indoors only. This keeps about 80% of the dirt at bay.
  • Work from the top down – When you are cleaning your house, do the floors last. Everything falls down anyway, so why double your work?
  • Dust the baseboards – When preparing for floor cleaning and after you’ve dusted a room, sweep a dust wand over the baseboards. All the dirt will fall to the ground and you’re going to pick it up anyway.
  • Have your ducts cleaned – We actually have to do this, but dust-free vents will mean a dust-free house. Or at least a mostly dust-free house

When we cleaned our floors, we used to do the whole sweep, fill a bucket, carry it upstairs, and wet mop routine.  My magic solution for easy and quick floor washing for me came when I got a steam mop for Christmas. You know how they say not to get your wife appliances for gifts? Well it doesn’t work with me, I’ve never washed the floors more in my life since I got it!

The floor in my office was especially filthy so I thought it would be a good time to show you a little before and after. I rounded up some dust bunnies special for this experiment. Not really, they just gather like this on their own. I need a sign in my house that says

Don’t mind the dust bunnies. They’re the only pets we have.

Dirty Wood Floors

Did you catch that shot under my glossy blue dresser?! My floor cleaning supplies are simple. They include:

Wood Floor Cleaning Products

First I remove everything from the space, then I sweep the entire room. Do you still use the old fashioned broom and dustpan method? I feel like not many people do since the Swiffers and all that are popular. I pick up the dirt with the dust pan – clearly which needs an upgrade since it’s chipped.

After I sweep up the dirt I get steaming. I have the Shark Steam Pocket Mop. I like this method of cleaning because I don’t have to mix any chemicals, carry buckets around or wear gloves. Plus it’s totally natural.

Caring for Wood Floors

You’ll be able to see the steam on the floor and an entire room only takes a few moments. I can do the bedrooms and hallway in the time it takes for me to listen to a couple 80s songs on my iPod. I heart the 80s.

You will definitely know that you’ve picked up dirt because your mop will look like this or worse. No worries though, because all that dirt comes right out in the wash. I toss these pads in with my cleaning rags.

Cleaning Wood Floors

The steam dries within seconds and by the time you finish the room, you can start to bring the furniture back in. And after that floors are dirt and dust free. Our floors were refinished with two coats of oil-based Polyurethane, although they could have used three coats if you ever refinish floors yourself.

I like this method because it gets minimal water on the wood but definitely picks up anything that is there. Plus there is no odor at all.

Wood Floor Care

We use this cleaning method in the entire house, including the kitchen which is a not-so-attractive linoleum the previous owner put it. It’s on my wish list to replace but I don’t think it’s in the cards. The basement bathroom renovation is still underway. People wonder if they water-only method actually picks up dirt and the answer is yes! As evident by the dirty cloth above. It definitely works.

How do you clean your floors? Are you a sweeper, steamer, or mopper?

Sharing with Tutorials & Tips Tuesday at Home Stories A to Z

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  1. A great finishing touch on top of your process is to spray with Bona hardwood floor spray (or whatever kind you like), then wipe with a soft pad. It adds a nice bit of shine and protection.

    A steam mop has definitely made taking care of my wood floors much easier. I’m mad for my Oreck Versavac! It has a tiny vacuum (no bending for the dust pan AND you can handle any area rugs in the neighborhood) and adjustable steam settings for various floor types. One warning for folks, don’t linger with your steamer — you’ll end up “burning” the clear coat and it will turn foggy.

  2. I find swiffers dry mop duster does a great job on sweeping before mopping or steam cleaning and it reacbes under sofas and beds.

  3. Stacy P says:

    I just had to comment. I have the exact same dustpan and small broom combo and ours in broken in the exact same place! lol

  4. i just got a steam mop today!!!! Oh my gosh the steam mop.bwe were using sniffer mop pads but they’re just so expensive. We have a 6 month old lab puppy, 2 cats, and my boyfriend in the house. I’ve found sweeping to get the pet hair and larger stuff but the swiffer is almost necessary to pick up that last little bit of fine dust our broom missed. It just made the pad on the steam mop go a little further. Hopefully with weekly steam mopping my floors will stay cleaner and I can finally get rid of that weird residue our swiffer mop left.

    • Hi Andrea,

      I love my steam mop, it’s so easy to use. I do dust the floors with a dry pad on the floors or vacuum them first to get up the loose dirt. But I love the simplicity of just fill the mop, plug it in and go! And I wash the pads and reuse them of course.

      I’m sure you will love yours!

  5. Delores Lyon says:

    Thanks for sharing this! My husband and I are planning to get some hardwood floors soon and we want to make sure that they look nice all the time. I don’t want to put a lot of money into these floors and then not take care of them. That just seems like a waste of money to me!

  6. A note of caution. My wood floors are from 1901. My steam mop (Shark) caused warping. It says to use it on “sealed” wood. My floors have been refinished. The steam mop almost ruined them.


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