It is a common misconception that cleaning hardwood floors with water (or any other liquid) is the best way to maintain their shine and luster. In fact, this can actually damage the flooring and cause it to lose its natural color and sheen over time.
In addition, water can seep into the cracks and crevices of the flooring, causing the wood to swell and warp. This can lead to serious structural damage that is not only unsightly but also dangerous.
However, there are certain circumstances where using water to clean hardwood floors may be the best option. For example, if there is dirt or sticky residue that cannot be removed with a dry mop or vacuum, you may need to use a damp cloth or sponge to remove it.
Cleaning Hardwood Floors With Water the Right Way
As we said before, although it is not recommended to clean hardwood floors with water on a regular basis, there are certain techniques that can be used to minimize the risk of damage. Below is everything you need to know about safely cleaning your hardwood floors with water:
Considerations Before You Get Started
Before you begin cleaning, there are a few things you need to take note of:
Type of hardwood flooring you have – Some types of hardwood floors are more resistant to water damage than others. For example, engineered hardwood floors have a top layer of veneer that is much thinner than solid hardwood floors. This makes them more susceptible to water damage.
The finish on your flooring – The type of finish on your hardwood floors will also affect how resistant they are to water damage. Floors that have a polyurethane or lacquer finish will be more resistant than those with an oil-based finish.
Age of your floors – Older hardwood floors may be more delicate and susceptible to damage so you will need to take extra care when cleaning them.
What You’ll Need
Here’s a list of things you’ll need in order to clean your floors:
- Bucket – To mix your cleaning solution
- Mop – A damp mop is the best way to apply the cleaning solution to your floor
- Sponge – A sponge can be used to spot-clean areas that are especially dirty or sticky
- Cleaning solution – You can use a store-bought cleaner like Bona or a homemade wood cleaner that shines (water + dish soap).
- Water – Only use distilled water instead of tap water. This will help to prevent any mineral deposits from damaging the floor.
Guide to Cleaning Hardwood Floors With Water & Cleaning Solution
- STEP 1: Start by sweeping or vacuuming your floor to remove any loose dirt or debris. Be sure to get in all the cracks and crevices. Remember to avoid vacuum beater bars as they can damage the finish on your floor.
- STEP 2: Next, mix your cleaning solution in a bucket. If you are using a store-bought cleaner, be sure to follow the instructions on the bottle. For a homemade solution, mix 1 cup of water with 1/4 cup of dish soap and you’re good to go.
- STEP 3: Dip your mop into the bucket and wring it out so that it is damp and NOT wet.
- STEP 4: Start mopping the floor, working in small sections. Frequently rinse your mop in the bucket to avoid dirtying up your clean floor.
- STEP 5: Once you’ve finished mopping, use a clean, dry cloth to wipe up any excess water.
- STEP 6: Make sure not to walk or place furniture back until it is finished drying. Depending on the temperature and humidity levels in your home, it might take some time for the floor to air dry completely.
TIP: For faster drying, turn on your ceiling fans or open a window to help circulate the air.
Watch the video below for visual instructions on cleaning your hardwood floors with water like a pro!
What Is the Best Way to Clean Hardwood Floors Daily?
The best way to clean hardwood floors on a daily basis is to sweep them with a soft brush or use a vacuum. This will help to remove any dirt, dust, or debris that has been tracked in. Also, to prevent scratching your floor, only use a soft-bristled brush attachment on your vacuum.
If you’re not comfortable using a vacuum, don’t worry, we have another effective solution. You can also use this soft bristled floor cleaner. This dry + wet scrub brush is specifically made for hardwood floors that will help to remove any dirt in those pesky cracks and crevices. Plus, it also has an attached squeegee for those quick clean-ups.
Furthermore, you can also use a damp mop, preferably a microfibre cloth, for a deeper clean. To avoid creating streaks, ensure to wring out the mop head well before use and completely dry the floor afterward with a separate clean cloth.
Nowadays, you can easily find wet mop pads like Bona or Swiffer that can be attached to your mop. These pads are specifically designed for hardwood floors and can help to make the cleaning process easier. However, we recommend using these pads only for quick cleanups or weekly mopping as they can be abrasive and damage the floor over time if used too often.
TIP: Use area rugs or floor mats at all your home's entrances to help reduce the amount of dirt tracked in on a daily basis.
Which Commercial Cleaner Should I Use on My Hardwood Floors?
There are a lot of commercial cleaner options on the market these days but not all of them are the same. Some cleaners can actually do more harm than good by leaving behind a sticky residue that attracts dirt or damaging the finish on your floors.
Below are our TOP recommendations for hardwood floor cleaners. You can easily dilute the first 2 with water. Also, these are free of toxic chemicals and are safe to use around kids and pets.
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|Bona Hardwood Floor CLeaner||Safe for sealed hardwood and laminate floors - Leaves no sticky residue - Easy to use, just spray and mop - Neutral pH formula - GREENGUARD certified–safe for use around children and pets||Check Price|
|Murphy Oil Soap||Ammonia and Bleach-free Biodegradable - 98% natural ingredients - Trusted hardwood cleaner for 100 years - Leaves no oily residue - Gives a pleasant smell and brings shine to floors||Check Price|
|Rejuvenate||High-performance click and clean trigger sprayer - Eco-friendly and safe for all floors: laminate, tile, hardwood, vinyl - Restores shine, removes messes, and leaves no residue - Low VOCs - Contains no harsh chemicals or fumes||Check Price|
Does White Vinegar Harm Hardwood Floors?
There is no doubt that vinegar is a powerhouse when it comes to cleaning. It’s effective, inexpensive, and most importantly, safe to use around kids and pets. You’ll often hear most people saying vinegar and water solution is the best way to clean hardwood floors.
However, we DO NOT recommend cleaning hardwood floors with vinegar. This is because vinegar is an acid and over time it will break down the finish on your floors, making them more exposed to scratches and water damage.
However, you can try using vinegar only as a spot cleaner for tough stains ONLY. Keep in mind, to test on a small hidden corner of your floor first. Also, remember when diluted with water, vinegar can be used to clean hardwood floors but it’s not the best solution for cleaning on a regular basis.
Is It Ok to Mop Hardwood Floors With Water?
Water and hardwood floors are technically a bad combination. This is because if water seeps into the wood it can cause the boards to swell, warp, and cup. However, if you’re using a damp mop (not dripping wet) and wring it out well before mopping, then you should be fine. Just be sure to dry the floor afterward with a dry cloth or turn on the ceiling fan.
Should Steam Mops Be Used on Hardwood Floors?
We generally don’t recommend using steam mops on hardwood floors as the steam can actually seep into the wood and cause it to warp. If you’re going to use a steam mop, be sure to test it in an inconspicuous area first and only use the steam function sparingly.
How Often Should I Mop Hardwood Floors?
It really depends on how much foot traffic your floors get. If you have kids and pets, you’ll probably need to mop more often. For the average household, we recommend mopping once a week with a damp mop. You can also do a quick clean-up daily with a dry microfiber cloth.
Is Fabuloso Good for Hardwood Floors?
Yes, Fabuloso is a good cleaner for hardwood floors. It is safe to use since it is ph-balanced and will not dull the finish on your floors. In addition, it is also proven effective in removing grease, grime, and dirt.