4 Tips To Scrub Wood Floors and Make Them Look New

Peter Chambers

Jun 22, 2023

Scrub wood floors - a dull-looking wood floor

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You would want wood floors installed in your home for many reasons. However, cleaning and maintaining them probably isn’t one of them. Although very sturdy, wood floors do require semi-regular care and cleaning. In other words, you should scrub your wood floors from time to time.

Dirt, grime, and grit can cause the finish in your wood floors to wear away, causing permanent damage. Wood floors can also be surprisingly delicate — setting down furniture directly on top of them or having pets with untrimmed nails can leave scratches over time, ruining their look. 

Once damaged, wood floors need replacement. Something that is no easy task — it can take several days for professionals to replace parts of the wood floor — not to mention the cost, which can be pretty expensive depending on the type of floor and the time it takes. 

However, you could cause more harm than good if you use the wrong method to clean your floors. Here are some proven tips for scrubbing wood floors.

Do a Preliminary Cleaning

The first thing to do before you scrub wood floors is sweep or vacuum up the area you’re going to clean. Dirt, grime and dust can cause abrasions in the wood finish if dragged along by a wet mop or sponge. This can damage the finish and cause liquid to get inside, which might cause the floor to mold. 

If it’s within your budget, using a vacuum cleaner made for hardwood floors is the best way to ensure no dirt or dust remains on the area you want to scrub. Most of these vacuum cleaners are handheld or wireless for ease of use.

How to Scrub Your Wood Floor

When scrubbing wood floors, the right tools are simple but effective. Soap and water work just fine, but you have to be careful. Too much water can get underneath your floorboards – causing irreparable water damage. 

If you are using a mop or sponge, wring it out so that it is not dripping wet before you place it on the floor. Try to use as little water as possible — if the mop starts making a puddle when you put it down, you’re using too much water.

There are also various cleaning solutions created specifically for use on hardwood floors. These products not only clean floors but also act as sealants and restore their finish. Unlike soap and water, these products have very little chance of damaging your floors, so using them is more recommended than the former. 

Other tools you will need are a broom or vacuum cleaner made specifically for cleaning hardwood floors and a mop or sponge if you don’t mind working on your knees. Microfiber mops and cloths are the best choices for cleaning floors. 

These are made from a synthetic material that does not pick up dirt or lint — making them very sanitary compared to conventional cleaning tools. In addition, the microfiber material has less chance of scratching or causing other damage to your floors. 

Once you feel you are using the right amount of water, place the mop or sponge against the floor. Use a short up-and-down motion to scrub the floor. Don’t try to do long, sweeping movements — this will make the cleaning uneven and leave streaks. 

After mopping, you’ll want to use another dry mop or microfiber cloth to dry the parts of the floor that are still wet. Going over the floor again with a dry microfiber mop, cloth or towel will ensure that the floor dries faster — leaving less chance for streaks and residue to stick to your hardwood floor.

Find Out What Kind of Wood Floor You Have

You might not know it, but there are different kinds of wood floors and some might respond slightly differently to scrubbing than others. For example, flooring made of cork should avoid abrasive chemicals such as certain kinds of soap or cleaners.

Instead, cleaning it once a month with a pH-balanced wood or cork cleaning agent mixed with water would be best. While you should never use a vinegar solution to scrub wood floors, this method works for cork floors over conventional cleaning products. 

Another type of flooring that is becoming popular is bamboo flooring. While much of the usual methods for scrubbing wood floors will work, this type of flooring is more sensitive to certain chemicals and products. 

Soaps can damage the unique finish on bamboo floors — which can even cause them to peel off. Swiffer Wet Jets are a popular choice over mops for cleaning hardwood, but they can be as damaging to bamboo floors as soap. The cleaner used in Wet Jets can seep in between the wood panels, causing damage underneath.

To scrub a bamboo floor properly, use a microfiber mop and a pH-neutral hardwood floor cleaner. These can be found at any store, but you must pay attention to the label to see if it is pH neutral.

How to Keep Your Wood Floors Looking New

Now that you’ve cleaned your hardwood floor, the next step is to keep them looking shiny and new for as long as possible. Of course, depending on the foot traffic your floor has to deal with, that can be easier said than done.

Regular mopping and maintenance go a long way to keeping your floors looking good. However, the frequency of cleaning depends on what kind of floor you have and how many people are standing or walking on it. Generally, cleaning and maintenance every two to four weeks is a rule of thumb.

Other floor types, such as cork or bamboo, require less mopping and maintenance. Bamboo and certain different types of wood require much less maintenance, usually only once or twice a month. 

Using doormats, carpets and rugs can go a long way to protecting your hardwood floors, especially if you use furniture. Be sure to use throw rugs that don’t have a vinyl or rubber backing — these can ruin your wood floors’ finish and leave stains. 

Finally, try to avoid any moisture getting on your floor. Clean spills immediately and make sure to close doors and windows if you are expecting rain. If you have plants, keep them on a tray or rug so water runoff doesn’t get on them.

Scrubbing Wood Floors is Easy

With suitable materials and knowledge, you can scrub wood floors with minimal effort. It’s an easy chore to take care of. You only need the right tools and the know-how to use them properly. Use microfiber mops and avoid water damage— your hardwood floors will last a lifetime. 

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