Among wood floors, bamboo flooring is surprisingly hard—it's just as durable as hardwoods such as oak and maple—and better yet, it's more resistant to water damage than most woods. Cleaning bamboo flooring is therefore relatively easy. But there are regular maintenance tasks that have to be performed periodically if you want to keep the bamboo looking its best.
The following tips are general guidelines, so make sure to follow any manufacturer-provided instructions when caring for a bamboo floor. You should also be familiar with the warranty that was provided with the floor so that you do not take actions that might void it.
Everyday Cleaning: Dust, Dirt, and Grit
The main culprit in the deterioration of a bamboo floor is going to be tiny particles of dirt and sand that are tracked into the room from people’s shoes. When these tiny particles are walked on, they can dig down into the finish of the floor, causing dents, divots, or even scratches, giving the bamboo a faded look.
This can be prevented by regularly mopping, sweeping, or vacuuming the floor. In some cases, you even may need to do this on a daily basis if the traffic in a room is especially heavy. A rec room used by active kids, for example, may need this routine cleaning every day. Some tips to follow:
- Do not use a vacuum that has a beater bar to clean a bamboo floor.
- Make sure that any broom you use on this floor has soft bristles.
- Never immerse the floor in water—only a damp—almost dry—mop should be used.
While most hardwood floor cleaners can also be used on a bamboo floor, make sure that anything you use is non-alkaline, non-abrasive, and does not contain any floor wax (many so-called "wood-cleaners" are combination products that also include wax). Carefully reading the product labels should tell you what you need to know.
You should also avoid using oil soap or scouring powder. If you are unsure of what cleaning product to use, then consult with the flooring retailer who sold you the material.
Bamboo is more resistant to water damage than regular hardwood floors, but it is still susceptible to warping if excessive moisture is present. When using a cleaning agent that needs to be mixed with water, follow the directions carefully.
Avoid using steel wool when cleaning a bamboo floor. A sponge or clean rag can be dipped in the solution, then wrung dry so that the material is only slightly damp. Make sure that the cleanser is applied to all parts of the floor evenly. Do not allow it to pool or puddle. When you are done, a dry towel can be used to wipe up any excess moisture that may be present.
Natural Bamboo Cleaning Solution
You may not need a commercial product at all—an effective all-natural bamboo floor cleaning agent might already be sitting in your home.
If you mix 1/4 cup of white vinegar into a quart of water, you'll have a solution that will allow you to clean the surface of your bamboo floors safely. This cleanser should be applied in the same way as with a commercial hardwood cleaner, using a damp sponge or rag wrung dry before application.
Cleaning Scuff Marks
Some of the most difficult stains to clean from any floor, including bamboo, are the scuff marks that appear when the rubber heel of a shoe drags across the surface of your floor. The best way to handle this is to pour a little bit of wood floor cleaner onto a rag and gently rub it into the bamboo planks where the scuff mark is located.
Be slow and patient with this approach—eventually, the scuff mark will be erased. Avoid the urge to use steel wool or an abrasive pad on bamboo, as you can easily scratch the surface.
Can Bamboo Be Refinished?
There is a common misconception that bamboo cannot be refinished, but this is not true, according to the National Wood Flooring Association.
As is also true of wood floors, bamboo floors come in several different types, and some of them have a fairly thick surface layer of surface bamboo that can be sanded by a professional floor refinisher. Although bamboo is a grass rather than wood, it is harder than many hardwoods and can be successfully sanded down and refinished with polyurethane coatings. At the point where the floor is badly scratched, talk to a floor refinishing specialist before you assume the floor must be replaced.