Simple Steps for Cleaning and Caring for Hardwood Floors

Interior view of a great room that face the backyard
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Hardwood floors are a beautiful feature of any home, whether paired with rugs or left to shine on their own. The trick, of course, is keeping that shine going through dust, footprints, spills, and all of the other wear and tear that floors normally go through. That's why we've got a whole list of simple tips on caring for hardwood floors—everything from the supplies to use, how often to clean, and a list of a wood floor's worst enemies. 

Tips for Caring for Hardwood Floors

  • Sweep wood floors often with a soft, fine bristle broom.
  • Vacuum once or twice a week to remove dirt and sand. Use a soft brush attachment to minimize scratching.
  • Since water is one of the wood floor's worst enemies, get rid of water right away! Remove wet spills ASAP with soft towels or a wet/dry vacuum, then dry thoroughly.
  • Use a very dry damp mop when mopping polyurethaned wood floors, since excess water can seep into seams and ruin a wood floor.
  • Consider using carpet runners (with non-skid pads) over wood floors in high traffic areas.
  • Vacuum area rugs and runners often so dirt doesn't filter down through the weave and scratch the wood underneath.
  • If possible, do not wear heavy shoes or high heels on hardwood floors, as some heels can cause dents.
  • Never drag furniture or other objects across a wood floor. Instead, clean the floor thoroughly to remove dust and grit, then use "gliding" furniture pads underneath the piece to aid sliding it across the floor.
  • Install floor mats at each entrance so you don't track in dirt from the bottoms of shoes.
  • Be sure to follow manufacturer recommendations to treat flooring scratches and dents. If an area of the finish is damaged by water, it may be difficult to fix it.
  • Use furniture pads to place under table and chair legs and on the feet of dressers and armoires. They can be purchased at a local hardware store or home center.
  • Some floors may require periodic waxing and buffing. Get recommendations from the manufacturer for the specific procedures for your floor.
  • Use area rugs in high traffic areas.
  • Always remove spills promptly. While small drops of water may not harm the floor, be sure not to let excess amounts of water sit on the floor.
  • Find out cleaning and care requirements for your specific floor from the manufacturer.