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The Best Ways to Clean Hardwood Floors

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The best ways to clean hardwood floors are those methods to make hardwood floors of any finish clean and shiny without harming the beautiful hardwood underneath. Because wood is highly porous, taking care not to scratch or wet floors makes the cleaning process a little tricky but with these cleaning methods, you can safely and effectively clean your hardwood floors with ease.

Before you do any cleaning, determining the finish on your floor, if any, is a key step to success. Floors which are finished with a polyurethane or similar can withstand wetter cleaning processes whereas unfinished floors cannot. Knowing what you can and cannot do with your specific floor will point you in the right direction for safe and effective cleaning.

For all floors, dry cleaning, such as sweeping or vacuuming, can pick up most dust and dirt. If tougher messes remain, a barely damp mop or cloth will help, just be sure to dry your floors as soon as possible. Standing excess water can soak into porous wood quite quickly, ruining it in the process.

Of course, the best way to keep hardwood floors clean is to limit the exposure of dirt, moisture and scratches in the first place. Furniture protectors and padded rugs do wonders to keep these messes and scratch-makers off your floors to keep them sparkling and shiny.

Want more cleaning tips like these? Check out the best ways to clean grout, best ways to clean blinds and the best ways to clean stainless steel too!
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  • 5

    Floor Polish or Wax

    Usually done on a quarterly or every few months basis, polishing or waxing your hardwood floors will help to keep them shiny and reduce the need for frequent deep cleaning. Check out your local hardware store or supermarket for a wax or polish specific to your type of hardwood floor and follow the directions on that product religiously. Usually this involves rubbing the product into the floor, then wiping up the excess to bring out a sparkling shine.
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    Use Furniture Protectors and Rugs

    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY
    Cleaning hardwood floors is more than just picking up dirt and dust. Preventative efforts can help keep your floors cleaner and shinier too. One of the easiest methods to protect floors is to limit exposure of what comes in contact with your floors. Use furniture protectors to keep furniture legs off your floor and lay down padded rugs over high traffic areas. Got pets? Keep their nails trimmed or capped to reduce the amount of scratches on the floor as well.
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  • 7

    Determine the Finish

    Knowing which finish, if any, your hardwood floor has is a crucial step to effective and safe cleaning. Stronger finishes, like those sealed with polyurethane, are easier to clean as they are water-resistant while other finishes or unfinished floors are tougher to clean as they really shouldn't get all that wet. If you're not sure which type of finish your floor has, always err on the side of caution.
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  • 8

    Baking Soda Paste

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
    Generally speaking, abrasive cleaners, like those with a grit to scrub away at stuck-on dirt and stains, should never be used on hard wood floors as they can and will scratch surfaces quite easily. One exception to this rule is a baking soda scrub. The fine texture of baking soda makes it gentle enough that it won't damage the floor but tough enough to remove stuck-on dirt. Mix baking side and water to create a paste then use a small amount of that paste to buff away dirt. Rinse with a damp cloth then dry with a clean, dry cloth when done.
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