How to Clean Wooden Floors

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You can’t beat a beautiful, well-maintained wooden floor for sheer good looks, practicality and style. Whether it’s lovely old flooring or something sleek and modern, when it’s well looked after it makes a wonderful backdrop to any home.

The festive season is almost upon us and millions of Brits are getting ready to welcome friends and family into their homes to help them celebrate. If you want to make your wood floor look as good as it can for the festivities, here’s some common sense guidance about how to clean wooden floors. It’s ideal for this time of year, the perfect quick fix, a cosmetic guide for general floor cleaning and maintenance, not a guide to deep cleaning, stain removal or repair. We’ll cover the nitty gritty of those another day.

How do I clean wood flooring?

First, it’s always a good idea to talk about how NOT to treat a wood floor. Avoid these and your floor will last a lot longer and look a lot better!

  • Wood is naturally porous and absorbs moisture. It can swell up if it gets soaked and if it gets wet enough for long enough, it sometimes doesn’t return to its original state. Our advice – never, ever saturate a wooden floor!
  • You might have seen adverts for steam cleaning gadgets, with people using steam technology to clean wood floors. We recommend you never use a steam cleaner on a real wood floor. Why? They inject high pressure, high temperature steam into the floor, which can potentially damage the finish and even cause damage to the wood itself. Steam, after all, is water, and as we know, water and wood aren’t a great combination.

Ordinary, day-to-day cleaning for wood floors

Simple regular maintenance works wonders, helping your floor look beautiful for longer and helping to protect it. Dry sweeping with a broom is perfectly acceptable and safe.  A hoover is your best friend. But special microfibre mops do an especially good job of picking up dust. We highly recommend the brilliant Bona Microfiber Floor Mop and Bona Spray Mop, both of which we stock.

What about wooden floor cleaning products?

In our experience it makes sense to steer clear of supermarket cleaners, which can be far to harsh on floor finishes and can degrade the surface faster than good quality proprietary products used by professionals. It’s far better to invest in a proper PH balanced floor cleaner, specially designed for cleaning wooden floors. While we have a large selection of products for cleaning wooden floors, our customers rate these particularly highly:

    1. Fiddes Floor Surface Cleaner
    2. Osmo Wash and Care
    3. Bona Cleaner Concentrate
    4. Woodleys Wood Surface Cleaner

Most of these cleaners come as a concentrate, where you simply add a cap-full to water.

One cool tip: While ‘straight from the container’ non-concentrated products are available, they rarely provide the same value for money as the concentrated versions.

  1. First, sweep or vacuum the floor before mopping it, to remove any loose dirt or gravel that might scratch the floor if it gets dragged along by the mop
  2. Add the required amount of concentrated cleaner to a bucket of warm (not hot) water. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines
  3. Give the water a good stir with the mop to ensure it’s thoroughly mixed, and make sure you thoroughly wring the mop out so it’s damp and not wet. It should never, ever be dripping wet
  4. Clean the floor in an even manner, with even strokes, rinsing out the mop regularly to keep everything fresh, clean and dirt-free
  5. Dry the floor and, if you need to, buff it with a clean cloth or towel to make it shine

Troubleshooting advice

If the floor looks streaky or dull after cleaning, you might have used too high a concentration of cleaning fluid. Wiping the floor with a damp cloth and buffing it with a dry, clean cloth should sort things out.

If there are stubborn scuff marks or dirty patches, you can use a slightly higher concentration of floor cleaning fluid to shift them. If stubborn marks still remain or the floor looks patchy and worn, cleaning alone may not be enough. You might need actual repair or restoration. We’ll be covering wooden floor repair and restoration soon, so come back for more…

No time to get your wood floor cleaning act together?

What if you just don’t have time to clean your wooden floors properly before the big day? What if they’re in too much of a state for a mere clean and need more serious attention? You could just dust, hoover and wipe them, then focus on your wood furniture instead. That’s what we call diversionary tactics!

There’s nothing quite like the lovely smell of real beeswax furniture polish to lend a gorgeous festive scent to your home, so get busy with the beeswax and create a beautiful, shining welcome for your guests. With a bit of luck everything else will look so fabulous that nobody notices your floor isn’t 100% perfect.

We love Manns Classic Beeswax Polish, ideal for both sealed and unsealed interior wooden surfaces. Because it’s formulated to enhance the natural look of wood and penetrates deep into the material, it feeds and nourishes your furniture, keeping it from getting too dry. It’s really easy to use, dries in 15 minutes and can be buffed to a stunning sheen when dry. Perfect!

Any questions?

If you have a question about floor mops or which cleaning products to use, our wood finishing experts are always on hand to provide sensible advice. Feel free to contact us for free, expert advice at any time.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Hi I have a client that has just laid an oak floor and wants it cleaned. It has apparently been treated but it still looks like bare wood. The comments above suggest we should not use a steam cleaner so what would you suggest to get the stains and dust off of the floor?

    • Good Afternoon Lisa,

      Ideally I need to know what the current finish on the floor is, Varnish or Oil? Once I know this I am able to recommend the best cleaner. Often the general purpose cleaners you are able to find in the supermarkets will damage finishes, even varnish with repeat use, they can be acidic or contain ingredients that are designed to break down oils and these will be damaging to any wood finish they are used on.

      The first thing to do with wooden floors is to sweep round with a Quality Mop such as the Bona Premium Microfiber Floor Mop this will pick up dirt, fluff and dust, and you can then use the Bona Wood Floor Cleaner Spray to clean, and this cleaner is suitable for use on all types of flooring and will not damage it. And the blue pad on the Bona Mop can be washed in the washing machine.

      I hope that helps and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch via our contact us
      page or by calling and speaking to one of our friendly team on 01303 213 838.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  2. I have a client that has a hardwood floor in their kitchen. It appears to be oak. Regrettably they haven’t cared for it properly, mopping it with plain water, and it is beginning to grey in areas.

    I have your recommendations for a wood floor oil soap; now what about something to help restore it?

    Thank you,

    JP

    • Hello JP,

      Staining and fading that has resulted in years of no treatment can only really be cured with sanding. The silver/grey is possibly UV damage and with mopping with water this could have resulted in water stains. Removing the top half a mm or mm could restore the natural colour and condition of the wood for a finishing treatment to be applied. And this would be my best advice.

      Of course this is not always an option and many of our cleaners are designed for use on finished floors so I can make no guarantees but the Osmo Intensive Cleaner is a good one to consider. i would recommend a test area first. If you have any questions please do let me know.

      kind regards Samantha.

    • Hello Anna,

      Wiping over with some White Spirit this will help to remove surface grease and excess wax from the surface. You can then apply a fresh treatment of wax although this is suitable for flooring it is not the most durable finish.

      If you are looking to remove all the wax and apply something more hard wearing you could look at the Holzol Floor Oil it is a durable finish that leaves the floor looking and feeling natural. But it does need thin application to bare wood. It is also available in a range of colours.

      For more information feel free to contact us for more info.

      Kind Regards Sam.

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