Best way to Deep Clean Finished Hardwood Floors: Guide

Proper cleaning adds more life to your wood floor, and simply helps keep it beautiful.

It also helps keep your home clean and free from allergens. Deep cleaning your home is a simple way of dealing with allergens, germs, and bacteria that can cause harm to human and pets.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to deep clean hardwood floors effectively.

The floor is the most exposed section of any home. Think about the daily traffic from both humans and pets, inevitable spills, wear and tear and other mishaps all taking place on your floor. Then think about how valuable your floor is to your home — and you’ll likely decide that keeping it clean is worth the effort.

Protecting your floor is also key for durability and ease of maintenance.

deep cleaning hardwood floors

Cleaning a hardwood floor properly is not a walk in the park.

There are many things you need to deal with, such as the best techniques to employ and the types of products to use.

Even though hardwood floors are known to be the strongest, they’re also the delicate when not well maintained.

When a floor is too dirty or scratched, it will require lots of time and energy to be cleaned. But you can always prevent that from happening.

Here are a few tips to help your floor remain clean for long:

  • Put a mat both inside and outside of any exterior door. This is a way of preventing debris such as stones and soil from getting on the floor.
  • Remove your shoes or heels to prevent cracks, dents, and marks on your floor.
  • Areas with high traffic such as where kids play should be covered with rugs.
  • Use floor protectors on furniture to avoid scratching and do not drag furniture while moving it around. Lift it off the floor while repositioning.
  • Wipe up spills immediately to avoid black stains that are always hard to remove.
  • Protect the floor from any spill of water or oil, which can easily ruin the boards.
  • Always use recommended products on your floor and strictly follow the instructions.
  • Safety is important: Use products that are safe for human and pets.

How to Deep Clean a Sealed Hardwood Floor Properly

Regular floor cleaning is highly recommended as a way of preventing any build-up of dirt and grime. This will help conserve your wood floor as well as give you an easier time with cleaning in the future.

Depending on the amount of traffic, schedule a cleaning routine for dealing with dust, debris, pet hair, and any other dirt that is common.

When dirt accumulates, it not only becomes difficult to clean but also becomes a threat to the floor itself.

Accumulated dirt and grime can act on your wood finish and deplete it. No sooner than you realize, the wood has already been affected. The polyurethane seal only protects the wood against water or oil for a short time.

Walking on debris such as sand or small hard particles can cause dents and scuff marks.

Water- or oil-based spillage are the worst scenarios for your floor. While water can seep through wood seams or minor openings to reach the wood, oil can react with the seal and penetrate the wood.

The end results are detrimental and the only thing you may end up doing is to replace your damaged hardwood floor.

When floor boards absorb water, they get wet, swell, and warp. Sanding and refinishing can’t be done at this level. All you can do is replace the wood.

On the other hand, when oil penetrates the wood it makes it difficult to conduct future re-coats because the finish will not adhere to the wood anymore.

For proper, regular cleaning you can use a broom for sweeping or a mop with a microfiber head that easily attracts and picks up dust and debris.

You should also consider vacuuming on a regular basis to suck up even the finest dirt such as pet hair, because it is often too stubborn to be swept or mopped up.

Vacuuming is much better than using a traditional broom since it cleans the air around and also picks up all debris.

Sweeping alone is a way of pushing dirt on the floor and the dust will simply go all over the house.

If you intend to vacuum, always use a vacuum cleaner designed for hardwood floors to avoid scratching your floor. Avoid a traditional vacuum with a beater bar that can damage the floor.

Regular cleaning is simple and does not require the use of any solution or high tech cleaning method.

It is the easiest way of maintaining a hardwood floor. However, to clean and sanitize your home you will also need to schedule a deep cleaning routine to remove dirt and grime buildup.

This can be on a biweekly or on a monthly basis. Methods used include mopping, steam cleaning, and stain removal.

How to Mop a Hardwood Floor Correctly

You will need a suitable wood floor cleaner and a wood floor mop.

A cleaner is a commercial product that contains ingredients that dissolve dirt and grime fast for effective cleaning.

A mop is a device with loose thread fiber or a sponge on one side and a handle on the other side used for wiping the floor.

A good cleaning product must meet the user’s expectations — that is, being effective and gentle on the floor.

The product must also be safe and can be used with pets around. An example of a good floor cleaner is Bona. Be sure to read the user instructions before use.

On the other hand, a good mop should also be versatile and durable. It should either be hand washable or machine washable.

The head should also be gentle on the floor and use a material that can attract and hold dirt.

A good example is a mop with a microfiber cloth head. It must also have a rinsing bucket for easy use.

Mopping Steps

  1. Use a dust mop or vacuum to remove dust, pet hair, and small debris. Mopping without removing dirt can cause your floor to scratch or can dissolve the dirt to form mud on the floor.
  2. Saturate your mop with a cleaner and wring out the excess solution so that it does not damage the wood.
  3. Mop the floor along the wood grain as you put more pressure in areas with sticky grime.
  4. Rinse your mop with clean water and wring out the excess and damp-mop the floor to remove the cleaner.
  5. If there is any excess water standing on the floor, dry it using a dry towel.

Some types of cleaners are used directly by spraying them on the floor, followed by mopping and drying without rinsing.

You can also make your own natural cleaning solution using vinegar and the results will be surprising. This will not only save you money but also safely way to clean your floor.

Mix ½ cup of vinegar with a gallon of lukewarm water. Dip a mop in the solution and wring out the excess solution then mop your floor. Damp-mop the floor to remove the vinegar. Use a dry towel to completely dry your floor.

Before using a DIY solution like vinegar, always test it on a small hidden area. Do not use it if it dulls the finish of your floor.

Most companies discourage the use of wax- or oil-based cleaners and DIY solutions. If you go against it, the warranty will be deemed null and void.

How to Steam Clean a Hardwood Floor

Steam is a great way of deep cleaning and sanitizing your home. It is a natural way of clearing dirt and grime and also killing household germs and bacteria.

Steam is simply water heated to high temperatures. Therefore, there are no harsh chemicals to worry about.

Some wood floor manufacturers discourage the use of this method since they are concerned about the effect of steam on wood.

Steam has a high potential of penetrating the wood through any small opening on the finish or through seams. Steam cleaning is perfect if carried out professionally using steam mop cleaners designed for hardwood floors.

The secret is to use dry steam so that no excess water is left standing on the floor.

To prevent the heat generated from reaching the surface directly, use a thick microfiber cloth over the rectangular tool that comes with your steam cleaner.

Here are the steps to use:

  1. Begin by vacuuming or dusting the floor using a mop. This helps remove dust and debris that can scratch your floor in the process of cleaning.
  2. Assemble your steam cleaner machine by ensuring that the microfiber cloth is well fitted on the rectangular floor tool. The microfiber cloth helps insulate the steam and wipe excess moisture as the high steam temperature sanitizes and attracts dirt.
  3. Set your steam cleaner at a low or medium level of steam pressure for faster drying. High moisture pressure will cause a film of water on your floor, increasing the possibility of damage.
  4. Slowly pass the machine on the floor so that dirt and grime can be cleared as the germs and bacteria are also killed.
  5. When the cloth is saturated or looks soiled, throw it in the washing machine or replace it.

You should consider using distilled water in your steamer. Tap water may contain mineral elements that may not be friendly to your floor. You may end up with a dull or cloudy looking floor.

Steam cleaning is fast and gives you a sparkling clean floor within a few minutes. Steam is highly effective in removing tough dirt and grime naturally.

It is unfortunate that steaming or mopping will not remove scratches, stains, and dark marks on hardwood floor.

Therefore, you need to figure out what to do next. But if your floor has no marks or scratches then you should maintain the spirit of protecting it.

How to Remove Stains (Black Marks) and Scratches on Hardwood Floor

Most wood floors have stains, marks and spots. They are mainly caused by pet urine, wear and tear, and reckless or accidental spills.

Such stains and marks are not easy to remove, since many methods used can damage the finish of your wood floor. Sanding and refinishing may be part of the process of removing stains and dark marks from wood floor.

To remove dark spots, water stains and pet urine, use NO.000 steel wood or fine grit sandpaper to rub the spot.

If the stain is still intact, apply vinegar and allow it to soak into the wood for one hour. Rinse with a damp towel. Refinish the spots if the seal was removed during the rubbing.

Oil-based stains can be removed easily with a glass cleaner such as Windex. Apply the solution on a microfiber cloth and rub the area.

Use a damp cloth to remove the solution. If the process did not work, repeat the procedure. Windex is toxic and should be used carefully away from pets and children.

You can also use 3% hydrogen peroxide to remove tough stains. Soak a piece of cloth in peroxide and cover the spot overnight.

Use a damp cloth to remove the solution and dry the area. Hydrogen peroxide may bleach the spot, so prepare to sand and refinish the seal.


Good care after deep cleaning a hardwood floor makes it remain beautiful and last a long time.

Do not leave dirt and grime to build-up on the surface as that will give you a difficult time cleaning.

Deal with a spill immediately to avoid stains.

Regular cleaning and preventing outdoor debris from getting in will prevent scratching and scuff marks.

Fortunately, you can prevent that from happening.

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