How to clean wood floors

Aug 31, 2010 at 10:58 p.m. ET

Hardwood flooring isn’t cheap, so doing all you can to protect such an investment in your home makes sense. Here, we offer info and tips to help you learn how to care for and clean your wood floors properly.

Woman sweeping floor

1Use a clean broom.

Sweeping hardwood doesn't clear as much dirt as vacuuming, but brooms protect your floor from the scratches that vacuum wheels cause. Use a clean, soft-bristled broom so you don't spread germs and dirt around and don't scratch the floors.

2Never use water.

Wood floors can warp if you apply too much water to them, so never ever mop them as you would ceramic tile or laminate. Instead, look for a mop that won't retain a lot of water when placed into a bucket, such as those made by Libman. Just spray them with vinegar (a natural disinfectant) and a bit of water to keep wood floors germ free and unwarped.

3Polish away.

Hardwood floors, like any flooring, need a bit of buffing every now and then, so spend some time polishing them. The task isn't as difficult as it may seem: Simply grab a mop, spray the polish onto it, then mop away. As a bonus, most polishes leave a protective coating behind to resist scratches and stains.

4Smooth away scratches.

Expert Tips

Does your floor have a few scratches? The experts at Libman have a recipe for you: Brew one bag of tea for every quart of water; let the tea cool. Dip a mop into the mixture; wring out the mop and rub the mixture into the floor. The ingredients in the tea will help hide the hard-to-get-out scratches. Another solution: Rub the meat of soft nuts, such as walnuts and pecans, on scratches; the natural oils of the nuts will help cover them and will return the sheen to your hardwood flooring.

5Additional tips

If you have large pieces of furniture on your flooring, install scratch pads so they don't dent or destroy your flooring when you move them around. Add rugs or soft-textured mats to high-traffic floor areas to help minimize dirt tracking. And always clean up stains as soon as they happen; liquid can warp flooring just as water and darker substances such as wine and tomato sauce can tarnish its coloring.

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