What Not to Use on Your Hardwood Floor: Cleaning Tips and Tricks

Posted by Aaron Schaalma

cleaning products wood floor, hardwood floor cleaning tips

The beauty of hardwood floors can breathe life back into your home, but what happens once they’re finished?  How do you keep your stunning floors, well, stunning?  There’s a lot to watch out for when cleaning your hardwood floors, so I have compiled some tips to follow when cleaning your wood flooring.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals or Abrasives

Harsh chemicals can damage your hardwood floor by leaving behind a dull or scratched finish.  Try avoiding products that use these:

  • Ammonia
  • Vinegar
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Powdered all-purpose cleaner
  • Endust
  • Pledge
  • Oil soap
  • Products with a wax or silicone base

Be Careful What You Use!

It may seem strange, but not every product that claims to be made for wood floors is actually good for wood flooring.  The reason for this is because it does not work with the floor finish.  Some may leave a film that is difficult to remove.  Others may leave sticky residue.  In fact, there are quite a few products that claim to be safe for hardwood flooring, but aren’t (for example, here’s an article about Bona products).

In order to know what will work for the finish on your floor, contact the finish manufacturer.  If you are unable to contact them, or if you have no clue what kind of finish is on your flooring, be safe rather than sorry.  The majority of wood flooring today has a urethane-type finish.  Contact a local wood flooring retailer or any major manufacturer for what they would recommend for this finish.

Do Not Use Steam Cleaners

The old adage is true: wood and water do not mix.  In fact, any form of water is not recommended for cleaning hardwood flooring, including steam.  The high heat can thermally break down the floor’s protective layer.  The effects of steam on wood flooring can include a peeling, whitening or cloudy finish.  Plus, repeated steam usage can destroy your floor.  For more information on how steam mops can negatively affect your floor, check out our article about it.

Do Not Pour a Product Directly on the Floor

Simply pouring a product on your wood floor can have the same effects as water.  The last thing you want is a puddle on your hardwood floor.  Make sure you spread the cleaning product evenly on the floor to prevent negative effects.  Use a micro fiber mop to ensure even coverage.

Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum!

Vacuuming your hardwood floors often can actually prolong the life of the finish.  The less debris and dirt on the floor, the less wear and scratches there will be.  Just make sure not to use a vacuum with a beater bar, which could potentially damage the floor.  You could also use dust mop with a large cotton head as an alternative.

It can be tricky figuring out what will work best for your hardwood floor, but taking the time to maintain your wood floor properly is worth it.  For more guidance on maintaining your wood flooring, see our article An Insider’s Guide to Hardwood Floor Care.