5 Crucial Mistakes You’re Making in Cleaning Your Hardwood Floors

by HDM Editor Team

For years, hardwood floors have been labeled as hard to care for. People have been spending staggering amounts of money on hardwood floor care products and cleaning agents, thinking that they are caring for their floor in the best way. Despite this, they’re actually pretty easy to maintain as long as you know what to do and what not to do in relation to cleaning and caring for your hardwood. 

Today, we’re going to give you some insight into a few crucial mistakes you’re probably making when cleaning your hardwood floors.

Waiting Too Long To Tend To Spills

Spills happen – and they happen often. This being said, if said spills are allowed to dry onto the surface of your hardwood floor, they can easily wreak havoc on the finish. Spills should be blotted with a cloth and then gone over with a damp paper towel to dry. The area should always be dried well.

If you can, clean spills as soon as they happen. If you aren’t home when the accident occurs, clean the spill as soon as you notice it to minimize the chances of damage.

Wearing Shoes In The House

In some countries, wearing shoes in the house is completely normal. In most of North America, though, wearing shoes in the house is kind of eccentric, which is a good thing seeing as this practice can easily mean the destruction of hardwood floors. Wearing shoes in the house drags extra dirt into the home, dulling your floor’s shine.

In addition, shoes can also scratch the flooring, ultimately causing your floor unnecessary damage that is not only unappealing to the eye but also expensive to fix.

If you don’t like having bare feet in the house, opt for a pair of comfy socks instead of your favorite pair of Nikes – your floor will thank you for it in the long run.

Using Expensive Cleaners

If you have a wood floor, chances are that you’ve fallen victim to the belief that you need to buy a closet full of expensive floor cleaners to get the floor clean. This just isn’t true. In fact, water is the best thing to use to clean the floor. Chemical cleaners can stain, ruin, and wear out the wood.

Bleach is commonly used to clean everything from clothes to floors and while it works well on tile, it isn’t the best for use on hardwood. Avoid using bleach even if it has been watered down.

You may also want to avoid using vinegar. Yes, it’s earned a great reputation in a number of household cleaning emergencies, however, on hardwood floors it does more harm than good. It’s much too acidic to safely use on hardwood, as it eats away the layers of finishing.

Not Using Rugs

One of the best things about rugs is that they protect the surface beneath them. This reason is why we highly recommend outfitting your hardwood floors with rugs.

Rugs come in a variety of colors, patterns, and textures. This makes them ideal for use as floor protection. They should be positioned in strategic areas, such as by the front door, where the home sees a lot of traffic.

If your rugs get wet, be sure to dry them thoroughly before placing them back on your floor. Also, clean your rugs frequently to avoid their dirt and debris getting onto your floor.

Too Much Water

Okay. Say you do clean with just water; how much water do you use? If you aren’t careful, the water only cleaning tip can still damage your hardwood. How? Well, too much water can leave your hardwood wet for an extended period of time. This can lead to mold growth and water damage, both of which are detrimental to the longevity of your floor.

To play it safe, use enough water to clean the floor but not so much that there are puddles on it. Using a mop with a squeegee feature that rings out the mop head is a great way to ensure that the floor doesn’t suffer from excess water.

Using The Wrong Mop/ The Wrong Vacuum Attachment

A mop is a mop, right? Well no, not really. Despite popular belief, mops actually come in different varieties, each marketed for different uses. Some are for general cleaning, while others are best suited for certain types of flooring. There are mops designed specifically for hardwood floors.

In addition, most modern cordless vacuums come with a plethora of attachments. Generally, there will be one that is designed for use on hardwood or linoleum. Failing to use this special attachment can leave your floors severely scratched, so it’s worth the extra hassle to use the correct attachment.


Hardwood floors don’t require a ton of maintenance. Mostly, they just need a bit of consideration in terms of what should be used and not used. There are a few best practices that can be followed, but there’s no need to shell out hundreds of dollars to care for a hardwood floor.

With any luck, we’ve helped you identify the ways that, despite your good intentions, you may still be harming your floors while cleaning.

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