Written by Grove Collaborative

Clean Team: How to clean hardwood floors

Last Updated: January 7, 2021


Learn how to clean hardwood floors the Grove way, with key knowledge, amazing natural cleaners, and all the right tools for a fresh and bright hardwood floor.

Ready to tackle the dirtiest spots in your home? Grove Collaborative has you covered with Clean Team. Each week, we’ll do a deep dive into how to clean a different place or item in your home. No spot is too small — and we’ll tell you how to conquer them all, naturally.

Hardwood floors get pretty dirty — muddy shoes, messy pets, snack-filled movie nights — all that mess ends up somewhere, and more often than not, it's the floor.


Fortunately, hardwood floors are easy enough to clean, don’t require expensive tools, and are generally bereft of nooks, cranies, and grimy hiding spots. But there are some important considerations for cleaning hardwood floors to prevent smearing and damage.


We’re here to show you how to clean your wood floors right, along with a few essential tips to help you achieve that fresh clean hardwood look we all love so much.

Different methods for wood floor cleaning

Sweeping, vacuuming, and (damp) mopping are all your friend when it comes to cleaning and maintaining hardwood floors.

The main thing to remember, regardless of your cleaning method, is that hardwood and water are not friends. Even treated hardwood flooring can warp or bloat in damaging ways when water seeps into the wood — which it will, if it stays on the floor too long. But as long as you keep the cleaning process relatively dry — i.e., barely damp — your floors will stay safe and sound!

Sweeping and dusting

A soft bristled broom can clean up bigger debris, but not much else. The broom usually ends up pushing dust and dander around rather than properly cleaning up.

Vacuuming

Almost like sweeping and dry mopping combined, vacuuming will lift most debris — even the teeny-tiny stuff — in a flash. Soft roller heads work best on hardwood floors, but avoid heavy-duty beater bars at all costs.

Dry mopping

A dry microfiber mop excels at picking up what your broom just pushes around. Microfiber grabs dust, dander, and other tiny unwanted house guests off your floors with ease.

Damp mopping

This is the cleaning technique we are focusing on today. When dry cleaning won’t cut it, there are tons of high quality wood floor cleaners that remove dirt and grime easily and safely.

How often should you clean wood floors?

This can vary greatly depending on home size, proximity to a muddy yard, number of messy kids or pets, and more.

For high traffic areas, you’ll want to sweep, dry mop, or vacuum daily. For lower traffic areas, once or twice a week is fine. These dry cleans will help remove dust, dirt, dander, and other intruders from your flooring, which can cause visible and microscopic scratches on your floor’s finish, eventually making it look dull and lifeless.

Regardless of foot traffic, it's a good idea to clean hardwood flooring with a quality liquid cleaner every couple of weeks. This will ensure your hardwood floors are actually clean, not just bereft of debris and dust.

Grove Tip


There are tons of ways to prevent dirty floors before they happen. Doormats on both sides of exterior doors, designated spots to take off shoes, floor protectors underneath furniture, taking care of spills immediately — these little changes add up fast and lead to less time spent cleaning in the first place.

Things you’ll need to clean hardwood floors

Avoid using conventional wood cleaners that contain waxes, synthetic oils, soaps, and silicones — these leave behind residues that can make your floor look dull, filmy, or streaky — and they can attract dirt, too, making your floor look dirtier faster. Some of these substances can also prevent new sealant from adhering to the floor, making it nearly impossible to recoat down the road. To clean your floor, gather:


How to clean wood floors: Step-by-step instructions

Step 1: Dry clean to remove debris

Quickly go over your hardwood floors with a vacuum or dry microfiber mop to remove dust and debris.

Step 2: Apply your cleaner

When it comes to hardwood floor cleaners, less is more! Simply spray a thin mist of cleaner across your hardwood flooring, working in sections.

Step 3: Mop!

Use a dry (or slightly damp) microfiber mop to mop over the cleaner. Be sure to follow the direction of the hardwood grain for a better clean.

Step 4: Ensure a quick dry

If your space has ample airflow, keep the area clear and let nature dry the space for you. If you're in a space with stagnant air, go over your floor with a dry microfiber cloth or mop head.

How to clean unsealed hardwood

Before wet-cleaning your hardwood floor, you’ll want to double check that your hardwood has been sealed. Flick a couple drops of water from your hand onto the floor. If the water forms self-contained droplets, your floor is sealed. However, if the water soaks into the wood, you’ve likely got older, unsealed hardwood, which is especially susceptible to water damage. When cleaning unsealed hardwood floors, barely dampen a microfiber mop with a fine mist of cleaner, and dry your floor immediately after cleaning.

How to clean wood floors naturally

Using specialty wood floor cleaners — especially conventional ones — isn’t the only way to clean your hardwood floors. Here are a couple of natural solutions that do wonders!


  • Water: A mop slightly dampened with water can go a long way in cleaning your hardwood floors of light dirt and grime. As always, be sure your floors dry quickly — by air or by hand.

  • Aunt Fannie’s Hardwood Floor Cleaner: Free of nasty chemicals, this hardwood cleaner uses natural essential oils like orange and lemon peel oil to achieve an herbal, effective clean.

Hardwood floor cleaning FAQs

Why are my hardwood floors still dirty after mopping?

If — even after multiple rigorous cleanings — you find your hardwood floors don’t look very clean, your floor may need to be re-coated with sealant — or even refinished. Unfortunately, both tasks require a very experienced DIYer or a professional hardwood flooring contractor.


What if my pet pees on my hardwood floor? Can I spray it with deodorizer?

No! Wipe up the liquid as soon as you discover it. Use a microfiber mop lightly dampened with water to mop over the spot. Rinse, and repeat. That should do the trick, but if you need more, sprinkle some baking soda on the spot, let it sit for 15 minutes, then vacuum.


How can I get scuff marks off my hardwood floor?

Easy! Rub a tennis ball or pink eraser over the mark, or dip a dampened corner of a microfiber cloth in baking soda, and gently rub the scuff.

Shop hardwood floor cleaning products


Looking for more cleaning how-tos and other sustainable swaps you can make at home? Grove has you covered. From timely topics such as our handwashing and hand sanitizer breakdown to evergreen primers like our simple ways to reduce your plastic use at home, our handy guides are here to answer your most pressing questions. And let us know how if you have any cleaning questions (or share your own tips using #grovehome) by following Grove Collaborative on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you're ready to take on germs, shop Grove Collaborative's floor cleaning essentials for the cleaning tools to tackle the job.

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