Caring for a Hardwood Floor in your home

wood floor picI love the beauty and durability of my oak hardwood floors in my home.  I also appreciate the fact that they don’t trap dust particles that contribute to allergies and other health issues.  But I’ve often wondered what the best methods are to clean and maintain them? Well there’s good news!  I’ve done some research and I’ve discovered that caring for them is actually quite simple!

If your floor has a surface finish, such as polyurethane, the general maintenance steps are:

  1. SWEEP with a soft bristled broom.
  2. VACUUM with special bare floor attachments to get rid of dirt and dust.  Or use a good dust mop with a 12”-18” cotton head
  3. You can also CLEAN your floors periodically with a professional wood floor cleaning product recommended by a wood flooring professional. The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) can help you find a pro in your area.  Make sure your mop is well wrung out so that it is just damp. Standing water can dull the finish, damage the wood and leave a discoloring residue.

When cleaning no longer restores shine, recoat the floor with a surface finish.  How often you do this depends on the amount of traffic. If you have kids or pets, your floors may get lots of mud, water, sand, or dirt tracked on them regularly; they may need to be recoated more often.

***Never wax a surface-finished floor, and never use vinyl or tile floor care products on any wood floor.

Do you have a wax or penetrating-stain finish on your wood floor?  Here are steps to follow to maintain the finish:

  1. DUSTMOP or VACUUM regularly.
  2. Use a BUFFER to maintain the shine.  Follow manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations if known.

If buffing no longer restores shine, you may need to rewax.  Apply a cleaner and liquid wax specifically for wood floors.  Apply the wax evenly, allow the floor to dry, and buff to the desired luster. Most wood floors need to be rewaxed once or twice a year. Try not to overwax a wood floor.  If the floor dulls, try buffing instead. Avoid wax buildup under furniture and other low-traffic areas by applying wax half as often as in higher-traffic areas.

Is your wax finish soiled or discolored?  Use a combination liquid cleaner/wax made specifically for wood flooring.  Make sure it is solvent rather than water-based.  Spread the liquid cleaner/wax with a cloth or fine steel wool and rub gently to remove grime and old wax.  Wipe the floor clean, let it dry for about 20 minutes, then buff.

Never damp-mop a waxed floor.


  • Place mats and throw rugs at doorways to help protect wood floors from grit, dirt, and sand.
  • Place felt pads under furniture legs.
  • Vacuum or dust your wood floor regularly.
  • Avoid walking on floors with cleats, sports shoes, or high heels. Interestingly, a 125-pound woman walking in high heels has an impact of 2,000 pounds per square inch. An exposed heel nail can exert up to 8000 pounds per square inch!  Can you say “DENTS”?
  •  When moving furniture, do not slide it on the wood flooring. It’s best to pick it up to move it.
  • Use a humidifier during the winter months to minimize gaps or cracks.

Follow these steps to enjoy the beauty of your wood floors for years to come.

Jill Signature

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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30 thoughts on “Caring for a Hardwood Floor in your home

  1. I agree with you on the cleaning or hardwood floors. I will like to add that vacuums specific for hardwood floors is a plus. There are vacuums that have special features for shining floors. Its best to review the vacuums and customer review.

  2. I cannot find liquid wax for my unfinished hardwood floors..,.Could you help me
    with this? It is so important as my house was in the flood and the floors need
    cleaning and buffing! Also, where do I find a buffer?


  3. Hi Mary, you can find liquid wax in a number of places but I see that the Ace Hardware chain carries a Johnson liquid wax. You may have one of their stores available locally. You would also be able to find a buffer at a hardware store or perhaps at a shop that carries floor coverings.

  4. First of all thumb for the post, as I was searching for the post from where I can get the tips and tricks for maintaining and cleaning my Hardwood floors. I got this from your post and I like the way you describing all the points which are easy to understand. Keep sharing.

  5. Thanks for explaining that waxing can be used in addition to buffing to give hardwood floors extra shine. My sister and her husband want to have hardwood floors installed in the living and dining rooms of their home within the next couple of months. I’ll pass along this info to make sure they can care for the hardwood floors as soon as they’re installed!

  6. Rebecca, we are glad you found the blog helpful. In addition to the suggestions within, please encourage your sister/husband to also check for specifics from the manufacturer and retailer to make sure that they have appropriate care information for their particular product.

  7. My husband would like to replace our tiles with wood floors because this will suit our home’s interior more. Well, thank you for these tips; we’ll make sure to placemats and rugs in the doorway because these will prevent scratches. We’ll also keep in mind to vacuum the floor regularly.

  8. I recently had hardwood floor installed, and I realize that I have no idea how to clean them. It makes sense that sweeping and vacuuming would be a good idea. I can see how working with a professional for proper mopping might be helpful. That would make things a lot easier for me in the long run.

  9. HI, Take time to go through the information given in the linked site. Hardwood floors are an investment; you will want to enjoy them with minimal worry.

  10. You made a good point when you shared that using a buffer can maintain the shine of your wood floor. That’s probably why my husband wants to have wood floor cleaning and buffing. I should advise him to look for a cleaning service near our place that can deeply clean our wood floor.

  11. I recently had hardwood floors introduced, and I understand that I have no clue about how to clean them. It’s a good idea that broad and vacuuming would be smart. I can perceive how functioning with an expert for legitimate cleaning may be useful. That would make things much more straightforward for me over the long haul.

  12. Appreciate the insights on combining waxing and buffing for that extra gleam on hardwood floors! Coincidentally, my sister and her hubby are gearing up to jazz up their living and dining spaces with hardwood floors soon. I’ll make sure to share this nugget so they can pamper their floors right from the get-go!

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