How to Clean Hardwood Floors {My Favorite Tools & Tips}

How to Clean Hardwood Floors {My Favorite Tools & Tips}

I‘ve heard many people say they love the look of hardwoods, but don’t want the maintenance. Maybe I’m weird, but I actually find hardwood floors quite easy to maintain. Or maybe I just enjoy cleaning them for some reason, I don’t know.

Today I thought I’d share some of my floor cleaning tips and the tool I like to use to keep our hardwoods clean and pretty. Our floors don’t really require much upkeep, fortunately the beautiful multi-tone grain does a pretty good job of hiding dust and grime so I don’t feel like I’m a slave to cleaning my floors.

How to Clean Hardwood Floors {My Favorite Tools & Tips}

But in order to protect your wood floors, it is important to keep them swept. Especially if you have little rocks outside that might be tracked in and scratch the wood.  It is also a good idea to keep your floors dusted, not only for your own health and safety (dusty floors are slippery!) but just because the floors look so pretty when they are free of dust.

The dark stained hardwoods in my old house required daily dusting to look their best (my Hickory floors aren’t as demanding of the daily dusting and for that I’m grateful). I’ve been using washable cloth dust mops for years. Perhaps disposable dusters would work, too, but I really like my duster because it works really well for large areas of wood flooring.

You can see my duster in the picture above (where Jack is looking at it like it is a long lost cousin or something haha, he really has a fascination for all fuzzy things). The dust mop has a pivoting handle on it so it easily glides around the room and into corners. It can be removed for washing, so you can reuse it for years!

How to Clean Hardwood Floors {My Favorite Tools & Tips}

I also use a regular dust rag for quick hand-dusting of my stairs. I just run a cloth (using a little Bona if they need to be cleaned) over each one to keep them looking fresh and pretty. It takes just a minute to do the entire stair case. I would much rather dust by hand than lug a vacuum up and down a staircase.

Speaking of vacuums, I would be very careful about vacuuming a wood floor because the rotating brush or wheels can scratch and damage your floor. I have a canister style Dyson and sometimes I just carry it around and gently use the hose to quickly grab dust and debris from corners.

Our wood floors also have a special stain resistant finish on them so spills don’t easily soak in and stain. That means I can easily wipe up spills from the surface with a paper towel or rag before any damage might occur. We never use water to clean our floors. To clean and protect the wood we use Bona hardwood floor cleaner with a dry mop. We keep a spray bottle of Bona under our sink for quick clean ups. To save money, we buy the larger refill containers and just fill our spray bottle as needed.

Last tip? Notice how Jack kind of matches our floors. If you have a pet that sheds (Jack doesn’t shed much but still, hair does end up on the floors), it is much easier to maintain the feeling of clean floors if you do NOT have a black animal and light floors, or a white animal and dark floors. Am I right?

So, I want to know: Do your pets match your floors? 

This post concludes my six part series on hardwood floors. I’m partnering with the “Mohawk Floors Me, as Told by Bloggers” program and received hardwood flooring as a part of the project, but as always, all opinions, experiences are my own.

How to Clean Hardwood Floors {My Favorite Tools & Tips}

For my FAQ about my Hickory Flooring, click here!

Other Related Posts:

The Family Kitchen Makeover Continues {New Hardwoods}

Preparing for the New Hardwoods

Update! Hardwood Floor Installation

Hardwood Floor Inspiration

The Hardwood Floor Reveal!


  1. Thank you, Melissa! I was just asking several friends how to care for the hardwoods in our new home.

  2. Hi, love the blog!
    I use a WOOL dust mop, static makes pickup easier. I also have one of those fancy vacuums that shuts off the heads when hard surface is underneath. Neat trick, wonder how that works! Happy Holiday!

  3. haha!! Our puppy matches our new hickory floors, exactly, she is actually camouflaged into them, it’s pretty funny..and awesome! She does shed a lot, so it’s really nice that I can’t see it all. Thank you by the way, for all of the info about your hardwoods, we ended up going with hickory by Mohawk as well and we LOVE it!

  4. My parents have had hardwood floors forever. They have had no issue with their every other day vacuuming, and once every two weeks or so washing. If anything, they are far less maintenance than carpet because with spills on carpet you need to steam clean. With hardwood, a quick wipe with a towel and its gone.

  5. We have 2 types of hardwoods; medium brown stained oak which hides everything and natural maple which hides NOTHING!! Our golden brown doggie fur disappears on both but my long dark brown hair is the first thing I see on our maple floor.

    Question for you about the dusters – I use the Bona duster, too but find I have to gather crumbs, hair, dust, etc into a pile and still vacuum it up (same with corners and baseboards) so are we really saving any time or effort? Have you found a magic trick that I’m unaware of?

    • I sweep first to pick up all the crumbs and debris. The duster is just to dust the floors and shine them up, since the broom doesn’t do a very good job of that! :-)

  6. No my pets are much lighter than my dark hardwoods :( I have 2 golden retrievers and they def shed! We are planning on getting new hardwoods and I love the shade of yours and now that you mentioned matching the dogs I’m sold!!

  7. I just sweep my floors with a dry broom and use a vacuum hose for hard to reach areas, like you. About twice a year I use a hot well-wrung-out rag on it. My daughter follows me immediately with a dry towel. This removes footprints and smudges and restores the gleam factor a bit. But like you said I would not get it wet regularly. I have heard that frequently using water and cleaners can end up stripping the finish pretty quickly.

  8. Barbara (WA) says

    Although I have yet to live with hardwood floors, I’ve long thought carpet is like wearing the same dress every day and having to keep it clean without being able to remove it! I raised two boys with my light blue carpet that ended up stained beyond help. So I am imagining hardwood to be much easier. Oh, and when I tore out the carpet on the stairs a couple of years ago it was because of the pain of trying to vacuum them! I will keep your tips in mind. My Lily is white and the hardwoods will be white oak, so we’re good :)

    • Ha that is a funny illustration about wearing the same dress every day and trying to keep it clean without removing it!! Yes, hardwood floors are much easier than that. :-)

  9. When we moved to our last house my husband said we couldn’t get new flooring until the dog was gone. The carpet was exactly the same color as she was so it was great! After the dog was gone we ended up moving! Now we’re shopping for new flooring but we don’t have any pets to consider this time. But I did notice that the dark flooring we had installed in the bathroom hides any of my hair that ends up on the floor. It was not planned, but it’s a good thing! My old light bathroom floors showed everything! Good and bad, I guess.

    • So I guess matching the floors to the people is a good idea too!! Floors that have variation in color and texture really help all around to buy us a little time between cleanings! :-)

  10. Thanks for the tips! Despite having hard wood floors most of my life, I’ve never felt like I had a handle on how to keep them clean. So far I’ve just swiffered, swept and vacuumed. Now I’m itching to give Bona a try. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I just found your blog a few months ago and you are just amazing. We just bought our first house and had the hardwood floors refinished, but I have been struggling with how to keep them clean. I have done a lot of research online, but everywhere tends to tell me something different. We have four young children, the baby being a very messy eater, so how would you recommend cleaning up all the sticky spills and spots in the dining room? I have tried swiffering, but it tends to leave the floor looking streaky. Do you just wipe up with a paper towel/rag (damp?) like you mentioned and then use the Bona (never heard of it before)? Also thanks for the tip on sweeping AND dusting.

  12. I totally agree. All my floors and furnishings are chosen with the idea that the cat hair will mostly blend in. I don’t want to be vacuuming every day.

  13. Karen on Bainbridge Island says

    I have wood throughout my house, including the kitchen and wouldn’t have it any other way.

    White dog, medium dark stain on wood floors. Fortuately, he isn’t a big shedder.

  14. Karen on Bainbridge Island says

    Oh, and one more thing. Is Jack the one on the left in the photo?

  15. Can you tell us what kind of duster that is Melissa? xxoo

  16. I too have mohawk flooring but mine is a medium color and my puppy is buff(to match my new oatmeal/linen furniture):) But I kinda like being able to see a bit of her hair(she’s one of those anti shed dogs)because then I HAVE to dust it more regularly.When I had carpet I would let it go a bit longer between cleaning:(.Thanks for the info.

  17. My hardwood floor ( throughout most of the house) is Tigerwood. I am giggling because Master Vic our 2.5 yr old Chocolate lab is a few shades darker than the floor, and a shade darker than our chocolate sofa.
    He has caused some damage to the floors however, even though we get his nails filed every 2 weeks :-( But that’s ok. He’s a luvie!!
    We also use Bona and I luv the way if makes the floor look and feel.
    Thanks for the tips.
    Merry Christmas.

  18. My dog Lucy is a terrier mix that is the color of a golden retriever. We have butterscotch color carpet upstairs and in the basement and aged yellow pine floors on the first floor. So, yes our floors do match our dog. We had 2 puppies to choose from when we got her and both were very sweet, but the light color won out over black fur.

  19. I have the best cleaner for hardwood floors, in fact any floor. I use white vinegar, warm water, and squeeze a lemon into the water. They sparkle!!!!

    • do you dry up the water on the floor after mopping? what mop do you use? We just moved into our new house and have oak hardwood throughout kitchen, dining and living areas. I want to make them sparkle!!

  20. luckily our pets almost match our floors ha. they are fawn colored pugs and our kitchen is light wood. but our dining room is more of a cherry color and ahhh – the hair shows up much more on those floors! i love your floors!

  21. That’s a new concept…having your floors match your pets! Unfortunately mine don’t. Dark wood….dogs that are mostly white. The dogs don’t shed badly, though. Dog hair is a part of life around here.
    Have a Merry Christmas!

  22. Late to comment on this post but had to share – we picked our carpet color to match cat food! We had a cat with a “sensitive stomach” at the time – the guy at the carpet store thought I was nuts when he saw my little baggy of cat chow! Saved me hundreds of times over!

  23. Urgent message to all, contemplating New hardwood floors; don’ t ever get a floor with a groove or a gap between boards! AND NEVER opt for exposed nail “plugs!” I’m pretty sure this 1969 Cape Cod had these floors when it was built, and we’ve lived here for 18 years.However, we do know they were refinished once, from an earlier ebony stain, and stripped to a golden oak stain. These are OLD STYLE, WIDE plank, with awful pegs where the nails go,but… guess what? The plugs were of a different wood and did not get their original ebony stain- erased. Yep. They stayed black, and the rest of the wood got very light. That’s right; we have POLKA DOTTED FLOORS!!And they have been hellish to clean in the grooves, too..So, as SOON AS OUR 16yr old twins are in college…. we will be ripping these oak floors out and torching them in a huge bonfire. We have 2 large rooms in an “L” configuration, both wings are 30 feet long by 15 ft.wide! So while you could accuse me of being a bit possessed by these idiotic floors, it will be my ultimate pleasure to rip ‘ em out one day soon! And again, be cautious in choices, never get old fashioned floors, leave these in Colonial Reproduction Hell where they belong! Heeed heeeeeee hee!

  24. carol jane says

    I always look at Bona when I am shopping, but never gave it a try yet. Do you spray it on the floor and just use the Bona mop that they tell you to use? Does it clean icky kitchen messes off the floor too? I have oak hardwood, (the builder put it in, and I really dont like it) But I usually wet mop it, and do notice it needs to be loosing its shine, and think it needs to be refinished. is the water making the finish and shine come off?

  25. How have your hardwoords or engineered hardwood floors held up to the constant wear of your dogs’ claws, even if they are kept short?


    • They are a hard wood so they hold up great to every day living. Like all hardwood, they get fine scratches on the surface but that’s one thing I love about hardwood, they have character! Because they have such a beautiful grain any scratches are far less noticeable than they would be on a dark wood floor, so that helps too. Many years down the road they can be refinished and restored, so they really stand the test of time! We love them!

  26. Hey Melissa,

    I love your blog and your floors look so amazing I’m looking to by the exact same floors from Mohawk. But before I do I want to ask you if you have noticed any bowing or yellowing since you have had them. How have the held up over time?

    (Oh and by the way – I have a buff and tan cockapoo that would match these floors exactly!)


  27. A tenant attempted to clean my hardwood floors with a polyurethean finish with Pledge or Weiman floor polish. The result is that the newly finished floors are stained and streaked throughout the house. Any recommendations to remove the stains or get the floor back to their beautiful polished condition?

  28. Do you have an opinion on microfiber dust mops? I never had hardwood before, so knowing how you care for yours is helpful. The floors I have will be replaced, as they are damaged beyond repair.I have been steaming them occasionally. I learned quickly that the any remaining finish disappears. It’s been a learning experience and quite frankly, I miss carpet with a nice thick underlayment. I can lay down on the floor and it’s warm. So when I replace, I’ll put carpet in the bedrooms and living room with a nice dark hardwood that looks original to the house every where else except the bath.

  29. Tera Weinstein says

    We are buying a large house with house with wood floors. I also have a baby who requires my attention 24/7, so my cleaning time is limited. I saw the broom on this page and thought that it was large enough to cut down on my cleaning time. Where do I buy this type of broom or have you found any other cleaning devices that would help make cleaning wood floors easier? BTW- where did you get the grey and white rug in that picture –I really like it!

  30. Your comments about vacuuming the wood floors with attached brushes are well warranted. You don’t want to produce scratches, as you shared.

  31. I have over 2,000 sq ft of beautiful dark hardwood floors before we had them installed and stained I had the floor guys beat the wood with chains rocks whatever to give it that “worn” look !!! I explained that I want livable floors and not to freak out if I drop a knife or my yellow lab runs across the floor !!! They came out gorgeous!! I have had nothing but compliments on this flooring but I maintain it daily…. bona and water for mopping and I use a floor vacuum every day or every other !! Three dogs cat kids grandkids everything shows on dark floor but you don’t see scratches and divots!!! 😘

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