How To Clean Prefinished Hardwood Floors

Learn how to clean prefinished hardwood floors without damaging them. Plus, an overview of the best hardwood floor cleaners.

Prefinished hardwood floors are an easy way to boost the value of your home and create an inviting ambiance for gatherings. However, if they aren’t cleaned frequently and properly, dirt, grime, and pet hair can accumulate and diminish their appearance. 

In this article, we will show you how to clean your prefinished hardwood floors without damaging them, in eight simple steps. 

What you’ll need

  • Soft broom or dust mop
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Microfiber mop or mop with soft cloth pads
  • pH-neutral hardwood floor cleaner
  • Bucket
  • Warm water
  • Soft, non-abrasive cloth


How to clean prefinished hardwood floors 

To clean prefinished hardwood floors, first remove loose dirt and debris with a soft broom or dust mop. If you have pets, use a vacuum with a soft brush attachment. Next, mop the floor with a pH-neutral hardwood floor cleaner and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth. Polish with olive oil for a natural shine.

Step 1: Remove loose debris

Before deep cleaning, it's essential to remove loose dirt, dust, and debris from your prefinished hardwood floors. Start by using a soft broom or a dust mop to gently sweep the floor. 

This will help pick up larger particles and surface-level dirt. Pay attention to corners and edges where dust tends to accumulate.

If you have pets, use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment or a hardwood floor attachment to effectively remove pet hair, dander, and finer debris. Ensure the vacuum is set to the appropriate setting for hardwood floors to avoid scratching or damage.

Step 2: Prepare the cleaning area

Clear the floor of any furniture, rugs, or obstacles that could hinder the cleaning process. This ensures easy access to the entire floor surface.

Step 3: Select a pH-neutral hardwood floor cleaner

Choose a pH-neutral hardwood floor cleaner formulated explicitly for prefinished hardwood floors and check the product label to ensure it’s safe for your type of finish.

Some common examples of pH-neutral hardwood floor cleaners are Bruce Hardwood & Laminate Floor Cleaner, Murphy's Oil Soap, and Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner.

Step 4: Dilute the cleaner (optional)

If required, dilute the cleaner as per the manufacturer's instructions. Some cleaners come in a ready-to-use form, while others may require mixing with water. 

Next, test the cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure it’s compatible with your floor's finish. Wait for a few minutes and check for any adverse reactions, such as discoloration or damage. If it doesn’t give any adverse reactions, move on to the next step.

Step 6: Mop the floor with your hardwood floor cleaner

Fill a bucket with warm water and add the appropriate amount of the pH-neutral cleaner, following the product instructions. 

Dip a microfiber mop or a mop with soft cloth pads into the solution, wring out excess liquid, and start mopping the floor. Work in small sections, moving in the direction of the wood grain.

For stubborn stains or spills, use a slightly dampened soft cloth or sponge to gently scrub the affected area but avoid using abrasive materials or harsh scrubbing, as they can damage the finish.

Step 7: Dry your hardwood floor

After mopping, use a soft, non-abrasive cloth to thoroughly dry the floor to prevent water damage. You can also allow the floor to air dry naturally, but avoid walking on it while it’s wet.

Step 8: Polish the hardwood floor

It’s one thing to have a clean floor; it’s another thing to have one that shines. As you know, a polished hardwood floor brings out the beauty of your space.

If you prefer a natural shine, you can use olive oil. Apply a small amount of olive oil to a soft cloth and gently rub it onto the floor in a circular motion. Buff the floor with a clean cloth to remove any excess oil and achieve a subtle shine. 

If you prefer using a hardwood floor polish or conditioner, apply it according to the manufacturer's instructions. However, note that this method should be used sparingly and not regularly.

After cleaning your prefinished hardwood floors, if you notice your baseboards also need cleaning, here are 5 smart ways to clean your baseboards.

Can I clean an area rug directly on prefinished hardwood floors?

Yes, you can clean an area rug directly on prefinished hardwood floors. First, place a non-slip rug pad underneath the rug to protect your floor. Then vacuum the rug to remove loose dirt. For stains, spot clean with a pH-neutral cleaner and avoid excess moisture. Lastly, ensure both the rug and floor are dry.

How do I make my prefinished hardwood floors shine?

To make your prefinished hardwood floors shine, apply a small amount of olive oil to a soft cloth and gently rub it onto the floor in a circular motion. Then buff with a clean cloth. Alternatively, you can use a hardwood floor polish or conditioner following the manufacturer's instructions for a glossy finish.

Can you use Swiffer Wet Jet on prefinished hardwood floors?

Yes, you can use a Swiffer Wet Jet on prefinished hardwood floors, but with caution. Ensure that the Swiffer pad is not overly saturated, as excess moisture can damage the wood, and avoid using it frequently, as the chemicals may leave residue or dull the finish over time.

Is Bona safe for prefinished hardwood floors?

Bona is generally safe for prefinished hardwood floors. It’s pH-neutral and gentle on your wood finish, removing dirt and residue without causing damage. However, it's always recommended to check the label to ensure compatibility with your prefinished hardwood floor and test in an inconspicuous area before using.

Can I use a steam mop on prefinished hardwood floors? 

It’s not advisable to use a steam mop on prefinished hardwood floors. The high heat and moisture from the steam can damage the wood and cause warping, swelling, or discoloration. Instead, use gentle cleaning methods like sweeping, vacuuming, or damp mopping with a pH-neutral hardwood floor cleaner.

Choosing the best hardwood floor cleaners

The cleaners on Homeaglow have a thing or two to say about the best hardwood floor cleaners. Here are their pro choices.

What is the best cleaner for finished wood floors?

The best cleaner for finished hardwood floors should be:

  • pH-neutral 
  • Water-based 
  • Non-toxic 
  • Residue-free 

Avoid harsh chemical cleaners, ammonia-based and abrasive cleaners, and oil-based soaps, as they can damage the finish of your wood floors.

What is the best vacuum for hardwood floors?

Here are some characteristics to look for in a vacuum for hardwood floors:

  • A spinning brush that can be shut off.
  • Soft fabric or felt brush attachments.
  • Adjustable suction power.
  • Lightweight and maneuverable.
  • Good filtration system.
  • Rubber or non-marking wheels.

What is the best mop for hardwood floors?

Here are some characteristics to look out for in a mop that is best for cleaning and maintaining your hardwood floors:

  • Microfiber mop head
  • Swivel or flexible head
  • Adjustable handle
  • Non-abrasive and non-scratching materials
  • Machine-washable mop pads
  • Lightweight and easy to use

Clean your hardwood floor to prolong lifespan

With proper maintenance, your hardwood floors will continue to make your home look beautiful for years to come. A pro tip to reduce the need for frequent cleaning is to place doormats at entryways to trap dirt and prevent it from being tracked onto your hardwood floors.

Need help keeping on top of your other house cleaning tasks? 

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