dish soap to clean hardwood floors

Cleaning 101: How to Clean Wood Floors

Clean hardwood floors may not be low-maintenance, but our step-by-step guide shows you how to clean wood floors with natural products.
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Written by Tenley Haraldson.


Hardwood floors give your home character, warmth, and style, but they aren’t always the easiest material to deal with. Tons of cleaning products promise to clean floors effortlessly, but over the years, ammonia, chlorine, phosphates, and other alkaline products can actually wear away finish.

Our guide walks you through the best way to clean hardwood floors – and how a Puracy floor cleaner provides a gorgeous gleam.

Different Floor Finishes Require Different Cleaning Methods

Different kinds of flooring require different cleaning methods, but we love using a microfiber mop on all of them. These incredibly absorbent tools are super gentle on all surfaces and cut down on unnecessary waste.

Surface-Sealed Floors

Most new floors are surface-sealed (with polyurethane, polyacrylic, or urethane), meaning that they're water- and stain-resistant.

First, sweep or vacuum to pick up any loose hair or dust. You don't need a special soap for mopping wood floors: Fill up a bucket with warm water and squeeze in about 1 TBSP of Natural Dish Soap.

Pro Tip: Avoid using a soaking wet mop: Wring it out until it's mildly damp.

Varnished, Lacquered, & Shellacked Floors

These types of floors are semi-resistant to water, wear, and stains.

After sweeping or vacuuming, spray the entire floor with our Natural Surface Cleaner, then use your microfiber mop to work your way outward from one corner of the room.

Laminate Wood Floors

Laminate wood floors are made of manufactured wood, so they're unbelievably durable. You can use either a natural multi-surface cleaner or mop with a bucket full of dish soap-infused water.

Oil-Treated & Seal-Treated Floors

These materials are treated so the sealant seeps and sets into the wood grain.

Since water-based cleaners can cause irreparable damage, we recommend cleaning these types of finished hardwood with a premium liquid or paste wax (unfinished floors can use this same method).

Can You Use Soap and Water on Hardwood Floors?

can you use soap and water on hardwood floors

Using water and soap for mopping wood floors isn't always the best practice: If water stands on hardwood floors for too long, it can warp and bend the material.

While you technically have to get the floors wet to clean them, choose a low-moisture method that dries quickly and lowers the chance of damage.

Can I Wash Hardwood Floors with Vinegar and Water?

wash hardwood floors with vinegar and water

Many cleaning professionals maintain that the acidic properties of these substances can damage the seal of hardwood flooring. While it's a natural approach, soapy water is more effective at fighting dirt buildup than diluted vinegar or citrus.

Tips to Protect Your Hardwood Floors

Between cleaning, protect flooring and keep them looking their best with these simple tips:

1. Wipe up Spills

Whenever there's a spill (e.g. beverages, pet messes, wet shoes) wipe up the mess immediately with a dry towel.

2. Add Rugs to Rooms

dish soap to clean hardwood floors

Runners and rugs in high-traffic areas of your home (like hallways, entryways, and next to sinks) can help protect floors from excessive wear.

3. Use Furniture Pads

Under chair legs and bed frames, felt furniture pads can help protect floors from scratches.

4. Pet Pedicures

Regularly trim your pets' nails to avoid serious damage.

5. Take Your Shoes Off

best way to clean hardwood floors

In addition to tracking dirt and bacteria through your home, wearing shoes inside can cause damage to hardwood flooring. Take shoes off in your entryway and replace them with slippers or thick socks.

Pro-Tip: Never wear high heels on hardwood floors!

6. Close Your Curtains

When exposed to the sun, hardwood flooring naturally changes in color. Reduce drastic discoloration by closing the blinds or using sheer, UV-blocking curtains when you're out of the house.

7. Redecorate Every So Often

Rearranging your furniture once a year – even slightly – will help to minimize uneven aging. Plus, who doesn’t like a change of scenery?

8. Sweep up

In places with lots of foot traffic, you should try to sweep once a day and mop your hardwood floors at least once a week. Try to mop lower-traffic areas once a month. As always, follow the guidelines we noted (above) to protect the hardwood flooring you have.

"Puracy Floor Cleaner" Is Actually Good at Everything

Not only is our Concentrated Natural Surface Cleaner safe and effective for cleaning hardwood floors, counters, windows, and any other non-porous surface, but it also saves you 62% per ounce! It's a win-win situation when you reach for this Puracy bestseller!