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Your wooden floorboards go through a lot on the day-to-day: muddy shoes, pointed heels, food spills, pet nails clicking on the floor. There are a lot of things that can, over time, damage your flooring if you’re not careful.

Part of the appeal of wooden floorboards is its tested longevity and durability, but in order to keep your floors looking their best for as long as possible, regular cleaning and maintenance is a must. However, if you’ve never had wooden flooring before, you may be wondering what product range of cleaning implements and solutions are best to use in order to clean your floors well.

How to Clean Old and New Wooden Floorboards

Cleaning wooden floors can actually be simpler than you may think. There are just a few key differences to think about especially if you’re used to carpet or tile flooring.

For starters, cleaning solutions must be used with care. With tiles, you can use good old soap and water to mop your floors and wipe away stubborn stains, and leave it to dry. When it comes to timber flooring though, you must be a bit more vigilant:

For weekly maintenance, a soft-bristled broom is best to sweep away accumulated dust and other larger particles that may scratch against the finish of your flooring. This is usually all that you will need to do to ensure the integrity of your flooring’s appearance, especially if there is little foot traffic.

However, for monthly maintenance and high traffic areas, and if there are concerning stains and the like that you wish to remove, you may be thinking about how to get a deeper clean on your wooden floors.

Can you mop wooden floorboards?

It’s an age-old question: can you mop wooden floorboards? Everyone knows that the main enemy of timber flooring is moisture, which can cause the boards to warp and lift, thereby ruining your beautiful flooring as a result.

But when it comes to stains, experts agree that mopping with simple soap and water can go a long way in ensuring that engineered timber floors, pre-finished and otherwise, are clean and sanitised.

Is it safe to use vinegar to clean wood floors?

Some people use a mixture of vinegar and water with soap, but this can damage your floor’s finish because of its acidity, and leave an uneven mark on its surface. Some experts don’t recommend it for this reason, as it can damage the seal on your floors.

Store-bought floor cleaners are also an option, as these are usually created with a balanced pH level that will be gentle to the wood as it cleans your flooring. However, be careful! Some commercially made floor cleaners may be too harsh for your flooring and can be abrasive to its finish.

All-purpose floor cleaners not specifically made for hardwood can also contain traces of bleach and other harsh chemicals, which will serve to damage your floor instead of maintaining it as is the goal of cleaning regularly.

It is always advised to check if your cleaning solution will work with your timber flooring products by doing a patch test.

How to do a patch test

On a small and inconspicuous part of your wooden flooring, test for a reaction of your cleaning solution, and pat dry with a soft cloth if needed. If your floor looks shinier and cleaner with no visible issues such as discolouration or scratches, then you can start to use this for the entire area. Otherwise, try a different cleaning solution and save yourself the trouble!

Damp Mopping

The most important thing to note is that because wooden floors do not react well to moisture, you must always squeeze the mop as much as possible before using it. None of the sopping wet mopping jobs for your hardwood floors allowed!

Damp mopping is your best bet to keep your floors looking their best.

How to Damp Mop:

  1. Use a regular mop, or a flathead mop, as long as you ensure that these are only damp and not dripping wet.
  2. Place a towel under your mop bucket to protect from spills and splashes that you may end up missing whilst you mop your floors.
  3. Do a spot sweep of any hardwood flooring that you wish to clean before proceeding to mop. When mopping, a rule of thumb is to mop following the grain of the wood – as mopping in the direction of the grain lessens the risk of unsightly residue marks in the end result.
  4. Next, do a perimeter mop which will help remove dirt and surface stains that may have been pushed into the nooks and crannies of the room. After this, you can begin mopping the larger surface area.
  5. Take off your shoes and begin cleaning from the inside of the room. This is so that after mopping, you won’t need to step over any newly cleaned spots as they dry to exit the room. This also reduces the risk of dirty or muddy spots, and sand and dirt residues that can scratch your wood after coming into contact with moisture on your floors. Start from the furthest point in the room from the exit, and work your way towards the door.
  6. Lastly, let your solid timber floors air dry – this shouldn’t take too long especially if you made sure to keep your mop only damp and not wet.

And there you go! It’s simple and easy to keep up with your wooden floorboards’ maintenance as long as you know the tips and tricks to keep them looking their best.


When you’re looking to get timber flooring for your home, it’s best to ask your chosen contractor what is the best floor solution to clean your new floorboards with. Since they have experienced installing a wide range of flooring products, it’s likely they have valuable knowledge of how you should be taking care of them too.

Remember, a high-quality installer will not only place any quality timber flooring impeccably and efficiently but will also help you keep it at it’s the best condition over the years by providing you information on the best methods of maintenance. If you want to learn more about maintaining and repairing timber flooring, you may check out our blog.