From the amount of advice out there on what to clean hardwood floors with, it would seem like there are as many products that can be used to clean your floor as there are varieties of wood species. However, this is definitely not the case. You should be very careful when choosing a product with which to clean your hardwood floor. Many so-called tips and tricks can actually be very harmful to your wood floor. In this week’s blog, we’ll go over a number of things you shouldn’t use to clean a hardwood floor, and then we’ll talk about what is safe to use. Read on to make sure you’re treating your hardwood floor right!

What to NOT Use to Clean Your Hardwood Floors


Vinegar is commonly used as a household cleaner, and there are many situations in which it does its job safely and well. However, cleaning your wood floor is not one of them. The acids in vinegar will erode the finish and cause it to dull.  The exception is, cut the vinegar in half with water, and very lightly dust mop the surface.

Wet Mop

Water and wood just don’t mix. If you use a wet mop and standing water to clean a wood floor, the wood well absorb the water, which will eventually cause it to swell and crack.  NEVER leave standing water on your wood floor!

Steam Cleaner

For the same reason you shouldn’t use a wet mop, you also shouldn’t use a steam cleaner on your wood floor. The heat and moisture from the cleaner can also cause the floor to become discolored, and eventually start cupping.  Which inevitably will lead you to have to refinish the floors.

Vacuum with a Beater Bar

The beater bar in the vacuum is intended to trap dust particles. This works well with carpet, but it will scratch your wood floor.  Vacuums are great for picking up dust and dirt on wood floors, just make sure the brush is turned off.

Soap or Detergent

Any oil-based soap or detergent should be avoided, as this will leave a residue and dull your finish.  Pay particularly close attention to store bought “polishes” and certain cleaners that are labeled as “wood glow” or “rejuvenation” because these will leave a waxy build up on your floors, as well.

What to Clean Your Hardwood Floors With

Dust Cloth

Dust cloths will pick up dust and hair on your floor without scratching or discoloring it.

Hardwood Floor Cleaner

Liquid cleaner formulas designed specifically for a hardwood floor (pH neutral, residue-free) are safe to use. Make sure the product is designed for use on a hardwood floor, and check the manufacturer’s website to make sure it’s safe to use with your wood finish.  We always recommend Bona products, which can easily be purchased and any local grocery or hardware store in your area.

To learn more about anything and everything related to hardwood flooring, contact the flooring experts at Signature Hardwood Floors by calling 410.415.0755 or click here today! You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!