Most wood floors today are sealed with polyurethane, which is a durable plastic-like coating. It needs little care beyond regular vacuuming to remove grit, which can cause scratches, and the occasional damp mopping. Let’s explore the best practices for cleaning hardwood floors

What is the best way to protect hardwood floors?

Keeping floors as free of dust and grit as possible is the most important protection you can give them. Dust, dirt, and even crumbs can be ground into the floors when you walk on them and will quickly ruin a finish. Here are three things you can do to protect your floors:

  1. Place doormats or throw rugs both outside and inside exterior doors to lessen tracked-in dirt. This will reduce the amount of dust and dirt on your floors and extend the life of the finish. Remember to clean the mats regularly.
  2. Mop up spills quickly and don’t let them stand. Place throw rugs in areas where spills are likely to happen (at the kitchen sink and in front of the refrigerator, for example). Clean and launder throw rugs regularly so damp throw rugs don’t damage your floor.
  3. Avoid putting furniture directly on wood floors to avoid scratches. Put rugs under furniture or felt pads on the feet of chairs, couches, and other types of heavy furniture.

What do you clean polyurethane with?

If you’re the owner of this beautiful flooring option, you must be asking: “How to clean polyurethane hardwood floors without damaging them?” To care for today’s polyurethane finishes, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to clean and care for the product. If you don’t have them, most authorities agree that you can take good care of your polyurethane-finished floors if you use a mild soap or detergent. Use a product with a neutral or near-neutral pH, and one that doesn’t leaves a residue, oil, or film behind on the floor. Never mop with a really wet mop – keep your mop only slightly damp, and dry the hardwood floor immediately to avoid letting water stand on it. 

How not to clean polyurethane?

There are some common cleaning practices that are better avoided when dealing with polyurethane.

Ammonia and harsh cleaners

Avoid ammonia, cleaners that contain ammonia, and any other strongly alkaline cleaners. They will dull or damage the finish. Never use abrasive cleaners as they will scratch the finish and destroy the shine.

Silicone or oil-based cleaners

Don’t use sprays designed for dusting and cleaning wood furniture, or any cleaning products that contain silicone oil or other oils on polyurethane floors. Furniture products will produce a dangerous slipperiness, and silicone oil interferes with refinishing. You may prefer to choose a product that advertises itself as designed for wood and is “neutral” or “mild,” and use it according to product instructions.


For polyurethane-type finishes, mopping the floor with vinegar is a natural, inexpensive option many people use. A common dilution is a quarter of a cup of vinegar to a gallon of water. Some experts say that over time this mildly acidic solution will cause the shine of your finish to dull, but the common-sense point of view is the floor is going to grow dull over the years from several causes – including air temperature, humidity, and sunlight – long before the occasional wipe-down with diluted white vinegar in water produces any harm. 

However, the problem with using vinegar and water for cleaning floors is that it simply doesn’t work. Vinegar, an acid, does nothing to remove grease and dirt. You may as well use plain water and avoid the salad dressing smell. Over time your floors are going to get quite dirty if you never use anything but a little white vinegar and water on them. You want to use a floor cleaner that will actually break up the soil on the floor and make it easy to remove.

Plain water

You can use plain water and a barely damp mop to clean your polyurethane finished floors. But if you stick to plain water alone, soon your floors will become unquestionably dirty no matter how often you vacuum and dust. Still, just plain water isn’t a bad thing for interim cleaning now and then. Just go over the floor with a well-wrung damp mop occasionally. When you are finished, rub the floor with a towel or dry mop if necessary, to bring up the shine and remove streaks.

How do you clean a water based polyurethane floor?

Dirt, oil, and grime build up over time and aren’t entirely removed by a weekly dust mopping or vacuuming. For the occasional thorough cleaning, you need to damp mop. Be careful not to allow water to stand on the floor.

Outside of hard use areas, you will need to do a thorough washing of polyurethane-finished hardwood floors only once or twice a year. Entryways, halls, and other high traffic areas may need washing more often depending on the traffic level. Kitchens will need washing at least once a week.

Follow these steps:


First, vacuum or mop the floor thoroughly. Then add a little pH-neutral floor cleaner or mild soap or detergent to a bucket of warm water – enough to produce a few bubbles and a slightly slippery feel to the water. Depending on how dirty the floors are, use a little more or a little less of the cleaner, but never use a strong or strongly alkaline one. Never use anything that contains ammonia. Avoid big suds, which would make the floor too hard to rinse, cause it to become dull, and in the long run possibly even damage the finish. If you choose to use a specialty product for cleaning polyurethane finished floors, follow the product instructions; some are not supposed to be diluted or rinsed.


Fill a bucket with a few inches of your diluted cleaning solution. Fill a second bucket with a few inches of clean water – this will keep your wash water clean and will not redeposit dirty water onto the floor. Dip your mop in the bucket with the cleaning solution and carefully wring out your mop or cloth so that it is only slightly damp. Pressing down firmly, make several strokes back and forth in the direction of the grain of the wood floor. Rinse your mop in the sink or in the bucket of fresh water when the mop becomes soiled, wring it well, then dip the mop back in the floor washing solution. Again, wring the mop until only slightly damp. Repeat until the entire floor has been washed. Be sure to wipe up any leftover water immediately with a dry mop or cloth – this will reduce the formation of streaks on the floor. 

If you don’t have a second bucket and are rinsing your mop in the same bucket you have your cleaning solution in and the water becomes dirty as you mop, make a fresh bucket of floor-cleaning solution (if you can’t see the bottom of the bucket due to dirty water, it’s time to change the water). 

Can you use a steam mop on hardwood floors?

What do you clean polyurethane withSteam mops are marketed as a faster, more convenient tool to clean floors than an ordinary mop since there are no strings or sponges to squeeze and no pail of water to lug around. Their manufacturers claim they easily loosen and remove soil and dried food spills and sanitize floors and other surfaces. 

The manufacturers of steam mops claim their mops can be used on many types of hard surface floors, including laminate, tile and sealed wood. Both the National Wood Floor Association (NWFA) and the Wood Floor Covering Association (WFCA), however, discourage the use of steam mops on wood floors because they claim steam may ruin wood floors.

Testing done by Consumer Reports comparing steam mops to sponge mops found that a sponge mop can do just as good of a job at cleaning floors, if not better, than the steam mops they tested, although the sponge mop was more of a hassle to use. In addition, all the models they tested left some residual moisture on the surfaces to which they were applied. This is the crux of the claims of the NWFA and WFCA, because any excess moisture left on a wood floor is a problem. A wood floor that appears sealed might have crevices where water can seep in, or be forced in by the steam mop, and cause damage. In addition, the steam might cause some wood finishes or older waxes to haze over. It’s advisable to reapply wax coating regularly to keep your floor in great shape. Be familiar with your wood floor’s warranty and don’t use anything that will void its protection.

Professional dry steam vapor cleaners are different from the steam mops used in the Consumer Reports trials. Steam is the oldest and most scientifically validated method of disinfection, but as the NWFA and WFCA know, the “wetness” of steam makes it risky to use on many natural and manufactured surfaces in the home. Steam mops produce a very wet steam, sometimes with a moisture content of as much as 30%. Dry steam vapor, as produced by the ADVAP Ladybug Teckno 2350 Dry Steam Vapor Cleaner, for example, only contains 5-7% moisture content in the steam, allowing less water to come in contact with surfaces than with a common spray cleaner, a retail steam mop, or the combination of a bucket of floor cleaner and slightly damp mop. This is much safer for hardwood floors and engineered hardwood floors, and it cleans and sanitizes much better than any other mopping system available.

How do I know if my wood floor is sealed?

If you don’t want to worry about how to fix steam mop damage on hardwood floors, check if your floor is sealed properly. To test the status of the polyurethane coating on your wood floor, choose a high traffic area and drop a bead of water on the seam between two floorboards. If the drop of water beads up and sits on the surface of the floor, the polyurethane coating is in good shape and is protecting your wood floors. If the drop of water spreads out and is absorbed into the floor after a few minutes, either your wood floor is not properly sealed, or the wood has contracted and left cracks in the polyurethane, or the polyurethane coating has been damaged or worn away in that area. In the case of engineered wood floors, where each plank is presealed and prefinished, where the wood planks are snapped or fitted together can also be especially vulnerable to spills and moisture from very wet mopping practices. You should avoid using steam mops. You should also make sure you are squeezing as much water as possible out of your regular mop when you clean your floors and wiping up any residual water left from mopping as quickly as possible.

Are microfiber mops good for hardwood floors?

If you don’t keep up with cleaning your hardwood floors, it gets harder and harder to clean them. The best thing about microfiber mops on wood floors is microfiber makes it so easy to clean wood floors, even if they’ve been neglected. Microfiber is safe on all finished wood surfaces, microfiber mops pick up dirt and dust better than sponge and string mops, and the mops themselves are lightweight and easy to use. They are great at both dry dusting and damp mopping.

Where can I get the best professional hardwood floor cleaning?

If you’re looking for a team of experts to look after your wood flooring, take care of your marble surfaces, remove dirt and stains from your oven, or perform other chores, Castle Keepers is the company for you. With plenty of experience and extensive training, our specialists understand how to treat your leather furniture and other surfaces while keeping them totally safe. We use toxin-free cleaners that ensure maximum effectiveness.

Get in touch with us now to choose your personalized package and make a great deal thanks to our reasonable pricing. We’re available whenever you need expert cleaning!

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