How to Care for Wood Floors

The proper care of wood floors is a vital part of keeping your floors in good condition for a long time to come. Hardwood floors initially can cost a bit more but they can last centuries. The major benefit of hardwood flooring is how simple it really is to care for them. Read on to learn how to properly clean and maintain your wood floor… 

Here are the do’s and don’ts of how to care for wood floors as well as general pointers for cleaning and maintaining your hardwood floors.

Let’s start with what NOT to do:

  • DONT: Leave spills, mop up as soon as you can.  Do not let the moisture soak into the wood, it can cause warping or discoloration or even ruin your beautiful hardwood floor and make it both difficult and very costly to replace or repair.
  • DON’T: Leave wet rags or towels on the floor for the same reason.
  • DONT: Use a wet mop – it will damage the finish. Remember that the mop can only be very slightly damp in order to use it to clean and care for wooden floors.
  • DONT: Clean with hot water. Hot water can dissolve the luster of your floors finish over time and penetrates the wood a lot easier than cold water would. Using a steam cleaner on a hardwood floor can cause peeling, cracking, and cloudiness in the finish.
  • DONT: Use oil, wax, or citrus-based cleaners OR furniture polish. Don’t just assume that Murphy’s Oil, Pine-Sol, or other cleaners are your ticket to a clean floor. Different types of wood flooring respond differently to cleaning solutions, so do your homework and learn the recommended cleaning product for your floor. Cleaning the floor rarely or without proper care greatly reduces the quality of the wood.
  • DONT: Use abrasive cleaning pads such as steel wool. As tempting as it may be to reach for a steel wool pad it will cause you to scratch to top finish.
  • DON’T: Use the beater brush setting on your vacuum. Make sure your vacuum is set on a low setting or specifically designed for hardwood floors.
  • DONT: use vinegar or ammonia. The vinegar’s acidity can lead to etching in the wood’s surface, whereas the ammonia will discolor, deteriorate, and dull the top finish and take years off of its life
  • DONT: Wear Heels. High heels are one of the primary causes of scratches and dents in hardwood flooring.

Now let’s talk about WHAT to do:

  • DO: Take off dirty footwear and heels before walking on your floor.
  • DO: Use Mats. For anyone who has wood flooring near entry points, use walk-off mats by the doors. They act as a barrier between the floor and the water and dirt you might be tracking in from outside. You should also add a mat where you stand in the kitchen like the sink.
  • DO: Add felt protectors. Make sure that you add felt floor protectors on the bottom of your furniture, especially chairs and stools that get moved around a lot. Without them, they will scratch and scrape the wood.
  • DO: Sweep often. Regularly sweeping the grit off your wood floor and removes the chance of rubbing in abrasive material. Rocks, dirt, and debris dragged in from outside can cause unnecessary damage to the wood.
  • DO: Use gentle cleaning tools. The softer and gentler the cleaning tools the better.
  • DO: Only use cleaners recommended by your hardwood vendor.
  • DO: Protect from Sunlight. The UV rays in the sunlight are incredibly strong and will bleach your floors if they are left exposed for a long time. Cover windows with light/sheer drapes to maintain a uniform finish on your floor.
  • DO: Keep a steady temperature. This point is especially important for areas that have dramatic swings in temperature. This will cause the wood to expand and contract and cause cracks in the wood that are permanent.
  • DO: Consider a hardwood floor maintenance package to extend the life of your floor and keep it in premium condition.

How to Care for Wood Floors


  • Sweep off any dust or dirt that accumulates on the wood to avoid them scratching the top finish.


  • Use an approved flat-headed spray mop to clean your flooring. Only use wood floor cleaners that are recommended for your floor – never use any home remedies

Every six months

  • Use an appropriate wax to keep the wood as fresh as possible.

Every 3-5 years

  • Perform or invest in a maintenance buff and coat to replenish the finish.

Every 10 years

  • Invest in a complete refinish done by a certified expert.

As you can see, caring for wood flooring is simple. If you follow the steps outlined here, your floor has the potential to lasting decades. Just remember moisture is the wood flooring’s worst enemy, and using it sparingly keeps your floor looking great without causing lasting damage.

West Coast Floor Company located in Napa CA, has been installing and refinishing hardwood and any other type of flooring for two generations.  As a family-owned and run business, we take great pride in our craftsmanship and customer service.  Give us a call at (707) 864-2199 if you have more questions on how to care for wood floors or any other way we can be of assistance.