3 Ways to Keep Hardwood Floors Clean Longer

3 Ways to Keep Hardwood Floors Clean Longer-2

One of your most-asked questions is all about how to make hardwood floors look and feel clean.  If you have hardwood floors you know that when they’re clean and shiny they’re beautiful and maybe even bring a smile to your face.  But if they’re grungy and dirty and sticky, they’re frustrating and they beg to be washed.  So how about a couple ways to keep your hardwood (and just about any other hard surface floor) stay and look clean longer?

Remove shoes at the door

Entryway - Clean Mama

If you haven’t adopted a shoes-off policy, this will definitely help keep the tracked in dirt and debris at the door.  Strategically place a rug at each entrance of the home and put a basket with socks or slippers out and accessible for guests.  If you have a place to put shoes in your garage, utilize that so you aren’t even bringing the dirt inside.

Vacuum and wash floors very thoroughly weekly

Easy to Clean Floors via Clean Mama

I find that a thorough vacuum and floor washing every week is the best way for me to keep the floors clean and fairly dirt free all week long.  By vacuuming edges and corners and doing a thorough job, I find that the floors look better for longer.  Of course if you have kids and/or pets you know that you could most likely vacuum and wash floors every day, but I’m guessing you don’t want to be spending your time doing that every day.  In my cleaning routine I vacuum on Wednesdays and wash floors on Thursdays – it’s a great system and method that works.  Go to this post to find out more.

Spot clean any little messes right away

If you notice a smudge, spill, or mess, tackle it right away. Crumbs under the table after a meal, give it a quick sweep.  Juice splatters from breakfast?  Wipe it up or bring out your favorite spray mop to clean it right up. It only takes a minute or two to clean up little messes but if left until the next time you wash the floors, your floors will look dirtier and they’ll take longer to clean when you do clean them.  Go here for some of my favorite tools and tricks for cleaning hard surface floors.

What do you do to keep your hardwood floors clean longer?

3 Ways to Clean Hardwood Floors with Vinegar

When it comes to controversial cleaning topics, patient cleaning hardwood floors with vinegar is close to the top believe it or not.  If you are in the ‘it’s not safe camp’, you probably won’t like this post.  But in my research and years of personal cleaning experience, I believe that there are 3 basic and safe methods that can be used.


What’s the big concern with vinegar and hardwood floors?  Vinegar is an acid and hardwood floors need a pH neutral or close to it cleaner.  When mixed with water, the solution’s acidity is drastically lowered and it becomes an effective method to wash hardwood floors.  The vinegar and water mixture cuts through dirt and grime, leaving a streak-free and naturally clean floor.


3 Ways to Wash Hardwood Floors via Clean Mama
NOTE:  Cleaning floors with vinegar is merely my suggestion, please form your own opinion and try at your own risk.  If you are unsure, test in an inconspicuous spot.  These recipes are only for SEALED hardwood floors or pre-fabricated hardwood floors, not waxed or unfinished hardwoods.
I always I like to give my readers a range of options and solutions. Some people love making their own cleaners while others prefer the pre-mixed, ready to go options.  I only recommend products that are non-toxic and safe to use around people and pets, but these are all products that I use and love.  At the end of the post you’ll see some a post linked with other hardwood floor cleaning options if you don’t want to use vinegar.

You probably know this, but it’s worth mentioning:

Hardwood floors foot sections and never let standing water sit on hardwood floors as it can warp and ruin the wood.

3 Ways to Safely Wash Hardwood Floors with Vinegar

METHOD #1: By Hand with a Bucket and Cloth

Bucket Method via Clean Mama

This is the old-fashioned method to wash floors and works great if you are wanting to get up close and personal with your floors.  I don’t do this every week, but when I feel like the floors need a really good cleaning, this works really well.  You can use the mixture on most baseboards too.

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 gallon of warm water
  • 2-3 drops essential oils (I love lemon or lemon and clove for my hardwood floors)

METHOD #2: Refillable Spray Mop

Refillable Spray Mop via Clean Mama

Refillable spray mops (this is the one I’m using now – I love it!) are super convenient and work well for daily touch ups and regular floor cleaning.  Make sure that your microfiber pad is rinsed frequently to prevent streaking.

  • 3 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 16 ounces of warm water
  • 1-2 drops essential oils (I love lemon or lemon and clove for my hardwood floors)

METHOD #3: Spray Bottle and Microfiber Mop

Spray Bottle and Microfiber Mop via Clean Mama

If you prefer a spray bottle and microfiber mop, this works great – I recommend this microfiber mop.  Mix up the same solution that you’d put in a refillable spray mop bottle, wet the mop head with water and wring out.  Then spray and wipe, working in 4-6 foot sections.

  • 3 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 16 ounces of warm water
  • 1-2 drops essential oils (I love lemon or lemon and clove for my hardwood floors)

3 Ways to Clean Hardwood Floors with Vinegar

What’s your favorite hardwood floor cleaner and/or method?

Check out these posts for more cleaning info – just click on the image to go straight to the post:

The Best Ways to Clean and Care for Hard Surface Floors via Clean Mama

How to Clean Your Vacuum Cleaner via Clean Mama

Kid-Friendly Cleaning Caddy + DIY Cleaning Spray via Clean Mama

Six Things I Do Every Day to Keep the House Clean via Clean Mama


DIY Homemade Cleaners {Hardwood Floor Cleaner}

Making your own cleaners can be fun and economical.  This series is all about must-have ingredients, recipes {free printable}labels {free printable}, and how to make homemade cleaners.

My favorite way to wash my hardwood floors is with warm water, vinegar, and essential oils.  (You can see how I use this method in more detail with a bucket and microfiber cloths in this post.)  The cleaning power comes from the water and vinegar, but I add a couple drops of essential oils to keep the house smelling a little less pickle-y.  I’ve done a lot of research on this method and it is what is most recommended by hardwood floor installers and refinishers.  However, vinegar is acidic, so it’s super important to make sure that the ratio of water to vinegar is correct because too much vinegar can dull the finish of your floors.  It’s also very important to use a barely damp cloth when washing your hardwood floors because too much water can damage your floors too.

Here are the simple ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 gallon of warm water
  • 2-3 drops essential oils (I love lemon or lemon and clove for my hardwood floors)

I mix this up using the same ratio in my floor cleaner:

  • 3 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 16 ounces of warm water
  • 1-2 drops essential oils (I love lemon or lemon and clove for my hardwood floors)


Pop on a label and you’re all set!

Come see this updated post with my favorite 3 ways to clean hardwood floors with vinegar:

3 Ways to Wash Hardwood Floors via Clean Mama

Follow my Pinterest board for lots of cleaning tips and more DIY recipes!

Click here to see all the posts in this series.

The Organically Clean Home - Clean Mama

There’s a whole section of recipes for cleaning your floors naturally in my book,  The Organically Clean Home!

Update: Washing Hardwood Floors with Vinegar

I’ve been washing my hardwood floors with vinegar and water for a couple months now.  Sometimes with a bucket and sometimes with a mop (I like the Rubbermaid Reveal mop).  My preferred method (for results, not knees) is the getting down on my hands and knees method.    (You can see my original post here, if you are interested.)  I am not a fan of the ‘just pickled’ smell that my house has after washing the floors, so I took to the comments and tried adding a little essential oils to my water/vinegar solution.  No vinegar smell before, during or after the floor washing – yay!
It’s super simple, here’s what you’ll need…..
  • I use a bucket of clean, plain water (for rinsing the dirty cloths during floor washing)
  • a bucket with hot water and vinegar (I use the ratio of 1/2 cup white vinegar to 1 gallon of warm/hot water)
  • a drop or two of essential oils added to the water/vinegar solution – I like this brand and I use a combination of lemon and orange or lemon and clove
  • microfiber cloths – I use three or four as I wash the floors – for drying and when the cloths get dirty
 It’s been almost 2 months since I posted about this method – anyone trying it out?

How to Wash Hardwood Floors with Vinegar

I don’t mind washing floors, it’s instant gratification in the cleaning department and the biggest annoyance about it is moving furniture and the not walking on it until it’s dry part.  But…I’ve been struggling with my hardwoods (I know, not important in the scheme of things, but humor me).  When I say struggling, I mean that I feel I’ve tried just about every natural (and sort of natural) cleaning technique and tool known to hardwoods and while my floors look clean, I have never been completely happy with the finished results.  But…I’m a busy mom, and I like to clean in a hurry and get it over with and get on with my life, so I just washed them the best I could in the shortest amount of time and moved on.  I just felt like I always had some type of residue or something remaining on the floor – I chocked it up to juice, cereal, play-doh, dog slobber…

But the curiosity got the better of me and I tried washing my hardwoods the ‘really old-fashioned way’.  On my hands and knees and with hot water and vinegar.  First of all, I will tell you that I hate the smell of vinegar and smelling like a pickle, so that is why it has taken me so long to get to the point of actually trying to clean my floors this way.   But I gutted it out and guess what?  My floors have never looked cleaner and they stay cleaner for longer.  I had to change the bucket three times as I was washing my floors.  I know that they weren’t that dirty (because I wash them once a week), but I think that there was residue built up from the cleaners that was attracting dirt.  Now when I wash them, I don’t need to rinse the bucket more than once or twice.
I would rather not wash my floors on my hands and knees, but the results were so great that it’s hard not to.  I used a microfiber cloth, wrung almost dry, a little bucket with warm water and white vinegar (you don’t need to use ‘cleaning’ vinegar, this is just what I grabbed at the store).  The correct ratio of water to white vinegar is 1/2 cup white vinegar to 1 gallon of warm/hot water.  You could use a mop and bucket or a microfiber mopping pad.  I’ll be experimenting with the vinegar and water mixture in my refillable mop with microfiber pad, but for now I really enjoyed washing my hardwoods the old-fashioned way.
Tell me – have you been washing your hardwood floors with vinegar all along?  What’s your favorite method and cleaner for your floors?


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