How to clean your timber flooring the safe way (and extend its lifespan in the process).

Clean Timber Floor

Image courtesy of Max Francis Quality Floors

Why it’s Essential

When it comes to timber and other hardwood floors, timber floor cleaning is far more than a aesthetic responsibility.  Not only will dirt block the gorgeous matte or reflective shine that makes it so distinctive; it will actually damage it!

Think of every particle of dust, dirt or grit as a tiny shard of glass.
And think of every footstep, grinding it into your timber floor finish, wearing down that shine.

An exaggeration?  Perhaps, this is a fairly accurate summation of what happens, albeit on a very slow and microscopic level.  When it comes to timber floor cleaning, a little  healthy paranoia here will get you in the right mindset.

How to Reduce your Workload

Simple preventative measures can save you a lot of trouble.  Place welcome mats at every major entrance.  This will remind guests that they’re bringing dirt inside with them, encouraging a diligence you would not otherwise expect.  Consider placing mats inside as well, covering popular corridors, and even dedicated covering for areas you know will see a lot of use, such as certain places in the kitchen.  Of course, it would defeat the point to conceal too much of your beautiful floor, so it comes down to a balance between style and protection.  Follow your own intuition.

From here, it’s a simple case of diligence.  A thorough weekly clean is more easily said than done, so these preventative steps will provide a safety net.

How to do it (and NOT do it)

The key take-home message: avoid moisture.

Timber is particularly vulnerable to warping on exposure to liquid or humidity, particularly if it gets between the floorboards.  As such, you will need to approach cleaning with caution.

Spill and Stain Removal

  • To wipe up simple spills (i.e. water), use a dry towel or cloth.
  • For stickier substances, damp the cloth without soaking it.  After you’ve removed the spill, use a dry second cloth or towel to remove the moisture.
  • If this isn’t enough, mix a solution from vinegar and hot water.
  • If the stain is particularly tough, replace the vinegar with mentholated spirits.
  • If you must use detergent, keep it a minimum, mixing just 2-3 drops with hot water.  (More could eat away at the finishing.)
  • …and, as alaways, remember to clean up the resulting moisture with a dry cloth afterwards.

Routine Mopping

  • Mopping should only be done with a soft, lint free microfiber mop.  Under no circumstances should you use a steam mop, as this will effectively force heated water between the floorboards, breaching several floor care rules at once!


  • Choose a dustpan, brush and broom with soft bristles that don’t risk scraping the timber coating.  An electrostatic broom is perfect for this, as it will pick up most debris without any added pressure.

Got any other wooden floor tips?  Leave a comment below!

Further Reading: How to Clean a Timber Floor



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