HomeTriangle Guides: How to clean differently finished wood floors


Wooden floor finishes are not only susceptible to damage from heavy usage but are equally sensitive to the wrong products and techniques. Learn about How to Clean Them.

Wooden floor finishes are not only susceptible to damage from heavy usage, but are equally sensitive to the wrong cleaning products and techniques. While using excess water to clean wooden floors is in general taboo, it is also worth noting that not all cleaning agents are suitable for all wood floor finishes.
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Clean Wooden Floor
Image - Beufl.com

Determine the finish of the floor accurately and opt for a suitable cleaner, when in doubt use a wood-friendly floor cleaner, preferably recommended by your local wooden floor dealer. That said, let’s check how finished or unfinished hardwood floors can be cleaned, and which products to avoid.

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Surface sealant being applied to a wood Floor
Image - Hardwoodfloorsplusmore.com

Surface Sealant Finish

Surface-sealed hardwood floors have a protective layer of a thin plastic-like material on top that make them resistant to stains, dust and water spills, thereby protecting the underlying wood. Regular sweeping with a soft broom and mopping the floor with a moist mop should suffice to keep them clean. 

Don't use oil, petroleum or wax based products on wooden floors that have a surface-finish. This is particularly important because the sealed surface is already quite slick. These products will not only dull the finish but also tend to add a slippery residue that not traps dirt and makes the floor dangerously smooth to walk on.

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A beautifully finished wooden floor  can be the focal point of a room
Image - Woodfloors.org

Penetrating Sealants, Wax Or Vegetable Oil Finish

Sealants in this case seep into the wood to protect it and make it more durable and presentable. Such floors should be cleaned using special cleaners clearly identified for the purpose. Applying a coat of wax in liquid or paste form and polishing it to restore a sparkle is also possible. However, it is important to regularly run a damp/dry mop over the areas of flooring that are frequently used to avoid dust or dirt from being driven into the wood.

Wax Finished

Clean wax-finished floors with liquid cleaners or pastes that are labeled for the purpose. Follow instructions on the label, and leave the floor undisturbed as advised for the cleaning to be effective. Ideally another layer of wax coat is recommended to restore the sheen, every time the floor is cleaned.

Unfinished Wood floors, Or With Lacquer/ Varnish

These types of floors are not that resistant to water, when compared to those that are sealed. Excess water is likely to seep through the boards, causing cracks and warps in the floor, and will even harbor mold and other small micro-organisms in the damp environment. Sweeping heavily used areas regularly, and waxing, or cleaning, whenever the finish shows visible signs of wear and tear will help preserve these floors.



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