Avoid These Common Hardwood Floor Cleaning Mistakes - Home & Texture
Living Room Hardwood Floor Maintenance Pitfalls

These Common Cleaning Techniques Are Damaging Your Hardwood Floors

Learn what not to do, according to an expert.

April 29, 2024 at 11:35 PM PST
Living Room Hardwood Floor Maintenance Pitfalls

These Common Cleaning Techniques Are Damaging Your Hardwood Floors

Learn what not to do, according to an expert.

April 29, 2024 at 11:35 PM PST

Owning a home with unsealed hardwood floor is like bringing the great outdoors right into your living room. But just like anything else that’s natural, it needs special care to maintain it. And if you’re not careful, even the most common cleaning techniques can end up doing more harm than good. Fortunately, the founder of custom logo mat company Ultimate Mats, David Chapman, is here to walk through the dos and don’ts that’ll keep your floors looking gorgeous without risking damage. Here are his expert insights when it comes to cleaning and maintaining unsealed hardwood floors.

Harsh Chemicals

Some people think that scrubbing their floors with strong cleaners is a good idea, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Many of the popular household cleaners contain harmful chemicals, making them a big no-no for unsealed hardwood.

Using these cleaners on your flooring can strip the wood of its natural oils, leading to dryness and damage. So if you want to keep your floors looking clean and shiny, stick to mild solutions — warm water mixed with a drop of dish soap can do the trick.

Steam Cleaners

While steam cleaning can seem like a good way to get your hardwood floor sparkling, it’s actually one of the worst things you can do to unsealed wood. The high heat and moisture can make the wood swell and warp, causing it to look really ugly.


Vinegar is a multi-purpose cleaning agent, but not when it comes to hardwood floors. In fact, the acidity in vinegar can seep into the wood, causing it to crack. If you prefer to use natural cleaning solutions, keep vinegar off your list for unsealed hardwood floors.

Dragging Furniture

If you have a habit of dragging furniture across your floor to move it, you’re probably doing more harm than good. Unsealed hardwood is really vulnerable to scratches and dents. So as a general rule of thumb, always lift instead of drag. Then, place furniture pads under the legs of your tables, chairs, and sofas to keep your furniture from scratching the floor.

A close up of a woman's heel boots on hardwood floor
Photo credit: Meg 

Wearing Shoes Indoors

Because shoes track in dirt and small rocks that scratch the wood, make it a house rule to take your shoes off at the door.

How To Clean Your Unsealed Hardwood Floor

Now that you know what not to do, take a look at what you should to do clean your floors:

Keep it dry.

Since unsealed wood absorbs moisture, it’s important to make sure your floors don’t stay wet after cleaning. Always wring out your mop or cloth thoroughly to prevent any excess water from damaging the wood.

Invest in natural oils.

For added shine, try using natural oils like beeswax or mineral oils on your floors. They not only enhance the floor’s look but provide some protection, too.

Photo credit: Morsa Images

Do a spot test.

Before you start using any new product, do a spot test. To do it, apply a small amount of the product on a less visible part of the floor like in a corner or behind a door. Then, check for any discoloration or damage before moving on to the rest of your flooring.

Place mats in high-traffic areas.

To minimize wear and tear, place mats in high-traffic areas like entryways so they catch the dirt and debris that would otherwise scratch up the floor. Just make sure to move them around every so often so the wood doesn’t become discolored, and always dry them fully after washing.

Be mindful of pets.

If you have furry friends at home, keep an eye on their nails. Keeping your pet’s nails trimmed is a simple way to avoid scratches while extending the life of your flooring.



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