How to Clean Floorboards

August 29, 2019

Written by: Terry Stevens


Floorboards are a necessary part of your home’s interior, but they can be tough to keep clean.

If you want to make your floorboards last, you need to regularly clean them.

Cleaning your floorboards as part of your house cleaning routine is a great way to give your home a fresh new look. It will not only make your home feel and look cleaner but can also save you a ton of money on repairs down the line. Keep reading to learn how to clean floorboards properly.

Unfinished Vs. Finished Floors

The first and most essential step in cleaning your floorboards is to determine if your floors are finished or unfinished. You will need to treat and clean an unfinished floor differently than you would a finished floor.

You can tell if your floor is unfinished by simply dropping a little water on the floor and seeing what happens. If the water beads up on your floorboard, then you have a finished floorboard. If the water soaks into your board, then you’re working with an unfinished floorboard, which will need special house cleaning treatment.

Keep in mind that this is not a be all end all test, but it has been proven to work for many homes.

Cleaning Unfinished Floors

If your floor is unfinished then do not treat it with the traditional water and mop method. If you do this then a lot of water will soak into the boards which can create damage like warping.

You also do not want to use any products meant for a finished floor on an unfinished floor. Read the label of these cleaning products closely to ensure that you can use it on an unfinished floor.

Using products the wrong products on an unfinished floor could lead to staining, making your cleaning process worthless. Also, be sure to not scrub your unfinished floor with wet or tough bristled objects to remove stains. If you do this, you can create ugly damage that will look worse than an actual stain.

You can clean an unfinished floor with a mop or Swifter which won’t leave as much liquid behind or soak your floorboards. Just make sure that you change your pads as needed to make sure you’re soaking up all the excess water.

How To Clean Floorboards Properly

Here are some other tips to make sure you’re properly mopping your floor.

Dilute Cleaning Products In Water

When mopping your floor, be sure that you are cautiously mopping and diluting your cleaning products in water. Products like Trisodium Phosphate, Orange Glo, white vinegar, and or Murphy’s Oil Soap are meant to be diluted.

Wring It Out

Make sure that when you dilute these products that you properly wring out the mop so it is damp and not wet. If you wring your mop and notice that water is still coming out, then your mop is too wet and could damage your floor.

You might even consider cleaning smaller areas first, and then follow it up with a towel that isn’t dyed or a rag to soak up the extra water before your boards do.

Use Mineral Spirits

You’ll want to cautiously use mineral spirits to sanitise and clean your floor. You can apply this with a sponge or rag. Make sure your room is properly ventilated, as the smell is not pleasant.

Sand It Out

For any deep stains or damages on your floorboard that cleaning won’t remove, you can cautiously use sandpaper to buff it out. You don’t want to do this very often and excessive sanding can make your floors uneven, and hard to finish if the future if they are unfinished.

Regularly Sweep Or Vacuum

You also don’t need to mop your unfinished floors, you can regularly sweep and vacuum them instead. Usually, the floor just needs the dust removed, which will take care of any dirty situations without ruining your floorboards. If you’re going to use a vacuum, make sure it’s one that’s designed to use on a hardwood floor.

When you wash your finished hardwood floors, you also want to make sure that you remove all the grime and dirt with a dust mop or vacuum before you try to wash your floors. If you don’t then you’ll be rubbing in dirt into your floors. You’ll want to dust your floor with a mop or microfiber duster that is equipped to pick up pet hair, dirt, and dust,

Spot Clean

You will also want to regularly spot clean your floors, as opposed to mopping the entire floor. If you spill on your floor, it’s best to soak it up with a sponge, rag or paper towel. Then clean that area with something damp (not wet) so you won’t have to mop the entire floor.

Take Your Shoes Off

The best way to avoid getting your floor dirty is to make sure everyone takes off their shoes before entering your home. Shoes track a lot of dirt and sand, and these particles can scrape and ruin your beautiful hardwood floors.

You can also put mats by both your interior and exterior doors, so you track in less dirt. When it snows or rains, and an area to remove boots, to avoid water and ice damage to your floors.

Deep Clean

Occasionally, you’ll want to deep clean the dirt, grime, and oil on your finished hardwood floor which builds up over time. For this, you’ll want to mix one cup of vinegar with one gallon of water. Put your mop into the solution and wring it so it’s damp dry.

You’ll want to mop the floor in the direction of your floorboards, so when the water dries, the streak won’t be as visible. After you mop, you’ll want to dry it with a soft clean towel or let it air dry.

Another way to deep clean your finished floors, which is a little creative, is to steep a bag of tea in two cups of boiling water, then bring the tea to room temperature. Take out the bag, soak a cloth in the tea, wring it and then wipe your floor clean.

Dry the floor with a soft cloth, you’ll notice the tannic acid from the tea will make your floors shine!

Use A Crayon

If you see any scratches on your hardwood floors, get a crayon the colour of your floor and rub in on the scratch, filling the gap. Then with a blowdryer on high, head the area, then buff it with a soft cloth.

Clean Those Floorboards

Now that you know how to clean floorboards and maintain their shine, get on it! Make sure you know if your floors are finished or unfinished before you get cleaning. Find a method that works for you, and work it into your cleaning routine.

For more cleaning tips and tricks, check out our blog!


Floors, How to

About the author 

Terry Stevens

The owner and founder of Sparkle and Shine. He is a seasoned professional in the home services industry with a decade of experience. He is dedicated to providing top-notch services for residential and commercial properties and has a wealth of knowledge to share on topics such as tips, tricks, industry trends, and the importance of loving your space.