How to Clean Dark Wood Floors

How to Clean Dark Wood FloorsWhen we moved into our house, there was only one thing that I was disappointed in, and it was my wood floor in the entry way, kitchen, dining area and now we are putting it in the hallway.  It is beautiful. And daaark.  and I have kids.  A whole litter of them.

We told the designer when we built our house that we wanted “such and such” floors and she wrote down the wrong name and they installed them.  My husband was traveling for work, and the builder kept saying it was what we picked out.  We moved in and I was crushed.  They were most certainly not what we picked out and the designer has since been let go for similar mistakes.  And I am stuck with dark floors.  I have to sweep and mop these babies a THOUSAND times a day to keep them looking nice.

But- they are the beautiful.  They are the perfect floors, maybe for a grandma, or person without young kids, or anyone that hates crackers. 🙂

Finding a good and fast method for cleaning these floors was high on my priority list.  Here are a few cleaning methods that have been successful at my house.

The Basics:

I have to sweep/dust my floors every day, and probably should about 2-3 times a day to keep them looking nice.  I usually dust the wood floor with a mop that has been treated with a dusting agent to pick up dust and dirt first.  Vacuums can scratch your wood floors, so be sure if you use a vacuum that you use it with a floor-brush attachment.  Oh how I wish a vacuum would solve my wood floor problems.  You can dust also by using a product like the Swiffer.

Deep Clean hardwood floors

I try to deep clean my floors about every other day.  It used to be every day, but it was much too overwhelming.  I use a wood cleaning product and a sponge or a rag mop.  Be sure not to allow water to pool up on the floor.  Wipe up any excess liquid, as standing water or liquid can damage wood floors.  It is smart to allow for a breeze or ceiling fan to dry the wood quickly as you mop it.  This prevents any damage, and also prevents water spots if the water is dried quickly.

If your wood floor is sealed with a polyurethane finish or polyacrylic, don’t use oils, sprays, waxes or furniture spray at all.  Dust floor (or sweep) and mop and you can call it good!  Be sure to use only soft rags or mops and nothing that is abrasive, to prevent scratches.

Use a pH-neutral soap (like dish soap) and dilute it in a bucket of water.

It is easy to get in the habit of using water only, because there are so many different ones that you shouldn’t use.  Water is so easy!  If you only use water, your floors will lose the sparkle and will start to look dingy and dirty over time.


K, this is really obvious stuff here, people.  It is really easy to scuff or scratch wood floors, so to prevent that, put felt or other floor protectors on your furniture.  This really helps prevent scratches!  We also bought a rug to go under our kitchen table and we had to buy a rubber floor protector because the other side of the rug was so rough.

I have mats at each entrance (of course we all know this!) and also t will keep your floors cleaner if you remove your shoes when entering the house.  I don’t know why I have such a hard time expecting people to remove their shoes.  I ALWAYS wear shoes, so I don’t especially love to take them off, at my house or anyone else’s for that matter.  I always do, but I don’t love it.  I know in some areas of the world it is totally expected.  I know it is a culture thing in some countries.  I have even noticed in other states that it is the norm.

Tell me this- Do you wear shoes in your house?  Do you expect people to remove theirs when they visit?  I am so interested to hear.  Please share!


11 comments for “How to Clean Dark Wood Floors

  1. Cindy
    February 17, 2013 at

    Hi there,

    Thanks for the tips! We live in Alaska and everyone takes their shoes off. It just makes keeping all the sand and dirt and snow in the entry way. Even when I tell a guest they don’t have to take them off ( because I need to vacuume or mop) they seldom take me up on it. My family from Ca. thought it strange but now they do it at their homes also.

  2. Rea Jewell
    March 6, 2013 at

    Hi Melanie,
    I have had dark hardwood floors in two different houses and absolutely love them. I am wondering if it is the cleaner I use that keeps my floors at bay for at least a week. A business at home brings in many different feet and our dog, our second home is located in Northern California near Mt. Lassen in a small mountain community and we get volcanic dust which is a pain. Guest take their shoes off if greeted in stocking feet most of the time or will ask “do you want me to take my shoes off” and don’t be weary of replying yes. My cleaner, damp mop with Murphy’s Oil and rinse the mop clear before putting back in cleaning solution. My floors are spotless and have a nice shine to them.

  3. March 15, 2013 at

    I use Method’s Almond Floor Cleaner with a microfiber rug and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It makes the floors shine and it smells wonderful. I have three little kids and a dog and two cats — so I know how hard it is to keep anything clean, let alone dark wood floors. I just found your site and am really enjoying it. Thank you!

  4. Sue
    April 17, 2013 at

    We are floor people (sitting, playing, crafting, ect…..), therefore, shoes are removed at the door. Thanks for all your ideas and I love your blog.

    • Melanie
      April 24, 2013 at

      Thank you, Sue! I SO wish I had started that habit. I think we need to start doing the same thing…

  5. April 21, 2013 at

    Shoes OFF! I won’t let people in unless they remove their shoes. Dirt, poop, chemicals and God knows what else you’ve walked through doesn’t belong in my home where my kids play. We also take our shoes off at the door of other’s homes.

    I’ve all wood floors ’cause it’s healthier for my children. If folks can’t respect that…they don’t need to be under my roof. Some family had a hard time with that but…sorry…my kiddos come first.

    ~Honey 🙂

  6. Bren
    May 6, 2013 at

    Yes, we take our shoes off at the door…we live in minnesota, so the seasons dictact some of that..but it is cleaner and healthier for us…my kids and I all have terrible we don’t want what’s in the grass in our carpets.. I also have a lot of wood floors..entry dining and kitchen…I have always used a mix of vinegar and water in a spray bottle with a sniffer to wash..clean it after using a dry duster type that is yarn looking…it still has a high shine after 13 years…yes, many scratches from chairs where the felt pads wore off etc but otherwise it still looks good….I have been wondering if I can use the same cleaning process when we move into our new house soon..the wood floors are hickory…thanks for your blog and ideas…

    • Bren
      May 6, 2013 at

      Oops…dictate. Not dictact…spell correctors don’t alway help

  7. May 8, 2013 at

    I don’t ask company or visitors to remove their shoes unless they are workmen who forgot their shoe covers, but most of our closest friends and all our family members know we never wear shoes in the house and are happy to remove their shoes even if we don’t ask. I have dark engineered hardwood floors. I swiff and/or vacuum with a Shark using the floor setting and damp mop with a towel or microfiber cloth on a regular basis but use my Hann steamer every other week or so. It sanitizes and leaves no streaks or tackiness. I agree with all the gals above who remove shoes to keep the dirt, germs and who knows what other nasties out… although I have seen some feet and socks that I would have preferred remained in their shoes! :p

  8. Gina
    July 18, 2013 at

    I have a sign near the entrance that says ” Thank you for taking your shoes off ” that way I don’t have to tell anyone. Unless they don’t know how to read then I kindly ask them if they want slippers.

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