How to clean prefinished hardwood flooring

The term pre-finished means wood panels that are sanded, stained and finished by the manufacturer. Once you purchase the panels they can be fitted as they are without need for further treatment. Many people prefer the look, feel and low maintenance that comes with a hardwood floor but how exactly should you care for and clean your pre-finished hardwood floor?

Sweep/Vacuum daily

Keeping on top of the cleaning of your pre-finished hardwood floor means that it will remain looking in tip top condition for much longer. You may not need to sweep or vacuum daily – every other day may be enough but by keeping on top of it you won’t have to deal with a build-up of dust and dirt that will take you longer to clean. A quick sweep with a soft broom will get rid of any dust, hair or loose debris. If you prefer to use a vacuum cleaner make sure you use one that doesn’t have the bar on the bottom – this will damage the floor. You can use the nozzle attachment for getting down in between the cracks and removing any loose debris.

Wash the floor

You can give your pre-finished hardwood floor a good clean once a week with a suitable cleaner. There are many available but it is best to follow the manufacturer’s advice as to what to use. If you use one with either too high or too low pH then it can dull your floor so it is best to go with a neutral pH cleaner. Some people use steam cleaners but you must ensure that you don’t get too much moisture in between the boards. If you are mopping the floor make sure you squeeze out the mop until it is damp. You can go over afterwards with a dry cloth but there is no need to rinse. Whilst cleaning the rooms of your house once a week is enough you may want to do it more often in the kitchen to maintain good hygiene.

Cleaning up spillages

Should a drink or other liquid get spilt on the floor it is important to immediately mop it up with a cloth. If it is a sticky substance you can use a damp sponge to wipe the area but you must ensure that you dry it all up and try and avoid it getting into the cracks between the boards. If moisture gets in under the floor it can lead to mould and mildew. A one off spillage shouldn’t do any damage but regular encounters with water will cause problems.

Stubborn dirt

If you have a stubborn stain on your floor you can use a stain remover that is recommended by the manufacturer. Apply with a clean, soft rag or cloth. Any sticky spots can be cleaned with a damp sponge that has been well squeezed to avoid moisture getting into the floor. If the area is a high traffic area then you may want to consider a rug or carpet runner to avoid the pre-finished hardwood floor getting too much abuse.

Other tips to consider

If you have a pre-finished hardwood floor installed you will need to consider the wear and tear that it will encounter. There are some extra steps that you can take to avoid your floor sustaining damage.

  • Make sure you keep pets claws clipped to avoid the floor getting scratched
  • Ask people to remove their shoes at the door – especially high heels with stilettos
  • Encourage children to not drag their toys across the floor – perhaps they have a designated area for playing with a play mat?
  • Clean up spills immediately to avoid moisture getting into the cracks and under the boards
  • Keep the room at a constant temperature to avoid humidity and moisture build up

Look after your hardwood floor and it will last for many years to come. In fact there is rarely a need to replace a pre-finished hardwood floor that has been properly cared for so if you keep it well maintained with a sand and re-finish every few years it should stay looking as good as the day that you had it fitted.
If you are unsure as to the cleaners you should be using or would like further advice about the maintenance of your hardwood floor you can always talk to your manufacturer who will be able to advise you on the best cleaning methods for the type floor that you have chosen.


This Old House, Retrieved January 2017, About pre-finished wood floors
Clean Link, Retrieved January 2017, Advantages of a pH Neutral Cleaner