Can You Spot the Error in These 4 Hardwood Floor Cleaning Myths?

hardwood floor

When you’ve been cleaning hardwood floors professionally as long as we have, you encounter a lot of erroneous information about cleaning wood floors. Not all hardwood floor cleaning advice is created equal! Some of it is just…wrong.

In this post, we’ll address some common myths regarding hardwood floor cleaning. See if you can spot the error!

  1. A shiny floor is a clean floor. Not always. It is true that a clean floor should have a shine to it, but actually, the shine of your floor has as much to do with its surface texture as with cleanliness. Dull floors can result from tiny scratches or scuffs on the wood’s surface. To restore shine to a floor like that, refinishing is usually required.
  2. Wood floors must be cleaned or treated with oil. For most wood floors, this is outdated advice. The wisdom of applying oil soap to wood floors was perfectly fine when wood floors were sealed with wax, which dehydrated the wood. But nowadays, most wood floors are sealed with polyurethane, which does not allow moisture to escape. Therefore, for most wood floors, no oil is needed. Modern sealants create a barrier that prevents any oil from soaking into the wood itself. Applying oil soap to these floors only makes the floor slick, and, rather than keeping it clean, is liable to attract dirt and grime.
  3. Add vinegar to your wood floor cleaner. This is another bit of outdated advice. It used to be sensible in the old days, but not any longer. Time was, people used all-purpose, lye-based soaps for cleaning…well, just about everything. These lye-based soaps were corrosive. Much harsher than our modern, wood floor-specific soaps. So people added vinegar to the mop bucket, lowering the PH of the solution and thereby reducing the harshness of the soap. Modern wood floor cleaners are formulated to have the ideal PH level for cleaning wood floors, so adding vinegar is no longer necessary.
  4. Water’s just as good as cleaner. Water can work for a quick, superficial cleaning, but it really depends on how deep of a clean you need. You can damp mop most wood floors with just plain water. This will pick up dust and debris, and leave your floors looking cleaner than before. But for a real deep clean, you need a liquid floor cleaner formulated specifically for wood floors. We recommend Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner. No matter what cleaning agent you use, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions!


We hope this post helps to demystify the process of caring for hardwood floors. Of course, we’re here to help if you’ve decided DIY isn’t going to cut it. Check out some of our before-and-after pics to get an idea of what we can do with wood floors. If you live in the Asheville, NC area and are looking for professional wood floor cleaning, give Five Step a call at 828.237.3237 or get in touch via our contact form today!