How To Clean Hardwood Floors

How To Clean Hardwood Floors

(Image credit: Diana Paulson)

As kitchens have become more showcase-y spaces to entertain your friends than behind-the-scenes spots for preparing meals served elsewhere — and open-plan entertaining spaces have blurred the line between cooking and dining — it's natural that hardwood floors have gotten more and more popular in kitchens.

While hardwood is a durable flooring option that can last decades with proper care, it's a little more finicky than laminate or tile when it comes to cleaning. Harsh cleaners and even vinegar can strip the finish, causing the wood to dull over time. And over-saturating the wood — as in, getting it too wet — can damage the boards and leave them swollen, warped, and uneven. This recipe makes use of a gentle DIY cleaner and the scrubbing power of microfiber to lift debris and get your hardwood floors all cleaned up.

How To Clean Hardwood Floors

What You'll Need

  • Broom and dust pan
  • Spray bottle
  • 1/2 teaspoon castile soap (like Dr. Bronner's)
  • 2 to 5 drops essential oil (like orange, mint or lavender; optional)
  • Microfiber mop and mop pads


  1. Sweep up crumbs and dust: Give your floor a thorough sweep to remove debris and dust. Make sure to get all the way to the edges next to cabinets and walls, since that's where kitchen debris tends to accumulate.
  2. Make the cleaning solution: Pour two cups of water, the castile soap, and essential oil, if using it, into a spray bottle. Seal it and shake it thoroughly to mix up the cleanser.
  3. Test an area: The first time you use it, test the cleanser in a discreet spot, like a corner under a cabinet, to make sure it doesn't harm the floor. Because you never know!
  4. Spritz the cleaner: Starting from the cabinet furthest from the door you'll want to exit out of, spritz the cleaning mixture onto a small area of floor (about a square yard). You want the floor to be damp, but not wet, so you don't ruin the wood. Then, with a dry microfiber mop, scrub the floor where you sprayed. Work back and forth, with the grain of the floorboards.
  5. Keep going: Continue working in small patches, from the farthest part of the room to the area you'll exit out of. (So you don't get stuck!) If your microfiber pad gets really dirty, switch it out for a new one, or rinse it (squeeze out as much moisture as you can before using it again).
  6. Let it dry: Once you've cleaned the entire floor, wait at least a half hour before you walk on it again to avoid tracking in new dirt.
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