Hardwood floors are very nice to look at. What’s more, their aesthetics are quite universal. They can match any style of interior design or architecture, whether that’s a classic, modern, or contemporary vibe. This is why you often see hardwood floors in different kinds of businesses, from antique stores to coffee shops.

Unfortunately, hardwood floors can get dirty pretty quickly in these high-traffic business settings. From muddy shoes to spilled drinks, hardwood floors undergo a lot of abuse. If you don’t clean them up properly, the accumulated grime can dull the wood and even shorten its lifespan.

Fortunately, it’s actually easy to clean high-traffic wooden floors. Of course, the best thing to do is to hire commercial cleaners to make sure you don’t accidentally damage the wood. Nevertheless, the tips below can help you achieve good results just like the pros.

Sealed or Unfinished?

The first thing you have to do before you start cleaning hardwood floors is to figure out if it’s sealed/coated or unfinished. If they’re sealed/coated, you can use a little more water (e.g., for scrubbing off some stubborn stains); if not, you need to be careful not to soak the floors.

If you don’t know whether your hardwood floors are sealed/coated or not, you can do a dropper test. Simply a few drops onto the floor and see if they would be absorbed after a few minutes. If yes, then the floor is unfinished or coated with varnish. If the water drops aren’t absorbed, then the floor is sealed/coated with either polyurethane or acrylic.

Do note that most modern hardwood floors are sealed/coated. Still, if you aren’t sure, conduct the test mentioned above or call an expert to verify.

Sweep or Vacuum

After checking the finish of your hardwood floors, the next step is to remove as much debris as you can. Doing this will prevent sharp particles from scratching the surface of the wood.

For this step, you can either use a soft-bristled broom or a vacuum cleaner with a soft roller head. Avoid anything too stiff because, like sharp particles, these can damage your hardwood floors.

Use a Mild Cleanser

Once you’ve swept or vacuumed the dirt and dust from your hardwood floors, you can now proceed with the actual cleaning process. You can either purchase a specially formulated product or create your own using warm water and a mild cleanser like castile soap. You can use these for daily mopping.

Meanwhile, for soiled hardwood, you’re going to need an alkaline cleaning solution. Make sure it’s water-based to prevent damage. In addition, follow the usage instructions indicated on the label to achieve the best results. Never use anything bleach- or acid-based on your hardwood floors; furniture wax is also not ideal since it can stain the wood and result in uneven colouring.

For the mop, the best option would be a microfibre mop. It’s great for both wet and dry mopping, and it can also last for a very long time with proper care. More importantly, a microfibre mop is soft enough that you won’t unintentionally scratch your floors.

Go With the Grain

A quick tip when mopping hardwood floors: follow the direction of the grain for the best results. Also, make sure that the mop is slightly damp or dry. Don’t use a soaking wet mop, ever, on hardwood floors even if you’re 100 per cent sure that they’re sealed.

Buff to Shine

After everything’s mopped up and dried, it’s time to give your hardwood floors a good buff. There are buffing machines that you can purchase or rent, although you can also do this process by hand. Use a soft cloth or a microfibre mop that’s dampened with an appropriate polish.

Some people swear by olive oil or similar products when it comes to homemade buffing solutions. If you want to DIY it, just make sure to follow the previously mentioned advice: don’t use anything that’s bleach- or acid-based to prevent damage.

Perform Regular Maintenance

Last but not least, high-traffic wooden floors need regular maintenance. Sweep or vacuum often so dirt won’t have a chance to build up. If you’re handling, say, a restaurant or coffee shop, find some time during lulls (e.g., after the lunch hour) to get some cleaning done.

You should also clean up spills as soon as they happen, particularly if you have unsealed wooden floors. If you don’t take care of the mess ASAP, the liquid can seep in and ruin the wood. For scuff marks, a tennis ball or an eraser can be used for a quick fix. You can also use a microfibre cloth to rub the stain off.


As you can see, it’s not difficult at all to keep your hardwood floors in good shape. The key here is consistency. If you’re able to clean and buff wooden flooring regularly, you can count on them to stay in great condition for years to come!