How to Care for Wood Floors - Expert Advise


As a booking coordinator for a professional cleaning company, this is a question that we often face. We consulted experts in the floor sanding and finishing industry. Here is what we discovered.

This will be a three-part series covering the three main areas you need to consider when caring for wood floors.

  • Part 1: Expert advice and the type of floor
  • Part 2: What your cleaner can do
  • Part 3: What you can do

Let’s look at them in more detail.


We interviewed Nathan from NJH Floor Sanding about the science of safely cleaning wooden floors. The do’s and don’ts are as individual as they come and it really depends on one big question:

“What finish is on your wood floor?“

The basic categories of floor finishes are acrylic, solvent, or oil-based. These surfaces require a very different type of care, cleaning, and maintenance. Here are some rules to follow:

Polyurethane Coatings

  • Water-Based Polyurethane (Water-Based Acrylic) – Use pH neutral cleaners – no vinegar, no alcohol, no acetone, no solvents such as methylated spirits and white spirits. Nathan uses Squeaky Clean made my Intergrain. Some dish soaps are also pH neutral. Be sure to buy earth-friendly, mild soap, and only use a little squeeze.
  • Solvent Based Polyurethane – Mop with a little bit of vinegar and warm water with a standard cotton mop. A pH neutral cleaning product is also ok.
  • Oil-Based Polyurethane – Mop with a little bit of vinegar and warm water with a standard cotton mop. PH neutral cleaning products is also ok.

European Buffing Oil / Eco-Oil / Natural Oil

This kind of coating is soaked into the timber and the excess is buffed off. There are hundreds of different products in this category and each one will have its own care and maintenance plan. These floors can be high end and high care. General rule: No microfibre as it will strip the oil out of the floor. Use the specialty product supplied.

Less is best

Overdoing any chemical is bad, even overdoing water is bad! Use well-rung mops and a capful of cleaner. A 1-liter bottle of specialty cleaner should last a year in a home that is cleaned fortnightly.

Avoid cross-contamination

Imagine you hire a cleaner and at a previous clean they mopped an industrial kitchen with bleach. The residue could destroy sensitive floors. Nathan suggests having a specific mop and bucket at home for the cleaner to use so that no cross-contamination can occur. For eco-oil, use a green mop head, handle, and bucket. For bleach, use a red.

Nathan commented that ‘homeowners need to have a good care plan in place and educate themselves about proper maintenance for their specific wood floor’. Additionally, professional cleaners need to query their customers about their care plan. It is best to continue with what is currently working in order to ensure the success and longevity of your wooden floors.

When you don’t know, stick to what’s proven to work

There are so many floor coatings than what is listed above. You might come across Woca, Rubio Monocoat, and Loba Impact Oil to name a few. But if you don’t know what coating is on the floor, look at the existing products being used and if that is working, continue to use it.

A huge thanks to Nathan from NJH Floor Sanding! He is very knowledgeable and was incredibly helpful during lots of calls and emails. You can find Nathan here.

Australian Timber and Flooring Association

We also consulted the Australian Timber and Flooring Association website for floor care and maintenance. They emphasized the fact that each floor coating would come with a very specific cleaning product to be used. There isn’t a way to say this enough! Research your wooden floor so you can take the best possible care, and be informed about what works.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

If you found this article useful, or you know more about caring for wood floors, please leave us a comment below.

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