How to Clean Prefinished Hardwood Floors

  • Hardwood floors are very popular, thanks to the exclusive feel they exude. On the other hand, they aren’t the cheapest. These durable floors require daily care and maintenance to remain in good condition for long. 
  • This article will explore the pros and cons of prefinished hardwood and recommended maintenance methods. Is using a damp mop a good idea? What about steam? 
  • Keep reading to find out how to clean prefinished hardwood floors.

What is prefinished hardwood flooring?

Hardwood floors look elegant and hold up for decades. No wonder the material is more expensive than most other types of flooring! 

Given the price and value, it’s essential that you protect your flooring through proper care and maintenance. 

But before discovering how to clean prefinished hardwood floors, let’s find out what “prefinished hardwood floor” actually is. 

Prefinished hardwood floors are sanded and finished in the factory with an odorless, uniform coating. 

These planks are 

  • durable,
  • easy to install, and 
  • relatively low-maintenance;

According to Valenti Flooring, “all you need to do is install it (cut and nail it to the subfloor), and it is done. “

On the other hand, there is “unfinished flooring”—raw hardwood that must first be installed and then sanded and refinished on site.

Pros of prefinished flooring

There are at least four advantages of installing prefinished hardwood flooring in your house. 

Lower cost

Prefinished flooring costs less than unfinished flooring. Though the material is more expensive, the overall costs are reduced since labor includes only an installation. Unfinished hardwood flooring is installed and then sanded and finished on-site, which requires more prolonged, more engaging, and thus more costly service.


Prefinished flooring is relatively fast to install. As soon as you install it, you can walk on your prefinished flooring and put furniture on it. Unfinished hardwood floor requires carrying out the sanding process, which may take several days. Then, wait a few days more to put the furniture back on the floor.

Less mess

Installing prefinished flooring is less messy than dealing with an unfinished floor. 

The sanding process that the unfinished floor needs to go through creates dust which needs to be cleaned from the house afterward.

Tip: To catch the dust during sanding and reduce airborne dust, tape a standard HVAC air filter to the intake side of a portable box fan. Turn the fan on and position it with the filter facing the sander, near where you’re sanding.

No smell

With prefinished hardwood floors, there are no chemicals and, therefore, no chemical smells in the process of installation; it’s because the flooring has already been approached with finishing treatment in the factory where it was made. 

Hardwood flooring maintenance and cleaning

Beveled edges of a prefinished floor create an alluring trap for dust, dirt, and grime. This type of flooring can be more challenging to clean than an unfinished floor type, which was finished on-site and is completely flat.

How to maintain prefinished hardwoods?

For starters, use area rugs and door mats, especially in high-traffic areas. 

If you place doormats inside and outside each entrance points, your visitors won’t bring dirt, debris, water, and mud.

Important: Particles of dirt coming from outdoors can scratch prefinished hardwood flooring. Rainwater and mud are factors causing moisture damage. 

Try also attaching felt pads under the legs of your furniture to prevent scratching your hardwood floor. 

Also, rearrange your furniture now and then (every few years is a typical period when you should do it) to even out wear-and-tear and color fading. 

Watch out for pets! Keep their nails trimmed short, bath them frequently, and wipe their paws off when they come inside. 


Prefinished hardwood floors aren’t hard to clean. 

It’s essential to regularly sweep, vacuum, or dust-mop your hardwood floor to remove dirt. 

How to make sure your prefinished hardwood flooring looks its best?

  1. Sweep or dry-mop daily or even more often, paying close attention to corners, nooks, and crannies. 

Microfiber mops are the best choice for mop head for prefinished hardwood.

Tip: For daily sweeping, ensure you’re using a soft broom with soft bristles to avoid scratching your hardwood floors. Hard bristles could leave scuff marks on your wood floor.

  1. Besides regular sweeping, vacuum your floors with a light vacuum cleaner to remove dust and dirt built up on the entire floor and in the corners of the room.

Important: Use a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar. Avoid a beater bar as it can scratch the surface of your prefinished floors.

3. Don’t use water to clean your hardwood floors. Steer away also from wet-mopping.

Do your best to avoid spills. To prevent stains or moisture damage, immediately remove any spills from your wood floors.

Blot spills with a clean microfiber cloth until you’re sure the floor is completely dry.  

Use a hardwood-specific cleaning solution by a leading brand recommended by the manufacturer to clean prefinished hardwood flooring with large spills and substantial dirt buildup.

  1. It’s best to clean your floor once per week with a recommended cleaner made specifically for your flooring. 

Some renowned flooring manufacturers make cleaning solutions designed specifically for their products. 

  1. On the contrary to some popular beliefs, you shouldn’t use bleach, ammonia, and oil-based cleaners on your prefinished hardwood floors.  

Vinegar is an acid that won’t work well as a method to remove debris from your prefinished hardwood floor, as it may accelerate its dulling. 

Tip: Clean and buff the hardwood surface with the suitable techniques to help return the shine and protect the finish. 

Vinegar can break down the finish on the surface of your floor and reduce the shine, leaving a dull appearance. Unfortunately, using vinegar and water to clean floors can leave excessive water on the floor, leading to swelling and discoloration.

Important: Cleaning with vinegar and water is popular because it’s cheap, safe for the environment, and usually does a great, but never use them to clean wood floors!

An alternative natural floor cleaner is warm water and dish soap (1/4 cup of dish washing liquid for a bucket of warm water). Keep in mind it’s quite a difficult task to remove water so fast not to damage your wood planks.

Sprinkle baking soda on the affected area and scrub gently with a damp cloth or sponge for spot cleaning.

All in all, start by sweeping or dust-mopping to quickly get rid of large particles of dirt and debris.

Use a gentle pH-neutral cleaner and soft broom or dust mopping tool to treat your wood floors.

You don’t need a special soap recommended by the manufacturer for damp-mopping wood floors. Instead, fill up a bucket with warm water and squeeze in about one tablespoon of natural dish soap. 

Important: Always ensure you aren’t using a soaking wet mop—wring it out until it’s mildly damp.

Use a fine spray mist to clean your floor in sections. 

Tip: Avoid putting too much liquid on your floors not to damage the flooring.

Use a microfiber mop to clean. Traditional mops can work, but they aren’t as suitable, often leaving unnecessary excess water on your floors.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Mop your hardwood floors with a gentle microfiber pad—it's the best option for engineered wood or hardwood floors. Before dusting, you can spray sanitizing or hardwood-friendly cleaners for more effective cleaning.
Hardwood flooring is durable on the surface, but manufacturers bond engineered hardwoods with adhesives, whose quality can be compromised by steam cleaning. If the moisture seeps between the layers, it can weaken the bond and permanently damage the floors. Therefore, it's better to avoid using steam mops on engineered hardwood floors. Yet, you can do it if your wood floor is sealed and you're using dry steam vapor.
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