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How to Clean Prefinished Hardwood Floors

Prefinished hardwood flooring can look absolutely timeless when installed correctly in a home. It’s common that homeowners choose a prefinished wood because of the uniformity and quality of the coatings applied at the factory and also for the ease of installation. The entire process of sanding, coating and waiting for the polyurethane to dry is completely eliminated. Once the prefinished hardwood is installed, the job is done.

Another plus is that the chemical sealers (often containing aluminum oxide crystals) placed upon the wood in the factory are extremely strong and do a truly great job protecting the flooring. In fact, these coatings can be much stronger than a standard polyurethane finish, preventing scratching and denting.

Regardless of the sealant strength, it’s important to clean and care for your hardwood properly. This stuff is expensive and a little extra TLC is worth it to make these beauties last.

If you’re interested in learning how to clean and care for your prefinished hardwood floors, read on.

Prefinished hardwood flooring maintenance-

Rugs & Mats-

Let’s get into basic prefinished hardwood flooring maintenance here. Have you ever seen someone pull up a rug in their home to uncover perfectly maintained hardwood? Did you notice the uncovered high traffic flooring areas were very worn in comparison? It’s deterring to see what high traffic over long periods of time can do to hardwood floors. But, that example also demonstrates the value a basic rug has when it comes to protecting hardwood. Don’t be afraid to utilize rugs and mats where people gather or walk frequently such as entryways.

Prevent dust, debris and water from coming into contact with prefinished hardwood-

Another thing to consider is dirt and debris. Try to keep a doormat inside and outside entrances in order to keep outdoor materials off the flooring. Sandy particles or dirt can scratch prefinished hardwood flooring. This also goes for water. Water is a homes #1 enemy because it breaks building material down. Do your best to keep rain and snow off the floors. If not possible, immediately dry the floors to prevent damage.

Install felt pads on furniture legs-

Scratching from an end table that didn’t have felt pads installed

Scratching from an end table that didn’t have felt pads on it

Installing felt pads on the feet of all your furniture will prevent scratching from occurring on your prefinished hardwood flooring.

Even if you aren’t planning to rearrange your furniture, if a chair gets bumped, scratching can happen. It’s best to be proactive and stop issues before they occur (especially if you have children ha).

Oh, and make sure you move your furniture around once a year in order for your floor to age evenly.

How to prevent pets from scratching your prefinished hardwood flooring-

The best way to prevent your pets from scratching your hardwood flooring is to keep their nails trimmed short. Get on a regular schedule with your groomer or vet to keep up on those nails if you are uncomfortable doing it yourself. Another way pets can damage prefinished hardwood flooring is by tracking in debris and water (snow!). If you have a garage or mud room, be sure to bring pets in and out through those entrances and wipe their paws thoroughly.

How to clean prefinished hardwood flooring-

For the most part, prefinished hardwood floors are easy to maintain and clean. As a professional flooring installation company, here are our tips.

Daily cleaning tips for prefinished hardwood flooring-

Sweep or dry-mop- There’s nothing fancy about this tip. Microfiber mops work best when it comes to prefinished hardwood, but soft bristled brooms are great as well. Keeping debris off the floor prevents grime from building up.

One thing to note about microfiber is that it’s made from ultra-soft synthetic materials that absorb dirt without scratching the hardwood surface. Sounds like a win, right?


Vacuum- If you prefer to use a vacuum, just choose one that is hardwood floor safe ie) doesn’t have a beater bar or has a hardwood safe attachment.

Weekly cleaning tips for prefinished hardwood flooring-

Cleaning your floor once per week with a special cleaner is ideal. It’s definitely smart to check with your flooring manufacturer prior to using any product on your hardwood. As a professional flooring company, we tend to like Bona products.

Cleaning your prefinished hardwood floors are literally as simple as the above infographic shows. We recommend making one minor adjustment and that is spraying the mop, not the wood planking directly. And, remember, you don’t need a lot. Excess cleaner can leave behind streaks and material build-up. Recap: Dust first, spray your microfiber mop with the Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner, then use the mop to scrub the floors and voila, you’re done.

Note- the pH level matters when it comes to prefinished hardwood floor cleaners. The cleaner should have a pH of about 7. Too alkaline (above 7) is not good for the floor and anything below 7 has too much acidity and can contribute to damaging the polyurethane.

Things you should NEVER do when it comes to cleaning your prefinished hardwood floors-

  • Don’t clean with water- Do NOT wash your floors with water. Why? Well, standing water on hardwood is never good. Water will work its way into the grooves of the wood and overtime can cause warping or swelling within the wood.

  • Avoid standing water- As we mentioned above, standing water is a no go. When spills happen, immediately clean them up.

  • Never steam clean your wood floors- Please don’t do this. Steaming wood floors is, once again, applying moisture to the hardwood surface. This moisture can seep into the floor and cause issues over time. Remember, water (in all forms) is your home and prefinished hardwood floors #1 enemy.

  • Only use prefinished hardwood safe cleaning products- Do NOT use acrylic products or paste wax. Other ingredients to avoid are bleach, ammonia and oil-based cleaners. They can actually remove the protective polyurethane coating and create slippery surfaces.

  • Only use prefinished hardwood flooring safe cleaning tools- Only use the prefinished hardwood flooring safe tools we mentioned earlier in the post. This includes microfiber cloths and mops and some vacuums. Hard brush brooms can scratch flooring. This goes for floor cleaning machines as well.

Cleaning prefinished hardwood floor RECAP-

  • First step, dust the floor with a dry microfiber mop

  • Next, spray your clean microfiber mop with Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner or another pH neutral hardwood floor cleaner

  • Use the mop to scrub the floors

How often to clean RECAP-

  • Sweep or vacuum- Daily

  • Clean- Weekly

  • Polish- Every 2-6 months depending on foot traffic

How to clean stains out of your prefinished hardwood floors-

We just went over the basics to cleaning your prefinished hardwood floors. This section will be dedicated to some specific circumstances requiring extra attention. Let’s jump in.

Pet stains-

If an animal urinates, it’s best to catch it immediately. Blot the area with a clean, dry cloth to absorb the moisture as quickly as possible. Then, get out your pH neutral floor cleaner and use your microfiber mop.

Food stains-

Again, it’s easiest if you can clean up immediately after the incident. Use a dry cloth to blot the liquid or food up. A damp microfiber cloth and pH neutral hardwood floor cleaner should be able to handle the rest. If all else fails you can use a tiny bit of rubbing alcohol on a cloth to remove remaining residue.

Water stains-

Rub a damp cloth over the area with a small amount of hardwood floor cleaner. Be sure to dry the area well with a dry towel afterwards.

Other impossible spills-

If you spill something such as paint or nail polish, you may be forced to use a plastic scraper or credit card to gently remove the substances. Once this part is done, use a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol to clean the area.

Please do not be afraid to reach out to a professional if you had a nasty spill of some kind. It’s better to get advice from a pro or hire a pro before putting your precious hardwood at risk.

How to polish prefinished hardwood floors-

There are many different products for polishing prefinished hardwood floors. If you are looking for some extra “shine” and a way to bring your floors back to life without actually refinishing them, a good polish may do the trick.

Prefinished hardwood floor polish actually can add a protective layer and fill micro-scratches while evening out the appearance of the floor.

Again, our preference for polishing is Bona which is designed to be safe for all unwaxed, unoiled, polyurethane finished wood floors. But, as always it’s best to check with your manufacturer before using any product on your floors.

Below we have included Bona’s guide on polishing prefinished hardwood floors with their high gloss shine product.

  • First, clear your floor of all furniture.

  • Then, dust with a microfiber mop or vacuum.

  • Then clean the floor as we described in the section above.

  • Once the floor is cleaned, it must be left to dry for 20 minutes.

  • Now, we get to the fun part; it’s time to apply the polish.If using Bona Hardwood Polish, apply it onto the floors in an “S” pattern.

  • Use a microfiber mop to smooth the polish into the grains of the wood.

  • Let the floor dry for an hour before walking on it (wear socks). It’s not fully cured until approximately 24 hours after.

How often should prefinished hardwood floors be polished?

Most prefinished hardwood floors can be polished every 2-6 months. This of course will depend upon the home’s foot traffic.

Can raw hardwoods be cleaned the same as prefinished hardwood flooring?-

An example of hardwood before any polyurethane coating has been applied

One final thing we wanted to mention before closing out this post is that prefinished or finished hardwood floors in general will need to be cared for differently than raw hardwood floors. Finished floors have several protective coatings on them that help to keep moisture out and prevent scratching and other damage. Raw hardwood has nothing; hence why it’s raw. This means they should never be cleaned with water or chemicals. They are “dry” cleaned only with dry mops or vacuums.

If you have any remaining questions on how to clean prefinished hardwood floors, please feel free to reach out to us at (715) 579-9253.

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