Hard Floors: How on EARTH Do You Keep Them Clean??

Updated on September 04, 2011
V.B. asks from Pompano Beach, FL
23 answers

I just moved into a new house with all hard floors. Most of the downstairs is tile (except our bedroom and the office and that is wood) and the upstairs is all wood laminate. I was excited about the hard floors when we were getting ready to move because I thought it would be so much easier to clean. But, now that I'm here, I feel like it's ALL I do around here! Ugh! I have just about every floor cleaning gadget known to man and I still can't keep them clean! I have all of the following: Swiffer mop, large dust mop, regular broom, Dyson Animal vaccuum (purchased for our carpet in the old house), a stick vaccuum (Europro or something like that?) and I just purchased a steam mop (which I love). I also have a plain old sponge mop and bucket and have been using Murphy's Oil soap for the wood floors. The house is pretty big (3200 sq ft), so there is a lot of area to clean and I just feel like it takes forever and as soon as I'm done, it's dirty again! So, what is the secret? How on earth do you keep the floors clean? I shudder to think of what was in my carpet at the old house if my floors here are this dirty.

I've been using the dust mop to sweep the large areas and the steam mop to clean them and using the broom or stick vac for the smaller areas and the Swiffer to mop (except the wood...I'm trying to use the Murphy's Oil on that because even though the Swiffer stuff I have says it's okay for wood, I'm not convinced).

I should add that we have 2 cats and 2 kids and have had a lot of people in and out of the house doing repairs and such, but seriously....this floor is filthy all the time! Any ideas are appreciated.


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So What Happened?

Thanks, everyone! I'm sure most of the issue is because of the workers coming in and out and because we're still unpacking boxes. I've gotten rugs and mats for all of the doors and we have a shoe rack by the front door to remove shoes. I've only used the murphy's oil once. I guess I'll use it sparingly based on your suggestions. My tile is all WHITE, so it shows everything. I'm not exaggerating the amount of dirt that is on my floors because there is an unbelievable amount of dirt when I sweep and our feet are BLACK by the end of the day (totally gross). I guess I'll just keep my dust mop handy and use it at least once per day like I have been. Here's hoping it gets better when we're settled in! Thanks again!

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answers from Dallas on

I clean houses and I always vacuum the floors, then vacuum the corners & baseboards with the wand vacuum, then I use the Swiffer Wet Jet. I use the solution that is safe for all floor types and is Antibacterial. I haven't had any complaints.

I also have a Swiffer Sweeper Vac for those quick cleanups like hair in the corners of the room or dirt scattered throughout. It's quick and convenient.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Baton Rouge on

I have wood floors and a house full of pets, and if you think hard floors are hard to keep hair off of, think how much gets into carpet that you can never get out.
I sweep when the hair gets to be too much, and mop with a barely damp (not wet) string mop.
My next door neighbor installs flooring for a living and he says not to use Murphy's. When you do, it leaves a film of oil on your floors and makes them look dirty even if you just cleaned them. He recommends getting wood floor cleaner and a microfiber cloth mop - looks like a terry cloth dust mop. And no, he doesn't sell it, so he's not trying to make a buck off it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Just dim the lights a little, then it won't bother you so much!


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

The secret? Doing them every day. I dustmop super fast (I can do about 1000 square feet in 3-4 minutes if I move all the furniture, under 60 seconds if I don't), then I spray and mop (Mr Clean mop thingmy that is just terrycloth stretched over a big flat piece about 12 x 24. It gets thrown in the wash every day or every other day). Doing the entire 1000 square feet takes me 10-15 minutes every morning from dustmopping to clean.

I use biokleen hardwood floor spray. It's dry in one room before I'm in the other.

Murphey's I use once every month or two.

BIG HINT make sure you have mats outside and inside every door to catch the plethora of grit that comes in on kids and pets. Cuts down on at least half the dirt. I toss mine in the wash every couple weeks. Actually, I have my son beat them outside with his wooden sword first (he loves that!), and then throw them in the wash. Ditto, shoes off at the doors.

((I FEEL YA! btw... We're doing DIY remodeling, have a dog, and a homeschooled kiddo. Our house gets USED. A lot. Spring is the WORST -enough hair for a new dog twice a day! How I comforted myself in the beginning was this: All that dirt and hair? It would still be there with carpet. You're just not noticing it! Ewww! Gross!))

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

You have lots of equipment but are missing the most important one: a dust mop. A dust mop is one that you use dry. In the old days it was a a bunch of cotton "ropes" much like the old time wet mops except that it was fluffier and captured the dust. Now they have them in the new fabric that actually attracts dust. You have to sweep with a dust mop every day if you want your floors to always look dust free.

Don't use any product on the "wood" floors. It makes them sticky which attracts dirt.

My mother used Murphy's oil occasionally to freshen the wood. For everyday she just used the dust mop and then every once in awhile a damp, nearly dry mop. Too much water will cause the grain to swell in real wood.

Not knowing what kind of tile I don't know what to recommend for that.

I do know that my daughter stopped using the Swiffer because it left a residue on the floor that was uncomfortable on bare feet and attracted dirt. Eventually her floors looked dirty even after mopping with the Swiffer.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Wow this is strange, I wonder if it has something to do with the way they are finished?
I've had years of solid wood floors, two dogs, three kids and a cat and I have found them to be super easy to care for, way easier than wall to wall carpet. I sweep them regularly and mop about once every other week or so with a little murphy's oil soap, diluted with lots of water.
You might want to have a floor guy take a look at them, maybe they need to be refinished.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

Maybe my eye sight just isn't so good, but our house is all hard wood floors on both floors and I almost never clean them! I sweep once in a blue moon, and maybe once a month (or once every 3 months) I vacuum up some decent sized dust bunnies from behind the doors and under the beds, but the floors never look dirty. I've spot cleaned spills (3 kids) with a wet rag, and except for the kitchen and bathrooms, I've NEVER wet mopped! In five years! Just swiffer dry mop, broom, or vacuum. It's not good for wood to have all those cleaning agents and water on it, and it doesn't need it.

I thank my stars every day we don't have carpets to vacuum. But we do have some smaller throw rugs I shake out once a year or so :) But for real, our house is very tidy.

Are you sure your floors look filthy all the time? Is your house flooded with super bright sunlight? Is your decor super clean and modern with high gloss floors? Our house is old, and the wood floors are sort of natural and neutral, so they look fine all the time. You can't see dirt unless they are REALLY dirty. I'm thinking you may be imagining they need more cleaning than they do...but again, I'm pretty laid back about house work. I would just vacuum up the cat hair, wipe up the spills with a damp rag and then quickly dry them, and tell people not to traipse in so much mud. Someone just asked me the other day if we had the floors newly redone. Hardly!

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answers from Seattle on

I'm guessing your problem is the murphy's oil. It's awful stuff, greasy, and never soaks in.

Try this:

You don't want to use too much. Use a buffer and a few *drops* every few feet.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my hardwoods!!! I've NEVER had to wipe them more than once per day...but I do not have repairs going on either....

I would not use Murphy's Oil on a laminate wood floor - it will just gunk it up in my opinion. I know others do - but I would NOT use Murphy's Oil until a laminate expert told me to use it on there...if they are newly installed ask for the name of the company that installed them so that you can contact them and hear what they say about care of Laminates - they look nice and are great - but they are NOT hardwood so they can't be refinished...at least not that I am aware of...

DO NOT use a "brush" vacuum on them - it ends up scratching them.

However, since you are having repairs done? I would just stick with the Swiffer until the repairs are done. You are only creating more work for yourself trying to clean it all the time...

I have the Swiffer Mop and the Hoover Linx for my hardwoods...I also have the Electrolux Central Vacuum as well for all over the house...but the Linx I use daily - with a dog and 2 boys - I need to!! :)

Part of the problem might be that you see more on hardwoods than you do with carpeting so you are thinking you need to CLEAN them every day - and you don't....take a deep breath...get settled into the house first..get the repairs done and just Swiffer until the repairs are done...don't work yourself to the bone over it!!!

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answers from Salt Lake City on

I think Ephie is right about the Murphy's. I used to use it on our hardwood floors at our old place, and they didn't stay clean long at all. Right now I use vinegar/water solution, I have a swiffer-like thing that has a terrycloth cover which I just remove after mopping and throw in the washing machine. I only mop once a week but sweep every day.

One thing I noticed is that once we got rid of our bar-height table (you know, those tall tables that seem to be so popular) and just got a regular height dining table, it cut down soooo much on what is being spilled on the floor. I think those tall chairs are just awkward for kids. We have very little spilled anymore. Also we have a no-shoes-in-the-house policy which of course helps a lot. Good luck!

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answers from St. Louis on

Hard floors are a double edge sword, your house will never be cleaner but you have to clean all the time. Every day I use my Shark on them. I never wear shoes in the house and I can't stand stuff sticking to my feet.

Once a week I steam mop them. Obviously if something spills you have to deal with that right away.

Maybe this will make you feel better, everything you keep sweeping up day after day, well you have been walking on that unaware when you had rugs. :)

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I agree with Amy J. -- the wood floors are the easiest to keep clean for me and they never look dirty.
Are they laminate? Sealed? If so you can just damp cloth wipe & dry with a towel. If they are raw wood (unsealed), lemon oil makes them look really nice but it can be slippery, so be careful.
I vacuum mine with my Dyson mostly, then do on hands & knees with Murphy's Oil Soap.

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answers from Chicago on

Do not use Murphys oil soap! Just a damp rag of water, or water + vinegar.


Do not use Murphys oil soap! Just a damp rag of water, or water + vinegar.

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answers from Honolulu on

Dust mop, everyday.

Beware: that with wood laminate floors... if it is wet or has standing water on it, or is damp.... it will DE-laminate.
And then your floors will be ruined.
Anything that is laminate... if wet/damp etc., will de-laminate.

If mopping with a liquid, you have to make the mop, VERY damp only. Not "wet" nor dripping.

Swiffer, leaves a residue. To me. Therefore even if you mop with it, it will not feel "clean."
Lots of floor cleaning agents/liquids, leaves a residue. Thus, even if the floor is 'clean', there is a residue and it will not 'feel' clean.

I just use, water and vinegar.
Or on my hands and knees, hand mopping.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

We just replaced our carpet with hardwood on the stairs, living room, dining room, study and upstairs hallway and I love it. I have only had to dust the with dry dust broom so far. I think the color of your floors make a huge difference. Too light or too dark shows more dirt. Although I prefer darker colored floors like the brazillian cherry they just show too much dirt. I guess my floors are some what dirty but they sure don't look it:0). Try calling a hardwood specialist to give you advice on your type of floor.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

If they are sealed, stop using the Murphy's Oil Soap. You aren't cleaning the wood, you are cleaning the finish. Think of the finish as a mirror or window. If you cleaned your windows Murphy's Soap, you would have one cloudy mess.

Also, do not use a vacuum that you can not turn off the beater brush. It will wear done the finish. I use a canister vacuum.

As far as cleaning, either vacuum or sweep the floors, use a mixture of water and vinegar to clean with with, I prefer the micro fiber mops, the mop should be damp.

After the floor is dry go over it with a microfiber mop pad, you can lightly spray it with windex for an extra shine

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answers from Chicago on

We use the Bona system and love it for our hardwood. The nice thing is it comes with a dusting/sweeping attachment that glides around the house with ease to help keep the floors clean in between washings. The Bona spray that comes with it is non-toxic and not as thick as the murphy's oil so it seems to work a lot better (imo) on the hardwood. I use it on the tiles too. So quick and easy - well in comparison to a mop anyway! We also have a kirby vacuum and use the hardwood attachment to vacuum bigger messes and just to deep clean once in a while.
Makes ya think, just how dirty carpets are with all the stuff we dont see! yuck!

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answers from Miami on

Hi -

I used to think the same about the carpet etc, you seem to be doing all you can especially if you have repairs etc going on, I would vaccum every day and maybe mop or swiffer every other day that way your keeping on top on thongs but it isn't taking over your whole day. Ohh

if it is hardwood flooring then you can use the steam mop, but don't use the steam mop on laminate flooring, the steam gets under the boards and starts to lift them.



answers from Albuquerque on

I will be interested to see what kind of suggestions you get! I had the same sense of excitement "Yay, no more carpets!" when we moved into our house with beautiful hardwood floors and tile! I immediately taught my almost-3-year-old how to use the Swiffer to "catch dust bunnies" and I put a new sheet on it daily... that helps! :) I'd love to get the Murphy oil going on a regular basis, but so far I've only done it one time (when we first moved it) and it looked GREAT! I use the regular broom for heavy stuff (food pieces, cat litter, etc) but rely on the Swiffer (and our socks) to pick up the light stuff! I use the wet swiffer sheets whenever I need to pick up a wet spill--doesn't seem to bother the wood floors.
Good luck!



answers from Sacramento on

This is one of the big reasons I hate hardwood floors and would never have them. I work and have a special needs child, so last thing in the world I have time to do is clean floors every day.

In your case, I'd be buying as many big area rugs as possible so you mostly have to vacuum.



answers from Anchorage on

I have hard floors and pets. The only way I have found to keep them clean is to sweep the entire hours daily, or at least every other day. Sorry I don't have some special secret!!



answers from Mayaguez on

Once the repair people are out, you'll find it stays clean longer.
For the tile floors, a good old mop, a bucket of water will do. About once a week you can pour some bleach OR some all purpose cleaner in there. I used the Swiffer thing and it seemed that all it did was mix the dust and the cleaning solution and spread it all over the floor. Ug!



answers from Miami on

We don't wear shoes in our home. I have a sign outside of my door telling everyone to remove their shoes before entering. Aside from the usual stuff that lands on the floor (hair, crumbs, etc.), my floors are clean and I have tile, wood, and wood/laminate throughout. Vacuum daily is essential. I use the swiffer for my wood and laminate floors.

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