How to Clean & Shine Oak Hard Wood Floors

Oak is one of the most common types of hardwood flooring, and like other hardwoods, it is easy to take care of. Polyurethane finishes have made oak hardwood flooring a very sensible option both for its beauty and ease of maintenance.

White Oak
  1. Sweep every day or so with a soft broom. Cleaning up the tiny bits of grit that threaten the shine of your flooring is very important. Place rugs in high-traffic areas. Rugs will help collect the dirt, sand and other debris that can roughen the surface of your floors. If you have oak hardwood floors in the kitchen, be sure to have a rug in front of the kitchen sink. This protects the hardwood floors from the frequent splashes of water and spills from the sink. Remove your shoes. This simple act will add years of life to your oak hardwood floor finish. Shoes, even when they're wiped off on a rug at the door, carry traces of dirt and sand through the house.

  2. Clear away the furniture and rugs before starting a deeper cleaning. Sweep up dust and dirt, or use a vacuum with an attachment designed for hardwood floor cleaning. Use an oil cleaner, such as Murphy's Oil Soap. Whichever product you've selected, test it first on a small area of the floor (in an area that is usually hidden) to make sure it doesn't react to the finish. Murphy's Oil Soap instructions involve diluting the mixture in water and applying with a damp mop. However, they have a variety of floor cleaning products, so be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Whenever water is used on hardwood floors, it's important to quickly wipe the floors dry with a thick, dry cloth.

  3. Seal your hardwood floors with polyurethane to ensure a lasting shine. Keeping them clean and dusted will help them stay that way.Products such as Squeaky Floor Care System by Basic Coatings or Swiffer WetJet are recommended for cleaning polyurethane finished hardwood floors. These products may produce a higher shine than Murphy's Oil Soap products and daily dusting will. Scratches can be fixed by pre-cleaning with a damp rag, drying off and applying a thin coating of stain-stick onto the scratch. If you do not have a polyurethane finish, do not use any of the products listed in this article. Hardwood floors coated with wax or oil will require a solvent cleaner. See the link in Resources below below for more information.


  • Never use products designed for tile floors on your oak hardwood floors. Acrylic waxes will shine at first, but will eventually dull the color of the wood.
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