Hardwood floor disinfecting tips from National Floors Direct

How to Disinfect Hardwood Floors

Beautiful hardwood flooring can truly transform a room, but over time, dirt and bacteria start to build up. You might not see these hidden threats, but they can make you and your family sick. 

Many people believe simply sweeping and mopping are enough. In many cases, this is fine, but if someone's been sick or you want a truly deep clean, you need to disinfect those hardwood floors. 

If you're wondering how to disinfect hardwood floors, keep reading. We cover the difference between simply cleaning and disinfecting, the best methods to do so, and more. 

Cleaning vs. Disinfecting

It's fairly common for people to mix up cleaning products and misunderstand the differences between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. Not every cleaning product on the market is capable of disinfecting.

Cleaning is the process of removing dirt, dust, and small debris from a surface. Typically, people use soap and water or all-purpose cleaners. It's a good idea to clean the surfaces around your home every day, but it's not always enough to keep those areas clean. 

Sanitizing kills germs. A dishwasher sanitizes your dishes, for instance. Anti-bacterial wipes kill germs on surfaces such as countertops, remotes, door handles, etc. 

Disinfecting uses chemicals or disinfectants to remove germs. EPA-registered disinfecting products have been thoroughly tested to ensure they meet quality and safety statements and guidelines. 

Keep in mind that some cleaners are only designed to kill bacteria while others will also kill viruses. Always read the label and instructions to be sure you're using the right product. 

Should You Disinfect Hardwood Floors? 

In most cases, it's fine to sweep and mop hardwood floors regularly, using wood-safe products. You want to follow manufacturer guidelines when it comes to caring for your floors to avoid damage and extend their life as long as possible. 

If someone is sick in your home, you should disinfect the surfaces around them. 

Hardwood floors react poorly to moisture and can warp, cup, and buckle. It's also not advised to use harsh chemicals on natural hardwood flooring. 

To clean and care for your floors, follow the below steps. 

How to Disinfect Hardwood Floors: Step-By-Step

Using bleach or steam cleaners isn't generally recommended as wood floors are porous. You can damage them with harsh chemicals such as bleach by stripping or dissolving the finish. 

Using a steam cleaner can disinfect flooring surfaces, but it's not for porous surfaces like wood. Wood flooring is water-sensitive, and you can do more harm than good. 

Thankfully, there are products on the market designed to clean hardwood floors without damaging them. 


There are many different methods you can use to clean your floors. For instance, you might prefer a wet mopping cloth, such as Clorox. You can also use a microfiber cloth and a cleaning solution. 

You'll need the following tools: 

  • Broom and dustpan or Swiffer
  • Microfiber cloth and mop 
  • Wood-safe disinfectant
  • Clean cloth or towel to dry

If you plan on using disinfecting mop cloths, check the product packing to ensure it's safe for use on hardwood. Products will usually state "safe for use on sealed wood." 

Sweep the Area

Before you disinfect the floors, you want to clean them and remove any dust and debris, such as crumbs. Use a broom and dustpan, a microfiber sweeper pad, or a vacuum on your hardwood floors first. 

A quick sweep ensures the product can do its job disinfecting the surface. It also keeps you from pushing dust and crumbs around the floor, potentially scratching the wood. 

Test a Small Area

If you're concerned about the finish on your floors, you should test a small, inconspicuous area first. Apply the cleaner to this area and wait. 

The manufacturer's instructions will tell you how long to let it sit, but it's generally ten minutes or so. Wipe the spot with a soft, clean cloth afterward. 

Mop the Floor

If the test area didn't show any damage, you can move on to cleaning the hardwood floors. 

Use your preferred method, such as disinfecting mopping cloths or a cleaning mixture, and mop the area. To disinfect hardwood floors, you'll need to leave the cleaner and let it sit so it can do its job. Again, this is usually around ten minutes. 

Dry the Floor

Since wood is water-sensitive, you'll want to ensure you're not leaving the surface too damp. Even using wet mopping cloths can be a risk if you don't dry the surface afterward. 

It's a good idea to mop one room at a time so you can dry it immediately after cleaning. 

Tips for Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Maintaining your beautiful hardwood floors doesn't have to be a chore, as long as you maintain a regular cleaning schedule. 

Sweep your floors daily using a broom and dustpan or a dry sweeping cloth, such as a Swiffer pad. Vacuum your floors using a hardwood-safe attachment once a week. 

In heavy traffic areas, you'll need to mop about twice a month. Disinfect your floors any time someone in the house has been sick or if you want to deep clean. Generally, you'll do this once a month. 

When it comes to caring for your hardwood floors, you'll need to sand and refinish roughly every ten years. It's also a good idea to apply a new coat of finish every three or five years, as necessary. 

Clean and Protect Your Floors

Now that you know how to disinfect hardwood floors, you can keep your flooring clean and safe for your family. You can also extend its life as long as possible. 

If you're in the market for new floors, look no further than National Floors Direct! We carry a wide variety of high-quality flooring for every room in your house. Get a free in-home estimate today!