Hardwood Spot Cleaning Guidelines

Spot Cleaning Guidelines for Hardwood

Following six basic guidelines will limit the potential damage to your hardwood.


First Guideline:  Timing.

Tend to debris, stains, and spills as quickly as possible.  Debris grind the surface and stains set harder with time.


Second Guideline:  Dry Debris.

Use a dry method of sweeping or vacuuming for dry debris (e.g., dirt, sand, ash, toner, or powder).  An early application of moisture on dry particulate may make the problem worse.


Third Guideline:  Liquids.

Blot liquids to avoid spreading the problem.  Only after you have extracted as much as possible by blotting should you potentially introduce a water or a liquid cleaner; otherwise, an early application of moisture may expand the problem wider.


Fourth Guideline:  Technique.

Use a white, clean, absorbent towel.  The wood's surface can become permanently scratched by using a rough scrubbing or scouring pad.


Fifth Guideline:  Cleaning Agents.

Use a cleaning agent that is as mild as possible to ensure that your hardwood is not ruined by the cleaning agent.  Start with an over-the-counter wood cleaner provided by your manufacturer or, if unavailable, by another reputable manufacturer.  Consider Pledge® FloorCare Wood.  If water alone is insufficient, try a mineral spirits applied to a cloth.  Carefully follow the instructions if you use an over-the-counter hardwood cleaner.  Apply the cleaning agent to a white cloth.  Then, use the cloth to remove the stain.


Sixth Guideline and Last Step:  Rinse.

When finished, leave the floor free of cleaner residue and as dry as possible by rinsing and again blotting with a dry towel.

Remove Petroleum Byproducts

Use mineral spirits (a clear solvent) to remove petroleum-based problems or isolated, shoe scuff marks.  Petroleum byproducts include some inks, paints, markers, crayons, cosmetics, lipstick, lotion, sunscreen, furniture and shoe polish, lubricant, oil, grease, asphalt, and tar.  Again, apply the solvent to a towel.  Then, use the towel on your wood.

CAUTION:  Mineral spirits is flammable.  A solvent can ruin hardwood if left unattended or allowed to seep into the joints.

Remove Gum or Wax

First, use ice to harden the candle wax or gum.  Then, use the edge of a wooden, plastic, or Teflon spatula or a credit card to scrape off the gum or wax.  If hardening the gum or wax does not work, use warm water and liquid handsoap to remove the wax or gum.  Wax or gum can also be removed with mineral spirits.  Do not allow your cleaning product to seep into the joints.

Products with Risk

Any liquid (including water) will damage hardwood if left unattended.  Most hardwoods are vulnerable to janitorial chemicals and industrial products, including strong acids or alkalines, bleaching agents, acne medicine, food or hair dyes, solvents, pesticides, petroleum byproducts, and more.  Tar and asphalt residue can permanently yellow rugs, carpet, stone, hardwood, laminate, vinyl, and rubber flooring.

Generic Intent

These instructions are for normal hardwood in common environments.  Techniques, products, etc. change and some situations are very unique; thus, Wolfe Flooring assumes no liability for omissions, errors, or outcomes.  These instructions may not apply to special situations (e.g., historic hardwood).  You’re welcome to call us for a specific professional address of your situation.  Please exercise general caution implementing any of the following guidelines.  The instructions of your flooring manufacturer prevail.  You following these instructions at your own risk.


Read: How to Maintain Commercial Hardwood for general maintenance instructions. Read: How to Maintain Residential Hardwood for general maintenance instructions.