How to Disinfect Hardwood Floors

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Hardwood floors bring a natural aesthetic to any commercial space with their warm, earthy tones. Your hardwood flooring may be varnished, dyed, or left unvarnished, and it is important to know how to properly clean hardwood floors to kill germs and bacteria, as well as remove any dirt from the floorboards.

Even if your hardwood floors are swept and mopped daily as part of your regular cleaning routine, wood floors often have groves that accumulate dust and dirt over time. These groves also harbor germs that may spread from place to place, especially if your commercial space experiences high foot traffic daily. 

Learn to disinfect hardwood floors with our ultimate guide! We'll show you the different ways in disinfecting hardwood floors of different finishes so you can do a deep cleaning without stripping off the floor surface. 

What You’ll Need

Thankfully, you won't need too many heavy-duty tools and equipment to disinfect wood floors. All you'll need are some common cleaning supplies and a commercial or DIY cleaning solution to get started. Here are the things you'll need:

Cleaning Solution:

  • Commercial wood cleaners, or
  • DIY solution: vinegar, water, and dish soap

Cleaning Tools and Equipment:

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Flathead mop
  • Steam cleaner or steam mop
  • Floor polisher or buffer


  • Wax or oil sealant
Helpful tip : If you don't have a mop for your commercial space, then you can check our roundup review on the best mops.

How to Disinfect Hardwood Floors: A Step-by-Step Guide

Whether your hardwood floors have a vanished, dyed, or unvarnished floor surface, the step-by-step process to clean them are very similar. 

Step 1: Vacuuming Floor Surface

The first step is to get rid of all the loose debris through sweeping or vacuuming. Vacuuming ensures that you get every bit of dust, human hair, and pet hair from your wooden floor. Go over the entire floor area daily to keep the surface clean.

Step 2: Mopping Floor Surface

The next step is to mop the floors with a hardwood floor cleaner. You can use a commercial floor cleaner for convenience, or create your own using 1 part white vinegar for every 10 parts warm water. Add in a couple of drops of dish soap to incorporate the vinegar and water together.

Use the solution to mop all over your wooden floors, making sure to get into the nooks and crannies. Avoid over-soaking the mop with the vinegar solution so your wooden floors dry faster. Use a flathead mop to easily cover a large area with one swipe, and use a microfiber cloth to get into the nooks and crannies. 

Step 3: Disinfecting Hardwood Floors

Disinfecting wood floors will kill bacteria and germs that are on the surface. Use a wood-safe disinfecting product, such as Lysol Clean & Fresh Multi-surface Cleaner or Clorox Scentiva, to sanitize your floors and leave a shiny appearance as well. 

Alternatively, you may use a steam cleaner to disinfect hardwood floors, but we do not recommend using a steam cleaner to disinfect dyed wood, and take precautions when using the steam cleaner to disinfect porous, unvarnished wood. 

Cleaning Varnished Wood Floor

Varnished wooden floors are much more forgiving than unpolished or dyed floors. The vanish covers up the pores of the wood material, giving the floor a non-porous surface. You may opt to mop varnished wooden floors with a commercial multi-surface disinfectant, or use a steam cleaner.

Be careful when using a steam cleaner or steam mop on varnished floors. Some varnishes may melt under the intense heat, so start with a small area first before moving on to larger, more noticeable areas. Avoid letting the steamer stay on one area too long, and go over the entire flooring at least twice to ensure proper disinfection. 

Cleaning Dyed Wood Floor

Dyed wooden floors are tricky to disinfect, as the heat and moisture from the steam cleaner may lift the dye out of the wood. Instead, use a gentle disinfectant solution for your dyed floors. Test the solution on a small area first, and check to see if the dye comes off. If it doesn't, proceed to mop your floors with this solution. 

Cleaning Unvarnished Wood Floor

Wood floors left unvarnished are porous surfaces. Liquids can easily seep through the pores on the wood material, which may cause damage to your floor over time. For this type of flooring, we recommend using a dry mop to apply the floor disinfectant onto the floor surface only. Avoid soaking any part of the floor with the disinfectant solution, and use swift motions to mop.

You may also choose to use a floor buffer to remove the stubborn dirt from your unvarnished wooden floor. The floor polisher or buffer will remove the top layer of the wood, exposing the new, untarnished layer underneath. Use a wax or oil sealant to protect this new layer from moisture and damage. 

How to Keep Hardwood Floors Clean

Covering Up Scratches

A mixture of concentrated black tea and a few teaspoons of vinegar makes for an inexpensive yet effective solution to cover up small, cosmetic scratches on the surface of your wooden floor. Mop the entire area with this mixture, and let it dry. Apply another layer for a darker finish. The tannins in tea dye the wood to a natural, brown color.

Daily Cleaning and Disinfection

When you vacuum and mop your flooring daily, you are removing any dirt that is making your wood floor look unkempt. Daily cleaning also removes allergens, debris, and any mites that may be on the surface. Make daily cleaning and disinfection a habit to maintain the condition of your wooden flooring.

Protect Your Hardwood Floor

Whether you have varnished, unvarnished, or dyed flooring, protecting them with a wax or oil sealant is always a good idea. This ensures your flooring is kept supple, while maintaining a resistance to moisture and staining. 

Disinfecting Made Easy

Disinfecting commercial areas can be a challenge for one person to achieve, especially for office buildings with a large floor space. Luce SG can disinfect your floors and more! Let us handle the disinfecting while you focus on achieving your monthly business goals.

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