How to Clean Floating Timber Floors WITHOUT Damaging Them

Last update: 1 year ago

Mopping dirt off of a laminate floor.
KAleksandr0909 /

Floating timber floors are a beautiful and an easy to install solution for your home, but it requires taking proper care of it. Regular cleaning and maintenance will make the floor looks good and shiny and will prolong the life of the floor.

What are floating timber floors made of?

A floating timber floor is a floor that does not need to be nailed, or glued to a subfloor. The floorboards are attached to one another and are fitted over an existing floor like concrete, tiles or terracotta. In order to attach the floating floorboards, the subfloor should be hard and perfectly level.

Floating floors are flexible. They accommodate any movement and pressure and spread out evenly to reduce gaps and cracks. When installing there is usually a gap left between the walls and the floating floor to allow expansion of the timber boards. The gap is usually covered with skirting boards or mouldings.

Floating timber floors are affordable and a cheaper option compared to structural timber floors. They are easier to install and you can even do it by yourself.

There are two types of floating timber floors – real floors and imitation of timber floating floors. Real timber floating floors are made from attaching layers of hard and softwood to a fibreboards substrate. The timber floor can be sanded if you want to achieve a different look but this can only be done limited times as the layer of real wood is thin and you can remove it if you sand it over and over again.

The imitation of a floating timber floor is made from a laminate attached to a substrate. The laminate is designed and printed to look like timber, but without maintenance issues.

Step-by-step floating timber floorboards cleaning

Floating wood floors are protected with a sealant that allows water cleaning and mopping. Despite that, floating floors are usually laid over other subfloors and if you damp the floor often, the liquid may slip into the boards and damage the surface underneath it, causing warping, mould and cracks. That’s why you need to be extra careful when cleaning a floating timber floor.

Here is a step-by-step procedure for cleaning a floating floor:

Step 1: Vacuum the floating floor regularly

Vacuum and sweep the floor regularly. Focus on high-traffic areas to prevent dust and dirt from accumulating. You can use a vacuum cleaner with an attachment for hardwood floors. A vacuum cleaner will also help you to remove the dust from the corners of the room. When sweeping use a broom or dust mop with softer fibres to avoid damaging the floor.

Step 2: Spot clean stains from the floating floor

Remove spills from the floor as soon as they happen. Use a dry microfiber cloth to remove liquids.

Spot treat stains with a mild cleanser and a damp cloth as soon as you can. You can use rubbing alcohol for stubborn stains. Avoid scrubbing the area, rather tap the spot with the cloth and remove it gently from the surface. Do not use harsh chemicals that can damage the wooden floor.

Step 3: Mop the floating floor

After treating the stains and removing all the dust from the floor, it’s time for moping. Don’t overflood the floor with water. Use a sponge mop, rather than a classic wire-wound mop, to avoid spreading water around the floor. Use hot water and a cleaning detergent and wipe up the whole floor.

Step 4: Leave the floating floor to dry

After finishing cleaning open the windows and doors if possible and leave the floor to air dry. Over time, the floor may lose its shiny look mostly in the high-traffic areas in your home. To restore and enhance its shine, use a timber refresher.

Pro-tip! There is a difference between different floorboards. Some are made with more hardwood, some with a less. Before cleaning your floor, check the manufacturer instruction. Some manufacturers provide cleaning instruction and products made especially for their own brand.

How to protect the floating wood floor

Floating floors are natural products. It’s inevitable to get damaged over time, scratches and dents may appear in high traffic areas and under the furniture.

To prolong their life you can place carpets or pads under heavy furniture like sofas and beds and under furniture that you move often like chairs and tables to avoid scratching the floor underneath them.

Place doormats by your house’s entrances to prevent dirt, dust, sand, asphalt and oils from being tracked onto the floor and protect your floor from getting scratched from sand and little rocks. Just remember to have your mats cleaned, too.

Certified Green Cleaning, a top Canadian janitorial company, stresses that you must not get the timber floors too wet during cleaning. When the timber becomes oversaturated with water, it can swell and cause long-term damage to the floor. Always make sure to wring the mop out thoroughly before you begin to clean a floating wood floor.

DO’s of floating floorboards cleaning

  • Clean spills as soon as they happen with a dry mop.
  • Sweep the floor daily to remove dirt and dust.
  • Use cleaning detergent specifically made for laminate and wood floors.
  • Keep the floors dry, especially in humid weather.
  • Maintain indoor humidity relatively at 35-40%.
  • Sand the floor if necessary but avoid doing it more than once, to prevent damaging the natural wood on the floor.
  • Trim your pet’s nails to avoid scratching the floor surface.

DON’Ts of floating floorboards cleaning

  • Painting over the floating floor.
  • Using steam mops on laminate flooring. The moist from the steam mop may damage the floor permanently.
  • Using harsh cleaning detergents such as bleach, chlorine and acids.
  • Scrubbing the floating floor with metal brushes.
  • Waxing the floor.
  • Using baking soda and vinegar as a cleaning solution.
  • Leave wet carpets and rugs on the floating floor.

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Dean Phillips
Dean Phillips
5 years ago

I thought it was great how you said that you should vacuum a floating floor regularly. My wife has been wanting to replace the flooring in our home. It would be great if we could find a company that can help us install some floating floors.

Floor Cleaner
Floor Cleaner
5 years ago

The first thing you need to be aware of is that there are different hardwood flooring cleaners that are made for specific kinds of floors. A tile cleaner would not be a good idea for a hardwood floor, so read the directions carefully or you could do more damage than good. When you are looking for a hardwood floor cleaner make sure the manufacturer says that it is specifically designed for wood floors or pre-enamelled flooring.

Gerald Ferguson
Gerald Ferguson
4 years ago

Many people do not follow while cleaning the floating timber floors without damaging them. So they would love to learn it from here. Many thanks for sharing this lovely post.

Tori Raddison
Tori Raddison
4 years ago

I like how you said to use a broom with soft fibers so that you don’t hurt your floor while you’re trying to clean it. I just got new flooring and I want to take care of it so it lasts. My kids are finally old enough that I can trust them not to destroy it.

4 years ago

Personally l just use vinegar or methylated spirits with an almost dry mop about twice a week to keep up with the shine as well as clean the floor.

1 year ago
Reply to  Lia

Metho works fine 30/50 percent metho water have used for years still looks good

6 months ago
Reply to  Lia

What kind of mop?

The Fantastic Team
The Fantastic Team
5 months ago
Reply to  Angela

Hi there, not Lia, but since her comment is from 3 years ago, we can answer – you can use any dry (or wet and dry) microfiber mop. They’re pretty common and you can find them virtually everywhere. They’re quite convinient since the pad can be removed and washed in the washing machine.

Shaylee Packer
Shaylee Packer
4 years ago

As you mentioned, it is important to keep timber floors dry so they don’t warp or become damaged. We are remodeling our home right now, and are thinking about putting timber flooring in through out the home. With three young children, is this a good idea? How durable is this flooring?

4 years ago

I clean with a mop with an attached soft pad. of which i have been unable to replace. At the same time of cleaning I use a small bottle of spray being a mixture of Metholated Spirits and water. Spraying in a small area at at time. Where can I obtain a soft pad for my cleaner.

Sally stuart
Sally stuart
3 years ago

Amazing techniques. Very impressive. Thanks for this vital information.

2 years ago

Help please. I have floating light color timber floor, my late husband laid it, it is gorgeous. However I did such a mistake….I was mopping it with required mop for the floor, Then I missed that I had left the mop on the floor, as several other issues came up….When I realized, the floor had a dark mark left from the mop shape and I cant seem to clean it….ahhh….it is a dark stain in the shape of the mop on the grain….and not wanting to use harsh chemicals, would so appreciate your help…

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