The Best Ways to Clean and Care for Hard Surface Floors via Clean Mama

One of the top questions I receive is how to clean and care for hard surface floors. It seems that everyone wants to know what the best method is, what won’t ruin their floors, and how to get the job done quickly and easily. Because everyone loves a clean floor, right?

This past week I opened up the floor for your cleaning and organizing conundrums and issues. I received a lot of great questions and am excited to share what my solutions are to many of your common cleaning and organizing annoyances are. Keep an eye out for your question to pop up here on the blog, Facebook or Instagram in the coming weeks as I work through them with you.


Today’s questions and answers focus on FLOORS, more specifically on how to clean hardwood, laminate, tile and grout. Before I clean the floors, I always start by vacuuming to get rid of crumbs and dirt. If you have pets or a lot of dust, you may want to follow up with a quick sweep using a microfiber based floor duster. If you follow my cleaning routine, Wednesdays are Vacuuming Day and Thursdays are Floor Washing Day.

Favorite Floor Tools via Clean Mama1 /2 /3 /4



Before using any cleaner, make sure that your hardwood floors are sealed. How to clean your wood floors is not always dependent on the kind of wood but rather the finish that is on them. If you aren’t sure what sort of finish is on your floors, check with the manufacturer. I prefer to use a refillable or microfiber mop versus a steam mop on my hardwood floors. While many people love the ease of a steam mop, my personal preference is to play it safe and use a more gentle, and less moisture approach with the refillable mop. Alternatively, a damp microfiber mop works – just use a spray floor cleaner and spray and wipe you go.



If you have unfinished, waxed, or bamboo hardwood floors, the best approach is to use a barely damp (with water) microfiber mop pad. Always check with your manufacturer’s instructions first.



A couple helpful tips for streaks and residue on floors…if you are using a microfiber pad, dampen it before starting and rinse often while washing the floors. If you have streaks with a steam mop and rinsing the mop head frequently doesn’t solve the problem, you might need to use distilled water (purchase by the gallon at your local grocery or drug store). If you have hard water the minerals in your water may be contributing to streaking and residue on your floors due to the minerals in your water.



When it comes to just what brand or formulation of floor cleaner I prefer, I like to give a range of options and solutions. Some people love making their own cleaners while others prefer the pre-mixed, ready to go options. I only recommend products that are non-toxic and safe to use around people and pets, but these are all products that I use and love.
If you are looking for the most economical and green choice, then making your own cleaner is the way to go. Here is my tried and true recipe:


  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 gallon of warm water
  • 2-3 drops essential oils (I love lemon or lemon and clove for my hardwood floors)

I mix this up using the same ratio in my refillable floor mop:

  • 3 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 16 ounces of warm water
  • 1-2 drops e ssential oils (I love lemon or lemon and clove for my hardwood floors
If you prefer the convenience of pre-made cleaners, there are many options to choose from. My favorite brands for performance and safe ingredients are Murchinson-Hume, Bona, and Honest. All of these are ready to use – simply use the spray and mop method or pour into your refillable mop and clean away. Babyganics also makes a great floor cleaner concentrate that is unscented and easy to dilute – you can use it in a bucket and a refillable spray mop and it’s even compatible with carpet cleaners (see the links below). If you like a mop and bucket for washing floors (not my preference), you might like a spin mop. The one that’s pictured in the main photo is this one.
Favorite Hard Surface Floor Cleaners via Clean Mama
1 /2 /3 /4


One of the biggest complaints I hear about laminate floor cleaners is that all the commercial cleaners leave behind a sticky residue that attracts dirt and dust. My all time favorite laminate floor cleaner is a simple DIY cleaner using every day ingredients. Try out this recipe for an effective, economical solution to cleaning your laminate floors. Again, I prefer using a refillable mop for ease, but this solution can be mixed up and put into a spray bottle as well. The vinegar cleans and the rubbing alcohol aids in the drying and adds a sanitizing component. The combination is great for getting those floors perfectly clean. Laminate and water are not a good combination so you’ll want to use this in a spray format in lieu of a mop and bucket.


Mix equal parts of:
  • white vinegar
  • rubbing alcohol
  • water
I like to add several drops of peppermint essential oil for a invigorating and fresh scent. I mix up five ounces of each of three ingredients with 3-5 drops of essential oil to fill an average size spray bottle or to pour into a refillable mop.



It doesn’t take long before grout in between tile can show dirt and wear especially when it is in high traffic zones like kitchens, entryways and mudrooms. There are several different approaches that you can take to deep clean both your tile and grout. A favorite tried and true method that takes a little more elbow grease is a combination of cream of tartar and water. Mix up a paste using these two ingredients that is the consistency of runny toothpaste. Using an old toothbrush or a thin grout brush, dip the brush in and scrub away at the grout. The cream of tartar is a natural ‘bleach’ that should help lift the stains out gently but effectively. Check your local dollar store for an inexpensive container rather than paying full price for a little one at the grocery store.
For effective tile and grout cleaning, I love using my portable steam cleaner. Homeright makes a great model that comes with a lot of attachments so you can use the machine for more than just tile. The small nozzle attachment combines with the power of steam cleaning works wonderfully on tile and grout especially. Try it on your floor, bathroom or wherever you have tile and grout issues. Homeright has a multi-purpose steam mop that has attachments that cleans grout and tile really well.
I hope this helps clear up some questions and gives you some ideas of methods and products that work! I can’t wait to continue the What’s the Best… series!
If you want to use vinegar on your hardwood floors, you’ll love this post – 3 Ways to Clean Your Hardwood Floors with Vinegar:
3 Ways to Wash Hardwood Floors via Clean Mama