Engineered wood floors can look as good as the real thing but come at a much lower cost. Though very sturdy and durable, it doesn’t mean you can afford to neglect them – they need a good maintenance routine just like any other floor. Our handy guide on how to clean engineered wood floors will help keep them protected and buffed.
You will need:
- Soft-bristle broom or vacuum
- Flat-headed mop (microfibre is recommended)
- Soft cloth
- Specialist engineered wood cleaner
- Fresh water
How to clean engineered wood floors
Whether cleaning natural wood, laminate or engineered wood floors, the basics are similar. You’ll want to maintain a regular sweeping schedule to tackle dirt and grit – if allowed to accumulate it runs the risk of scratching the floor. Here’s how to take care of engineered wood floors so they are always in tiptop condition.
Sweep or vacuum
When it comes to cleaning engineered wood floors using a soft-bristle broom to sweep is essential to prevent scratching. Alternatively, use a vacuum but make sure the beater bar is turned off (use the ‘hard floor’ setting if you have one). Sweeping up once a week is enough unless you’re noticing dirt in high-traffic areas.
The key here is to not let the floor get too wet. While engineered wood is fine with some surface moisture, too much can damage it producing cracks, smears or buckling.
Hence, a flat-head mop is the best option, as a traditional mop with a stringy head is liable to dump more water than necessary over the floor. Microfibre mops are best as they are soft and pick up any leftover debris as you mop. Mop a minimum of once a month.
Use a specialist cleaning product
You’ll want something designed specifically for engineered wood (preferably one recommended by the floor manufacturer). You want to make sure it’s appropriate for your type of flooring as engineered floors come in two main finishes, either oiled or lacquered (see the Q&A below for more details).
Follow the instructions on the bottle. Never use any harsh detergents as you can stain the flooring for good.
Rinse the floor with clean water
You can allow it to air dry if it’s not overly wet, but a once over with a soft cloth will make sure there is no residue liquid and help give it a buff.
How concerned are you about disinfecting while cleaning?
How to clean engineered wood flooring naturally
An alternative way of cleaning engineered wood floors is to create together a solution of white vinegar and water.
Mix up a solution of 10 parts warm water to one part white vinegar.
Use a mop or cloth to wipe the solution over the floor, taking care not to make the surface too wet. You can also use a spray bottle to distribute the liquid.
Tip: Check the floor manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to using vinegar. Even then, it’s important to try out the solution on an inconspicuous part of your floor first to make sure it doesn’t discolour and ruin the surface.
How to polish an engineered wood floor
An old cleaning trick to give your floor a burnish is to use tea. The secret ingredient in tea is the tannin, which is excellent for cleaning and buffing hard floors.
Boil a litre of water and pour over two tea bags.
Allow to thoroughly steep (15-20 minutes).
Then pour into a bucket (if the mixture is too hot add some cold water until you’re comfortable dipping your hand in it).
Try out the solution on an inconspicuous part of the floor first to make sure it doesn’t stain.
Either use a mop or dampen a soft cloth and rub over the floor (remembering not to allow the boards to get sodden).
Caring for an engineered wood floor
There are a few things you can do to keep your engineered wood floor in great condition.
Act quickly to mop up spills
Clean up any liquid spills immediately – a soft cloth should be good enough for the job. You don’t want to let any moisture seep into the cracks between the wood.
Prevent dirt getting in
Place doormats at your home’s entryways (and encourage people to use them!) to help prevent dirt being tracked through the house.
Ideally, get people to take their shoes off when they come in the house and insist no one walks over the floor in stilettos or similarly spiked heels.
Invest in protective pads
Put soft pads under the legs of furniture legs, especially for anything such as chairs that are frequently moved. Avoid harsh cleaners
Don’t use any kind of abrasive cleaners and make sure to use soft cloths (never go at a stain on the flooring with a steel wool pad).
Your engineered wood questions answered
What is engineered wood?
Engineered wood is an alternative to natural wood. It has a real wood top layer, but underneath is a core layer consisting of plywood or fibreboard. It's cheaper than regular wood, easier to lay and long lasting.
It tends to come in two finishes: lacquered, which is more resistant, and oiled, which is considered to have a more natural look but doesn’t offer quite as much protection. If using an engineered wood cleaning product, make sure it’s suitable for your floor’s type of finish.
Have laminate wood flooring that also needs taken care of? Then check the best way to clean laminate floors here.
What is the best cleaner for engineered wood floors?
A specialist engineered wood cleaner is the best way to go, but you should always check your floor manufacturer’s recommendations first.
You can also mix up natural solutions – the methods for using tea and vinegar are outlined above, although you’ll want to try them out on a hidden part of your floor first to ensure they don’t leave any marks or stains.
What is the best way to clean engineered wood floors?
A combination of regular sweeping (about once a week), mopping and using an appropriate cleaning product is all you need to do to keep them in good shape. We’ve detailed above the best ways to go about setting up a cleaning regime, with tips on what to look out for and avoid so as not to damage your floor.
Can I use a steam mop on an engineered wood floor?
To be safe, you shouldn’t use a steam mop on an engineered wood floor. While the flooring has a sealed layer over the top for protection, the other parts – the seams, sides and underneath – probably don’t, making them vulnerable to damage from liquids.
A steam mop can force moisture between the seams and joints of the boards, possibly weakening the adhesives and warping the wood.
Want to know what you can use a steam mop for, and how to use one? Check our article here on 5 essential things you need to know about using steam mops.
Can you use vinegar to clean engineered wood floors?
You can, but you need to be careful. Engineered wood doesn’t take kindly to anything too abrasive, so you must make sure the vinegar is suitably diluted. Follow our directions above to ensure you use the correct quantities.
How do you restore shine to engineered hardwood floors?
One way to get the shine back in your floor is to use steeped tea – follow the procedure outlined in the guide above.