How to prevent water damage to hardwood floors

Woman bending down with a cloth to clean hardwood floors.
(Image credit: Getty )

Have you ever looked at your hardwood floors and wondered if you’re doing everything you can to look after them? Hardwood floors are a classic floor choice and can last for generations, but only if treated properly. That’s why we’ve put together this guide for how to prevent water damage to hardwood floors.

Read our top tips for how to prevent water damage to hardwood floors as well as expert advice on cleaning and mopping techniques to prevent the best steam mops (opens in new tab) causing any accidental damage.

Can you mop hardwood floors?

Yes, you can and should mop hardwood floors. You might now be scratching your head and wondering how to prevent water damage to hardwood floors when mopping introduces water directly to them on a regular basis. The trick is to follow expert advice so that you’re doing it right. Wood is an extremely porous organic material which means it will absorb water easily, potentially warping it out of shape and corroding it from the inside or edges. 

What the expert says..

Professional cleaner, Shandel Small, tells us: “Yes, you can mop hardwood floors. I use boiling water and a hardwood specific disinfectant cleaner such as Zep.”

The good news is that almost all hardwood floors are offered some water protection from sealant, wax, lacquer or varnish. Whichever sealant it has should give enough protection to mop with a non-corrosive cleaning product like a gentle, wood specific disinfectant that won’t erode the sealant like other caustic products. 

Wring your mop thoroughly, ensuring no surplus water is left on the floor when cleaning. Move quickly, cleaning an area and then mopping up any water from the surface: never allow puddles to form. A steam mop would be a good tool as they use minimal water to work, but ensure the heat is turned to the lowest setting.    

Tips for how to prevent water damage to hardwood floors 

Now that you know how to mop your hardwood floors, here are a few more tips for how to prevent water damage to hardwood floors in other ways:

Mop up spills as soon as they happen: Don’t give water time to pool and work its way through any edges, cracks or unsealed parts of the floor.

• Clean your floors regularly: Dirt and debris trapped in crevices in the flooring can absorb water and harbor bacteria and mold. Keep it clean to avoid this.

• Stay on top of re waxing and resealing floors: The manufacturer of whichever sealant your hardwood floors needs should be able to advise how often this is. The seal on top of the wood provides a vital barrier against water, so keep it intact. 

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Tanisha Fletcher

Tanisha started her career in commercial retail buying for one of Amazon UK’s Top 10 revenue grossing online homeware retailers. Years spent obsessing over homeware products made it an easy career switch to writing about them. Her freelance career has seen her craft customer-focused web content for brands big and small, as well as writing articles in the health, lifestyle, home and retail sectors.

With contributions from