cleaning engineered hardwood

Engineered Hardwood Flooring Care & Cleaning

After visiting countless websites and showrooms, you finally found the perfect flooring for your home, engineered hardwood. You love the color, the grain, the style, and everything else about it.

Or, you thought you loved everything about it, until a few days later when you realized just how much dirt and dust it collects!

Is it possible to keep these floors clean? Or will you spend every day (sometimes twice a day) sweeping the grime off your beautiful new floors?

Yes, engineered hardwoods do collect dirt and debris. But so does every other type of flooring.

Dust and dander can lurk in the grout between the tiles of a natural stone floor. And it can really hide out in the fibers of carpet.

But on a wood floor, it is out in the open with nowhere to hide. So what do you do?

First, recognize that it’s a good thing that dust, dirt, and other allergens cannot hide from you. And cleaning them up is especially helpful to anyone in your house who has allergies.

Second, know that a simple sweep of the broom on a regular basis is really all you need to keep them in shape.  An occasional mop or deep cleaning is good for them, too, but you don’t have to do that too often.

Here are some simple tips on how to clean your engineered hardwoods and keep them in shape.

Supplies You Will Need:

  • Soft-bristled broom and dustpan OR lightweight vacuum
  • Damp hardwood mop and towel
  • Manufacturer recommended cleaner (or cleaning kit) for tough spots

Things to Avoid Using:

Steps to Take:

1) First, for any species of engineered hardwoods, you should clean the dirt and debris on a regular basis. This routine cleaning involves sweeping or vacuuming up loose dirt, dust, pet dander, and other particles that collect on your floor.

It is important to remove the loose debris from your floors because it can act as an abrasive and scratch up your flooring’s finish if left alone.

You can either sweep it into a dustpan with a soft-bristled broom or use a lightweight vacuum.

Avoid using a vacuum with a rotating bristle bar. Instead, use the floor-brush attachment if your vacuum has one.

How regularly you need to sweep or vacuum depends on the amount of traffic your floors get.

If you have children or pets (or both), you can expect your floors to get dirty often. You may need to clean your hardwood daily, or every couple of days.

If your floors do not see a lot of traffic, then a weekly cleaning is enough.

2) Secondly, run a damp mop across your floors periodically to pick up any particles that sweeping missed. Make sure the mop is damp and not soaking wet.

Better yet, go with a hardwood steam mop.

Engineered floors can handle more moisture than solid hardwoods. However, too much water can still damage them. And use a towel to dry up any remaining water once you have finished mopping.

Mop weekly in high traffic areas. And mop once a month in areas that do not get much traffic.

3) Occasionally, you should treat your floors to a deeper cleaning to remove the grime that builds up over time. Many engineered hardwood flooring manufacturers have cleaning products or kits that you can buy.

You can also use a commercial cleaning product purchased from a local store or online. Just make sure that it specifically says it is for use on engineered hardwood flooring.

Once you’ve selected your cleaner, you can use a mop to apply it to your floors. Either a rag mop or sponge mop works best.

Wet your mop with the cleaner and then wring it out. Again, your mop should be damp, but not wet.

Mop the floors first with the cleaning solution, and then a second time with fresh water to wash off the cleaning product.

After you have mopped, wipe your floors with a clean, dry towel to remove any remaining moisture from them.

Tips for Maintaining Your Engineered Hardwood Floors

Hardwood flooring, especially the darker stains, tend to show every piece of dirt and dust on them.

So, is there any way to keep them looking clean?  At least for a little while?

This depends, of course, on your home and your family. If you have large dogs or small kids who run in and out of the house frequently, odds are your floors will be dirty more often than clean.

But there are some ways to reduce the mess.

Place rugs or mats at the exterior doors in your home to reduce the amount of moisture and dirt that gets inside.

However, avoid rugs or doormats with a rubber backing. These can cause damage to your floors

And encourage family members and guests to remove their shoes before entering the house.

You can also place long runner rugs in your hallways and high traffic areas. These rugs can also help protect your floors against scratches.

For added protection against scratches, place floor protectors under your furniture.

Tricks for Minimizing Scratches and Marks on Your Floor

If you do get a scratch in the floor, here’s a trick to minimize how noticeable it is:

Rub a crayon that is the same color as the floor into the scratch to fill the gap. Then heat the spot up with a blow dryer and buff it with a soft cloth.

If your floor tends to get white water spots, mineral spirits added to very fine steel wool pad will do the trick. Rub it gently in a circular motion to remove the water spots.

Heel marks also come out with an extra-fine steel wool pad. In this case, add a small amount of wax and rub in a circular motion.

A natural trick for making your floors shine is to clean them with tea.

Steep two tea bags in boiling water then pour the mixture into a bucket. Wet a soft cloth in the tea and wring it out.

(Remember, your cloth should be damp, not wet.)

Then wipe down your engineered hardwoods with the damp cloth. The tannins in the tea will give your floors a beautiful sheen.

And remember, always try to clean up a stain or spill on your engineered hardwood floor as soon as you notice it.

Refinishing Engineered Hardwood Flooring

At some point in the life of your floors, it may be time to refinish them. You can do this to erase the many dings and scratches.

And yes, you can refinish engineered hardwood.

The number of times you can refinish it depends on how thick its top veneer is. But you should be able to refinish it at least once.

If the top layer is at least 3mm thick, then you can sand it down and refinish it in the same manner as solid hardwood. If it is 2mm or less, then scuff sand it with a buffer before applying a new finish.

To keep your floors well-maintained, choose a tough, aluminum oxide finish,  and apply at least seven to 10 coats. This will help prevent future scratches, water damage, and other possible issues.

Engineered hardwoods, like any other type of flooring, do require regular cleaning and some maintenance. And if you keep up with it, you can enjoy your floors for many years to come.

Jennifer Lester

About Jennifer Lester

Jennifer Lester is a freelance writer, blogger, and home improvement finatic. She loves to write about things that will transform your house into your dream home. Jennifer is a graduate of Texas A&M University. LinkedIn.

63 thoughts on “Engineered Hardwood Flooring Care & Cleaning”

  1. Avatar

    I normally use Bona on my engineered hardwood, but it wasn’t getting my floors clean and shiny, so I used Quick Shine. Big mistake! Now my floors are dull with a terrible film on them. I tried steam mopping but that seemed to make it worse. I got online and found a solution from someone else who had the same issue and it really worked!! Norwex cloths! I got on my hands and knees and scrubbed with a wet Norwex cloth and then dried with another one. It really worked! Floors are back to their original state and are semi shiny again. (Mine aren’t the real shiny ones anyway.)

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    Todd R Anderson

    I have acacia engineered hardwood floors, what is this best product to use to clean and shine them up?

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      We have had our Mohawk engineered floors installed in our house 8 years ago and they still are looking great! I am surprised to read all these negative comments. Our floors are a very dark color. With 2 kids, 2 cats and a elderly grandparent using a walker around the house, they hold up. We have a NO Shoes in the house policy, wipe up water if we see it on the floor, broom sweep the floor with in kitchen area daily. If you don’t wipe water spots up, then it will cause floor damage if it sits for hours unattended. I use Bona and i see no fog or residue on my floors. I have not tried Pine Sol.

  3. Avatar

    We bought a house recently with engineered floors. They are the most horrible choice for a kitchen or home. Save your money and time. They are a waste of it. We will rip out all of it and replace with wall to wall carpet and kitchen tile. You can’t sanitize this garbage. I miss my old home. This is garbage

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    Bona did the same on my floors and I need to find the solution to removing the fog or waxey look. Where do you get the type of Murphy’s oil soap that you use?

  5. Avatar

    I have engineered hardwood in my house. I use Bona cleaner and Bona liquid wax. I have lived here 5 years. My floors are shiny and beautiful. I am replacing carpet in 3 bedrooms with the engineered hardwood.

  6. Avatar

    I am glad it is not just me that hates the manufactured hardwood flooring. I bought my home 4 mos. ago and everything said here is absolutely true. However, I have used white vinegar with water and I do not see any streaks. I use a mixture of l part vinegar to 5 parts water.

  7. Avatar

    I HAVE SHAW ENGINEERED HARD WOOD AND IN KITCHEN AND DINING AREA. I WILL NEVER USE THEM AGAIN. NOR WILL I EVER BUY SHAW CARPET AGAIN. THE FLOORS ARE CHIPPING AND FADING. THE CARPET IS AWFUL. DO NOT RECOMMEND THESE PRODUCTS. WHEN I CONTACTED SHAW THEY GAVE ME NO SOLUTIONS AT ALL. INFACT I WAS IGNORED. NEVER AGAIN.

    1. Avatar

      I too have Shaw engineered flooring and they are complete crap. We assumed the builder just cut corners and used a very cheap and low quality option, imagine our surprise when we found out they were $5 a sq ft. We’re getting ready to sell and have several areas in our kitchen that have to be repaired or replaced bc this flooring should have never been used in a kitchen and the quality ages like milk. Not happy

  8. Avatar

    I have dark engineered hardwood flooring through out my home with the exception being in the laundry room, kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms for 10 years and with a bull dog for the last 3 years. Yes he is an inside dog as I live in north Texas. He was a shedder real bad and that was my biggest problem until I put him on Dinovite. I have a big area rug in the living area with runners behind both couches and a small rug at the back door to the patio. I do have a house keeper that cleans every 2 weeks. She cleans with water and we also use SOFIX Parquet 3 in 1 cleaner on the floors. The Sofix is getting hard to find but you can find it. The Sofix is NOT used every time she cleans and it’s diluted when she uses it. By not using it every time avoids the build up of waxes therefore I don’t have the issues that are being described here, I run a Roomba vac every other day and every day in the summer months starting in May till about November which keeps the floor clean. In the summer months we always have heavy traffic as we entertain a lot and also have a pool. I make sure that the water stays cleaned up when pool is in use as quite frankly water sitting on any hard wood Or engineered flooring is not a good idea. I LOVE my flooring and would do them again as they have been very durable. Still look very good.

  9. Avatar

    I think the type of wood and the depth of color have a lot to do with how well your floors hold up. We installed a medium-to-dark wood engineered hardwood floor with a hint of reddish. We live in the desert and learned in day 1 how quickly the dust shows (an hour after cleaning?) regardless, when I vacuum & mop they look fantastic! We have two small dogs too so that doesn’t help the cleanliness factor.

    Here’s what works best for us:

    Every other day we use a swifter mop to get dust.

    Every week we vacuum (suction only – no beater bars or rotating brushes)

    After vacuuming, use a mop with Murphy’s Oil Soap (the pre-mixed Squirt & Mop one in the white bottle – NOT the other one in the clear bottle)

    You have to either swap out the mop when it gets dirty or clean & wring it really well and reuse it. Otherwise you’re just spreading mud.

    Bona left whiteish fog on our floor. I just dont recommend that one but it’s pretty popular.

    Hope this helps someone!

    1. Avatar

      Thank you so much for your suggestions. I have used only Bona on my dark hardwood floors and also have the whiteish fog and streaks. I took your advice and bought the Murphy’s Oil in the white bottle (thank you for the hint), so far I just tried in the guest bathroom and it looks good. Now onto the rest of my house.
      Thank you so much again.

  10. Avatar

    Just moved into a house with engineered wood floors in a very pretty oak. After the housewarming, I wiped the floors with a bucket of hot water and a few drops of dish soap, using a towel I would wring out. Everywhere I cleaned now has streaks of what looks like a shiny film that just won’t go way.

    Has anyone figured out a way to get this out? Do I really need to refinish the floors after a little wet mopping? If so these are the worst floors ever.

  11. Avatar

    I hate my engineered flooring, especially in my kitchen. I’m cleaning it every day with a microfiber cloth wrapped on a swifter mop. I only spray the cloth and clean the floor. This floor shows EVERY drop of water, or footprints from my grandkids who take off their shoes and walk around barefoot. I wish I could replace it all.

  12. Avatar

    Purchased a home with engineered flooring through out the house and it looks very nice. If I had the funds I would rip the engineered flooring up and replace with tile. Engineered flooring is the worst. It might look good but the cleaning is a never ending task that takes a lot of time. It also dents easily. Why would anyone buy flooring that you have to be so careful to maintain? I had a home that had tile through out and miss that greatly.

  13. Avatar

    I used Rejuvenate on my engineered flooring to make them shine. They looked beautiful…. until scuff Mark’s started to appear. How can I get this polish off.

    1. Avatar

      I dont’ have an answer for this but use rejuvenate products. When I use the cleaner it seems to leave streak marks. When I use the restorer I can’t apply it evenly. I use their products only, follow the instructions, & had been using their mop but it just made things worse so I switched to another brand mop. I use one mop head for cleaning only & the other for the restorer. It is driving me CRAZY!! Rejuvenate was really no help. They saiad they never have had this product with anyone. I sent them pictures. The only idea they had was for me to use their remover. I did not use as when I clean the floor the condition caused by the restorer disappears. What I was trying to explain to the company is how to I prevent streaks, white spots, etc. I can remove them eventually with using the cleaner. I even decreased the size of the area from 4×4 (as recommended) to 2×2. HELP!!

  14. Avatar

    I love our engineered hardwood! We have two kids (8-12) and two cats.
    We use our Roomba daily and a barley ever mop! Floors look great. I use a steam mop maybe once every 6 months and Bona mop every couple of months. I think more is less our floors are clean with daily Roomba. Spills get cleaned up with a rag and a Clorox wipe If needed.

  15. Avatar

    I can’t get my engineered wood floors clean I’ve used everything Bona !!
    They are Mahogany, I’ve watched every video out there Confused. Looks like there’s a Flim on it I haven’t had him a year

  16. Avatar

    Wow! Amazing to read all these comments. We put in Life Proof floors ($$$) through out the house last year. Never again. They are water proof but not Life Proof at all. They need to be cleaned everyday and I mop every day. Yet they are still dirty. I have had real hardwood and never had this problem before. It is just the two of us, two cats and one small dog. I have used every cleaner out there and tried just water, thinking maybe it was residue left over. Wrong. My sister is a professional house cleaner and she said these are the worst. Should have asked her first. Our friends bought a much cheaper brand and have no problem with their floors.

      1. Avatar

        NO, don’t!!! If you think it doesnt leave a coating, try seeing how your chair glides (fuzzy-feet) stick when you move the chair after a month of using this product. We had a party last week and JUST finished de-crudding the “clean” floor. It’s ok on linoleum but NOT on engineered wood.

  17. Avatar

    I have been told that a few drops of Dawn in a bucket of water works well. Has anyone ever tried that and does it leave any streaks?

    1. Avatar

      Yes, we have tried this but then it made our floors really slippery, Like dangerous…. kids and dog falling down all the time in random spots.

  18. Avatar

    I read all of the comments and must admit that most are negative about the benefits of engineered (aka Manufactured floors). Surely there are more benefits of owning this kind of flooring. Price is one of them, I think. Also, local codes or state law may favor them — but I wonder why.

    1. Avatar

      When i first viewed my new home, they said it was hardwood and i believed them because it looked beautiful. After I moved in, they said they were not hardwood floors but engineered wood floors. Ive never heard of it. My first week in this home, forget it. Lets just say not worth it. Worst investment ever. You end up living for your floors. There a joke. If water drops on your floor, and you dont notice it, and trust me, it happens all the time, especially if you have pets. And if you have pets and engineered floors, you better get rid of you pets. They will ruin them in seconds and lets face it, none of us want to get rid of our pets. Spots will not go away. Only 9 months in my new home and they are ruined. no one knows what to use on them. As far as using steel wool on them.. OMG please dont!!

      1. Avatar

        We’ve been in our new home only five years and floors look horrible. Every time I’ve dropped something on floor, it has chipped the floors. I’ve been thinking of replacing with vinyl but don’t have that kind of money right now. I’m so so disgusted with the contractor who told us that these floors were an upgrade! So glad I’m not the only one out there who has had same experience.

  19. Avatar

    Article said not to use steam cleaner, but said to use hardwood steam cleaner. What is the difference?

  20. Avatar

    Hate the new engineered floors in kitchen & family room! Afternoon sun shows every single MARK & SPOT!!! Was SO highly recommended by contractor (remodel)! Rest of house – hardwood floors! Beautiful & SO easy to maintain!

  21. Avatar

    We chose good quality engineered wood floors n a medium, reddish brown. Overall, I’m pleased though still prefer hardwood for its longevity and natural quality. For floor care, the Roomba (robot vacuum) is fabulous. Our toy poodles’ paws don’t hurt the floors and their tracked in mud comes up easily with a quick microfiber mopping, using water, Murphy’s Oil Soap, or Bona. My floors keep their show-room subtle shine. I wonder whether some brands of engineered flooring lose their shine more than others do.

  22. Avatar

    I can’t take it anymore. I have dogs, yes, but the paw prints every time they go in the yard are killing me. We use either just water or Bona to clean the floors, clean the floors, clean the floors, did I say clean the floors? Ugh.. I use a microfiber mop or wringer mop with the special bucket that wrings it out well. There must be something out there that will give them a little shine again? They are only 2 1/2 years old. Someone, anyone, help me, and tell me what I can use that doesn’t leave a whitish film on them. I am at my wits end.

    1. Avatar

      Please let me know if you had any luck with getting your floors clean and shiny again.
      I have engineered floors in my kitchen, worst decision I have ever made!

    2. Avatar

      I hate these floors. I bought a home last year and it was advertised as having hardwoods. They are manufactured Hardwood and I HATE them. They looked beautiful until someone moved in. Now they look grimy. I’ve tried everything.

  23. Avatar

    I just bought a home with engineered hardwood. I would never pick this dark espresso color- shows all dirt. I vacuum then clean it with a damp Norwex mop with just water. It looks great. You can also use the less expensive e-cloth mop or other high quality microfiber cloth mop. My last house had real white oak floors. I miss them!

  24. Avatar

    Cleaning gal insists water & vinegar is the engineered floor cleaner but it leaves a non-shine surface which I hate. I have dings & scratches on floor in kitchen. Hate it. I’m a single gal so I can imagine how difficult it would be with family.

    1. Avatar

      Use Murphy’s oil soap and a bucket of hot water. Use a new microfiber cloth (pack of 10 at home depot $10, yellow ones) wring it out well & lay on floor. Put a sponge mop in the middle of the towel and wrap it sides first then back to front and top to back. Damp mop your floors. When done, take a new fresh microfiber cloth and buff the floor. Just do like you would when mopping, just not as forceful. Your shine will return.

      Use about a 1/2 cup of Murphy’s to the bucket. It won’t be greasy it’s just the name of the product. It’s good to use to clean everything in your home or auto, completely safe for the environment and can be bought almost anywhere. Small bottle (not spray) about 4$ at Walmart. I’ve been a detail cleaner for years and I’m very picky and a clean freak! I’ve used it all and this product is awesome. I even clean carpet stains with it! Best of luck, Renee from California.

      1. Avatar

        Renee,

        Our new house has engineered floors and I just got off the phone with the manufacturer regarding care and cleaning. I was told NEVER use Murphys (which is all I’ve used my entire life, and probably have a year’s worth in my pantry). They told me mostly water with a very very dry cloth. We have dogs, and I cannot imagine this will get the floors clean! I was told Murphys will make the floors have a “white” film, which can only be removed by refinishing! We have not even moved in yet and I’m stressing! HELP.

      2. Avatar

        I’ve tried Murphy’s on mine. Didn’t work. I’ve tried every product made. Nothing works. I even took a piece of mine to the flooring store and asked him for recommendations. What he gave me did not work.

  25. Avatar

    I second the large dog on these floors. Ugh.. scratches so easily. Plus we dropped a pot on the floor and now it’s dented. And I can never keep them dust free. As soon as you breathe they are dirty again. I thought these floors would be easy to care for vs the old hardwood. I would take those over this floor any day.

  26. Avatar

    I have a bissell crosswave mop/vacuum. I would like to use it on my engineered hardwood but am a little nervous about it. When I use it in the other floors in the house it seems to dry as fast as damp mop but I still don’t want to do anything that will damage the new floor. If you have any knowledge on the crosswave it would be great.

    1. Avatar

      My kids installed tile that looked like hardwood and it is amazing. Your mind simply cannot believe it isn’t wood it looks so real. It does feel cool on your feet so slippers in winter, but fantastic otherwise. They use a Shark steam mop periodically.

  27. Avatar
    Patricia Higgins

    I hate the engineered dark hardwood in my new home. Shows dust, footprints everything. The installer said we can’t refinish or apply any type of topcoat. The only thing we can do “ is replace them”. I had Bruce hardwood floors in my previous home for 14 years and LOVED them.

    1. Avatar
      Lauren Kutschka

      Me too! Love our new home but these floors are going to be the death of me. Just tried a vinegar and water solution in my steamer, streaks everywhere! Tried Bona with floor steamer and with a sweeper with a microfiber pad, streaks everywhere! What works???

        1. Avatar

          And don’t use vinegar on hardwood floors, either. Studies have shown that with time, the acidic vinegar decays the floor coating.

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        Empire Is the worst company you could possibly use. Their customer service after installation is absolutely appalling right up to the national level. I would avoid this company at all costs.

    1. Avatar

      We did it all in engineered hardwood, and the bathrooms were are real nice floating vinyl snapbock waterproof. I wish I would have done that everywhere. Not thrilled with the hardwood.

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