Best Practices for Autoscrubbing Hardwood Floors

Get the most life out of your hard flooring

For any sizable hardwood floor, implementing a regular autoscrubbing maintenance program is a must. Whether a gym floor or lobby area, hardwood floors bring a unique appeal and aesthetic. To maintain floor durability—and beauty—a little care will go a long way.

While autoscrubbing isn’t a new concept to the cleaning and maintenance industry, the past decade has seen significant advancements in best practices for autoscrubbing hardwood floors. From newer, more efficient cleaning pads to pH-neutral cleaning solutions, today’s autoscrubbing techniques can add years to a hardwood floor and finish.

Most important to autoscrubbing hardwood floors is recognizing that hardwood floors are not like other hard surfaces. Tile, linoleum, and stone typically require a stronger cleaning solution with a more aggressive surfactant as well as a cleaning pad that provides extra scrubbing power. Hardwood floors are unique in that the cleaning process must take into account the finish. While most finishes provide a high level of durability, hardwood floors require a gentler maintenance approach. However, gentle doesn’t have to mean ineffective. In fact, correctly autoscrubbing hardwood floors will remove dirt and grime while increasing durability and lifespan.

Here are some tips to get the most out of autoscrubbing hardwood floors.

  1. A little water goes a long way.It’s no secret that water and wood don’t mix. When mixing the cleaning solution, be sure to use the exact measurement of solution to ensure you find the right balance of cleaning concentrate and water. Be sure to use hot water for best results. Additionally, avoid “over watering” the floor during the autoscrubbing process. Most autoscrubbers are powerful enough with minimal liquid on a low-flow setting. Typically, less is more.

  2. Cleaning solutions can be strong and gentle.Gone are the days of using harsh surfactants on hardwood floors. Years of learning have shown that aggressive cleaning solutions on hardwood floors will not only dull the finish but can soften and damage the finish requiring a full sand and recoat before a floors natural lifespan. Look for pH-neutral cleaning solutions that bring balance to the cleaning process and offer the right amount of muscle. Also consider nontoxic solutions to enhance the safety of hardwood floors.

  3. The power is in the pad. Just like you wouldn’t drag a metal chair across a hardwood floor in your home, using the right cleaning tool is the difference between scratching and cleaning a hardwood floor. The wrong pad can also “de-gloss” the floor if the abrasion level is too intense. Take time to invest in the correct cleaning pads—including the right size—for your autoscrubber, and remember to switch pads when moving from a harder surface, like tile or linoleum, to hardwood. Swap out clean pads for dirty pads as you clean the floor (typically, you can just turn over the pad to use both sides) for best results.

    Additionally, look for a high quality microfiber pad with PET (polyethylene terephthalate)scrubbing fibers specifically designed for hardwood floors. Not only is microfiber washable and reusable, but it is typically the perfect material for scrubbing dirt without damaging hardwood finish.

  4. Tune up.Like any cleaning machine, it’s important to keep your autoscrubber in shape. Regular maintenance and checkups can prevent potential damage to floors. Out-of-shape machines can add too much water to a floor, offer too much or too little cleaning pressure, or can miss spots on the floor. Follow the machine manual instructors or call the manufacturer with questions.

  5. Make a plan.Get on a regular cleaning schedule. The longer dirt and grime sit on the floor, the more opportunity for micro-scratches or damage to the finish. A regular dusting, cleaning and autoscrubbing regime will not only enhance the beauty of the floors, but will increase durability and safety. Consider a daily routine of dusting and wet tacking with the autoscrub cleaning solution, and then add in a weekly autoscrubbing session. Regular cleaning will extend the life of the floor and add a beautiful shine.

It’s important to note that autoscrubbing newly installed athletic floors prior to the first annual re-coat is not recommended. Check your flooring manufacturer’s warranty for proper autoscrubber maintenance guidelines.

From the right cleaning solution to the perfect pad, a little extra attention and effort to autoscrubbing hardwood floors can streamline the process, saving time and money. When in doubt on the best approach to care or maintain a hardwood floor, call your local hardwood floor manufacturer. The right tools, knowledge, and a bit of planning can keep floors beautiful for years to come.

Posted On July 25, 2016

Dave Posey

National Sales & Market Manager, Bona

Dave Posey is national sales and market manager for Bona’s Athletic Floor Care division. Bona offers a full system of hardwood floor finishing, maintenance, and care products specifically formulated for athletic sport floors, such as gymnasiums and basketball courts. For more information visit

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Best Practices for Autoscrubbing Hardwood Floors
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