How Wood Floor Polish Brings Out the Shine

by Sarita Harbour

Did you fall in love with your home's wood floors the first time you saw them? Their warm, welcoming appearance doesn't survive on its own, so it's important to use a wood floor polish to keep them this way. Here are a few tips on how to best use floor polish to get the best shine on your wood floors.


Before polishing, one of the most important things you can do to keep wood floors (of any kind) pretty is to regularly sweep or vacuum, suggests the American Hardwood Information Center. Gritty dirt particles can be tracked across your home daily. This dirt can scratch and dull your floors as more foot traffic presses against them. If you're using a vacuum, make sure to attach a floor brush or set it for hard surfaces. Once the floors are clean, buff them with a dry soft cloth.


Not all wood floors are the same and their finishes may be different as well. Know which of the three types of hardwood floor types you have, and choose a method of cleaning and polishing that corresponds with your floors. Choosing the wrong type of cleaner may result in dull floors or, even worse, damaged finish. The three main types of wood flooring are:

  • Surface finishes, which shouldn't receive wax or petroleum-based solutions.
  • Wax, which thrives on solvents, buffing pastes and cleaning liquids that are specific to wax finishes.
  • Acrylic impregnated, most of which do well by a spray-and-buff process similar to surface finishes.

Each of these requires different cleaning methods and levels of care. Determine your floor type, then choose and apply your cleaner prior to polishing. Remember that a natural item like Murphy® Oil Soap's Squirt & Mop Floor is gentle on most wood floors, yet still effective.


Although regular cleaning helps to maintain wood flooring, at some point they'll begin to dull especially in high-traffic areas such as hallways and kitchens. This may be a sign that it's time to get polishing, but do so just once or twice a year at the most, according to the National Wood Flooring Association. In low-traffic rooms, polish half as often as you would in the busier areas of your home.


To keep your hardwood floors' original gloss, wipe away liquid spills right when they happen with a clean rag or cloth. Standing liquid may penetrate the wood and ruin the finish to the point where even buffing the floor with a good wood floor polish wouldn't help. Spills left unattended may result in damage not just to the flooring finish, but also the underlying wood resulting in buckled, dull and spot damage that's much harder to sand out.

When cleaning floors, use only a slightly damp mop as excess water may be hazardous to certain species of wood. For more tips on cleaning your hardwood, watch a quick demonstration from Real Simple on how to clean well.

This article was brought to you by Colgate-Palmolive Company, the makers of Murphy® Oil Soap. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of the Colgate-Palmolive Company.