Bamboo floors are tough, sustainable, and can look absolutely gorgeous. But as with most types of hardwood flooring, bamboo flooring needs regular cleaning to remain in great condition, and it isn’t just a case of grabbing a bucket, mop, and bottle of bleach.
To avoid damaging your handsome bamboo flooring, it must be cleaned in a particular way, with a particular cleaning solution. In this article, we’ll teach you how to clean your bamboo floors like a pro.
What is the best cleaner for bamboo floors?
A water/vinegar solution is the best cleaner for bamboo floors
What is the best cleaner for bamboo floors? We recommend a solution with just two ingredients: water (¾) and vinegar (¼). It’s critical to get this balance right. If your solution has too much vinegar it will become acidic, which can break down the protective layers of your bamboo flooring, and allow moisture to creep in.
If you’re adding this solution to a standard 500ml water bottle (recommended for cleaning bamboo floors), the solution would be as follows:
- 375ml water
- 125ml vinegar
If you’ve already done some research on bamboo floor cleaner recipes, you may have seen some that include dish soap. We found that the inclusion of dish soap can leave a very light residue that builds up over time, which is why we prefer to avoid it. Similarly, some bamboo floor cleaner recipes use lemon juice instead of vinegar, which is problematic for a few reasons.
Firstly, it can also leave residue on your floors, which can quickly become grimey, and secondly, it has a high content of citric acid, which can deteriorate the protective layer of your bamboo flooring. We highly recommend sticking to our simple diluted vinegar recipe, as this is the best way to clean bamboo flooring.
Equipment you’ll need to clean your bamboo floors
A flat-head microfibre mop is the best tool for cleaning bamboo floors, because it doesn’t hold as much moisture
You’ll need just two three to clean your bamboo floors:
- A water and vinegar solution, of three quarters water and one quarter vinegar
- A spray bottle to apply the solution
- A flat head microfibre mop
Floor polishes, steam mops, soaps, and detergents all advertise themselves as effective timber floor cleaners, but that’s not always the case. Bamboo flooring has a beautiful grain that resists moisture extremely well, but is certainly not waterproof. If you clean your bamboo flooring with harsh or invasive chemicals, they can damage the floor’s protective layers, and also become absorbed into the wood, effectively ruining it. For this reason, it’s always best to clean bamboo floors with the gentle homemade cleaner recommended above.
To apply your bamboo floor cleaner recipe, using a damp flat head mop is best. Never use a wet mop, as you don’t want the solution to become absorbed into the wood. The aim of the game when cleaning bamboo floors is to use as little water as possible. Flat heads work better because you’ll be able to get the job done more quickly.
How to clean bamboo floors: step-by-step
Before you use your mop or cloth, clean it by soaking it in hot water, then wring it out firmly (hot water is preferable as it evaporates quicker). Once done, here’s how to clean your bamboo floors step-by-step:
- Vacuum or sweep your flooring thoroughly. Make sure that the brush is soft-bristled, and the vacuum has a felt head (not a beater bar or hard bristles), is relatively light, and powerful enough to lift the dirt from the floor’s joints.
- Deep clean any stains with a damp, soft cloth. The best method is to rub gently in a circular motion. If the stains are stubborn, try the water/vinegar solution described above, or a hardwood cleaning solution. If you use the latter, make sure you do a little research first to make sure it’s safe.
- Mop the floors with the water/vinegar solution described above. If you’re using a mop, use a spray to apply the solution, rather than dipping the mop into the bucket and making it sodden. After you’ve sprayed a spot, go over it with the mop, then move onto the next area.
Bamboo floor cleaner recipes—what to avoid
Never use steam mops on your bamboo flooring, as they can lead to water damage
Of course, there’s more than one way to clean a bamboo floor. In our experience, our recommended bamboo floor cleaner recipe and technique works best, but that doesn’t mean that others won’t work just as well.
But there are definitely some techniques to avoid. These include:
- Steam mops
- Wet mops
- Harsh chemical cleaners, especially those that are not pH-neutral such as ammonia
- Oil, wax, or polish. These will make your bamboo flooring greasy
- A heavy vacuum with a beater bar
- Anything abrasive, such as steel wool
Many of these products and techniques are simply too harsh for organic flooring materials, especially bamboo. When applied repeatedly over long periods, your bamboo flooring can degrade and eventually be ruined.
Can I use a steam mop on bamboo flooring?
You should never use a steam mop on bamboo flooring. These mops apply large amounts of moisture, which can penetrate into your flooring and damage it beyond repair. If water gets inside, the bamboo flooring could start to warp, bend, buckle, and become discoloured, and will probably need to be replaced.
Bamboo floors are not waterproof, so you should never apply large amounts of water (or steam) to them.
Can you use vinegar on bamboo floors?
You can use vinegar on bamboo floors, but only as a carefully measured solution of one part vinegar, and three parts water. If you need the exact measurements, you can find them in the “what is the best cleaner for bamboo floors” section above.
Never use pure vinegar when cleaning bamboo floors. It’s extremely acidic and can easily stain your floor, or even get into the material itself and start to warp it. Similarly, you shouldn’t use any solutions that are too alkaline (at the other end of the scale), as these can do similar damage.
How often should you clean bamboo flooring?
It’s critical to clean spills and accidents as quickly as possible, to prevent any liquid being absorbed into the bamboo. Cleaning the entire floor should be done on a weekly basis, although you may not need to clean this frequently if you don’t have children, pets, or a messy partner.
How to protect bamboo flooring
Felt pads will prevent your bamboo flooring from getting scratched
Bamboo flooring is susceptible to damage from tiny particles, so one of the best ways to keep it in good condition is to take off your shoes before walking on it. This will prevent sand or dirt from digging into the floor’s protective finish, which can create scratches and make the floor more prone to water damage.
You should also place felt pads underneath your furniture, as heavy items will easily create scratches. It goes without saying that you should never drag sharp or heavy objects across it!
Bamboo floors are becoming more and more popular, and it’s easy to see why. They’re tough, eco-friendly, durable, and can look beautiful in your home. Provided you take your shoes off before walking across your flooring, add felt pads to your furniture, and clean the flooring regularly, it should remain in excellent condition.
Are bamboo floors waterproof?
Bamboo floors are not waterproof. They are more water-resistant than other hardwoods, but they will happily absorb water that sits on their surface for long periods of time, which can lead to warping (known as “cupping”), staining, and mould growth, to name just a few issues. That’s why it’s crucial to clean spills quickly, and never to use excess amounts of liquid when cleaning them.
In saying this, high quality bamboo flooring should have water-resistant protection applied to them, so will be able to repel water for short periods. But again, you should always quickly clean up any pooled water to be on the safe side.
How to fix water damage on bamboo floor
If your bamboo floor is badly damaged, with warps, distortions, or large amounts of discolouration, there isn’t much you can do aside from replacing it.
But if you have small stains, you may be able to fix them by following this process:
- Mix mayonnaise with cigar or cigarette ash in a bowl, and rub it onto the affected area. Rub with the grain of the bamboo. Alternatively, try a mixture of regular white toothpaste with baking soda. While cleaning, check your progress often, and rub until the stain is gone. Once done, clean the area with a damp rag.
- If this doesn’t remove the stain, it’s likely that the stain has penetrated past the finish into the bamboo. To fix this, you can try sanding off the finish with a palm sander and 120-grit sandpaper. Be sure to protect the surrounding boards by covering them with masking tape.
- Once sanded, mix a highly saturated solution of oxalic acid and water in a bowl and spread it on the affected area with a paintbrush. Let it soak for about an hour. If you can still see the stain after an hour, repeat the procedure.
- Mix a solution of baking soda and water, and wash the stain again. Let the repair dry overnight, then sand it by hand with 150-grit sandpaper, being sure to sand along the grain of the bamboo.
- Finally, spread a coat of clear polyurethane finish on the repair with a foam brush. Let it dry, then sand it lightly with 220-grit sandpaper. Then spread another coat, and repeat the process if necessary. Once done, let the final coat dry for 48 hours before walking on it.
How to clean bamboo floors—summary
That’s it—a step-by-step guide on how to clean bamboo floors like a professional. For a quick summary, all you’ll need is a water/vinegar solution in a spray bottle, and a flat-head mop that you should use in a circular motion while cleaning. Easy peasy!