How to Safely Clean Bamboo Floors

There are many different types of materials to choose from when it comes to floors. For example, there’s hardwood, laminate, tile, and vinyl. For the purposes of this article, however, we’ll be focusing on bamboo. Yes, bamboo floors are a thing! If anything, their popularity has gone up over the past few years. Appearance-wise, they kind of resemble hardwood. At the same time, however, they’re distinct and different. For one thing, bamboo has only been used since the 90s. In contrast, hardwood has been used for hundreds of years!

How Is Bamboo Flooring Made? 

Bamboo flooring is made by slicing mature bamboo poles into thin strips (they’re boiled beforehand to get rid of any insects). These culms, as they’re called, are then crosscut into the width desired. The nodes and outer skin are removed during this process. To remove the sugars and starch, the strips are boiled in a solution of lime or boric acid. From there, the strips are heated—this carbonizes the bamboo. Afterward, the strips are weaved together and stacked. Once they are dry, they are forced together under extreme pressure; this results in super dense planks of bamboo. The last step is to apply UV protection and a moisture seal.

Benefits of Bamboo Flooring 

Bamboo is popular for several reasons. First and foremost, it’s eco-friendly. This is due to the fact that the plant grows rapidly (some can grow 36 inches within 24 hours). Highly sustainable, a bamboo forest can regenerate itself in just a few years whereas it would take normal wood several decades!

That’s not all, bamboo floors are also easy to maintain. For one thing, it won’t trap dirt and dust like carpet. Don’t get me wrong, debris will still accumulate on the surface but at least you can clean it easily. You won’t have to worry about spills either as the material is naturally water-resistant, even more so than hardwood. That brings us to our next point—durability. Given that it’s properly manufactured, it’s extremely hard and strong. It’s not that expensive either. Depending on what you get, it’ll cost you anywhere from $2 to $8 per square feet.

Similar to hardwood, bamboo can also be refinished to get rid of scratches and discoloring. All you have to do is sand it down and apply the finishing coats. At the end of the day, the amount of sanding that’s possible will depend on how thick your planks are.

Drawbacks of Bamboo Flooring 

Bamboo floors are easy to main, as mentioned earlier. However, they do tend to scratch easily—especially in high traffic areas. For example, the surface can be damaged by things such as furniture legs and pet claws. Tiny particles of sand can also lead to scratches over time. Another thing is that it can warp. Yes, it’s more water-resistant than hardwood but too much moisture will still lead to problems. That’s why you want to avoid installing them in humid areas.

Last but not least, there’s no official grading system for bamboo. Retailers will often sort them into different grades but that’s just an arbitrary system. At the end of the day, the only way to get top-quality material is to go to a reputable flooring dealer.

Cleaning Bamboo Floors

Bamboo, like other flooring materials, has to be cleaned regularly. Otherwise, dirt and debris will quickly accumulate on the surface, which can lead to scratches. Not to mention that it can become a health issue as well! For example, dirt and dust can easily trigger sneezing, cough, and other symptoms.

Not sure how to go about cleaning your bamboo floors? Well, that’s why we’re here! We’ll be going over all the steps below.

Investing in the Right Tools

This goes without saying but you’ll need the right tools in order to clean. For one thing, you’ll want a good vacuum. How else would you get rid of debris and particles? Sure, you can always sweep with a broom but let’s face it—that’s not the most efficient. Aside from that, you’ll also want to get a mop. That will allow you to clean the floor with water and cleaner. Now, there are various kinds that you can get. For example, you can get one with a microfiber or sponge head. There’s also the option of getting a spray mop—that will save you the trouble of having to apply cleaner to the floor as you can spray it directly using the handle.

Step 1: Vacuuming the Floor

The first thing that you want to do is vacuum. That will remove any particles that might be lying around on the surface. Leave them there and they can easily cause damage once you start mopping (moving the particles around can lead to scratches).

Just keep in mind that not all vacuum cleaners are suitable for bamboo floors. For example, uprights usually come with a beater brush that can leave marks. Considering that, you might want to go for a canister model instead. You won’t have to worry about there being a rotating bar and the unit will be lighter and easier to maneuver. If you want, you can also use a stick vac (make sure that it says it’s compatible with bamboo). Generally speaking, they don’t come with stiff brushes, so your bamboo floors will be safe from damage.

Step 2: Preparing Your Cleaning Solution

The next step, once you’ve finished vacuuming, is to prepare your cleaning solution. There’s always the option of using plain water but that’s not always effective, especially if you’re tackling stubborn spots. One of our favorite things to use is white vinegar. You just mix it with warm water (a quarter cup of vinegar to a gallon of water) and voila! You’ve got yourself a chemical-free cleaner for your floors. If you’re not a fan of the vinegar smell, you can always add a few drops of essential oil. 

Why You Should Clean Your Floors With White Vinegar:

  • It means you’re not dealing with any harsh chemicals
  • It won’t hurt the environment
  • It’s cheap and most of us already have it in the house
  • It doesn’t leave behind any marks or residue

Note: Never use undiluted vinegar—it’ll be too strong for your bamboo floors aka it can damage them.

Aside from vinegar, you can also use a commercial product from the store. There are various kinds that you can get—just check out the cleaning aisle. Just keep in mind that not all of them are suitable for bamboo floors. Given that, it might be a good idea to do your research before driving down—that way, you’ll know exactly what to get when you’re there (or if you prefer shopping online, you can just order it from the comfort of your own home).

Step 3: Mopping Your Bamboo Floors

From there, you’ll want to go ahead and mop the floor. Assuming that you have a microfiber mop or something similar, you’ll want to pour the cleaning solution into a spray bottle of sorts—that’ll let you apply it while you clean. If anything, that’s the most efficient way of going about it. Unless, of course, you have a spray mop. In that case, you can pour the cleaner directly into the refillable bottle.

Note: Be careful if you’re using a steam mop—you don’t want to apply too much moisture to the bamboo as it can cause it to warp.

Add a few sprays of cleaner onto the bamboo floor and go over the area with a damp mop pad. Repeat until you’re finished the entire section. Depending on how dirty the surface is, you might have to rinse the pad out a few times during your mopping session (or you can just switch to another one). Continue mopping until you’re satisfied with the results. Let the cleaner dry (some might require you to rinse it with water—check the instructions on the bottle).

Optional: Recoating Your Bamboo Floors

Assuming that your bamboo floors are properly maintained, you won’t have to re-coat them for a while. Generally speaking, you’ll want to do that once it starts to show signs of wear and damage (e.g. scratches). It’s perfectly fine to do it yourself as long as you use a refinishing product that’s formulated for bamboo floors.

Removing Scuff Marks

Bamboo floors tend to scuff easily, especially if you wear shoes inside. Don’t worry, though. It is possible to remove these marks (as long as they’re not actual scratches). Start by adding a few drops of cleaner to a clean cloth. Use it to gently rub the scuffed area—make sure that the cloth is not too damp, otherwise, it might do more harm than good. The key is to go slow. Eventually, with enough rubbing, the scuff marks will come out. Do not use anything abrasive on the floor as that will only result in scratches.

Tips For Making Your Bamboo Floors Last Longer

Want your bamboo floors to last? Then you’ll want to take good care of it. For one thing, it’s a good idea to remove shoes at the door. That way, you won’t have to worry about tracking in dirt. Not to mention that it’ll prevent damage from heels and other similar footwear. If you must wear your shoes, place a mat in front of the door so that you can remove the debris from your soles before entering. Another thing that you might want to take advantage of is area rugs. Place them high-traffic areas such as the hallways and kitchen. Given the fact that bamboo is sensitive to moisture, you might also want to put one around sinks.

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