How to Clean Cork Floors

Learn how to safely clean and seal a cork floor with these simple tips from DIY experts.

Remodeled Kitchen and Cork Floors

Remodeled Kitchen and Cork Floors

Newly remodeled kitchen interior with cork floors maple cabinets and pendant lights

Photo by: Joe Ferrer

Joe Ferrer

Cork floors have become popular as homeowners look for earth-friendly materials from sustainable sources. It’s a durable material, as tough as hardwood and laminate, but like all floors requires periodic cleaning and sealing. Here’s how to clean cork floors.

Sweep or vacuum your floor daily. Dirt and debris can scratch the floor. Use a brush attachment, not a beater bar attachment, as it can damage the finish. Clean up spills immediately, as cork is porous and will soak up liquids quickly, staining the surface. Once a week, mix a mild cleaning solution of 5 drops of liquid dish detergent and one gallon of warm water. Don’t use a stronger solution as it can cause streaking. Avoid ammonia-based products or abrasive cleaners.  

Use a soft mop, not hard bristle brushes or scrubbers, to spread the cleaner. Wring out the mop after each dip in the water. Too much water can damage the floor by seeping between the tiles and making the tiles swell. When they dry, they may separate and leave gaps between the tiles. Excess water can also encourage mold to grow. You want a damp mop, not a wet one.  

Don’t use a steam cleaner as it can put too much water on the floor and ruin the finish. For stubborn stains, scrub with a fine grain steel wood pad. Remember, the most import part of knowing how to clean a cork floor is not using too much water. 

When you’re finished mopping, wipe the floor with a soft cloth to remove any excess moisture. Allow the floor to air dry.

Every few years you’ll need to reseal your cork floors. You can use polyurethane. This will protect it from scratching and dirt and will need to be reapplied every five to seven years, more often in heavily trafficked areas. You can also use a liquid floor wax to protect the floor. You’ll have to reapply wax once or twice a year. Do not use paste wax. Be sure to remove older coats of wax before resealing. You can buff it off with mineral spirits or use an electric floor buffer fitted with 00 grade wood disks.

Part of knowing how to clean a cork floor is knowing how to protect it. Place mats at doors that lead outside. Make sure they don’t have rubber bottoms as they can trap moisture. Rattan or other materials with no backing are best.

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