cleaning hardwood gym floors

5 Tips For Cleaning Hardwood Gym Floors

The gym floor is the focal point for any school. The classic hardwood gymnasium has been a standard in the American high school for decades. Although the materials used can hold up to the most aggressive of sports, care and maintenance is required to ensure long life. Knowing the right ways for cleaning hardwood gym floors will make yours a reflection of your school’s image.

Here are 5 tips for cleaning hardwood gym floors.

1. Use as few products on the floor as possible.

Do not throw any and all types of cleaners at the floor in an attempt to solve an issue. This will only result in damage to the finish and/or the wood itself. Use a neutral detergent cleaner for any wet cleaning you perform. Cleaning hardwood gym floors should be done with very mild cleaners.

2. Make sure you DO wet clean the floor.

Athletes perspire. Perspiration, or sweat, and body oils are high in protein and salt which will build up over time. Solvent based cleaners and too little water will not break down the residue and can lead to a dull, slippery floor. Wet cleaning of some type, either mopping or automatic scrubbing combined with the proper wood floor cleaner, will remove these films.

3. Always use an automatic scrubber when possible.

Mopping is fast becoming a thing of the past, especially in large areas like gyms.

Using an Automatic scrubber (a machine that applies clean solution, scrubs the floor with various pads or brushes and picks up the water with a vacuum system) leave the floor drier and much cleaner.

Depending on the size of machine you use, a gym floor can be clean and dry within 15 minutes with very little effort. As long as your floor is in good condition and there is a quality finish, there is no concern about moisture or weight issues when cleaning hard wood gym floors.

4. Protect the gym floor.

The gym floor can withstand many types of activities. That is what they are designed for.

But when chairs, certain types of equipment and hard plastic or metal casters are used, they can damage the floor. Make sure everyone is aware of your policy for using the floor and take steps to keep the floor protected during events.

There are many types of gym floor covers and mats that can make protecting and cleaning hard wood gym floors much easier.

5. Gym Floors Do Not Like Dust Mop Treatment.

The most important thing you can do to a gym floor to protect it is to remove dust with a dust mop. Traditional methods for dust mopping use a wide frame dust mop that has a treatment applied to it to hold dust.

This is extremely counter productive.

The treatments are almost always oil based and leave residue. Even the water based treatments can leave a film behind. These residues trap and hold dirt which will scratch the finish. When combined with the previously mentioned perspiration, they become slippery and will be dangerous.

Microfiber dust mops trap and hold dirt without any treatment. They can even be used wet for more in-depth cleaning.

By following these rules for cleaning hardwood gym floors and refinishing the floor as needed with quality finish every 1-3 years,  you will get the results you are wanting and the floor will maintain its appearance for years to come.

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14 replies
  1. Sara Kaufman
    Sara Kaufman says:

    I manage a 67,000 square foot school with a gymnasium with an older wood floor. We are having a terrible time keeping it clean and non-slip. It is professionally waxed and the company explained to me that the wax begins breaking down and flaking as soon as it is applied and that is what is causing the slipperiness. Can you please advise the best way to preserve and maintain an older wooden gym floor.

    Thank you kindly,
    Sara Kaufman

    • BaldGuyClean
      BaldGuyClean says:

      Thank you for your question. There are a lot of factors that can come into play with older wood floors. But if the finish the company used is breaking down as soon as it is applied, then they are either not applying it correctly or not using the right product or both. Those are the only two reasons that a finish would flake that fast. Check to make sure they are using a wood floor finish and not a tile floor finish. Before they apply the wood floor finish, the floor needs to be sanded to remove any scratches and loose finish. Then needs to be extremely clean before application of the new finish.

      Once you have an answer on the finish they used, let me know. I have a feeling that the wrong product was used and the floor was not properly preped before it was applied.
      I look forward to hearing from you.

  2. Rudy
    Rudy says:

    Reference to Sara’s question above. If the gym wood
    Floor is coated with polyutherane and became
    dull, could I overcoat with a wood floor finish
    after a deep scrub?

    • BaldGuyClean
      BaldGuyClean says:

      Rudy. Thanks for you question. It is best practice to at the very least, abrade the floor with a fine grit sand screen. The finish needs the roughed up and clean surface to adhere to. Otherwise, you will end up pealing.

  3. Ray
    Ray says:

    We have a community center that has an old gym floor. After large events where all kinds of shoes are worn and snow, mud and salt are dragged in on the floor I was advised to mop the floor with water and super shine, but after it dries it seems the floor is very slippery. Should I buff the floor after cleaning or can you suggest a different cleaning solution?

    • BaldGuyClean
      BaldGuyClean says:

      Hi Ray,
      Thank you for your comment. The product you have been advised to use, I believe, is one that I am familiar with. The answer to your question is in the ingredients of the product itself. If it is the one I think it is, one of the main ingredients is sassafras oil. The key word there is ‘oil’. Any time you use a product to clean that contains an oil, you will leave a film behind. On a finished wood floor, oil is a bad thing. A REALLY bad thing! It will make the floor slippery and the oily film will attract and hold on to dirt and grime. What I would suggest is using a floor neutralizer to remove the film and then continue using it during the winter months to combat the salt. Once the salt season is over, begin using a neutral cleaner. While the “Super Shine” will make the floor look shiny immediately after mopping, the oil that makes it shine, will also cause a lot of problems. You will find that a well finished and properly maintained floor will have plenty of shine when there isn’t a film blocking it.


  4. Karyn Spears
    Karyn Spears says:

    I work at a rec center and I am told to dust mop the basketball floor every night. The dust mop is very hard to push and I can not figure out why. I will get a clean dust mop and the san thing happens.

    • BaldGuyClean
      BaldGuyClean says:

      Hi Karyn! Thank you for your question. It is a common issue. You are probably using a cotton dust mop. These grab the floor and make it difficult to slide. Any moisture or humidity will make it much worse. What I use is either a synthetic dust mop or a microfiber dust mop. These will glide effortlessly across the floor and make your job a lot easier! Because they are made from plastic, they build up static electricity and hold the dirt without any treatment. Take a look at this post for more info and where to buy them.


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  1. […] Keeping gym floors clean may seem like a never ending task, but as you can see, it can really make a difference. To learn more about keeping gym floor clean, take a look at 5 Tips for Cleaning Hardwood Gym Floors. […]

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