How to Make Wood Floors Less Slippery

Read time: 7 mins

Wood floors are great when it comes to spills and fending off allergens because they make for easy clean-up and don’t harbor dust and debris the way carpet fibers can. That said, these same properties that allow for easy clean-up also make for slippery situations. Because falls can be dangerous, slippery floors are a liability. Whether you own a home or business, maintaining clean, non-slip floors is critical for the safety of you, your family, guests, employees, and patrons. 

To accomplish this effectively, we’ll cover solutions, cleaning methods, and approaches to prevent slippery wood floors. 

Why are Your Hardwood Floors so Slippery?

Your hardwood floors might be slippery for a number of reasons. For one, high-traffic areas tend to become more slippery as the wood gets worn down and smoothed out over time. Beyond areas of more traffic, there could be a build-up of wax or polish residue on your wood floors, which is causing them to be more slick. 

Additionally, seasonal changes can affect the smoothness of your wood. As the air becomes more moist during the wetter seasons, wood tends to swell and become smoother after absorbing this moisture. 

Aside from seasonal changes, another reason may be that your hardwood floors are in need of a thorough dusting. When dust collects at the surface of wood floors, this reduces the traction between the soles of our feet and the floor, making it easy to slip and fall. Ouch!

With the right routine cleaning techniques, you can ensure you are doing your due diligence to maintain a slip-free environment. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best wood floor cleaning practices so your floors are both shiny and safe. 

Routine Cleaning Techniques

The best way to avoid slippery floors is through routine cleaning. As previously mentioned, while hardwood floors may not hold on to dust and debris the way carpets do, they still collect a significant amount of surface-level dust, which, if not regularly attended to, can contribute to slippery floors. To combat this, we suggest regularly sweeping and mopping the area, which will reduce debris buildup. 

That said, when it comes to floor grip, you won’t want to use just any products. Wood floors can be sensitive to certain solutions and chemicals, so it’s important to be considerate of what you are applying to ensure you are not doing permanent damage to them, which can be a costly mistake to fix. 

Best Cleaning Products For Hardwood Floors

Not all hardwood floors are made the same, so it’s important to first consider the type of wood your floors are made out of. Oak floors, for example, are considered more durable than pine, and can therefore tolerate stronger products.

In general, to prevent damaging or stripping the finish on hardwood floors, you’ll want to avoid using an acidic cleaning agent. Instead, select a pH-neutral solution. These solutions are strong enough to thoroughly cleanse the flooring but gentle enough to not cause any damage or stripping. On a similar note, avoid using steam mops on hardwood floors as this can cause unwanted warping in the wood. 

Clean Spills Immediately

Spills are bound to happen, and cleaning them up as soon as possible is a great rule of thumb for all flooring types. That said, unlike when spills happen on carpets, when spills happen on hardwood floors, this creates an environment that is even more susceptible to falls. Because of this, it’s critical to clean right away. This will not only help to avoid stains but also prevent someone from falling and hurting themselves. 

COIT Pro Tip

When mopping, move in the direction of the wood grain to avoid pushing any dirt into the grooves of the floorboards. 

Contact COIT for a professional cleaning!

Make Use of Rugs and Doormats 

The use of rugs throughout your home will automatically reduce the possibility of slips and falls because carpets offer more traction than hardwood floors. Not to mention, strategically placing mats and rugs throughout your home or place of business can make a difference in the amount of dirt people and pets bring in, which will in turn help to avoid slips brought on by an accumulation of debris. 

If you plan to make use of area rugs, you will want to also install non-slip pads underneath them to ensure they stay put, otherwise, you run the risk of causing more slips as the carpets will glide easily over hardwood floors. Some common grip solutions include rubber waffle rug pads, felt pads, and gripper tape, which can all be placed directly on the floor where you plan to keep your rug. After placing the pads or tape, simply set the rug on top. This should help keep the rug in place and prevent it from sliding around. 

Special Treatments and Coatings

To tackle slipperiness head-on, there are some special treatments, safe wood floor coatings, and sprays available that introduce a bit of texture to your floors, therefore providing some traction and decreasing the possibility of a slip. 

Treating or coating your hardwood floors is something you can do on your own or ask the professionals to do for you. If you plan to attempt this yourself, keep in mind that you will have to sand down the wood to its base beforehand. Additionally, to ensure the treatment sticks to your floor and not to any lingering dust, be sure to properly clean beforehand to maximize results. 

Similar to selecting the right cleaning agent that is conducive to your specific wood type, you’ll want to select a treatment that matches your flooring and its level of durability. As treatments vary according to floor type and brand, read and follow the provided instructions carefully before application. 

DIY Wood Floor Grip Enhancements

When it comes to removing some of the built-up residue that might be causing your wood floors to be slippery, there are some DIY remedies you can make at home to help resolve the issue.

One option is to create a paste made of water and baking soda. Baking soda is a key ingredient in many DIY remedies because of its natural cleaning properties. To help break down wax, simply take your baking soda and water paste and scrub the slippery areas of your wood floors using a brush or sponge. Once you’ve removed layers of wax, be sure to wash the paste away with clean water and let it dry completely before walking on it. 

Ditch the Vinegar

Whatever you do, do not use vinegar to clean or prevent slippery wood floors. Although some recommend using this as an at-home remedy to achieve non-slip floors, vinegar’s acidic properties strip hardwood and dissolve its protective finish. Not to mention, if it’s suspected that vinegar was used on wood flooring, this could void your warranty, which means you will be fully responsible for covering the costs of any damage done. 

Long-term Non-Slip Wood Floor Solutions 

If you’re wondering how to stop your wooden floors from being slippery, you may want to consider your current cleaning habits. As a long-term solution, use an oil finish on your wood floors over a wax finish. While wax and lacquer might be cheaper and serve to make your floors extra shiny, they will create a slippery build-up over time. Therefore, it is worth the investment to use an oil finish to avoid having to sand down the floors and start from scratch in the future. 

Seek Help From Flooring Experts 

Safety is key, so when in doubt, call the professionals. Hardwood floors are expensive, and to preserve them, it’s best to handle them with the utmost care. If you’re not sure what to do about your slippery wood floors, it might be time to call COIT. Our experts can assess your specific needs and provide care tips to help you achieve and maintain non-slip hardwood floors. 

Keep in mind, routine cleaning is the most proactive means of getting ahead of slips and falls. We understand how busy life can get. Take one thing off your plate and schedule a routine cleaning service with COIT to help you keep up with wood floor maintenance. 


Here’s a breakdown of the main points discussed in this article:

  • Wood floors can become slippery due to general wear and tear, wax/residue build-up, weather changes, and dust accumulation
  • Routinely sweeping and mopping is the best way to prevent slippery wood floors
  • Opt for a pH-neutral cleaning agent over an acidic one
  • Rugs and doormats are a practical way to help prevent slips and falls
  • Special treatments and coatings can be used to add texture and grip to hardwood floors
  • When it comes to non-slip home remedies, never use vinegar
  • Call in the professionals for the best advice on how to clean and maintain non-slip floors


Contact COIT today to schedule your routine hardwood floor cleaning

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