If you want to give your home an exotic vibe, there are a lot of ways you can go about it. Décor is an obvious option, but flooring can have an enormous impact as well. For decades, if you wanted exotic flooring in your home in the U.S., wood from foreign shores was the only way to go, but today there are exciting alternatives like cork, eucalyptus, and bamboo.
Eucalyptus and cork haven’t quite caught on like bamboo, a material that’s become a trendy choice with homeowners looking for something durable and different. While bamboo shares many similarities with hardwood from a maintenance standpoint, there are some things you will want to know if you're going to keep your bamboo floors looking their best.
Bamboo Flooring: Everything You Need to Know
Bamboo may be a popular flooring material, but it isn’t something most folks decide to buy without putting a lot of thought into it. As it’s harder than many types of domestic and exotic hardwood species, installation can be difficult, which can make it more expensive overall compared to solid or engineered hardwood flooring.
It’s manufactured in a different fashion as well, considering it’s technically a grass, not wood. The way it’s produced will have an impact on its durability. Strand Woven bamboo is harder than oak, while horizontal bamboo is the most realistic. Engineered flooring is also an option, although every style is cleaned similarly.
Bamboo flooring tends to handle moisture better than hardwoods, but it’s not impervious to water, which means you have to be cautious when cleaning. Especially when you consider quality control isn’t as strict with bamboo flooring as there isn’t a grading scale or classification system like you’ll find with domestic species.
While there aren’t many companies out there that make high-quality bamboo flooring, many manufacturers will have their own guidelines and recommendations, but it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the equipment used.
How to Clean Bamboo Floors
Bamboo may be exotic, but the good news is it’s just as easy to clean as engineered hardwood flooring or solid planks. Distressing techniques and finishes can have an effect on how you clean your floors, but these are the most common cleaning tools that are used by homeowners or recommended by manufacturers.
High-quality bamboo can be expensive, but you don’t have to break the bank to keep it clean. A good broom is proof of that, and the first product we recommend to clean bamboo flooring. If you are wondering what type of broom is best for bamboo, the choices can be a little overwhelming.
A standard broom is something everyone will be familiar with, and it can come with plastic or straw bristles that are angled or completely straight. The stiffness of those bristles can vary as well, but they are used to sweep debris into piles for collection with a dustpan. Those have come a long way, so you don’t have to bend over if you buy a broom with an upright pan.
A push broom has a large head which allows you to clean quicker. That’s ideal for large rooms that don’t see a lot of action, and we’ve seen rubber brooms in the same range as well. The handle can be made from fiberglass, wood, or aluminum, and while some come with a dustpan, others will require you to purchase one separately.
If you’re not partial to a manual broom or one of Karcher’s sleek electric models, a dust mop is your next best option when it comes to ease of use and affordability. As the name implies, these are mops that are built to collect dust and don’t use wet pads or cleaning solutions like their wet counterparts.
Dust or dry mops can usually cover more ground than a standard broom. They are designed to be pushed but can be pulled as well. Unlike a vacuum, you will need something to collect large debris gathered by a dust mop. You will also need to change the cleaning pad or run it through the washer when it becomes too dusty to be effective.
The cleaning pads are usually made from microfiber, and that’s what most bamboo brands recommend. Disposable dust pads are also an option. The biggest difference from a broom is the fact you will need to purchase refills or replacement pads, whereas the bristles on a broom can last for decades.
With that in mind, a dust mop can be more effective on bamboo depending on the conditions in your home. If you are looking for a reliable dust mop, check out a few of the models from our list of the best mops for hardwood flooring.
This is where things can get a little tricky. Often classified as wet mops, any tool in this range uses a form of liquid to help clean your flooring. It can be something you mix up yourself or a special mix that works with the system, but they will all get your flooring damp and are the best way to remove stains or spots from bamboo without getting on your hands and knees.
In our research, we found that bamboo flooring manufacturers often recommend an easy to obtain cleaning solution to use on their flooring. In fact, it’s supported by Cali Bamboo, Teragren, and others, although you may have a hard time finding “Bamboo cleaners” in the isle of your local hardware store. As always, when in doubt, refer to the manufacturer's web site or care sheet for more information on your flooring.
The wet mops that are used to apply cleaning solution to your floor come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The cheapest and arguably, the most effective solution are spray mops. With a press of a button or pull of a trigger, these mops will send a stream of cleaner towards your floor. They are perfect for sealed hardwood flooring, bamboo and other surfaces. They can also use disposable or washable pads, just like a dust mop.
There are also electric mops in this range that take the work out of things, even if pushing a spray mop is extremely easy. There are a handful of cordless mops, although Bissell makes corded models that are among the best mops for bamboo flooring or hardwood. While there are only a handful of models, we would recommend, robotic mop bots are an interesting choice if you want to take the “set it and forget it” approach to cleaning.
Brooms and dust mops require a receptacle to deal with debris. It’s also a good idea to clear dust and dirt from your flooring before you use a spray mop or any type of cleaning solution for obvious reasons. If that sounds like an ordeal, that’s because it can be if you have a large home or an active abode where dust, mud, and pet hair are common occurrences.
The easiest way to remove most forms of debris from your floor is by using a vacuum cleaner. There are pros and cons to using a vacuum on bamboo, however, although you won’t have to look hard to find a great system. The best vacuum for laminate flooring, luxury vinyl, or hardwood can also be the best vacuum for bamboo.
If you have multiple floors in your home, consider something lightweight like a stick vacuum or a cordless vacuum geared towards hardwood flooring. They can be a little underpowered compared to a corded upright, but a machine doesn’t have to be capable of pulling a golf ball across the room to pull in debris from bamboo flooring.
Many of the best cordless vacuums are also convertible, which means you’ll be able to clean more than just your bamboo floors. Canister vacuums are known for having an array of attachments that can handle stairs, curtains, and cupboards. Most are corded and allow you to change the cleaning head, which is handy if you have carpet in your home to go along with your bamboo flooring.
Carpet is by far the most challenging type of flooring to clean. While it looks great alongside hardwood in your home, it can cause issues when it’s time to purchase cleaning equipment. That’s partly due to the brush roll, a spinning roller located on the bottom of a vacuum cleaner. They can pull dirt and debris from carpet fibers but aren’t the best choice for bamboo.
Ideally, any vacuum cleaner you choose for bamboo should have a soft brush roll. Those aren’t always easy to find, however, unless you opt for a canister or convertible vacuum that lets you swap out cleaning heads. In most cases, a vacuum cleaner with a brush roll switch is the best choice. It allows you to turn the roller off as needed, which can keep the brush from scattering debris on bare surfaces.
Tips from the Pros
The top tip from bamboo flooring manufacturers like Ambient, Cali, and Teragren is to not wet mop your floors. While we wholeheartedly agree that’s a good decision, that doesn’t rule out spray mops and cleaning solution. These types of fluids are thicker and designed for bamboo or hardwood, although you still need to ensure your floors are sealed.
Steam mops are a bad idea unless you want to deal with cupping from excessive heat. Even on sealed bamboo flooring, you’ll want to clean up spills quickly. It’s a good idea to keep an idea on the humidity range as well – it needs to be between 40% to 60%. That number will vary somewhat from one manufacturer to the next, although that’s an easy range to maintain for most homeowners.
If you have strand woven bamboo flooring, dents and dings shouldn’t be an issue, nor will dog paws. For other styles, you will want to keep those pet claws trimmed and use furniture coasters on heavy objects that sit on your bamboo flooring. High heels shoes or cleats can be troublesome with some brands and styles of bamboo flooring as well.
Manufacturers may have different tips depending on the product have and how it was produced. One thing they all agree on is setting a regular cleaning schedule, and keeping doormats down in front of entryways to prevent dirt and debris from entering your home.
Bamboo Flooring Care FAQ
Q: Will cleaning keep my bamboo floors from fading?
A: No, but the right products can certainly help by adding a bit of protection. UV rays and time itself can cause hardwood to fade, and bamboo is susceptible to that as well.
Q: Is liquid or spray hardwood floor cleaner safe to use on bamboo flooring?
A: Yes, but it’s a wise idea to stick to the cleaner the manufacturer of your flooring recommends. Wax-based products, oil soap, and vinegar could actually harm your flooring.
Q: How do I fix a scratch in my bamboo flooring’s finish?
A: It depends on how deep the scratch is. If it’s not deep, you can generally take care of it with floor cleaner or light buffing. For deeper scratches, a touch-up marker is the best choice.
Q: Are steam cleaners safe on bamboo flooring?
A: Most bamboo flooring manufacturers want you to avoid humidity or water, and many strictly specify no steam mops. Don’t use one unless you want to take a chance of voiding your warranty.
Q: Are rubber backed floor mats safe for bamboo flooring?
A: Rugs or mats with a solid rubber or vinyl backing layer could potentially cause problems with the finish of your bamboo floors, so check the backing beforehand. Make sure a rug is breathable to prevent moisture or use a proper as well.
Q: Can you refinish bamboo flooring?
A: Yes, although it’s not recommended in some cases and not necessarily something you’ll want to try yourself. It can depend on how thick your flooring is, if it’s been refinished before, and several other factors. Solid strand bamboo flooring is the most difficult to repair or refinish.