March Madness: How to Clean a Basketball Court Floor

by | Mar 7, 2024

The NCAA Basketball Tournament is almost here, and while most viewers marvel at the athleticism or worry over office pool brackets, cleaning professionals are drooling over those hardwood floors. How do they keep them so clean, so shiny, so camera-ready? “They’re pampered,” answers Bill Price Jr, national sport manager, Bona in Athletic Business. “They’re put down for a game and then they pick them up and put them away.”


Smaller schools and gyms don’t enjoy that luxury; their floors stay down permanently. Under normal use, the hardwood requires specific daily maintenance. Factor in the added wear and tear of a tournament and it’s no wonder the cleaning staff is jealous. Luckily there are ways to keep a basketball court floor safe and looking great on event day and every day.

Zone Defense

Dust, dirt and sandy grit will scratch a floor surface like sandpaper and is also responsible for about, “90% of issues related to slip,” according to Price. This residue comes from two sources: poorly maintained HVAC systems and street shoes. Schedule daily cleaning in the early morning hours to remove any dust that settled overnight. Walk off mats at both the facility entrances and the gym entrance help trap dirt and grit before it makes it onto the floor. During a tournament, surround the playing floor with runners to protect it from the hard-soled shoes of coaches, managers and fans.

Full-Court Press

Basketball court floors are wood, which can be challenging for some maintenance professionals. It doesn’t have to be. Daily sweeping or dry mopping should remove loose dirt, dust and grit. Dried-on debris requires a different approach. A lightly moistened microfiber cloth proves an effective way to spot clean these areas. During a busy tournament use a dry microfiber cloth to soak up spilled water or player’s sweat.

Double Dribble

Daily maintenance will keep the floor clean and safe while prolonging the life of the finish. Traditional mopping, however, comes with problems. Floors may be damaged by too much water or left sticky, hazy or slick if cross-contaminated with cleaning chemical meant for other surfaces. Finally, hand mopping takes too much time for a large court floor.

Maintenance professionals might be tempted to use an auto scrubber to make the job easier. Don’t. The machine can damage the floor if used incorrectly or is in bad condition. Choose an AutoVac  Stretch instead. It cleans and dries the floor in one pass without the risk of damage. It’s also light and fast enough use between games, like a Zamboni for wood.

Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines. Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.
Amy Milshtein
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