Many homeowners aim for sparkling clean floors, especially following a visit from a professional hardwood floor cleaning service. But just how clean are these floors? Some clients of house cleaning services do a "White Towel Test" to gauge the effectiveness of the floor cleaning. But is this method truly reliable? This discussion delves into the efficacy and realism of the 'White Towel' test. Can it really tell us if our floors are as spotless as we hope, or does it set an unattainable standard for cleanliness?

What is the “White Towel Test”?

Originating from a kitchen myth, the "White Towel Test" involves dragging a white towel across a supposedly clean floor. If the towel remains pristine, the floor passes the test; if it picks up dirt, it fails. This test is thought to reveal the true cleanliness of a floor, pushing the expectations of domestic cleaning to near-sterile conditions.

A Real-Life Test with a Surprising Outcome

The tale of the White Towel Test comes alive in a vivid story from Shifrah Combiths, who decided to put her kitchen floors to the test after a family joke about the cleanliness of her home since having children and pets. Despite her diligent cleaning routine and utilization of the best wood floor cleaner equipment, she was inspired by a video from cleaning influencer Brandon Pleshek to employ the White Towel Test. This test involved thoroughly wiping the floor with a white microfiber cloth before and after each of the four mopping sessions.

Notably, after each round, although the towel showed progressively less dirt, it took multiple cleanings to reach what she considered an acceptable level of cleanliness. This process not only revealed persistent dirt that regular cleaning had missed but also highlighted the demanding nature of the test.

Shifrah's experience underscores the substantial effort involved in achieving the pristine conditions dictated by the White Towel Test, challenging its practicality and reliability in everyday home settings. Moreover, it brings into question the necessity of such extreme measures for typical household cleanliness.

Our Findings at Fresh Tech Maid

At Fresh Tech Maid, we conducted a similar experiment and found results echoing those in Shifrah Combiths' article. During both regular and deep cleaning sessions, our procedure involves vacuuming and mopping the floor just once. This is usually sufficient for general cleanliness but does not meet the rigorous, unrealistic standards set by the "White Towel Test" without significantly more time and expense, similar to what Shifrah Combiths discovered, we had to mop four times in order to pass the "White Towel Test".

Achieving Extreme Cleanliness

For those who still wish to have their floors pass the "White Towel Test", certain adjustments are necessary:

  • Communicate your expectations clearly with your house cleaning service.
  • Be prepared for a 30% to 40% increase in price due to the extra labor involved in mopping the floor up to four times instead of just once.

The Hands and Knees Myth

Another common belief is that cleaning floors on hands and knees might surpass the effectiveness of mopping with a microfiber mop. However, professional testing shows that a good-quality mop performs better. Moreover, cleaning on hands and knees is less effective and poses safety risks to hardwood floor cleaners, especially given the current labor shortage. It's unreasonable and potentially harmful to demand such methods without proven benefits.

Do You Really Need Your Floors to Pass the White Towel Test?

The answer is no for the great majority of homes. In contrast to places like hospitals, where sterilization is essential, regular home settings don't need to be as clean—in fact, they shouldn't be. A certain amount of dirt and bacteria are inadvertently brought into homes through windows and doors, which is typical and essential to maintaining a healthy living environment.

In fact, excessive cleanliness can be detrimental since it eliminates the germs that aid in developing immunity and resistance in humans. Furthermore, a certain amount of exposure to allergens and microorganisms found in the ordinary environment can boost immunity and lower the risk of autoimmune disorders and allergies.

Children gain the most from this exposure since it helps them grow strong immune systems. Moreover, using strong chemical cleansers over time may present health hazards and negatively impact indoor air quality. Consequently, it is frequently healthier to maintain a moderate level of cleanliness that permits the existence of certain naturally occurring bacteria in a home instead of trying to sterilize every surface.


While the "White Towel Test" might seem like a straightforward metric for hardwood floor cleaning, it sets an unrealistic and unnecessary standard for home environments. Instead of aiming for hospital-level sterilization, a practical approach tailored to the realities of everyday life and health should be prioritized. Understanding the limitations and the appropriate level of cleanliness required can help maintain both a clean home and a reasonable lifestyle without the added stress and cost of excessive cleaning rituals.

Ensure deep cleaning in Chicago not just for the hardwood floor but also for the entire house with Chicago house cleaning services like Fresh Tech Maid.