Since you own hardwood flooring, you know how beautiful it can be – if it’s not dirty. If you want to know how to clean hardwood floors, then we think you’ll really enjoy this article.
There aren’t many other types of flooring that can match the resilience and beauty of hardwood. It’s why we buy both floors and furniture made from it.
Many homeowners say it’s one of the only features that make a home really feel like a home – not to mention it can also be a very expensive investment. It only makes sense to protect it.
Basic Cleaning and Care for Hardwood Flooring
For starters, make sure to sweep often. You should sweep at least once every week. This will dramatically reduce how often you’ll need to deep clean the floors because it stops most dirt from collecting on the surface.
One of the genius features of hardwood flooring is its ability to block allergens. Unlike carpets, which harbor irritating allergens, hardwood only lets the allergens rest on the surface, so they can be easily wiped clean. It does the same with dust.
To make quick work of dust and allergens, we recommend going with a Swiffer Sweeper. Always make sure to clean spills immediately after they occur. It’s not a matter of if they’ll happen but when.
Removing spilled liquid immediately prevents stain damage to grout lines and floors. If you don’t want to sweep your floors, you can always use a vacuum. However, to avoid damage, use a vacuum that has a specific setting for floors made from hardwood.
Before doing any heavy cleaning, make sure you’re using the correct chemicals. You can check with the manufacturer to find out what chemicals are acceptable.
Fortunately, there are plenty of products made specifically for this purpose. Always remember that there is a tool for every job. There should be a specific tool for mud, dust, dirt and so on.
After you’ve swept the floors, it’s time to move on to the next step. First, you’ll need to find out what type of finish you’re dealing with. A prefinished floor is, by far, the easiest to recognize because every board will have beveled edges.
If the surface of your hardwood floor is not glossy, then you probably have an unfinished or stained floor. The shiny floors are the hardest to tell apart from each other. You can test your floor to see if you have a wax finish.
To do this, grab an extra fine steel wool and gently rub it on an inconspicuous area of the floor. If it produces a light grey smudge, then the floor has a wax finish.
To check for a modern seal, just place a few drops of water on the most worn portion of your flooring. If the water beads, you have a modern seal. If the water darkens or soaks the wood, the floor either has a poor finish or older seal. The majority of new hardwood floors are surface sealed with urethane, polyacrylic coating or polyurethane, which are all stain and water resistant, so they’re quite easy to clean.
An older floor is more likely to have a varnish, lacquer or shellac finish. These are technically surface seals, but they’re far less durable than modern seals.
Prefinished floors are quite durable, but since the boards are individually sealed, the cracks in between are subject to water damage. Since hardwood floors are very expensive, you really need to know what you’re cleaning because you don’t want to take a chance and ruin it.
If you’re doing general cleaning, you can go with a pH-neutral, water-based cleaning agent. Most cleaning agents made for vinyl flooring are gentle and pH-neutral.
You can choose an alkaline water based agent to dissolve dirt and grease. Detergents, soaps or some baking soda dissolved in water can work well.
It’s also important to understand that alkaline cleaning agents will gradually dull your finish, so you should avoid using them often. An acidic water based cleaning agent will work well for dissolving hard water and mineral deposits, such as white vinegar in water.
There should also be a lot of different cleaning agents made specifically for hardwood floors at your local hardwood store, so you can ask there if you need to.
What to Avoid
It’s best to avoid abrasive cleaners, ammonia and bleach – or anything that will leave a serious residue. Some examples of these are wax, furniture spray and oil. They’ll cause damage to hardwood and can even void the warranty.
What to Do
For Site-Finished Hardwood That Has A Modern Seal
To start, dilute your chosen cleaning agent in a bucket of water. You can buy some distilled water if you want to avoid hard water streaking. This can be purchased at a local supermarket.
Next, remove your shoes. Grab a mop, dip it into the bucket and start cleaning. If the solution in the bucket starts getting too dirty, swap it out with some clean solution.
A small cloth is perfect for spot cleaning trouble areas. Excess liquid should be removed from the floor using a mop. It’s true that modern surface seals are quite water resistant, but they won’t react well to exposure to water for long periods of time.
When you’re done with the heavy cleaning, if possible, use a clean mop to remove streaking. Grab a terry cloth to buff the floor, and you’re done!
For All Other Hardwood Floors
This method is basically the same as the first, but you’ll want to first wring out the mop completely before using it. You need to wring it out until you can’t wring anymore water out.
To spot clean trouble areas, use a cloth and a tiny amount of odorless mineral spirits. Only use the mineral spirits for spot cleaning, though.
How To Maintain The Beauty Of Your Hardwood Flooring
Cleaning the floor is half the battle. Maintenance is just as important. There are some simple tips that you can use to make sure you’re properly maintaining the beauty of your flooring.
For starters, make sure to always wipe up spills immediately after they occur. Exterior and interior door mats placed at entry points work well to collect moisture and dirt, which prevents these annoyances from ending up on the floor.
It’s also a great idea to place area rugs at pivot points, in high traffic areas and in front of kitchen sinks. However, make sure the rugs are made from breathable materials to prevent the entrapment of moisture.
Area rugs and runners work particularly well when placed at high traffic areas. If you have animals, keep their nails trimmed. Never roll heavy appliances over the floor.
To move heavy furniture or objects over the floor, buy an appliance lift. Also, try to keep the humidity level in your home between 55 and 35 percent. Direct sunlight can also damage hardwood, so be sure to keep the amount that gets into your home to a minimum.
Once again, never allow water to sit on the floor for an extended period of time. These are excellent methods and tips for those wondering how to clean hardwood floors.