Here’s how you can clean hardwood floors in your home
Hardwood flooring is classy, robust and looks amazing. Cleaning hardwood flooring can sometimes be a difficult thing. This article explains in detail how can one maintain and clean the hardwood flooring in his or her house. If you follow the steps mentioned in the article, you will be able to clean and maintain the hardwood flooring easily.
Read the complete article to learn how to clean hardwood flooring!
General Maintenance for Hardwood Floors
Determine your kind of hardwood finish. Prefinished floors are the easiest to spot, as every board has beveled (slightly raised) edges. If the surface isn’t glossy, you have a stained or unfinished floor. Shiny floors are the most difficult to tell apart. To test your floor for wax, moisten extra-fine steel wool and rub it on an inconspicuous area; if a light gray smudge appears on the wool, you have a wax finish. To test whether you have an old or a modern surface seal, place a few drops of water on the most worn area of floor; if it remains beaded after several minutes, you probably have a modern seal, but if it seems to soak or darken the wood, you either have an older seal or a poorly-finished one that needs to be handled gently.
- Most new floors are surface-sealed with polyurethane, urethane, or a polyacrylic coating, all of which are water- and stain-resistant and therefore easy to clean.
- Older floors that haven’t been refinished usually have a shellac, lacquer, or varnish finish, and while these are technically also “surface-seals,” they aren’t nearly as durable as the more modern finishes; for the purposes of this article, they will, therefore, be placed under the “other” category alongside unfinished and waxed floors.
- Although prefinished floors are coated with a durable surface seal, the fact that each board is coated separately (as opposed to pressed up against one another on-site) means that the unsealed cracks between the boards are prone to water damage; for this reason, pre-finished floors also belong in the “other” category.
- When in doubt, choose the gentler method; a hardwood floor isn’t something you want to take chances with.
Sweep the floor with a soft-bristled broom. This will remove large particles like sand or grit that may scratch the floor if caught beneath a mop. Alternatively, you can vacuum the floor, provided that the bristles are extended to prevent scratching and there is only dust on the floor.
Also use the “bare floor” setting on your vacuum to prevent scratching the floor. Most vacuums have attached bristles to kick up dust, but these can ruin hardwood floors.
Stick to sweeping and mopping each week, only deep cleaning the floor as needed. While you should sweep and/or vacuum regularly to keep the floor free of dust and scratching agents, you should only clean your hardwood when it really needs it. This will prolong the life of your floor.
Hardwood floors are generally easy to keep clean, as there is nothing to trap dirt or dust. A simple sweep or vacuum should cover most messes.
Immediately wipe up any wet spills on hardwood floors. No matter what your finish, you should never leave moisture to sit around on hardwood floors. It can damage the seal and the wood permanently if you’re not careful. Wipe it up with a damp cloth, then dry the surface completely.
Cleaning Hardwood with a Modern Surface Seal
Choose the right cleaning agent. For general cleaning, choose a pH-neutral, water-based cleaner, like those designed for vinyl floors or hardwood-specific cleaners. To dissolve grease and dirt, choose an alkaline, water-based cleaner: soaps, detergents, or a bit of baking soda dissolved in water will do, though should be used sparingly. To dissolve hard water or mineral deposits, choose an acidic water-based cleaner; white vinegar or lemon juice in water would make a good rinsing agent to this effect.
Specific hardwood floor cleaners, of course, are your safest bet.
Don’t use bleach, ammonia, abrasive cleaners, or anything that will leave a residue (ex. oil, furniture spray, wax). Not only will they damage the hardwood, but a few will even void the warranty on your floor.
Dilute your chosen cleaning agent in a bucket of water. To avoid hard-water streaking, you may want to buy distilled water, which can be purchased cheaply at your local supermarket. However, a quick wipe down with a lemon juice and water mixture after cleaning will also prevent streaks, if hand dried afterwards.
Mop your floor with the chosen cleaning solution. Dip a mop into a bucket of your cleaning agent diluted in water. Run it over the floor along with the grain of the wood, starting in the farthest corner and working towards a door so you never have to step on wet floors. Refill the bucket if the solution gets too dirty.
Remove your shoes. This will prevent you from marking or dirtying the floor while it’s wet.
Reviewer: Melissa Maker
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