So you now have your lovely, smooth hardwood floor and you want to preserve its beauty for as long as possible. The next question you would ask yourself is what can you do to properly care for it; how should you clean your lovely hardwood floor to preserve its beauty? The following suggestions will surely guide you on how to clean your hardwood floors.
What’s your finish?
In order to properly clean your hardwood floor it’s best to determine what type of finish is on your floor. Most hardwood floors are usually sealed with a particular type of finish which should be the guide for how you care and clean your floor. Some of the various types of finish include:
- Surface-sealed floors. There are usually sealed with urethane, polyurethane, or polyacrylic. These types of floor are stain resistant as well as water resistant so they are very easy to clean; all you need to do is sweep and mop as needed. Most new floors are sealed this way.
- Penetrating-seal-treated and oil-treated floors. These types of floors have a penetrating seal or oil finish which has been soaked and harden into the wood. Therefore, they need to be treated carefully and be protected with liquid paste or wax.
- Lacquered, varnished, shellacked and untreated floors. These types of floors are not very resistant to day to day wear and tear. They also need to be treated carefully and they need to be protected with liquid wax and paste.
- Don’t know what finish is on your floor? There’s no need to panic. You can do a simple test to find out. Simply rub your finger across the floor. If no smudge appears on the floor then the floor is surface sealed. If there is a smudge, the floor has been treated with a penetrating seal, oil finish, shellac, varnish or lacquer, and then waxed. Therefore, follow the applicable guidelines as stated above.
Let’s get Cleaning
Now that you know what kind of finish your floor has, you can begin to give your hardwood floor the proper care it needs.
- Basic Cleaning: This may involve sweeping and/or vacuuming to keep the floor free of dust or things that might scratch it. You should only clean your hardwood floor only when necessary since this helps to preserve it for a long while. However, for high-traffic areas such as the kitchen, you might need to sweep it every day and mop it once or twice per week. It is also best to dust your floors with a mop that has been treated with an appropriate dusting agent which can pick up dust, dirt or pet hair. For weekly or bi-weekly cleaning, vacuum with the floor brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner.
- Deep Cleaning: This should be done occasionally, maybe once per month. It requires the use of a damp floor mop which has been placed in appropriate cleaning solution that is suitable for the type of floor you have. Take care to ensure that the mop is damp and not wet since water can damage your hardwood floors. If you can still wring water from the mop with your hands, then it’s too wet to be used on the wooden floor. It’s also important to use pH-neutral and nontoxic formulas to clean your floors and help keep your home safe.
Here are some dos and don’ts which will provide you with additional guidance for cleaning your hardwood floors.
- Vacuum and sweep your floor frequently especially in high-traffic areas.
- Wipe away and clean spills and leaks immediately.
- Place protector pads under furniture legs to avoid scratching the floor.
- Try to keep your pets’ nails trimmed and their paws free of dirt and gravel.
- Use an almost dry-damp mop when wiping your floor.
- Dry the floor with a clean rag after mopping.
- Rearrange furniture periodically to allow even aging of the floor.
- Use good quality mops and vacuums which provides gentle cleaning.
- Maintain a proper humidity level of 35-55% to avoid trapping excess moisture in wooden floors.
- Do not use wet and soapy mops to clean your floors.
- Don’t use vinegar and water to clean your floors. Vinegar is an acid and it can damage your hardwood floor.
- Don’t use wax-based cleaners, harsh detergents, abrasives, or ammonia based cleaners.
- Don’t wear high heel shoes, cleats, or sports shoes on hardwood.
- Don’t use rubber- back mats on your floor.
- Don’t use oil soaps because it can cause a build-up and leave residue on your floor which is difficult to remove.
- Don’t use harsh cleaning aids such as steel wool pads, any scouring pads containing metal or scouring powders.
- Don’t use vacuums with hard heads or beater bars and don’t use steam cleaners.
If you follow the above tips and guidelines, you will be able to efficiently clean your hardwood floors. If you take excellent care of your floors they will maintain their beauty for a long time. It’s not difficult to care for your floors, just spend the necessary time to give it the treatment it deserves.