Simple and Easy Guide to Cleaning Your Hardwood Floors

by wpx_longboa1

Last updated on January 25th, 2021

Last updated on January 25th, 2021

Hardwood flooring is one of the most luxurious types of flooring a homeowner could have but can be a little intimidating to clean.

Do not fret about this; cleaning hardwood floors is not too difficult as long as you know what to do. The following are a few ways you can clean your floors without diminishing their natural beauty or the overall lifespan.

Knowledge First

First thing you should do is figure out what kind of hardwood you have. There are a few types, and you should know which one so that you can clean the floors safely. Hardwood is delicate, so getting this right is important.

The easiest thing to do is have a floor specialist analyze your hardwood floors to tell you what you have, or you can try to figure it out on your own.

Prefinished

One type of flooring you could have is prefinished hardwood. 

This is pretty easy to figure out since it is quite distinct. You are going to notice the following:

Unfinished

The following signs may reveal you have an unfinished floor or a floor with a poor finish:

Finished Floors

Various kinds of flooring could have a finish, like waxed floors.

All you have to do is dampen an extra-fine steel wool, and rub it on the floor to see if you notice a gray smudge, which is how you can tell if your floors have been waxed.

You may also have a seal on your wood floors.

You can tell your floors are sealed if they are shiny but also if you drop a few drops of water and notice the floor remains beaded. Be sure to drop this water on a worn area of the floor.

If you notice the wood darkening, it means you do not have a good seal, or perhaps it is an older one that needs to be updated.

These types of floors are a little more delicate because water can be absorbed by the wood, and this increases the chances of mold developing.

Prefinished floors may be safe on top of the surface, but those creases between the boards are likely not protected, so the chance of developing mold is high with these as well.

If you do not feel too comfortable with the results of these tests, just use the most gentle cleaning solution you can find.

Various Ways to Clean Hardwood Floors

Cleaning starts with maintenance and the basics.

The Brooms

The first thing you want to do is make sure you only use a soft-bristled broom. 

Brooms with harsh bristles can scratch the wood. Then, you’ll be left with hardwood floors that look dull and in need of repair.

The Mop

Another thing you have to keep in mind is you need to thoroughly clean your mop before using it on your hardwood floors. All sorts of particles can get stuck in mops that could damage your floor.

Keep in mind that something as small as sand could scratch your floors, just to give you an idea of how meticulous you have to be when cleaning your mop.

What is the best mop for cleaning floors?

The Vacuum

Of course, you could simply use your vacuum to clean your floors. 

Now, you will need a vacuum that gives you the option of switching its operation to accommodate a bare floor. 

You want to do this so that the device retracts the bristles that it normally uses to kick up dust or other particles so they can be easily sucked into the vacuum. View our list of  Corded & Cordless Stick Vacuums. 

Those bristles can be a little harsh and may cause scratches you do not want to see on your floors.

It is important that you focus on this type of cleaning for the most part. The longevity of these floors depends on you staying away from excessive cleaning.

Even gentle products can degrade your wood given enough time.

Sweeping and moping every few days or when you need to should be enough, especially since wood doesn’t have a lot of places where dirt and grime could hide.

Dealing With Specifics

There are a few issues that could arise with your hardwood floors, and you should be prepared to deal with them effectively. The following are some of those issues:

Cleaning Moisture

Moisture and wooden floors do not mix. Moisture can cause all sorts of damage, such as water damage or mold.

It could even break the seal that is supposed to protect your hardwood floors from scratches and moisture.

Remember that when it comes to moisture, it needs to be wiped off as soon as possible. 

You can do this with a semi-damp cloth and a dry one. 

The damp cloth is the first thing you should use to remove most of the moisture. 

Keep ringing it out if needed. Once you’ve removed most of the moisture, use a dry cloth to dry off your hardwood floors. This is good advice no matter what kind of hardwood floors you have.

Cleaning Hardwood With Seals

Those with sealed hardwood floors can use the following tips to clean the floors.

GENERAL CLEANING

Be sure to use a cleaning solution that is made for hardwood floors or one that is multi-surface safe. It is important that the cleaner has a neutral pH balance and is water-based.

GREASE AND DIRT

Grease and dirt can be hard to clean at times, but you need to stick to water-based cleaners as much as possible though alkaline cleaners are useful as well. Mild soap and detergents are okay, or you could simply dissolve baking soda in a little water.

DARK STAINS

Water stains that have darkened can still be cleaned, but you will need something a little more abrasive.

Hopefully, you do not have to, but you could use acidic water-based cleaners, or make your own by mixing a little bit of vinegar or lemon juice in water.

Make sure you wipe this up as soon as the water stain disappears.

Stay away from bleach, ammonia, or any type of cleaner that is going to leave behind oil or wax.

If you are going to make your own water-based cleaner, use distilled water to avoid leaving hard water streaks behind.

You can use any of these cleaners to mop, depending on your needs. Still, it is preferable that you spot clean rather than mop the entire floor.

Remove your shoes when you clean your floors to prevent marking the floors.

You can buff the floors using terry cloth to give your floors that shine you’re used to seeing.

CLEANING OTHER TYPES OF HARDWOOD FLOORS

To clean other types of hardwood floors, you want to observe some of the good practices mentioned earlier, such as removing your shoes and using only distilled water, in addition to some of the following tips:

DUSTING THE FLOOR

Dust can stick to these types of floors, so you will need to dust them sometimes. You can do this with a damp mop, but you have to be careful.

Start with a clean mop, and wring it out so that no water can be squeezed out. If you still see a drop of water fall, then keep wringing to keep your floors safe.

Be sure to replace your water when it gets dirty, and clean your mop as necessary while you dust your home. The more you do this, the less you have to clean the mop since you won’t see much dirt.

MINERAL SPIRITS

Sometimes, these types of floors get spots that are harder to remove, such as white water spots.

You can still deal with these spots, but it is preferable that you use the spot-cleaning method, and use something like mineral spirits. This type of cleaner is strong, but you are only using it sparingly.

Still, you can test to see how it will affect your floors by placing a dot on an inconspicuous area of your floor. Come back to see how the floor looks after five to 10 minutes.

Hopefully, this information makes cleaning your floor easier and keeps it beautiful as it should be for a long tim. Also, if you have pets, you may need to clean the carpet. See our tips on how to remove hair from the carpet.

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