Keeping your hardwood floors shiny and clean doesn’t have to be intimidating. While there are a variety of cleaning products on the market, it’s important to match the product with your floor type in order to make sure you don’t damage, stain or scratch the finish. Here are some basic care tips for helping you make the most out of your beautiful hardwood floors.
Consider putting a mat both outside and inside your exterior doors to help keep out tracked-in dirt. Set up a shoe rack by the entry with a sitting area to avoid water damage. Set up floor protectors under furniture and rugs in play areas to prevent furniture and toys from scratching the floor.
Every day or two, sweep or dust the floor with a mop treated with a dusting agent to help pick up dirt, pet hair and dust. Cleaning attachments that use disposable electrostatic cloths are also great for this, and you can save money by using both sides of the cloth.
Vacuum with a floor-brush attachment weekly to get dust from problem areas. Sweep high-traffic areas daily and mop less-trafficked areas once a month to keep your floors in good shape.
Determine The Finish
Before you get started with a mop and water it’s best to figure out how your hardwood floor is sealed. First look at what type of finish your floor has; this is more important than the wood type, and determines how you care for your particular kind of flooring.
To tell the difference, simply rub your finger across the floor and see if a smudge appears. If there is no smudge, then your floor is surface sealed. A floor that creates a smudge has been treated.
Many new wood floors are sealed with polyurethane, polyacrylic or urethane. These types of flooring are stain and water-damage resistant and the easiest to care for. Simply sweep, mop and you’re finished!
Penetrating Seal-treated And Oil-Treated Floors
Don’t get the mop out just yet! This type of floor must be cared for with liquid or paste wax.
Lacquered, Varnished, Shellacked And Untreated Floors
Treat these types of floors as you would penetrating seal-treated and oil-treated floors. They may require you to get on your hands and knees to give them personal up-close attention.
Oils and furniture sprays leave residue and create a slippery surface — a dangerous combination you’ll want to avoid! Wax takes time to apply and can be quite difficult to master. Never use straight ammonia, abrasive cleaners or alkaline. Mopping with water alone will only leave dingy-looking floors and mopping with vinegar and water just isn’t that effective.
Find a floor-cleaning product recommended by the floor finisher. Nobody is going to understand your flooring needs like the direct company it came from. If ever unsure, try soap and water. A quarter cup of mild or pH-neutral soap, such as dishwashing soap or Murphy’s Oil Soap added to a bucket of water will do the trick! Always use a damp mop rather than soaked.
Floor Problem Hacks
For an easy fix, use a bit of baking soda on a damp sponge to erase scuffmarks. More advanced problems such as grease, pet, water or food stains require commercial cleaners. Make sure to read labels to find the right product for your finish. Hairline cracks naturally appear in the winter due to dry heat, yet typically close up on their own during the summer months.
With regular maintenance and careful attention to your finish, you can keep your hardwood floors shiny and new looking for many years to come.
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