Hardwood floors are classic, beautiful and timeless, but if you don’t take care of them, you’ll be left with dull, dingy and scratched floors that do anything but add value to your home. To extend the life of your hardwood floors, you must develop a consistent habit of cleaning. So get that broom and mop ready: Here are the best ways to clean hardwood floors.
Sweeping daily is a critical step in the regular maintenance of your hardwood floors. Small particles from your shoes will carry through your home and can easily scratch the wood’s surface. A good broom with soft, durable bristles is a wise investment to get the job done.
Vacuum the Floorboards
Unlike what most people think, the vacuum is not just for carpet. Use your vacuum extender attachments and round brush accessory to suck up the dust bunnies along the baseboards, as well as the particles between the floorboards that may have been missed while sweeping. Remember: Bits and bobs might not seem like a big deal, but those pieces could end up scratching the wood.
Wash or Wax Surfaces
Your floor’s surface seal will determine the best method of cleaning. Here’s the quick rule of thumb:
- Use simple soap and water if your floors are surface sealed.
- Wax if you have oil-treated or untreated floors.
Surface-sealed floors are sealed with urethane, polyurethane or polyacrylic to make them stain and water-damage resistant. Your floor installer has likely recommended a floor-cleaning product to use for cleaning, but sometimes it’s not possible to use those products either due to cost or availability. If this is the case for your own floors, your best solution is soap and water.
Plain soap is mild enough that it won’t dull or scratch your finish like other abrasive cleaners will. Just add a quarter cup of dishwashing soap to a bucket of water and start mopping. Make sure you wring the mop out completely before using it on your floors, because even though your floor has been sealed, excessive water is still tough on wood.
If you look up how to clean hardwood floors, you might see advice about adding vinegar to the water. While some people swear by this, we wouldn’t recommend it. The acidity in the vinegar can dull the wood over time. Stick to good ole fashioned soap and water. And here’s a pro-tip for you: Use distilled water instead of tap if you want to prevent streaks on the floors.
Oil-Treated or Untreated Floors
Penetrating-seal, oil-treated, lacquered, shellacked, varnished and untreated floors require a bit more labor-intensive upkeep since these surfaces are not as resistant to moisture and general wear and tear, and therefore are generally treated with wax.
Here’s how to shine a hardwood floor that’s untreated: About once a year, use a floor stripper to safety remove the old wax from the panels. Once the floor has dried, apply a thin coat of new wax and let the fresh layer dry. For the best results, use a liquid wax or paste wax that is specifically designed for wood floors (acrylic or water-based waxes can discolor your woodwork).
Preventative care makes all the difference in the world when it comes to an investment like hardwood floors. Here are some tips to remember:
- Put floor protectors on your furniture legs. These are pieces of felt that stick on the bottom of your couch or chair legs so they don’t scratch the floor when you bump or move them.
- Take off your shoes when you enter the house. While you might think this rule only applies to carpeted floor, the bits of rock and debris under your shoes can easily scratch your wood flooring.
- It’s not just your feet that you should worry about. Trim your dog’s nails so those paws don’t leave scratches in the wood.
- Be just as cautious with wine spills on wood floors as carpet. The wine can warp the wood if left too long.
- Sop up excess water that might spill on your floor. Sure, it will dry on its own, but prolonged exposure can damage the soft wood.
Simple Cheat Sheet
If you need something simple to help you remember when to clean your hardwood floors, just follow this guide:
- Daily – Sweep your floors to eliminate any bits of rubble that can scratch the wood.
- Weekly – Vacuum to suck up hidden particles between the floor boards.
- Monthly – Wash your hardwood.
Beautiful floors make a home feel fresh and ready for its close-up. But if you’re too tired to clean the rest of the house, remember that you can always count on The Maids for a deep shine. From changing the linens to taking out the trash, we get homes in tip-top shape. Call us at 1-800-THE-MAIDS and walk into a home that shines.