Despite common perception, wood floors are actually not that hard to maintain. A bit of vacuuming now and then, occasionally wet mopping and practicing basic preventive care should keep your hardwood flooring in pristine shape for years.
What’s the best way to clean wood floors? Here are a few tips for cleaning wood floors without damaging them.
Regularly vacuum the floor to get rid of dust, pet hair, food crumbs and other bits of dirt on the floor. This not only leaves the floor cleaner, it also gets rid of particles that might cause unsightly scratches.
How often you vacuum will depend on how dirty the floors get and how much traffic they see. Vacuum highly trafficked areas more often.
Do not use a vacuum with a beater bar attachment as it could damage the floor.
If you have pets that shed a lot, you need to vacuum even more often. The hair and dander can cause respiratory problems and affect anyone with allergies.
I recommend getting a robot vacuum cleaner such as a Roomba.
These devices are super convenient. On hardwood floors, they are just as good as an upright or canister vacuum. They can pick up dust, pet hair and whatever else is on the floor.
Most even allow you to set an auto-vacuuming schedule where the vacuum starts cleaning automatically even when you are not at home.
Many robot vacuums can also connect to the internet, letting you vacuum remotely from your smartphone.
An alternative to a vacuum cleaner is a dusting mop. Use one with a microfiber or electrostatic cloth which picks up dust and hair more effectively without scratching the floor.
Occasional Wet Mopping
To keep the floor looking smooth and shiny, clean it with a wet or spray mop once or twice a week. This gets rid of grime, oils and stains that vacuuming can’t remove.
You have to be very careful when wet mopping to avoid damaging the wood.
The first thing you should do is get a hardwood floor cleaner. Do not use a tile or vinyl cleaner.
Prepare the cleaner as instructed. Some simply require spraying on the floor and then wiping with a mop while others need to be diluted in water.
If you have to put the mop in water, wring it until it is just dump, not dripping wet. And as you mop, make sure you don’t leave any standing water.
You can also turn on a fan or the AC to speed up drying.
If you don’t have a commercial wood cleaner, you can use a homemade one. Simply mix half a cup of vinegar to a gallon (3.7litres) of water. If you want a nice fragrance, add a couple drops of your favourite essential oil.
If you notice a stain on the floor, be careful not to cause further damage when trying to remove it.
One trick is to soak the stain in hydrogen peroxide. Soak a rag in hydrogen peroxide and let it sit on the stain for a while until the stain is bleached.
If the stain has penetrated a bit deeper, scrub gently using a #000 steel wool.
If the stain has gone even deeper, you may have to get the floor sanded and resealed to get rid of it.
Wooden Floor Basic Care
Here are some basic care tips to keep your hardwood floor clean.
- Implement a no-shoes-inside rule. Shoes track in a lot of dirt and scratch the flooring. Everyone should leave their shoes in a designated area. If they don’t want to take off their shoes place a mat at the entry area to catch any dirt from outside.
- Clean up spills immediately. If water or any other liquid spills on the floor, do not give it a chance to dry up and penetrate inside. Clean it immediately to avoid stains. Use an absorbent cloth to completely dry the spot.
- Use floor protectors under furniture to prevent scratches. And when you are moving furniture, take care not to drag it along the floor. Lift it up.
- Use mats or rugs on certain sections like your kids’ playing area, the pet feeding and sleeping area and places with a lot of foot traffic. This makes it easier to clean the floor and prevents scratches.