How To Clean Hardwood Floors

Dry mopping, sweeping, and/or vacuuming on a weekly basis is the best way to rid hardwood floors of light dust, dirt, and pet hair accumulations. Your best bet for a mop is one with a large, flat head affixed with a microfiber cloth pad that can be removed, machine-washed, and re-attached. Available in a variety of brands, including Scotch-Brite (view on Amazon) and O-Cedar (view on Amazon), for $10 to $20 at home centers or office supply stores, these mops feature tiny synthetic fibers that reach into the grooves of wood floors to pick up and hold dust without scratching the wood. If sweeping, opt for brooms with exploded tips (synthetic fiber ends) to help trap collected dust in the broom head and prevent it from resettling on the floor. When vacuuming, use a floor-brush attachment and avoid the beater-bar—its rotating brush can dent wood floors. Move your cleaning tool from one side of the floor to the other, giving extra attention to spots where adjacent floor boards meet—this is a common hiding place for trapped dust. This routine works on floors with either surface or penetrating finishes.

If a surface-finished hardwood floor still looks dingy or dull after dusting, deep clean it with any pH-neutral, wax-free, and petroleum-free cleaner, such as Bona PowerPlus Hardwood Floor Deep Cleaner (view on Amazon) or a homemade solution comprising a quarter-cup of dish soap and a gallon of warm water.

Saturate a sponge mop with the cleaner, wring out the excess liquid until the mop head is damp but not dripping, then mop three-foot sections of the floor at a time using circular motions to draw out dirt and grime. Then, rinse the mop in fresh water, wring out the excess, and damp mop the floor again to soak up lingering cleaner. Use a soft, clean towel to dry the floor.

If your floor has a penetrating finish, the best way to deep clean it is to strip away the grimy old wax coat and re-apply a fresh wax coat. Rub a clean cloth saturated in mineral spirits over two-foot sections of the floor at a time, letting the mineral spirits dwell for five minutes on each section before wiping away with a fresh cloth dampened slightly with water; then, dry thoroughly with a fresh, dry cloth.

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Best Ways To Clean Hardwood Flooring

Surface finishes such as urethane and polyurethane form a protective waterproof barrier on the surface of the floor. When liquids come into contact with surface finishes, they pool rather than penetrate the wood—so it’s safe to use water and water-based cleaning products on them. The easiest way to check if your floor has a surface finish is to take a sharp knife blade to a small, hidden area of the floor and scrape off a tiny amount of finish. If the scraped material is clear, your floor probably has a surface finish. If scraping the floor finish smudges it, but no clear material comes away, your floor likely has a penetrating finish.

Penetrating finishes such as linseed or tung oil soak through the surface of hardwood floors, and then are usually topped with a wax coat for added sheen. These finishes easily absorb water, and water can warp wood floors, so use only solvent-based cleaning products instead of water-based ones on floors with penetrating finishes.

Our Hardwood Floor Cleaning Includes

  • Make sure to wring most of the water out of the mop so it’s damp. Rinse if necessary.
  • Avoid leaving any standing water on the floor, for this can damage the wood. This is especially true for prefinished hardwood floors.
  • Avoid using harsh detergents or they’ll dull the surface.
  • You can also use a spray-and-mop product or disposable wet pads that are safe for hardwood floors.
  • Unless you use a steam mop designed for cleaning hardwoods, steam cleaning is not advised for hardwood floors. Steam can dull the finish and damage the wood.

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