Hardwood flooring is a coveted feature for any new home. Installing wood floors itself is one of the first renovations that many homeowners invest in when renovating a house. The rich, warm, earthy tones of ash, cherry, or maple hardwood are pleasing to the eye and give a room a classic aesthetic.
The drawback for many is that they require time for regular cleaning and proper care. Cleaning old hardwood floors is a weekly task to ensure your investment remain a beautiful part of your living space.
However, this process doesn’t need to be a headache. Here is a brief guide on how to clean yours in three easy steps.
Start by sweeping up any loose dirt and dust that accumulates on your floor. Hardwood floor experts highly recommended that you use a vacuum designed for cleaning. Look for a vacuum that does not use a rotating beater brush that can scratch and damage the finish, so you can clean up any dirt and debris safely.
Using a broom or traditional carpet vacuum cleaner for hardwood floors may cause sand, grit, and dirt to scratch the finish of your floors. This could expose the raw wood to moisture during the cleaning process or through daily traffic. Vacuuming up the debris eliminates this potential problem helps to keep the finish intact for as long as possible.
After you remove all the dirt and dust off the floor, you are ready to apply your cleaning solution. Think of this as giving your floors a mop bath. The type of floor cleaner you use largely depends on the finish. Modern wood floors are sealed with polyacrylic, urethane, or polyurethane upon completion. This protects the wood underneath, and it makes cleaning a much easier task.
Older or original hardwood is usually sealed with a penetrating sealant, shellac, lacquer, or an oil-base finish before being waxed. These older floors require different cleaning products than a modern or recently installed hardwood floor.
An easy way to determine what kind of finish is present is by running a finger across a plank or strip of the floor. If it smudges, you have an older finish and sealant. If it doesn’t smudge, your wood floor has a hard, modern finish.
Never, ever use a floor cleaner that contains ammonia, abrasives, or alkaline products. These chemicals strip that sealant right out of the wood and dull your floor’s finish. Always use a hardwood floor cleaner with a pH-neutral soap, such as Murphy’s Oil Soap mixed with warm water and a mop.
Once you have the appropriate cleaner for your floor, mix up a bucket according to directions or apply the spray from a bottle as directed. There are many all-in-one spray mops designed for cleaning hardwood flooring. These tools simplify this task by removing the bucket from the general cleaning process. You still need a bucket of cleaner and a damp mop to do really deep cleanings.
Wring the mop out so it is only slightly damp before applying it to the floor. Begin cleaning from far edges of the room and work your way towards the entry or doorway in a consistent pattern that covers the entire floor.
Remove water rings or stains from modern hardwood finishes with a little elbow grease and a cleaning cloth. Older, soft oil finishes for hardwood floors may require you to remove stains and rings with some steel wool dipped in floor wax. If this doesn’t work, try sanding it gently before applying mineral spirits and fine steel wool before waxing the affected area.
Never use steel wool on a modern urethane or acrylic hardwood floor finish. This creates an expensive repair that most people cannot complete on their own.
Apply the finishing touch when you clean your hardwood flooring with a polishing cloth attached to a mop. It is highly recommended that you use a wood floor shine refresher solution, or floor restorer in the case they are older, to give your floors a high gloss, like-new shine. You should apply a restorer at least every three to six months to keep your hardwood floor looking its best.
Finally, you should protect the high traffic areas of your home – like doorways, entryways, and staircases – with rugs or runners to prevent long term damage. This also makes cleaning much easier.
If cleaning hardwood floors still feels like it is outside of your comfort zone, or you simply don’t have time to put in the necessary care and maintenance with your busy lifestyle, don’t hesitate to contact an expert.