Hardwood floors are often one of the best selling points of your home. Gorgeous hardwood floors can be the first thing a guest or potential renter or buyer notices. Unfortunately, hardwood floors are easy to damage and dirty up, and taking proper care of them is easier said than done. Use the wrong cleaning method, and your home’s highlight is suddenly ruined.
You may be tempted not to clean your hardwood floors and simply give them a once-over with your Swiffer sweeper on occasion, but a short sweep isn't all these floors need neglecting a proper cleaning means long-term wear and tear. You may end up needing to repair or even replace your hardwood floors if you neglect them entirely.
Refinishing hardwood floors is a pricey investment and by protecting it properly, your hardwood flooring will last for many years.
Keep your hardwood floors clean — the right ways — and you can avoid big future costs while enjoying clean, shiny, beautiful hardwood floors every day.
How to Clean Hardwood Floors: The Tools
Firstly, you can’t do anything if you don’t have the right tools on hand.
That Swiffer sweeper, or something like it, will work just fine for daily care. A microfiber sweeper or microfiber mop will clean up spills and everyday debris easily.
Why not use your vacuum?
Think of those wheels and all those mechanical parts running over your hardwood floors over and over again. It’s a recipe for scratches and scuffs. So, ditch the vacuum and go with a microfiber sweeper and mop. If you absolutely must use a vacuum, go with a handheld variant. And that’s it.
Before getting into cleaners, that microfiber sweeper and microfiber mop is the only thing you’ll need in terms of tools. So ditch the vacuum, multiple brooms, mops and buckets and invest in one tool that’ll serve you well for years to come.
How to Clean Hardwood Floors: The Right Cleaner
When it comes to cleaning products, there are many ways you can go wrong, and this is where many individuals end up damaging their hardwood floors, but it’s easy to avoid mistakes.
When cleaning hardwood floors, you want to pick a cleaner that is designed for hardwood floors specifically. That’s it.
The problem is, it’s convenient to reach for the closest all-purpose cleaner in your cabinet to clean up the grime from a sticky spot, or from a spill. It’s those generic cleaners that can damage your hardwood floors for life, though. The chemicals aren’t made for hardwood.
The same goes for generic floor cleaners. You may think a floor cleaner made for laminate, vinyl or tile floors will work, because, isn’t a floor just a floor? Absolutely not — those cleaners will, again, damage your hardwood.
So, pay the extra money for a special cleaner for hardwood floors and use it and it only when mopping or cleaning up spills of any size.
How to Clean Hardwood Floors: Natural Cleaners
Many homeowners are turning to all-natural, eco-friendly cleaners that aren’t only safe for the environment, but also for their families. If you want to clean your hardwood floors naturally, using kid-safe, pet-safe and planet-safe cleaners, you can do so with ingredients you probably already have to make a DIY floor cleaning solution.
The most popular all-natural hardwood floor cleaner is vinegar. All you need to do is combine a half a cup of white vinegar (or a quarter of a cup of apple cider vinegar) with a gallon of warm water and then mop.
Occasionally, vinegar can dull certain hardwood floor finishes, so you’ll want to test the vinegar on your hardwood in a spot where no one will see, before mopping your entire floor.
Some hardwood floors can be cleaned with water only and a soft cloth, but check with your flooring manufacturer first to see if this is recommended.
How to Clean Hardwood Floors: Removing Stains
But what if you have a stubborn stain that your typical cleaning routine just can’t handle?
If your hardwood floor has a soft finish (which is likely if your hardwood flooring is on the older side), you can rub the stain with steel wool and floor wax. If the stain is dark or oil-based, you may need to use bleach or dish soap, respectively, before applying the wax.
If your hardwood floor has a hard finish, it’s likely you won’t have to go through this type of trouble to remove a stain, and your normal cleaning routine will work.
How to Clean Hardwood Floors: A Cleaning Schedule
Speaking of your normal cleaning routine, it's important to keep a consistent cleaning schedule to maintain your hardwood floors properly. It’s recommended you sweep your hardwood floors daily, mop weekly and then polish monthly (or, if you don’t get that much foot traffic on your hardwood floors, you can polish them every other month). Being proactive in cleaning high-traffic areas will minimize build-up and preserve the floor's finish.
Every several years, you’ll want to sand, refinish and do a deep cleaning to your hardwood floors to address any scratches.
How to Clean Hardwood Floors: Keeping Your Floors Clean
Of course, the cleaner you can keep your hardwood floors, the better.
Area rugs and mats with rubber bottoms can keep dirt and debris off your floors. You can also make it a habit among the entire family (pets included!) to wipe their feet or remove shoes before entering the home. This will keep the dusting to a minimum and make your cleaning routine much easier.
How to Clean Hardwood Floors: Mistakes to Avoid
You could do all of the above to protect and maintain your hardwood floors and then ruin it all with a common home care mistake. Make sure that you don’t…
- Drench your hardwood floors, as too much water is damaging; instead, use a damp mop only
- Use oils or furniture sprays on (or even around) your hardwood floor
- Wait too long to clean any spills or stains, as the longer you wait, the harder it is to clean them
Keeping Your Hardwood Floors Beautiful for Life
It’s not impossible to keep your hardwood floors beautiful for life. You just need to take the right precautions and avoid common mistakes to keep clean wood floors.
With the right cleaning tools, cleaning solutions, cleaning tips and a cleaning schedule, you can ensure your hardwood flooring is a smart household investment that stands the test of time.
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