Learning how to clean hardwood floors</b> is not rocket science, but it does require getting to know your wood floors, and establishing a regular cleaning routine that will give them the best care possible.
Actually, the key to "how to clean hardwood floors" is to know the type of "finish" on the wood because that is what your cleaning, not the wood!
Knowing the type of "finish" makes cleaning it a breeze!!
If you are uncertain about the type of "finish" on your wood floors, the test found on our hardwood floor finish web page will help you make that determination.
There is no flooring available that is totally maintenance or care-free (don't we wish)... Although there is one that comes real close to it and that is cork flooring. BUT one thing for certain is all hardwood floors will need to be refinished, eventually...
Step #1 of how to clean hardwood floors is to ALWAYS sweep and/or vacuum the dirt and grit from your wood floors before mopping them!
Mopping over dirt and grit may scratch the finish and shortens the length of time before the floor will need to be re-finished.
NOTE: If using a solution of cleaning product contained in a bucket, be sure to change it and rinse the mop frequently. Makes no sense to try to clean a floor using dirty equipment.
Now and then you may want to get on your hands and knees for some serious cleaning! Using a soft cloth (no sponge here) will make it much easier to clean the corners, along the edges, the baseboards and really “scrub” away the grim!
Final Step: Using a VERY damp mop and clean water, go over the floor to remove any cleaning solution residual...
Always use the manufacturer recommended products or a neural pH balanced hardwood floor cleaner that does NOT contain any oils, soaps or acidic ingredients. Always read the label before applying to your hardwood flooring.
NEVER use vinegar to mop with on any hardwood floor! It is acidic and will weaken the finish, plus leave a milky film on the surface...
Even though water is the biggest threat to wood floors, using it sparingly for cleaning hardwood floors will not affect the finish if it is in "good" condition...
What little moisture "damp' mopping leaves on the surface will not penetrate the finish, not even on a oil or wax finish...
All wood floor finishes in "good", or better, condition will resist moisture as long as the floor isn't saturated and isn't allowed to pool or remain for any length of time.
If the finish on your wood floor is in poor shape do not use water of any kind to mop it!
Only use a cleaning agent designed for wood floors. That means one that is PH balanced and has no oils, soaps or acidic ingredients.
Unless you have plans to refinish your wood floors in the near future, applying a coat of wax or floor polish on hardwood floors with a poor, or no, finish before routine cleaning will give your floor the protection it needs from wear and tear, and keep it looking its best.
This step is not necessary before every mopping, but should be repeated when you notice the protection has worn off.
Waxed floors can be easily cleaned with a damp mop and water. For a deeper cleaning, use a cleaning agent made for this type of finish.
Using a PH balanced detergent, like Ivory Snow, once in awhile is okay, but do not mop with this on a regular basis.
Hardwood floors with this type of finish can be buffed and re-waxed to make them look like their original condition. They hold up well under wear and tear and can easily be stripped and wax re-applied.
One thing to keep in mind though... if the wax is not properly stripped, from time-to-time, it may cause adhesion problems when it comes times to re-finish the surface.
DO NOT clean with water or water-based products on unfinished, unwaxed or otherwise unprotected floors.
Most modern floors are pre-finished from the manufacturer with a urethane/polyurethane (surface) finish.
While this finish does not require waxing, it may need to be if/when the finish wears thin and bare spots develope and you do NOT plan to refinish it anytime soon.
More information about how to clean hardwood floors can be found at hardwood floor care dos & don'ts and wood floor finishes. We hope the information on how to clean hardwood floors proves helpful for you and that you will visit us again, soon.
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