How to Properly Care for Wood Floors
Your brand-new wood floors are finally installed, and they look beautiful. After careful planning, purchasing and installation, keeping your new floors in pristine condition should be a top priority. If this is your first time owning wood floors or perhaps you just updated, we’re going to cover all you need to know about keeping your floors looking brand new and in excellent condition.
Before you start purchasing any cleaning solutions or equipment, find out if your floors have been finished with wax or polyurethane. The finish that has been applied to the floor will partly determine what measures need to be taken in protecting it properly. Finding out what your floors have been coated with is a lot easier than you think it would be. To find out, drip some water onto the floor. If the water starts to bead and stays on top of the floor, it’s probably polyurethane; if the water soaks into the finish after a few minutes, the floor has probably been coated in wax.
If you are still unsure what product has been used to finish your wood floor, contact your contractor or flooring company to double check.
Removing Dirt & Debris
When it comes to keeping your wood floors free of dirt and debris, a standard broom and dustpan just aren't going to get the job done, unless you want to sweep more often than you should.
Use a dust mop or vacuum to remove dust, dirt, pet hair and other debris that could scratch and damage the floor.
NOTE: Avoid using a vacuum with a beater bar attachment (the huge spinning wheel on the bottom) as it could damage the surface of the wood floor. Most vacuums have an option to raise the beater bar to use on hardwood floors.
The number of people in your family (including pets) and the traffic patterns in your home will determine how often you must clean the floor of dirt and debris. At least once a week is a great place to start and if you and your family generate more dirt than you suspected, then it’s time to pass the baton around and get everyone involved in helping keep the floors clean.
Mopping & Cleaning Solutions
Using a dust mop or vacuum alone is not going to help you achieve removing all the dirt and grime from the floor that will build up over time. You can use a commercial wood-cleaning product such as Bona or Murphy's Oil Soap. Be sure to read the manufacturer's label before purchasing a cleaning solution. For example, Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner is safe for all unwaxed, polyurethane finished floors. Reading the label and knowing the finish of your floors is crucial when it comes time to determine which solutions are safe and won’t strip or damage the finish.
You can make your own solution at home that is safe for all floor finishes. Do this by combining one-part vinegar to ten-parts warm water. You can add a few drops of liquid Castile soap for a dash of added protection.
The process for cleaning natural wood and engineered wood floors is the same:
Take the appropriate cleaner you have chosen for your floors and prepared your solution.
Saturate a rag or sponge mop in the solution. Wring it out until the mop is only damp and not dripping wet.
Mop the floor with the cleaner being careful not to leave any excess water to pool around and be absorbed by the wood.
Rinse the mop with clean water and wring out any excess.
Take the mop back over the area you just mopped and glide it across the area to remove the cleaner.
Wipe up any excess water/cleaner with a clean, dry towel.
Don't feel comfortable using chemicals around your children and pets? Don't worry; you can actually use boiling water and two tea bags to clean your hardwood floors. The tannic acid in tea creates a beautiful shine. Doing this is easy and will leave your floors looking gorgeous.
Steep two tea bags in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes.
Pour the tea into a bucket.
Take a soft cloth and soak it in the tea, wringing out any excess.
Taking the damp cloth, wash all areas of the wood floor and allow proper time to dry.
Finding solutions on how to clean any large visible scratches, even after a thorough cleaning, can be frustrating. Avoid this headache by taking a crayon (I’m sure your children have the exact shade you're looking for) and rub it on the scratch to fill in the gap. Follow this by using a blow dryer on high heat on the area where the crayon was just applied. Then just buff it out with a soft cloth.
A quick and common solution to help eliminate the amount of dirt and debris caused by the foot traffic in your home would be placing doormats inside and outside entryways leading outside. Placing area rugs and runners in the heavier traffic areas of your home will also help prevent a constant buildup of dirt and grime.
Avoid large scratches when moving large furniture by placing floor protectors underneath your larger and heavier items.