How do you clean and protect your hardwood floors when water is their worst enemy? There are plenty of products out there that promise to make your floors ‘shine’, but are these products safe to use without damaging the finish? Read on for the top tips from contractors and professional cleaners.
Vacuum with a soft floor nozzle – carpet beaters and brush rolls can damage the finish
Hardwood floors need special care and consideration. Check your vacuum cleaner for a hardwood floor setting. . Additionally, you could get an automated vacuum like a Roomba that will sense the change in flooring and adjust accordingly.
Use a dry, microfiber mop head to clean small messes intermittently
A microfiber mop head is usually a very soft cloth-like material. Traditional sponge-head mops and tassel-head mops are not good for hardwood floors as they retain a lot of water.
When you sweep and vacuum, go with the grain of the wood
This is important so that dust and dirt particles don’t get forced in between the slabs of wood and build up over time. As particles build up between the floorboards, the space between them gets wider and makes it that much easier for more particulates and water to get in. This can cause early warping of the wood.
Don’t use any cleaning solutions with soap or vinegar
Many DIY solutions online include soap and vinegar, but these substances can harm your hardwoods, especially if your floors are unfinished!
Brand-name cleaning solutions specifically made for hardwood floors: Bona’s, Rejuvenate, Pine-Sol
Of course the best way to ensure the cleanliness and protection of your floors is to use products specially made for them. These three are specially made to clean hardwood floors safely and effectively. You can get these products at most big-box stores, or find them at their respective websites – Bona, Rejuvinate, Pine-Sol.
Whichever cleaning solution you use, it should have a pH of 7
Make sure to check and read the labels of all cleaning products to make sure of this. Water naturally has a pH of 7 so it is always fine to clean up spills with a damp, microfiber cloth or paper towel.
If nothing else, mop with a slightly damp, microfiber mop-head
If you do not wish to buy products, a well-wrung microfiber mop will do the trick and may end up being healthier for your floors than using cleaning solutions that are not intended for hardwood floors.
When mopping, use an s-pattern going with the grain of the wood
This way, you’re not forcing excess water in between the floorboards, which can cause premature warping of the wood or worse – mold and rot.
Hardwood floors can/should be cleaned thoroughly 4-6 times per year
Although they should be swept often and spills cleaned immediately, there is no need to do a deep clean more than 4-6 times per year (a ‘deep clean’ being a thorough mopping with a microfiber mop and specialty cleaning solution like the ones mentioned above).
If your hardwood floors are unfinished, it is especially important to keep them from getting wet
In order to determine if your hardwoods are finished or not, try dropping some beads of water on the floor. If the wood readily absorbs the water, your floors are unfinished and should be treated with extra care! If the water beads and stays on the surface, your floors are finished and should still be treated with care, but can be mopped with the cleaning products mentioned above.