You need to know a few specific things about cleaning hardwood floors to keep them in excellent condition for decades. We all want a clean floor, but using the wrong items or applications can leave your floors looking worse for wear.
In this article, we will break down the different types of hardwood floors and the various cleaning products and equipment best suited for maintaining them. By the time you get to the end, you will have all the knowledge you need about cleaning hardwood floors effectively.
Types of Hardwood
Hardwood floors have been a popular choice for flooring since the late 1600s, and since then, many technological advancements have made hardwood floors even better and easier to care for. There are also more options when choosing the right flooring for your home and lifestyle. Let’s take a look.
When people think of hardwood flooring, they usually think of solid hardwood. These floors are comprised of individual planks or strips laid next to one another for a timeless look that’s natural and warm. Solid hardwood floors are usually made from oak, maple, or ash wood, but many different colors, textures, and grains are available to use as hardwood planks.
It can be tricky to tell the difference between solid hardwood and engineered hardwood, but some differences make it a bit more affordable. However, engineered hardwood may not last quite as long as solid hardwood.
Unlike the individual planks used in the installation process of solid hardwood, engineered hardwood is manufactured in larger pieces of sturdy plywood with smaller strips of hardwood attached on top. These pieces simplify installation as they can click in place together and don’t require refinishing.
For most cleaning purposes, both solid and engineered hardwood flooring can be approached the same way with the same materials. However, if the flooring is damaged, the repair or replacement process is very different, so keep this in mind if you find any problems with the flooring as you are cleaning.
It’s important to note that laminate floors can look like hardwood. These floors are simply finished with a design layer printed to look like wood without using wood planks or strips. These floors should be cleaned differently, so we won’t be focusing on laminate floors in the rest of this article.
One of the best things about hardwood flooring is that it doesn’t often require extensive cleaning. Sweeping and dusting regularly will not only eliminate the unwanted dirt and dust bunnies, but it will also keep your floors from being worn or scratched by the grit accumulating on the floor.
A microfiber dust mop is preferable since it can collect dust and dirt without scratching the floor. There are both dry and wet microfiber cloths for mopping, but the dry dust mop should be used more frequently.
If something is spilled on hardwood floors, whether solid or engineered, it should be cleaned up as quickly as possible. You don’t want your beautiful floors to be stained or ruined because a mess is left unaddressed for too long. Use a damp cloth to clean up spills and ensure the floor’s surface dries completely after cleaning.
Even with regular sweeping and dusting, hardwood floors must occasionally be mopped. However, using the right products and techniques to keep your floors stunning is essential.
Unlike other flooring materials that can be cleaned with a steam mop or a traditional mop and bucket, you want to use the least amount of water on hardwood floors as possible. Like dusting and dry mopping, hardwood floors benefit from using a damp microfiber mop.
You don’t want a sopping wet mop. Too much water or cleaner can leave hardwood floors sticky or cause the wood to expand or warp. Simply dampen the microfiber mop with warm water, lightly spray a cleaning solution designed for wood over the floor in sections, and mop the floor in the direction of the wood grain.
While cleaning hardwood floors isn’t necessarily difficult, it is still important. Staying on top of regular cleaning helps keep your home in order and can help your flooring remain in good condition for much longer.
As important as it is to use the right amount of water, it is even more important to use the right cleaning solution for hardwood floors. An all-purpose cleaner is not necessarily the best choice for this specific purpose. Instead, look for products formulated to not only clean the floor but also to protect the finish of the hardwood.
If you want to make your own cleaning solution, you can use ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. Mix one gallon of warm water with one-half cup of distilled white vinegar and one tablespoon of liquid Castile soap. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle. This is a gentle way to clean your hardwood floors without leaving any oils or residues behind.
There are some things you want to avoid when you are cleaning hardwood floors.
- Mop too often
While you should sweep or dust mop quite frequently, hardwood floors shouldn’t need to be thoroughly wet mopped more than a few times each year. This is possible if spills and stains are quickly taken care of.
- Too much water
Similarly to how often you mop, you don’t want to use too much water when cleaning your hardwood floors. You don’t want to use a sopping wet rag or mop when wiping up a sticky mess. The more water you use, the greater the chance that moisture will be left behind to damage the wood.
It may be great for deep cleaning other spaces in your home, but ammonia is far too strong to be used on hardwood flooring, even when diluted. Ammonia can strip the finish off of the wood and leave it more susceptible to scratches and stains.
- Ignore damage
Unfortunately, hardwood floors will get damaged at some point. Whether it is normal wear and tear or specific dents and scratches from life’s incidents, your floors will see some deterioration. The important thing is to address the damage as soon as possible and not leave the issue to worsen as time goes on.
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