Must-Know Tricks for Cleaning Hardwood Floors

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Keep your Floor Gleaming with These Tips!

Hardwood floors have a lot of charm but can be a bit of a bear to maintain, especially older wood floors that have not been sealed with urethane. Prevention can help keep maintenance to a minimum.

Be sure to place dirt and water grabbing rugs in front of exterior doors, both outside and inside. Also provide a seat and a mat or tray for storing boots and muddy shoes. Promote the habit of removing dirty footwear right at the door before tracking through the house. This will prevent damage from water, dirt and de-icing chemicals.

Even with those things in place, you’ll still need to clean floors on a regular basis, as accumulated dirt can scratch and mar the surface.

Basic Care

Speed up the cleaning process by first dusting the floor with a mop that has been treated with a dusting agent to pick up dust, dirt, and pet hair that might scratch the floor surface. For weekly or biweekly cleaning, vacuum with a floor-brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner or an electric broom. Do not use a vacuum with a beater bar attachment, which can scratch a wood floor’s finish. For quick dusting, use disposable electrostatic cloths, available at grocery and discount stores. Save money by using both sides of the disposable cloths.

Deeper Cleaning

Dirt, oil, and grime build up over time and aren’t completely removed by a weekly dust mopping. For occasional deep cleaning (consider doing the cleaning in the spring or just before the winter holidays), use a wood-cleaning product diluted according to the label instructions. Saturate a sponge or rag mop in the water, then wring it almost dry so it feels only slightly damp to the touch. Damp-mop the floor, being careful to prevent standing water on the floor. Rinse with a clean mop dampened in clear water, but only if the cleaning product requires it. Wipe up excess liquid because standing water can damage wood surfaces. If the weather is humid, operate a ceiling fan or the air-conditioner to speed up drying.

Removing Stains

First, it’s important to understand whether your floor has a hard non-permeable finish, like from urethane, or a soft finish from oil or wax products. If the mark sits on top of the surface than you probably have a hard finish. If the mark or stain has soaked into the wood to some degree, than your floor most likely has a soft finish. This is especially likely if you have an older home with the original finish on the hardwood floors.

Remove marks and stains from a floor with a hard finish by rubbing it with a soft cloth and a mild cleaning agent. Never use steel wool, sandpaper or harsh chemicals as they will mar the surface and make that area stand out from the rest of the floor.

If your floor has a soft finish, gently try one of the following:

  • Dark spots and pet stains: Rub the spot with No. 000 steel wool and floor wax. If the area is still dark, apply bleach or vinegar and allow it to soak into the wood for about an hour. Rinse with a damp cloth.
  • Heel marks: Use fine steel wool to rub in floor wax.
  • Oil-base stains: Rub the area with a soft cloth and dishwashing detergent to break down the grease. Rinse with clear water. If one or more applications don’t work, repeat the procedure. Keep children and pets out of the room until you’re done. Let the spot dry, then smooth the raised grain with fine sandpaper.
  • Water marks or white stains: Rub the spot with No. 000 steel wool and floor wax. If the stain goes deeper, lightly sand the floor and clean with fine steel wool and odorless mineral spirits.

For more instructions and a helpful video visit BHC.com for the full article.

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