How to Clean Hard Wood Floors Without Ruining the Finish

How to clean hardwood floors without destroying their beauty is something many homeowners debate. They are loved not only for their look and durability, but also because they’re simple to clean—at least relative to carpet, tile, and many other surfaces. However, different takes exist on the best way to clean hardwood flooring while guarding the gleam on their gorgeous wooden floors, which leaves hardwood floor homeowners wondering …

What’s the best way to clean hardwood floors, anyway?

If you’re looking for the how to clean hardwood floors from the experts’ perspective, here are the steps to take:

Your first line of defense is to remove dirt as quickly and often as possible. Even the smallest specks of dirt act like sandpaper, and can scratch the floor’s surface and making it appear dull. To help... vacuum or sweep regularly—ideally once every two to three days, or even more for your high-traffic areas! Tip: if you vacuum, use the hard surface setting on your machine, which turns off the beater bar and lowers the vacuum to the floor for better suction power.

Wipe spills immediately

Hardwood floors may look impervious to spills compared with carpet, but certain harsh substances over a short amount of time, can actually destroy the top coat of flooring polish. Some common offenders include milk, mustard, and pet urine. So if your beloved pet isn’t fully house trained, make sure to pick up after accidents immediately.

How to clean hardwood floors with a mop

A "damp" mop can also help keep a hardwood floor clean, provided you use the right cleaner (try your best to be picky on chosen cleaners). Most wood floor installers or manufacturers recommend cleaners that contain isopropyl alcohol, which dries quickly.

To make your own monthly cleaning solution, add a capful of white vinegar to a gallon of water, which will help dissolve grease and grime on the floor, yet prevent the finish from being stripped. For shoe scuff removal, rub the marks with a tennis ball, which gently cleans without scratching the finish.

DO NOT clean wood floors with a steam mop. Steam is the worst for wood floors, as it opens pores in woods and damages the finish, which cannot be fixed, unless you completely refinish the floor.

Use the right cleaners

Wood floors can actually be one of the easiest to keep clean, provided you are using the right cleaners. Caution to words like 'polish' or 'shine', because that indicates you're in fact adding a layer of something, instead of a protective finishing coat. Immediately your floor might appear shiny, but that will soon smear & look dull. 

When in doubt, do a little research and stick with cleaners fully recommended by a hardwood specialist.

And if it still doesn’t look clean…

If vacuuming and mopping don’t restore the luster to your hardwood floors, even following the experts tips to the letter may not be effective enough. Eventually, wood floors withstand enough damage that they should be refinished—meaning the top layer of wood is sanded down to remove marks, then covered with sealant. Hardwood floors should be resealed about once every 10 years, or every two to five years if they get substantial traffic from kids or pets. Once that is accomplished, you can follow the steps above to keep them shining.

~ Real Advantage Partners team

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