Are Hardwood Floors Hard to Keep Clean?

Cleaning Hardwood FloorWorries about keeping an expensive hardwood floor clean may deter you from installing one in your home, especially if you have children or pets. So, it it hard to keep hardwood floors clean? Not really, if you keep a few basic things in mind.

What kind of finish does your floor have?

The way you approach this will depend not on the kind of wood, but on the kind of finish the floor has.

If you are not sure about the finish, here is how you can make it out.

  • If every board of your floor has a beveled edge, it is a pre-finished floor. Water may seep into the cracks between the floors.
  • If rubbing you finger on the floor leaves no smudge, it is a surface sealed floor. Most new hardwood floors are surface sealed to be resistant to stain and damage. They are the easiest to care for.
  • If rubbing leaves a smudge, then your hardwood floor has been treated with lacquer, shellac or varnish, or a penetrating seal. and then waxed.

For cleaning surface sealed floors:

Sweep with a soft-bristled angled broom to remove larger bits of dust every day. Mopping once or twice a week helps prevent the build up of dirt and grime.

Lesser-used areas can be mopped once a month or less.

Use a hardwood cleaning product, following the prescribed directions. Cleaning only with water and vinegar makes wood floors appear dull and dingy. I find that using water and soap works much better.

Pay special attention to corners and hard-to-reach with a mop places which attract the most dirt. Using your hand covered with a sock soaked in cleaner works best for these areas.

If using a vacuum cleaner, take care that the bristles of the brush do not scratch the wood surface.

When mopping, take care to squeeze out water completely, as nothing harms a wood floor as much as standing water. Use a damp mop instead of a wet one, and mop in the direction of the wood grain.

For waxed floors :

Never mop, only sweep and vacuum. You have to remove the old wax and apply new wax once, or twice, a year. Remove old wax using a stripper, and reapply new wax in liquid or paste form.

While liquid wax is easier to apply, it gives a thinner coat and thus less protection.

Furniture waxes, acrylic waxes and water-based waxes are not good on hardwood, in spite of all the ads you see for them.

Before waxing, remove dust by sweeping or vacuuming. Apply a second coat after the first has dried, for extra protection. Open windows and doors for good ventilation. After waxing, buff with a cloth or a buffing machine for better results.

Wondering how to remove deep marks and stains left behind by your child or pet?

For hardwood floors with a hard finish, never use abrasive chemicals, sandpaper or steel wool, as it will damage the surface. Use a commercial cleaner.

For waxed floors, you can remove the stain using bleach or vinegar. After soaking for an hour, wipe with a damp cloth.steel wool, and apply wax over the damages area.

Remove oily stains with soapy water. Rinse with plain water, making sure that the area is completely dry before waxing and buffing to match the surrounding area.

Taking some preventive measures like using mats both inside and outside the house to prevent tracking of dirt into the house will also make it easier for you to clean your hardwood floor.

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