Tips For Cleaning Wood Flooring
It’s great having a wood floor; the look, the quality, even the ambiance can transform a room. However, cleaning it isn’t always easy, especially if you want to clean it properly so that it will retain its natural sheen and be a feature you’re pleased with, rather than an eyesore you’d rather remove and replace with a cheaper, more user-friendly substitute.
1. How Often?
Good question. If you’re talking about regular cleaning then the more regularly the better; unlike carpet fibers which trap detritus and stop it from ‘snowballing’, wood flooring can allow dust balls to form and stray pieces of hair to rove around unchecked, if not vacuumed very often. If you’re talking about long-term maintenance, though, then this needs only be done about once every two to three months, and some decent store-bought cleaning solutions are recommended. If you’re going to add extra ingredients or concoct your own solution, then there are certain things you should and shouldn’t add.
There are various methods. Here are some:
- The Old-Fashioned Bristled Broom – Select a soft-bristled variety and try to remove as much dust etc. from the corners and alcoves of the room in question. Endeavor to go with the grain rather against it. It will be better for the wood.
- Vacuum Cleaner – Use the relevant nozzle (soft-floor variety) for your vacuum cleaner or shop vac because the regular brush rolls can negatively imprint the wood’s delightful finish. If you can get a robot vac on the case, all the better. It will do the job for you and with a more consistent speed and touch.
- Damp Cloth – If a sticky substance like ketchup or honey lands on your beautiful wood surface, get a damp cloth on it sooner rather than later. You can use your foot on it if you suffer from a knee ailment. A microfiber cloth will work wonders on hair or dust, due to its positive electric charge which attracts negative-ion particles. Always wipe with the grain.
- Mop – The key here is that it should not be dripping wet but barely damp. You can use it in conjunction with some wood floor cleaning solution. If using a spray this can help but you’ll want a reasonable amount of mist, not too little or too much. Then it’s a case of scrubbing with the grain, and gentle wiping with an old t-shirt or pair of socks afterward. You shouldn’t be applying more than a half teaspoon of cleaning solution per two square feet.
3. DOs and DON’Ts
You’ve saved and spent enough money having the wood flooring installed, so don’t go and ruin it. Here are some tips:
- Don’t ignore any spillages, whether drinks, sauces, or foods. It’s worth cleaning it up immediately rather than waiting until the end of the meal or later.
- Don’t use inappropriate devices or cleaning tools. A yard broom was never meant for a beautiful indoor wood floor; neither was a floor-cleaning machine made for office or hospital floors.
- Don’t use the wrong cleaning product. Paste wax may make your wood floor too slippery; dangerous for some to walk on. Acrylic polishes may end up dulling the wood rather than releasing its natural sheen. Murphy Oil Soap can form a residue on the polyurethane, which defeats the purpose of cleaning it so it looks as good as it can be.
- Don’t use a steam cleaner. It might be ideal on rugs or carpets, even vinyl or linoleum, but never on wood flooring.
- Don’t stick on a floor protector or use carpet tape to stick on any other protective sheet, perhaps while decorating or moving furniture. Old linen sheets are a better idea, taped against the wall, not the wood floor.
- Don’t leave standing water, for instance in an over-eager mopping session. The excess water will wreak havoc in between the joins, and the weather will contract and expand your flooring so that it will need serious restoration.
- Do use a cleaning solution that is neutral (about pH level 7). Anything higher or lower than this will potentially damage your wood flooring.
- Do use purposely created wood flooring cleaning solutions where possible, rather than a homemade vinegar and baking soda concoction which is better suited to non-wood surfaces.
- Do add solvents; actually they’re commonly found in many good wood floor cleaning solutions because they accelerate rather than retard the drying process.
- Do add surfactants; they are key in many cleaning products due to their propensity for removing dirt and grease from floor to mop head.
- Do add citric acid; it helps cleaning solutions achieve a neutral pH.
- Do add oxidizers; they’re commonly found in extra-strength solutions and can work wonders in removing dirt from wood floors which haven’t been cleaned in a while.
Overall, take great care of your wood flooring. It’s a living substance, unlike plastics, ceramics, or linoleum. It can give your house a real sense of authenticity and heritage. There’s nothing better than a wood floor that’s been well treated and glows with beautiful, wood grain qualities.