How to properly clean and care for hardwood floors

The number one enemy to hardwood floors is water. Not only will the finish lose its shine, it can also cause the hardwood floors to warp. Wipe up any liquid spills immediately with a soft cloth, starting at the edge of the spill and working towards the center of the spill. If using a steam mop or other type of steam cleaner on your hardwood floors, make sure that it is appropriate for hardwoods. If the steam cleaner is not appropriate for hardwood floors, it could cause moisture to absorb into any scratch and eventually seep into the wood and cause damage.

Dirt, dust and grit can also damage your hardwood floor by dulling the floor’s finish as well as scratching it. In such cases, the only way to repair the floor is by refinishing it.

Sweep your floors on a regular basis. Brooms with exploded tips help to trap dust and dirt, not spread it around. Dust mops can also be very helpful in keeping dirt, dust and grit under control. Vacuuming frequently, with an upright or canister vacuum, with special hardwood attachments, is also a helpful method of cleaning the floors. Lastly, doormats at the entrances of your home can help trap dirt and grit. Clean them regularly.

Another method to prevent scratching is to place glides made of felt or some other type of fabric under the legs of furniture to prevent scratches. Clean the glides on a regular basis to ensure that dust and grit do not become embedded.

Another detriment to hardwood floors is sunlight. Ultraviolet radiation in sunlight can cause hardwood floors to discolor over time. Prolonged exposure to sunlight will change the color of any wood floor, regardless of stain or finish. Some woods lighten when exposed to sunlight. Others, like cherry and oak, tend to darken.

To clean hardwood floors, the most effective way to rinse the hardwoods is to use a mixture of vinegar and water. A gentle soap mixed with water is more effective at cleaning tough grease and dirt. However, using a soap based cleaner will dull the floor over time. It is recommended that after damp mopping your floor, you follow behind with a dry mop to absorb any water, as to not damage your floor.

For a vinegar wash use 1/2 cup of white vinegar to 1 gallon of warm water. White vinegar is great for cutting grease, removing odors, mildew, most stains and wax buildup. As always, be careful when using anything that gives out strong vapors. Be sure to have adequate ventilation and if you are feeling any effects of dizziness take a break and get some fresh air.

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