The Professional’s Guide to Cleaning Hardwood Floors
The key to keeping hardwood floors looking their absolute best, all comes down to how you clean them. Basic cleaning isn’t going to cut it because wooden flooring requires product-appropriate cleaners, the right cleaning tools, and a few tricks that will get rid of dullness and bring back that marvellous lustre it once had!
More importantly, using the correct techniques and tools/products will ensure that you are cleaning hardwood flooring safely. Many homeowners worry about scratching or damaging the finish of the floor which is a very common occurrence when one does not have any knowledge of the dos and don’ts of cleaning hardwood flooring.
See also: Our brief overview of cleaning hardwood floors.
With that in mind, fear not because we are sharing a safe, effective, and thoroughly professional guide to cleaning hardwood floors in the simplest steps possible. Find all the information you need below.
What Type of Finish is it?
First things first; if you’re aware of the coating over your wooden floor, you may skip ahead to the cleaning process. However, if you are unsure, use a dropper or teaspoon to add 3-4 drops of water to the floor and leave it for a minute or two. If you find that the water has soaked into the wood, you either have an unfinished or varnished floor. On the other hand, a polyurethane or acrylic finish will leave the droplets as they are.
Most modern wooden floors are sealed or coated which are easier to clean as compared to unfinished wood. In this guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of cleaning finished hardwood flooring. Read on!
How to Clean Hardwood Floors with a Polyurethane Finish
Since moisture does not seep through the coating over the floor (unless it is worn or damaged), cleaning up spills and removing stains is much easier. Nevertheless, there is a right and wrong way of cleaning finished wooden floors, and we are here to share that with you. So, let’s begin then!
Step One: Get Rid of Dirt and Dust
Dust and debris are the primary reasons for dull looking floors and must be removed effectively before any other type of cleaning is done. The last thing you want is for dirt to be smeared across your wooden floor and leave unsightly marks; therefore, it must be removed effectively. If you are more comfortable with vacuuming the floor, this can be a great way to pick up dirt and dust, however, you must only use a suitable brush attachment which does not run the risk of any metal parts touching the floor (which may scratch or damage the surface).
As an effective alternative to vacuum cleaners, consider using an electrostatic broom to sweep your hardwood flooring. Dust and debris cling to the bristles of these types of brooms which eliminates the need to go over the same area more than once. Another advantage of sweeping with electrostatic brooms is that you can pick up dust from those tricky corners and other spaces that are hard to reach with a vacuum cleaner.
Step Two: Mop with a Mild Cleanser
While there are special products on the market intended for hardwood flooring, a natural, homemade cleaning solution consisting of warm water and baking soda is very effective for daily or regular mopping. Soiled or stained hardwood floors, on the other hand, may require the use of an alkaline water-based cleaning solution for a thorough clean. Although this is a safe product to use on polyurethane finished wood, it is important for the cleaner to be made into a mild solution by diluting it with enough water before mopping the floor.
You can use any type of mop on hardwood floors, however, microfibre mops are one of the more effective options. While a coated wooden flooring is protected from moisture because it is essentially a sealant, it is advisable to keep prolonged wetness to a minimum. Hence, when mopping hardwood floors, make sure to wring the mop head properly so that it is merely damp.
Step Three: Buff for Professional Results
For a truly lustrous and professional-looking wooden floor, go one step further and buff the floor after you have cleaned and dried it. If you don’t want to rent out a buffing machine, you can buff hardwood floors by hand instead; all you need is white vinegar, water, and a soft cloth such as baby cloth diapers! If you’d rather not get on your hands and knees, a microfibre mop will suffice.
To make the buffing solution, mix 1 cup of white vinegar in 1 gallon of warm water; dampen the cloth or mop in the mixture (wring it properly), and buff in circular motions. Wait for the floor to dry up and the shiny results will leave you thoroughly satisfied with your efforts!
Some Dos and Don’ts When Cleaning and Maintaining Hardwood Floors
- Check for any damage or scratches on the surface at least once in two weeks; call in a professional to refinish the floor if needed.
- Sweep the floor regularly as abrasive dirt can get dragged around and leave scratches.
- Soak up spills immediately to avoid excess moisture sitting on the surface.
- Place carpets or rugs over areas where harsh sunlight comes through the windows as this can cause fading of the wood.
- Use rubber protectors on the legs of furniture so that they don’t leave marks.
- Avoid using hot/cold water when mopping hardwood as this will dull/warp the floor.
- Don’t use abrasive scrubbers or cleaning tools to remove stains; stick to soft cloths, sponges, and soft-bristled scrub brushes.
- Stay clear of wax-based cleaner as they leave a film over the surface which attracts more dirt.
- As much as possible, avoid walking around with spiked shoes; take them off at the front door and carry them in instead.
- Don’t leave any wet or damp items lying on the floor for too long.
Having the right information in your back pocket will make a world of difference when you attempt to clean and buff your hardwood flooring in a safe and effective manner. With the guide above, rest assured that you are prepared to make your wooden floors look like a professional has just cleaned them!
Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.