Cleaning Hardwood Floors
by Adele Joy
Best Way to Clean Hardwood Floors
The best way to clean a hardwood floor depends on the type of finish.
- Penetrating seals such as oils and waxes have a satin or matte finish. Once or twice a year, strip the wax and apply a fresh coat. This type of hardwood floor should not be damp mopped because the water will penetrate the wood.
- Surface finishes are found on pre-finished floors—mostly polyurethane—, and usually have a glossy appearance. They are easy to care for and maintain; simply sweep, vacuum and mop with a lightly dampened mop.
How to Maintain Sealed Hardwood Floors
Waxed floors don’t need to be mopped, just sweep and vacuum them regularly and remember to strip and recoat the seal once or twice a year.
- When sweeping, use a broom with fine, exploded ends to trap dust and grit effectively. To minimize the amount of dirt brought inside, place door mats at each entrance.
- Use a lightweight vacuum cleaner with a soft brush on the head so it doesn’t scratch the floor. Your hardwood floor should be vacuumed regularly to remove dirt which would otherwise scratch and dull the surface.
- Do not mop
How to Maintain Surface Finished Hardwood Floors
Sweep high traffic areas on a daily basis, and vacuum and mop weekly. Consider placing mats on areas where water may be splashed, such as at the kitchen sink, and always immediately wipe up any food or liquid spills with a damp cloth, before drying the floor with a clean towel. Water and other liquids are one of a hardwood floor’s worst enemies as they can damage the finish and seep in between the floorboards, causing warping.
- Sweeping instructions are the same as for sealed floors
- Vacuuming instructions are the same as for sealed floors
- When mopping your floor, use a damp, not wet, microfibre (to remove fine particles) mop with a pH neutral floor cleaner specifically formulated for wood floors to remove dust and grime. Vinegar is also an effective and safe floor cleaner (see section on using vinegar below). You can get the right level of dampness by wringing the mop out completely. Also be sure to mop in the direction of the wood grain. When the water gets dirty, replace with a fresh batch of cleaning solution. When finished, go back over with clean water to rinse. Do not use straight ammonia, liquid detergents or abrasive cleaners as they can dull or strip the finish and discolour the wood.