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How to Clean Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors have been used for centuries to add warmth and character to interiors, which is why they’re still one of the most popular materials used today. No matter what kind of hardwood floor you have, learning how to clean and maintain them properly will help this material last a lifetime. In this post, we’ll examine some key tips on how to clean hardwood floors to keep them looking as good as the day they were installed.

Challenges of Cleaning Hardwood Floors

While hardwood is among the most durable flooring materials out there, cleaning this kind of flooring is more complex than simply mopping it with a bucket of soapy water. In fact, wood has sponge-like properties, which means that wet mopping can cause your floors to warp and swell. Humidity and high temperatures can also impact the overall quality and longevity of your hardwood, so keeping the environment in your home at acceptable heat and moisture levels is important.

Tips for Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Ideally, you should sweep or swiffer your hardwood floors frequently and mop on occasion to maintain a clean and shiny look.

As you work toward mastering how to clean hardwood floors, know that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Different types of wood and finishes will require different cleaning routines. However, there are some general steps you can take and modify depending on your home’s hardwood. Let’s look at these in more detail:

Remove Dust Daily

Dust and dirt on a wooden floor in bedroom.

Dust and particles of dirt can actually end up causing scratches on the wood, making the floor appear dull and worn faster. 

  1. To minimize dust, sweep the floors daily to remove the heavier layer of debris. 
  2. Then, use a vacuum or a microfiber dust mop to remove the finer dust particles that the broom can’t get. 
  3. When using a vacuum, ensure that it is raised on the hard floor setting and avoid using the brush roll feature. Be extra cautious when removing the nozzle or moving the vacuum around to prevent scratching the floor. 

Most vacuums have rubber wheels that should prevent any marks. If you’re concerned about scratches, then stick with a microfiber dust mop. These work well to eliminate fine particles of dust without any risk of damage.

Clean Heavily Trafficked Areas

To prevent excessive wear and tear on areas with the most foot traffic, aim to mop these sections once each week or more during wet seasons. Before mopping, wring out the mop thoroughly before placing it onto the hardwood. It should be just damp enough without dripping excess amounts of water. If you notice any pools of water on the floor, clean these promptly to avoid any potential damage, especially if you have prefinished hardwood floors.

Use a Designated Hardwood Floor Cleaner 

Hardwoods are durable, but they still need to be cared for properly. Using the wrong materials, like cleaners that contain vinegar or any harsh detergents, can ruin them over time, leaving a dull-looking surface behind. Instead, use a high-quality, designated hardwood floor cleaner to preserve it and help it maintain that classic, elegant sheen. 

Fixing Scratches

 Wooden Laminate Floor Surface Scratch

Even with a proper cleaning routine, daily wear can take a toll on your floor’s finish, and minor scratches may show up over time. Luckily, there are ways to fix these unwanted marks without spending a fortune on refinishing the floors.

Buff Out Minor Damages

Alternatively, you can use fine-grit sandpaper to buff out minor scratches. Before buffing, you can apply a thin layer of coconut oil to the scratch or rub it with a raw walnut. 

Fill Scratches with a Blending Pencil

Special blending pencils are available to fill in and colour small scratches, and come in a range of colours to match the finish.

Use a Finish Restorer

Finally, there are special finish restorer solutions available at your local hardware store. They can effectively treat small scratches and scuffs as long as the wood itself has not been damaged.

Polishing Your Hardwood Floors

If your floors have lost their shine, and regular cleanings and small touch-ups no longer address the issue, you can try to polish the hardwood. It’s an easy DIY project that can help restore the floor’s protective finish, add sheen, and fill in micro-scratches.

  1. Clear the room by removing furniture and any other items from the floor.
  2. Measure the room to identify how much polishing product you will need.
  3. Clean the floor by dusting or vacuuming it to ensure that dust and dirt are removed.
  4. Use PolyCare® Hardwood Floor Cleaner from Rome Flooring. Gently rock the polish bottle for 30 seconds to ensure a consistent level of sheen, but do not shake it.
  5. Spread the polish evenly across the floor with a special pad or a soft cloth. Avoid dampening the applicator pad or cloth with water.
  6. Work in small sections, starting in the corners and working your way to the middle. Avoid rubbing too hard.

Recoating Hardwood Floors

When DIY solutions no longer restore the shine of a scratched hardwood floor, it may be time to recoat the wood. Recoating involves applying a new finish over the existing one, which can remove surface scratches and make the floor look new again. 

Recoating should be done every three to ten years, depending on the foot traffic in the home. Flooring professionals, like our team at Rome Flooring, can help determine whether your floors need recoating. If so, we’re also available to get the job done right so you can get back to having shiny floors in no time.

Tips to Prevent Damage to Your Hardwood Floors

Male hand cleaning hardwood floor with a microfiber cloth.

Preventing damage requires a multifaceted approach. While learning how to clean hardwood floors is of utmost importance, caring for them is equally significant. Balancing both ensures your flooring will look great for years to come. Here are some tips to consider:

Clean Up Spills Right Away

Any spilled liquids should be cleaned up as soon as possible. If they’re ignored, the liquid could end up remaining on the wood for an extended period of time, causing damage. This includes even minor spills, like a melted ice cube.

Avoid Heavy Oils, Waxes, and Harsh Cleaning Agents

You should only use brooms, vacuum settings, and cleaners that are specifically designed for hardwood. If you try to clean up with a broom that’s meant for a tougher surface, like cement, you could end up ruining the floor. Instead of using waxes, oils and other cleaners that can end up doing more harm than good, stick with a safe product for all wood surfaces, like our PolyCare solution. It will renew any wood surfaces, including polyurethane-treated, factory prefinished, as well as laminated flooring.

Place Padding on Furniture

To protect the flooring from scratches and dents, place padding on any furniture, including sofas, chairs, tables, and anything else that’s heavy and could mark the wood.

Avoid Steam Cleaning

Avoid steam cleaners for any hardwood. This should only be used for tiles, vinyl, and linoleum. 

Tips from the Professionals

Without a doubt, hardwood floors can add a touch of warmth and timeless beauty to any home. While they are durable and can last for decades, they do require proper care and regular cleaning to look their best. Thankfully, learning how to clean hardwood floors only requires a bit of research alongside special products, which makes the job even easier.

Give your hardwood floors the best cleaning and protection with our PolyCare® Hardwood and Laminate Floor Cleaner. This has been a leading product used by professional floor installers for the past 50 years. It’s made without harsh ingredients, meaning it won’t dull or degrade your floors. Reach out to us today at Rome Flooring to order yours.