The Ultimate Guide to Hardwood Floor Cleaning & Maintenance
The ultimate guide for hardwood floor cleaning & maintenance is built for the two most common hardwood finishing types: Polyurethane and Oil. While we have done our best to sort through manufacturer’s guides so you wouldn’t have to, it is always a good idea to double check with the manufacturer guide for recommendations and warranty information.
Daily Spot Cleaning:
Keep your floors clean from dirt and dust.
Sweep up dry spills with a soft-bristled or even rubber broom. Tiny rocks and bits of dirt are abrasive and can leave scratches on your hardwood, so be sure to clean your floors often.
Use a dry microfiber mop to dust your hardwood flooring. Microfiber is gentle and won’t damage the hardwood. As an added bonus, static from the cloth will pick up the fine dirt particles that would otherwise scratch the floor. Be sure to launder your mops often!
Stay Away From Swiffer!
It is very important not to use any treated dust mops (such as Swiffer) because these contain chemicals that will leave a murky haze over your hardwood. It won’t happen all at once, but it is only a matter of time.
It’s important to try to remove any scuffs without damaging the floor. Gently are best remove scuffs with soft, non-chemical household items such as a clean rubber eraser, or tennis ball.
If neither of those solutions work you could try baking soda mixed with a little water into a paste. Apply to the scuff and let it dry for several minutes before gently removing with a damp cloth.
Keep your floors dry
2. Weekly Deep Cleaning
You wouldn’t use a sopping wet mop on a hardwood floor like you would with tile or vinyl. Since you’re trying to prevent water damage, use as little water as possible. Use a spray bottle with one of the recommended solutions.
Only use Recommended Cleaning Products
Be careful about the cleaners you use. Most cleaners will leave residues on your hardwood. We recommend bona for most of our hardwoods, or NuOil cleaner for our hallmark oil-finished hardwoods.
Apply the cleaner by either spraying a light mist onto the floor or directly onto the microfiber mop. From there you can clean as usual.
These products will either leave a residue on your floors or destroy the finish. For some manufacturers, they may even invalidate the warranty on your hardwood.
- Oil Soaps
- Paste Wax
- Citrus Oils
- Tung Oils
- Cleaners containing Silicone.
3. Quarterly Cleaning
Use Polish to Make Your Floors Look as Good as New
Applying Floor Polish
Oil-finished flooring (like the organic line from hallmark) uses a penetrating finish that goes deep into the wood and hardens. Aside from having a softer, more barnyard look
Be sure to dispose of oily rags properly! Oiled rag piles are famous for their ability to spontaneously combust.(Hyperlink that text to maybe Wikipedia) Leaving oily rags in a pile is a fire hazard. Lay the rags flat, in a single layer, and allow them to dry and harden before disposing.
Urine and Feces
Clean up any pet messes as soon as you can. Urine in particular is extremely harmful to your floors. As the urine sits it can burn through and discolor the wood all the way to the subfloor. This is a particular problem with dogs since they tend to urinate in the same spot multiple times.
In extreme cases where the urine has stained through the wood, you can try to sand and refinish the floor but it is very likely that the stained areas will need to be removed and replaced with new planks.
Claws and nails are very hard and can damage and dent hardwood even when dull. The bigger the dog, the greater the potential for damaging the floor.
It is best to keep your furry friend’s nails well-trimmed and their paws clean. If you want to go the extra mile for taking care of your hardwood, check your pet’s paws whenever they come inside.
Additional coats of hardwood finish (either polyurethane or oil, depending on your flooring) will help prevent scratches from appearing on the wood. You could just sand away the scratches, but adding coats of finish is simpler and less expensive.
Sanding the floors is an option as well, and makes for a great DIY project. A word of caution, though: evaluate your skills before you put the grinder to the grooves; an uneven sanding job can leave the floor in a worse state than your critter ever could.
If your little critter sheds, then your floors can quickly become covered in hairs, to the point where no one will want to follow the “five second rule”. Try a broom with rubber bristles to clean up the pet hair.
5. Damage Prevention
Heels and Stilettos
As lovely as they look, heels and stilettos will put dime-sized dents all over your floors in no time. It is the equivalent of banging a hammer onto your floor.
Rugs and Mats
Sunlight can change and lighten the color of your flooring over time. The easiest way to prevent sunlight damage on your hardwood is to keep the blinds shut during the day to block out the sunlight.
Of course, no one wants to live in a dark cave, so the other option is to make sure your windows are protected with a low-e coating that prevents ultraviolet light from passing through and onto your floors. Check your window manufacturer to be sure.
Help your floors wear evenly
Having big pieces of furniture and rugs in the same spot year-round can cause uneven fading on the hardwood. Try to rearrange your furniture and rugs once a year to encourage even wearing.
Gaps & Cracks
Gapping occurs as a result of the wood planks losing moisture due to changes in relative humidity. Most homeowners will only see gaps in their flooring during the winter months when humidity is low. As your furnace heats your home, humidity levels are driven even lower. Most of our clients in the Portland/Vancouver area won’t experience any significant gapping in their hardwood.
If your floors are shrinking during the winters and causing gaps to appear, the simplest solution would be to use a furnace humidifier to try and bring back moisture into the home.