How to clean hardwood floors without damaging them

Clean floors are not difficult to come by, especially if you stay on top of things. Put down tough-bristled mats, leave muddy boots and shoes at the door, sweep, dry-mop, or vacuum frequently, and when the floor looks dull, use a moist mop and a neutral solution to get into all the nooks and corners.

Cleaning and Maintaining Hardwood Floors

Wood floors should be cleaned at least four to six times a year in most homes.

Michael Dittmer, a floor installer who lives outside of Chicago, uses a robot vacuum every day to keep an eye on his entire first floor. “After that, I clean the kitchen floor once a week and the rest of the house twice a month.” He does, after all, have a yard, pets, and teenage sons. This routine should suffice for most households.

Cleaning and Maintaining Your Floors: 4 Methods

  1. Choose an angled soft-bristled broom. Preventive action should be taken to get into corners and broad enough to do the task quickly—while moving with the grain, of course.
  2. Carpet beaters and brush rollers can damage the finish, therefore vacuum with a soft floor nozzle. Shop for a robot vacuum that won’t vacuum itself into a corner and will run for at least an hour before needing to be recharged.
  3. If you don’t want to crouch, plant one foot on a rag and attack sticky particles with a damp clean cloth, a little squirt of wood floor cleaner, and a thorough rub. A microfiber mop head, ideally prepared with a positive electric charge to catch negative-ion detritus, can be used to remove dust and pet hair. Continue to move the mop head with the grain.
  4. When it looks dingy, use a damp mop with a flat-head mop and microfiber pad or a microfiber string mop that has been well wrung out. Moving with the grain and using a spray bottle to manage the amount of cleaning solution, aim for a strong mist or gentle squirt of about a half teaspoon per 2 square feet. There’s no need to rinse. There’s no need to buff, but cloth diapers and soft socks will suffice.

5 Ways to Avoid Serious Injuries

  1. Wet or sticky spills should not be overlooked. They aren’t going to leave on their own. Is there an ice cube under the table? Get it now.
  2. Don’t bother bringing in the heavy machinery. You can harm the finish by using a garage brush or a floor-cleaning machine built for harder flooring to attack it.
  3. Make sure you’re not using the wrong cleaning product. Murphy, according to experts. On polyurethane, oil soap can leave a residue. It’s just that the paste wax makes it slick. What about acrylic polishes that claim to take away the gleam while adding more? They can fade polyurethane, but removing the filth can restore its luster.
  4. Keep an eye out for floods in the area. Standing water and damp mops send moisture between the boards and through microscopic cracks in the finish that emerge as wood shrinks and expands with the seasons. Moisture can cause the wood to rot over time.
  5. There will be no steam cleaning. On no account should you rely on wood. Tile, linoleum, and vinyl can all benefit from it.

How Do You Clean Hardwood Floors?

A pH level of about 7, or matched to cured poly, is ideal for a neutral solution; higher is excessively alkaline, and lower is fine for an all-purpose cleaner, but not here. Bona’s free and easy Hardwood Floor Cleaner ($18; Bona) is an example.

Is it Safe to Clean Hardwood Floors with Vinegar?

Use vinegar or baking soda solutions sparingly. Traditional cures like vinegar or dish detergent don’t work as well as today’s multi-functional products, and they can even harm or dull polyurethane.

Spraying a little solution on glass and seeing what it leaves behind is one approach to check for residue.

Regrettably, the cure is frequently as bad as the disease. Brett Miller, a technical expert with the National Wood Flooring Association, says, “Too much water, any amount of steam!”

Strong vinegar or baking soda solutions, which can damage polyurethane, and “glow” enhancers that sound like they’d work on your hair are other no-nos.

What Gives Wood Floors Their Glow?

The following are the important features to look for in ready-to-install systems designed exclusively for wood floors:

  • Solvents accelerate the drying process by limiting moisture exposure and speeding up the task; they help reduce streaks and filmy accumulation. Squirt & Mop Wood Floor Cleaner ($5) by Method contains two solvents, one of which is generated from cornstalks.
  • Surfactants are the important element in Rejuvenate’s Hardwood Floor Cleaner ($15), since they loosen grease and filth and emulsify them so they can travel to the mop head.
  • Chelators are anti-water spots and anti-snow-melt salts found in Method’s cleanser.
  • Citric acid helps to establish a neutral pH by breaking up dirt and combining it with alkaline chemicals.
  • Oxidizers: These extra-strength treatments, such as Bona’s PowerPlus ($21; The Home Depot), release hydrogen peroxide to break up filth on long-neglected floors.

Tools and Cleaners for Wood Floors

Dustpan and Broom

Sweeping with a soft broom will suffice. Try Casabella’s Wayclean Wide Angled Broom ($13; Casabella), or its Neon Broom and Dustpan combination for $2 extra. Alternatively, use the tony horsehair and waxed-beechwood Room Broom ($58, with handle; Nessentials) to wrangle those crumbs skulking under the table.

Cleaner Vacuum

Choose one with a soft roller head and is easy to pick up and operate, such as Dyson’s V8 Absolute ($600; Dyson).

Mop made with microfiber

For dry mopping, go for a swivel head and a fluffy, reusable pad, and for moist mopping, look for a denser pad. (Wipes for wood floors should be specially prepared; Bona‘s come in a 12-pack for $9.)

Some spray mops, such as the Libman Freedom Spray Mop ($30), feature refilling tanks mounted on the shaft. The Dual-Action Microfiber Flip Mop ($20) from O-Cedar features pads for dry and wet mopping; toss them in the washer but avoid fabric softener, which can cause staining.

Alternatively, Casabella’s Spin Cycle Mop ($30; Casabella) is a microfiber string mop that can be wrung out until merely damp.


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