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Flooring Maintenance Tips

How Do You Clean a Hardwood Floor?

Care and Maintenance on hardwood floors contribute greatly to the aesthetic and the value of your home, and routine cleaning protects your investment by removing dust and dirt before it scratches and dulls the finish. The right care can mean beautiful hardwood floors that last a lifetime.

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First, What You Shouldn’t Do.

Water and vinegar is a popular and economical cleaner and quite effective for many surfaces in your home – but emphatically not for your hardwood floors. Because vinegar is an acid, it will actually break down the finish on the surface of your floor (remember that you’re not actually cleaning the wood, but the finish on top of the wood), and over time will reduce the shine and leave a dull appearance.

Also, when this homespun cleaning formula is in use, a mop and bucket are likely not far away. This almost always means an excessive amount of water on the floor, which leads to long-term damage.

What TV Commercials Won’t Tell You.

Vinegar and water dull the floor’s finish over time. Soap-based cleaners and commercial floor wax leave visible residue. Steam cleaners produce too much heat and leave too much water on your floor.

So What Should You Do?

First, use the proper tools – a mop for cleaning, with a machine washable microfiber pad for dusting. For cleaning, use a fine spray mist of a product made specifically for hardwood floors. This will protect your floor’s finish – and again, the finish is really what you’re cleaning, not the wood itself.

Clean as often as possible – really, as often as you can stand to. Naturally there’s a limit to how often any of us wants to mop the floor, but keeping your floor free of dirt and dust goes a long way to prevent scuffs and scratches, and a clean floor will definitely be a longer-lasting floor.

What Are the Best Products to Use?

The Floor Store has evaluated many hardwood care products, and we recommend the Bona line of cleaners, polishes, and refreshers. All are specially formulated for hardwood, have low VOCs and no toxic fumes, and are environmentally safe.

Of course there are others on the market, which we encourage you to investigate. Just read the labels carefully, and be sure that anything you put on your floor – cleaner, polish, refresher, or whatever – is specifically formulated for hardwood floors.

Is There Life Beyond Cleaning?

Regular dusting and cleaning will keep your hardwood floors looking new, but protective mats will go farther and actually extend the floor’s life. Use natural rubber rug underlayment with a waffle pattern (to avoid trapping moisture underneath) in entryways and other high traffic areas, and use felt protectors on furniture feet – not metal caps.

Then there’s polish. This will vary with the amount of traffic in your home, but generally we recommend polishing the floors every two to three months.

Occasional Deep Cleaning will remove imbedded dirt and grime that ordinary cleaning can never reach – customers are amazed at how much dirt is below the surface of their “clean” floors. This is one of the most popular of The Floor Store’s Hardwood Restoration services, and the process is quite non-invasive – there’s no need to vacate your home or even move furniture – so it’s no great inconvenience (or expense) to do it two to four times a year.

The Bottom Line

• Regular dusting and cleaning as often as possible
• No vinegar or standing water! Use a fine spray mist of a product specifically formulated for hardwood floors
• Polish every two or three months, again with a product formulated for hardwood
• Rubber mats where water is present; area rugs in high-traffic areas
• Felt protectors on furniture feet instead of metal caps
• A power deep cleaning two to four times a year
• Ideally, a scrub and re-coat every three to five years