Common Issues Wood Flooring

How To Clean Wood Floors: The Complete Guide

by Roy Akirov
July, 2019

There are few things that look better in a home than clean wood floors. No matter whether you use a dark or a light wood; or whether you throw down rugs or leave them bare, wood floors give a touch of class to any house.

Of course, that sense of style and luxury comes at a price – it needs looking after. Being very much the high-maintenance partner of floor coverings, if you want clean wood floors, you have to be prepared to put the effort in. It’s not like carpeting, where you can get away with running a vacuum cleaner over it once a week. It’s not like a tiled floor, which is happy with a mop and a bucket of soapy water every now and then.

No: if you want clean wood floors, then you need a plan. Fortunately, you have come to the right place, as we present you with…

…drum roll, please…

The Complete Wood Floor Cleaning Guide

It’s important to remember that cleaning wood floors is something best achieved in layers. We don’t mean ridding your floor of dirt one layer at a time – that would be impractical at best. Rather, it’s important to work to a layered routine of floor care, in order to prolong the lustrous floor finish of your fine hardwood floor.

In this routine, we look at tasks that need to be performed daily, weekly, monthly, and annually.

Daily wood floor cleaning routine

Nothing too strenuous here: just a bit of light dusting to prevent the dirt from piling up. Our main tip, even at this early stage, is to forget about using a brush or a broom. All you end up doing is pushing the dust around and that’s no good for anybody. Microfiber cleaning pads and/or mops are a much more effective way to go about it, as they trap allergens and dirt in their fibers. Perhaps more importantly – strictly from a wood floor cleaning point of view – there is minimal risk of scratching the floor.

Of course, any spillages should be mopped up as soon as they occur, using a cleaning pad, and then the area of the floor can be dry polished with a microfiber sponge again.

Weekly wood floor cleaning routine

Once a week use a vacuum cleaner to access those tricky-to-reach parts of the floor – corners, gaps between the planks, and so on. Ensure that your vacuum cleaner has some kind of hardwood setting, and be gentle with it. After all, you don’t want to scratch your floor.

Next it’s time to start mopping. You want your mop to be damp, not soaked. While you can use soap and water, we recommend using a hardwood floor cleaner together with a microfiber mop. Again, you don’t need gallons of the stuff: a light spray will be enough. Be sure to mop with the grain of the wood, as this motion is more efficient at picking up dirt.

Okay – time for a break. Since we’re mentioning them here, it’s as good a time as any to look at the role of the humble mop in obtaining clean wood floors.

Best mops for hardwood flooring

You basically have three choices here: a wool dry mop, a microfiber mop, or a soft-bristled broom. While good results are possible with all three, nothing gets a nice lustrous sheen on a hardwood floor quite like a good microfiber mop. It’s gentler and more effective, usually only needing a single run across the floor to get the job done.

Anyway – back to the list…

Best way to clean hardwood flooring

Monthly wood floor cleaning routine

Using a quality deep cleaning fluid, specially formulated for hardwood floors can work wonders. It can remove light scuff marks, greasy marks and other sticky messes. You want to find a floor cleaner that doesn’t leave a residue and isn’t overly powerful. Some people will recommend a water and vinegar solution. While these can be effective getting rid of grime, they leave a dull finish to the wood. This monthly routine requires a little more effort than your weekly and daily chores. Get a microfiber cleaning pad and go over the floor a foot or so at a time.

You may be tempted to use a steam cleaner to clean hardwood floors, but we would definitely recommend against that. The heat and the moisture from the steam cleaner will almost certainly ruin any varnish or sealant you might have on your floor. What’s worse, given enough heat, it could even end up warping the wood itself.

Quarterly wood floor cleaning routine

Whether or not your hardwood floor has a sealant, it’s worth giving it a good, deep polish every three months or so. Not only does it improve the floor’s luster, it also fills in those microscopic scratches that you might otherwise miss.

Annual wood floor cleaning routine

Okay, so this is the big one. Once a year, we need to complete a three-step process to make sure that your hardwood floors are all that they can be. We call this: revive, renew, and refinish.

Step 1: revive

This is basically a more thorough cleaning of your floor than you do the rest of the year. It can be achieved with a good hardwood floor cleaner, a mop, and some old-fashioned elbow grease. Alternatively, you can buy or rent a mechanized floor buffer, designed specifically for hardwood floors. Once you’re finished, the floor will be clean and free of a year’s worth of accumulated grime, including paint, greasy marks, and similar sticky messes.

Step 2: renew

A liberal application of wood floor oil, gently rubbed into the wood and buffed to a fine shine with a microfiber cloth will have your floor looking as good as new, in most cases. It will seep into the wood, giving it a deeper colour and disguising smaller imperfections in the finish.

Step 3: refinish

Sometimes, however well you look after it, your floor will look past its prime. Repeated spillages (or other messes like pet urine/stains, for example) are the most common cause. The wood may be slightly warped, or the finish cracked and bubbling. In these extreme circumstances, recommend hiring a professional to sand it down and refinish it for you.

And there you have it

A year-round schedule for keeping clean hardwood floors. If it sounds like a lot of work, just remember: most of these steps take a few minutes to complete. Sure, your annual routine might be a bit more involved, but that’s only once a year.

Besides, if you keep up with the rest of the schedule, by the time your yearly check-up comes around there is much less chance of there being any serious damage incurred.

Thanks for reading this list, and remember to keep coming back for more hints and tips on how to make the most of your hardwood floor.

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