How to Clean Hardwood Floors?- Updated for Unsealed Floors 2018

How to Clean Your Hardwood Floors Step By Step Guide

January 30, 2018
how to clean hardwood floors

Learn How to Clean Your Hardwood Floors

Homes that have hardwood flooring often exude a nice post-modern atmosphere. They also help in improving the resale value of your home.  The interest in hardwood floors has risen over the past few years as people are adopting hardwood and laminate flooring in droves.  However, unlike surfaces made from marble or ceramic which are very easy to clean, even from things like spills and pet urine, You need to give vacuuming your hardwood floor more attention.  Here is the best way to how you to clean them to keep them in good condition.

Step 1.

Figure Out What Type of Flooring You Have.

  • The first thing you need to ascertain is which type of hardwood flooring you have. That way you will know which products and methods will work best in maintaining the wood’s quality and look.
  • If you have unsealed floors, take extra care not to get them too wet and never use a steam mop on them.  Check out our guide to unfinished floors here.

Step 2.

Move away any Furniture.

  • Tip: Get rid of area rugs, chairs, and other items that are easy to move to expose as much of the floor as possible. Make your life easier!

Step 3.

Vacuum up all the dust and hairballs on the floor.  

  • Use a good upright or canister vacuum designed for wood floors to vacuum up all the dust and hairballs on the floor so you don't spread dust around.

Step 4.

Prepare The Cleaning Solution

  • If you have floors sealed with polyurethane, then you can use a few drops of detergent with water, or you can use a specially-designed wood cleaning solution like Murphy's Oil Soap.  
  • You can make your own solution my mixing a 1:10 ratio vinegar to water solution with one or two drops of detergent.

Step 5.

Mop the Floor - Make Sure You Go With The Grain

  • Make sure the mop is damp, not soaking wet. This can cause problems
  • If you have lacquer flooring, then avoid using water to clean it. 

Step 6.

Buff The Floor With a Buffing Pad on Your Floor Duster

  • This Extra Step will bring the shine out in your floor as you remove any soap or water residue.

Types of Sealers for Hardwood Floors

Surface Sealed Wooden Flooring

Newer floors are ‘surface sealed’ meaning they are covered and protected so all you need to do is vacuum or sweep then mop and you are done. The result is a high shine clean floor. It can be a little confusing as to how the wood surface has been treated so here are some pointers.

When using a cordless vacuum cleaner, make sure you either use a hard floor brush attachment and turn off the beater bar. For brooms, use those with soft bristles. Either of these cleaning tools will not scratch the flooring.

If your floor is new it is possibly surfaced sealed which means covered by one of the following materials:

  • Urethane
  • Polyurethane
  • Polyacrylic

If you have this type of hardwood flooring the tools you need are simply a mop, bucket and vacuum or broom. Use a mild mixture of soapy water dish-washing liquid will suffice.

How to Clean Your Hardwood Floors

know how to clean your wood flooring

Do not use any waxy or oily floor cleaners or those you have to buy to clean wooden surfaces. They often have oils in them causing a residue to form over the floor. This can trap dust and make your wood look dull. Also never use anything abrasive like a scouring brush or steel wool. The proper vacuum or a soft mop will be enough. Avoid products with ammonia too.

This type of flooring should be washed at most twice a week. Never overload your mop with water, wring it out well and move the mop in the direction of the wood grain. Over wetting a floor can cause problems later on.

Penetrating Seal and Oil Treated Floors or Untreated Floors

These types of surfaces are ‘seal treated’ this is done with an oil that is beneficial to that particular wood. Or the hardwood may be left untreated.

Here are the various types:

  • Varnished finish
  • Lacquered finish
  • Shellacked
  • Oil Treated

Liquid wax is your best bet since this is absorbed into the floor and unlike acrylic based products does not create a build up. You will need to use wax stripper now and then to get rid of build up and start again.

Don’t use water or mops on these areas, the moisture will sink in and cause your wood to distort amongst other things. Instead, use a vacuum cleaner making sure that its beater bar is up or turned off and not scratching the surface of your wood.

Try to keep cleaning to high traffic areas as too much wax can have the opposite effect of dulling your floor. A soft buffing action with a cloth or buffing machine will bring up shine. Do not use hard broom, but a softer bristle made for hardwood flooring. Hard brooms can scratch the wood surface.

How to Clean Hardwood Floors? Prevention!

Prevent Damage To Hardwood Floors

  1. This will help remind people to take off their shoes and not track as much dirt in.  It will also help minimize scratching of the floors due to rocks.

Video Guide to Cleaning Hardwood Floors.

Here is an interesting video that goes over much of what we have been talking about.

Get the Right Tools

Finally, you should always seek advice on which tools to use when cleaning a floor. There are specific brooms and cleaners made for areas that are wood. You can ask the manufacturer of your floor or do some research on the Internet.

Keep wet mopping to a minimum, wipe spillages immediately and cover in soft rugs to protect the hardwood surface. Depending on how you prize your floor, you can also install blinds to stop direct sunlight from spilling onto the wood causing bleaching.

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