A common misconception about hardwood floors is that they should be cleaned with a mop. In fact, not only does this often leave your floor looking dull and dirty, but it can also cause damage to the wood.
The best method for keeping your wood flooring clean and polished is using a vacuum cleaner. Even if you use your hands to wipe down the floor, you risk scratching the finish of the wood.
Many people take care of their wooden floors by placing rugs over them, but this won't protect the wood beneath. Wood needs to be maintained to keep its luster and shine. If you have old hardwood floors that need some attention, here's how you can make them nice and shiny.
The 3 Basic Steps To Clean Hardwood Floors
Not only is it a risk to use your hands, but it can also be very time-consuming and complex on the joints to clean wood floors by hand. For that reason, you should always use a vacuum cleaner to clean your hardwood floors. You'll want to follow these three basic steps:
- Vacuum the floor thoroughly, paying attention to corners and areas behind furniture where debris is likely to accumulate.
- Sweep up any remaining dust or debris with a broom or hand broom.
- Use a damp cloth and neutral cleanser (such as Murphy Oil Soap) to wipe down your floor in long, straight strokes from left to right, then again from right to left. Rinse the cloth and wring out any excess water before wiping the floor again.
Repeat until your wood is clean and dry, then buff the surface with a soft cloth and polish if necessary.
What You Need For Cleaning Hardwood Floors
For a quick and easy way to polish your floors, you need:
- A vacuum cleaner with a brush roll, or roller brush
- A soft-bristled broom for sweeping up any loose debris
- A microfiber cloth or towel
- An empty spray bottle, like one from a household cleaner
- Hardwood floor polish
How Often Should You Clean Your Hardwood Floor?
It would be best if you cleaned your hardwood floors regularly to keep them looking their best. Solid hardwood floors are prone to a buildup of dirt and dust, so you'll need to vacuum at least once a week. To prevent the buildup from worsening, use a damp cloth or paper towel to wipe down any visible stains.
People with pets should be particularly mindful of this issue, as pet hair can become lodged in wood and begin to scratch the floor's finish. If you have pets, make sure that you don't sweep or vacuum up their hair with a broom or vacuum cleaner. Instead, try using an old toothbrush to remove excess hair from your floor.
When Should You Use A Mop And Water?
That being said, there are certain times when you should use a flat surface mop and water. One such time is if your hardwood floors are so dirty that they should be scrubbed down. If this is the case, it's important to use a special cleaner designed for wood floors and not a regular household cleaner.
Prepping Your Floor
Before you use your mop, it's essential to prep the floor. If you have a steam mop, make sure it's clean and ready for use. Fill up your bucket with warm water, then add enough cleaning solution to create sudsy water.
Before starting, make sure that your vacuum cleaner is on a setting with the brush roll off. This will prevent any damage to the floor. Be especially careful while vacuuming around furniture legs and other fixtures on your floor.
Vacuum your floor thoroughly, then use a broom or hand broom to sweep up any excess dust and debris.
Use a damp mop, cloth, or paper towel, and wipe any remaining stains with the grain. If you have a floor-size rug in your home, be sure to use it as a barrier between your wood floors and your furniture legs. This will prevent damage due to the furniture scratching or scraping against hardwood.
Use your lightly-dampened microfiber mop head or soft cloth to scrub the floor, then rinse with a damp cloth to remove any excess soap. If your floors are filthy or you have stubborn stains, be sure to let them dry before you proceed to the next step. This is especially important if using a steam mop, as excessive moisture can damage hardwood floors.
Fine steel wool can be a good choice for scrubbing off stains, but it's important to note that steel wool can scratch or damage some types of flooring.
Buffing And Polishing
To make your hardwood floors shine, you can use a small amount of liquid wax and buff the floor with a soft cloth. You can also polish the floor if you want to add extra protection and shine in the direction of wood grain, but make sure that it's in line with the wood type on your floor.
What Causes Scratches On Hardwood Floors?
Several things can cause scratches on hardwood floors, including furniture legs and pets. If you have pets or children, ensure that you do your best to prevent scratches by using protective rugs under any furniture with sharp feet, like stools, ottomans, TV stands, and chairs.
If scratches have already happened, there are several ways to get rid of them. One way is to rub some toothpaste into the scratch with your finger. The abrasives in toothpaste can buff out any fine scratches on your floor's finish.
If this doesn’t work, try using a pencil eraser or wax to remove the mark. If neither of these remedies works, try applying a small amount of oil from your kitchen, such as olive oil. Let it sit for a few minutes before wiping away with a damp cloth or paper towel.
If that also fails, you may have to let the scratch dry and then apply some fine-grit sandpaper until the scratch disappears.
How To Prevent Scratches On Hardwood Floors
Preventing scratches on wood floors is always easier than dealing with them after the fact. One way you can avoid damage or scratches to your hardwood floor is to use felt padding underneath any furniture that's likely to cause damage, such as chairs.
Another option is to put down rugs throughout your house to act as a barrier between furniture and wood floors. Rugs should be heavy enough to stay put but not so heavy that they cause damage to your floor.
If you have children or pets who are likely to play on the floor, keep them on rugs or carpets so their toes or paws can't ruin hardwood surfaces.
Pets may also try to scratch at wood, especially if they're scared or nervous. Ensure that your animals are calm before you let them roam around on the floor, and keep your pets’ nails trimmed to prevent scratches.
How To Make Hardwood Floors Shine
Start With A Clean Surface
Before applying any wood floor cleaner to clean your floor, thoroughly sweep or vacuum it first. This will ensure that you're only putting the polish on the wood itself and not on dirt or grime mixed in with it. Also, mop up any standing water so the underlying wood isn't damaged by water after polishing.
Apply An Oil-Based Wax
When looking for a product, make sure you choose an oil-based wax. This is the only type that will form a protective layer over your floor once it has dried. A paste filler can help with scratches or nicks on the surface of the wood if needed.
Apply Two Coats Of Polish
Allow some time for your first coat to dry before applying another one, and allow even more time than that for it to dry completely, so the shine lasts longer. Buff out any excess product after this process has finished, and you'll be all set!
Clean Up Spills Quickly
Hardwood floors are beautiful when they're clean, but there's no need to fret when someone accidentally spills something on them. Just use a small towel or cloth to clean it up as soon as possible, and make sure you wipe the area thoroughly.
For stubborn stains, try using some common household products like vinegar or baking soda on them to remove any leftover residue.
Use Floor Mats Near Entryways
If you have hardwood floors throughout your home, there's no need to risk someone tracking dirt inside when they come in with dirty shoes. Keep mats at all of your entrance points so that everyone who comes inside can wipe their feet before they step onto your nice new shine! You can find great deals online for outdoor or indoor mats that will work perfectly for this purpose!
Tips To Keep Your Hardwood Floor Shiny
- It's best to dry your floor as quickly as possible after mopping it down, though slightly moist surfaces aren't a problem.
- Make sure you choose the right kind of cleaner for your floors and follow package directions carefully.
- Sweep or vacuum regularly and mop at least once a week to remove dirt and dust buildup.
- A microfiber cloth is an excellent tool for polishing hardwood floors; fold it up into smaller sections as you go along so that every angle can be reached easily.
- Commercial wood floor polish is an option, but make sure it's oil-based.
How To Use Hardwood Floor Polish
- Apply polish sparingly with a soft cloth to avoid excessive buildup.
- Polish the floor in sections if you're using a liquid or paste wax-type product. Use long, even strokes that begin at your starting point and work towards the opposite wall.
- Buff any excess product off the surface once it's dried.
- Polish your hardwood floors every six months to a year for best results.
Shiny hardwood floors are great for more than just aesthetic appeal. They can help you save on heating costs during the winter by reflecting light and making your home seem cleaner if they're nice and shiny. You can easily maintain these floors with a few easy steps at home.