Cleanliness is a hardwood floor’s first line of defense against the ravages of time and continuous use. Regular cleaning reduces the risk of damage caused by dirt tracked onto our floors. Keeping a wooden floor clean maintains the wood’s luster while timely removal of spills prevents staining and absorption of moisture.
To keep a hardwood floor clean, both preventative and active measures should be taken.
Preventative Cleaning Measures
Some of the most important ways we can take care of our hardwood involve reducing the amount of dirt and other unwanted substances that reach the wood, while avoiding common cleaning mistakes that many people make.
- An easy measure is to place long mats at the entrances of rooms with wooden floors. The mats should be able to trap particles from shoes, preventing dirt from being tracked onto the hardwood.
- Placing area rugs in places with heavy foot traffic also reduces the amount of particles that reach the wooden floors.
- Another preventative measure is the careful selection of carpets and rugs that are laid on the floor. Carpets and rugs covering hardwood floors should be colorfast to prevent dye from staining the floor.
- Restricting the wearing of cleats and high heels on wooden floors prevents scuffing, denting and the embedding of particles onto the wood.
Know the finish of your floors before you clean
The ideal way of cleaning a hardwood floor depends on its finish. Every finish has a method of cleaning best suited to it. The owner of a hardwood floor know his/her floor’s finish in order to identify the ideal cleaning products for their floors.
- Surface-sealed floors are new-generation floors sealed with urethane or polyacrylic. These modern finishes make the hardwood quite resistant to stains and moisture. This finish may be tough, but corrosive substances like ammonia or abrasive cleaners are unsuitable this type of floor because they dull and scratch the wood.
- Use of wax-based and petroleum-based products to polish surface sealed floors only damages the finish. A damp mopping will suffice for surface-sealed floors.
- Old-generation floors are either shellacked, lacquered or left untreated. These floors are vulnerable to moisture and scratches and need meticulous care. They should be cleaned with as little water as possible.
Vacuuming, dusting and polishing cleans this type of floor sufficiently. On occasion, the floor can be mopped by first misting it with a spray bottle and then passing a mop over the sprayed section.
The cleaning regime of a hardwood floor
The way a wooden floor is cleaned daily differs from the way it’s cleaned monthly or annually. The tasks that comprise an annual or perennial clean are far more involved than the tasks involved in daily cleaning.
- Cleaning up spills and mud is done immediately a mess happens. Prompt removal of spills keeps the floor clean and prevents damage by moisture, hardwood’s eternal enemy.
- Stain removal removes dirt residues and stains and restores the looks of the hardwood. Food stains can be wiped away with a damp cloth. After the stain is removed, the damp patch should be dried and polished with wax. Scuff marks from cleats and heels can be removed by rubbing wax onto the affected areas using very fine steel wool.
- Daily cleaning only involves dusting and sweeping. This prevents dust and particles from accumulating and wearing down the wood. If there is no time for daily clean-ups, placing rugs and mats around the home drastically reduces the amount of dirt that reaches the floor.
- Weekly cleaning of wooden floors entails dusting, vacuuming and passing a slightly damp mop over the floors. It is important when there isn’t time to clean the floors daily. It should be mopped with an appropriate cleaning solution. A hose vacuum cleaner can be used to clean hard-to-reach corners of the floor. This serves to remove any dirt and residue that may be wedged in the wood.
- Once a month, after the floor has been cleaned, buffing can be done to dislodge anything that may be stuck in the wood and restore it’s shine.
- Twice a year, it the finish seems worn, the floor can be polished with a finish compatible with the existing finishing. After it is cleaned, polishing should be done along the grain of the wood. Polishing keeps hardwood floors clean by adding a protective layer that prevents dirt from sinking deeper into the wood.
- Every five to seven years, the floor’s finishing can be completely stripped to remove deeply embedded dirt. After it is deep cleaned, a new layer of finish is applied restoring it to mint condition.
Small measures yield big results
Most ways of keeping hardwood floors clean take little time and effort. Taking these small steps is the least we could do to care for such a prized part of our homes. Happily, the little things we do for our hardwood floors are enough to keep them eternally beautiful and young. Caring for our floors is a tribute to the ancient giant Rosewood and Ebony trees our floors once were.