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10 Tips for Cleaning Hardwood Floors Yourself

Hardwood floors look great, but cleaning them can be worrisome for someone who is only familiar with carpet and vinyl floor coverings. Though they can seem intimidating, hardwood floors are actually quite easy to clean and maintain. With a little knowhow anyone can keep their wood floors looking like new. For newly installed floors, follow your retailer or installer’s recommendations. You could hire a professional, but beyond that, here are 10 tips for cleaning hardwood floors yourself.

  1. Soft broom – A good broom with flexible soft bristles is the first cleaning tool you’ll need. Make sure you keep sand and anything gritty swept up so that it doesn’t damage your floors. The soft bristles will be able to get into crevices and collect fine dust as well.
  2. Vacuum – It’s good idea to vacuum your hardwood floor regularly for a more thorough cleaning. Use the attachment with a beater bar that will get into the crevices and make sure the bristles are soft so that you don’t damage the finish.
  3. Water is the enemy – Remember that water is the number one enemy of hardwood floors. Excess water will soak into the wood grain and cause it to swell. Quickly wipe up any liquid spills and don’t use a soaking wet mop for cleaning.
  4. Dry-damp mop – It’s best to use a dry-damp mop for your regular cleaning of wood floors. This will pick up dust and dirt residue without exposing the wood to excess moisture. Always towel dry or dry mop any areas of the floor that still look wet after mopping.
  5. Vinegar – Many people recommend using vinegar to clean hardwood floors, but please use caution. The occasional use of diluted vinegar when cleaning wood floors is probably alright, but overuse can cause the finish to dull over time.
  6. Cleaning products – Be very careful about what cleaning products you use on your hardwood floors. You need to make sure the cleaner you use doesn’t leave a film or residue. Follow your floor manufacturer’s recommendations or consult a professional installer to find out what products they suggest. Remember that you’re cleaning the finish on the wood and not the actual wood itself.
  7. Scuff marks – There are specific cleaners that can be used to spot clean scuff marks. Just spray on and rub clean with a soft cloth taking care not to scratch the finish.
  8. Waxing – Homeowners are often temped to wax their hardwood floors to keep them shiny and protect the finish, but again, use caution. Never wax a wood floor with a urethane finish and be careful of any products you use since any coating will build up over time. Certain waxes will limit your options if you need to have your wood floor refinished in the future.
  9. Stains – An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to stains on your hardwood floor. However, accidents do happen and some stains can be difficult to remove. If your floor has a good finish the stain can probably be cleaned with a wood floor cleaning product and a little extra attention. If the stain has soaked into the wood grain, you may need to sand it out and refinish the area or hire a professional.
  10. Don’t overdo – Most of the damage done to hardwood floors is from cleaning too frequently instead of not often enough. Many products advertised for cleaning hardwood floors are alright for occasional use, but can cause problems if used too much. Always follow directions carefully when using any cleaning products on your wood floors.

It’s important to note that there are several different kinds of hardwood flooring and finishes, so each has specific recommendations for cleaning and care. Area rugs are good to use in high traffic areas and to clean your shoes of sand and dirt when coming in from outside. Don’t drag furniture across your hardwood floor plus use furniture pads under the legs to prevent damage and dents. With a little loving care, your hardwood floors will have a lasting beauty to compliment the best features of your home.

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