Want your hardwood floors to shine? From vacuuming to mopping, discover how to clean your hardwood floors & what to use to without leaving lasting damage.
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Properly cleaned floors are not hard to obtain, especially if you stay ahead of the game. Put down tough-bristled mats, park gritty boots and shoes at the door, sweep, dry-mop, or vacuum often, and when the floor looks dull, get into all the nooks and corners with a damp mop and a neutral solution.
Hardwood Floor Cleaning and Maintenance Steps
In most households, wood floors should be cleaned at least four to six times a year.
Floor installer Michael Dittmer, who lives outside Chicago, dispatches a robot vac daily to keep an eye on his entire first floor. “Then I clean the kitchen floor weekly and in other rooms twice a month.” Of course, he has a yard, dogs, and teenage boys. For many households, this regimen should do the trick.
4 Methods To Clean and Maintain Your Floors
- Choose a soft-bristled broom angled. Take preemptive action to get into corners and wide enough to swiftly do the job—moving with the grain, of course.
- Vacuum with a soft floor nozzle; carpet beaters and brush rolls can damage the finish. Robot vacs do the work for you; shop for one that won’t vacuum itself into a corner and will last at least an hour before stopping to recharge.
- Attack sticky debris ASAP with a damp clean cloth, a mini squirt of wood floor cleaner, and a vigorous rub; if you don’t like to crouch, plant one foot on a rag. Lift off dust and pet hair with a microfiber mop head, ideally treated with a positive electric charge so it can capture negative-ion ephemera. Keep the mop head moving, again with the grain.
- Use a damp-mop with a flat-head mop and microfiber pad or a microfiber string mop that has been thoroughly wrung out when it looks dingy. Move with the grain, and control the amount of cleaning solution by using a spray bottle, aiming for a heavy mist or gentle squirt of about a half teaspoon per 2 square feet. No need to rinse. No need to buff either, but cloth diapers and soft socks do work well here.
5 Ways to Avoid Major Damage
- Don’t ignoring wet or sticky spills. They won’t go away on their own. Did an ice cube just shoot under the table? Go get it.
- Don’t bring on the heavy equipment. You can damage the finish by attacking with a broom meant for the garage or a floor-cleaning machine designed for tougher flooring.
- Avoid applying the wrong cleaning product. Experts say Murphy Oil Soap can leave a residue on polyurethane. Paste wax simply makes it slippery. As for acrylic polishes that claim to remove the glow while putting more on? They can dull polyurethane—just remove the grime and it will shine.
- Be aware of flooding the zone. Standing water and overly wet mops shoot moisture between boards and through tiny tears in the finish that form when wood shrinks and expands with the weather. Over time, moisture can damage the wood.
- No steam cleaning. Never on wood. Save it for tile, linoleum, and vinyl.
What To Use To Clean Hardwood Floors
For a neutral solution, you want a pH level of about 7, or matched to cured poly; higher is too alkaline, and lower is okay for an all-purpose cleaner, but not here. One example is Bona’s free & simple Hardwood Floor Cleaner ($18; Bona).
Is it Safe to Use Vinegar to Clean Hardwood Floors?
Don’t use vinegar or baking soda solutions. Old-fashioned remedies involving vinegar or dish detergent can’t do the same job as today’s multi-functioning solutions and can actually damage or dull polyurethane.
Pro2Pro Tip: One way to check for residue is to spray a bit of solution on glass and see what it leaves behind.
Unfortunately, the cure is sometimes worse than the grime. “Too much water, any amount of steam!” says Brett Miller, a technical expert at the National Wood Flooring Association.
Other no-no’s: strong vinegar or baking soda solutions that can degrade polyurethane, and “glow” enhancers that sound as if they would work on your hair.
What Makes Wood Floors Shine?
Here are the key components to look for in ready-made solutions engineered specifically for wood floors:
- Solvents: Speed the drying process, reducing exposure to moisture and making the job go faster; they also minimize streaking and filmy buildup. Method’s Squirt & Mop Wood Floor Cleaner contains two solvents, one derived from cornstalks ($5).
- Surfactants: Loosen grease and dirt and emulsify them so they can move to the mop head; they’re the key ingredient in Rejuvenate’s Hardwood Floor Cleaner ($15)
- Chelators: Found in Method’s cleaner, fight water spotting and snow-melt salts.
- Citric Acid: Breaks up dirt and combines with alkaline ingredients to help achieve a neutral pH.
- Oxidizers: Release hydrogen peroxide to bust up dirt on long-neglected floors and are in extra-strength solutions like Bona’s PowerPlus ($21; The Home Depot).
How to Protect Wood Floors
Wood Floor Cleaners and Tools
Broom and Dustpan
Regular soft sweeping does the job. Try Casabella’s Wayclean Wide Angled Broom ($13; Casabella); for $2 more, you can have its Neon Broom and Dustpan set. Or wrangle those crumbs skulking under the table with the tony horsehair and waxed-beechwood Room Broom ($58, with handle; Nessentials).
Choose one that’s easy to pick up and maneuver and has a soft roller head, like Dyson’s V8 Absolute ($600; Dyson).
Look for a swivel head and a fluffy, reusable pad for dry mopping and a denser one for damp mopping. (Wipes should be formulated for wood floors; Bona’s come as a 12-pack, $9).
Some spray mops have refillable tanks riding on the shaft, such as Libman Freedom Spray Mop ($30). O-Cedar’s Dual-Action Microfiber Flip Mop ($20) has pads for dry and wet mopping—throw them in the wash but avoid fabric softener, which can cause streaking.
Or go for a microfiber string mop that can be wrung out till just damp, like Casabella’s Spin Cycle Mop ($30; Casabella).
Cleaning the house and maintaining it properly is a very hard task. And, cleaning house requires a great deal of attention and usage of the best ways to make sure that the house is spotless and shining.
You have to be very careful and act like a professional while cleaning floors and especially old hardwood floors which require more detailed cleaning.
There are some ways which you can use to make sure the old hardwood floors are clean and tidy as old hardwood floors require great care when cleaning because of their delicate natures.
How to Remove Dust from Old Hardwood Floors
Your first priority should be dust free and clean house, and in order to achieve a clean house, you have to keep the old hardwood floor clean and dust free.
To ensure that your old wood floor is clean and free from all kinds of dust, there are some cleaning tips that you can apply. You should remove dust from the floor on regular basis to avoid accumulation of excess dust on the crevices of the hardwood floor and make it difficult in cleaning.
How to Clean Old Hardwood Floors Perfectly?
Removing Old Wax Accumulation On The Floor
Removing old wax is comparatively easier, by using any cleaning product. Although some products like ammonia end up affecting the level and even causing significant damage to it.
It is advised to use the products approved by the manufacturer while removing wax. On the other hand, applying good wax on the floor service helps keep it clean and shiny.
You can maintain the following process while using the wax on the floor:
There are other great ways of cleaning the floor:
There are many great other ways of cleaning the floor which can make things easier for you.
Using steel wool:
Using wool is a great way of removing stains of different kinds even from hardwood ones. Add some alcohol on the steel wool, and rub it over the floor. If this seems not effective in removing the stains, you have to sand the area.
There are many cleaners in the market for wooden floors, however, the neutral cleaner mixed with water- is the best option for all sealed hardwood floors.
If you have to move a lot for either professional or personal reasons, it becomes very difficult to move the furniture every now and then. Therefore, when moving furniture in the house trying to avoid dragging objects on the floor, carry them instead.
Usually, doormats are placed at every entrance into the room, they keep the floor dust free. They help in preventing spreading of dust that accumulates of the shoes, as dirt on the shoes can cause surface damage.
If you have pets that have the habit of urinating on the hardwood floors, try removing the mess immediately. If no one is at home, it is better to keep the pets away from the hardwood floors- until there is someone at home.
Maintaining the floor of our house is important. Since hardwood floors are delicate, great care is necessary for cleaning them. The above tips are the best ways to clean such floors with much care and professionalism.
If you can apply the tips appropriately while cleaning, you will get beautifully clean, and shiny floor which will make you feel better and refreshed. Cleaning the floor regularly is also important for the sustainability of the wooden floors as well.
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More often than not people move into home and apartments that have old hardwood floors from previous owners. These floors have no background information other than they came from the early 1900s and they have years of wear and tear on them.
While these floors are beautiful, they can be more challenging to clean since you do not know what type of finish or sealer is on them. Most old hardwood floors will need resealing or refinishing, so we will look at the standard cleaning procedures for untreated wood floors.
Remove Floor Dirt and Debris
Before you break out your mop and scrub brush, you need to spend a little time getting all of the dirt and debris off of the floor. Otherwise, you’ll only be driving it in while you clean. Here are several methods for getting the dirt up:
- The first step is to sweep. You will want to get up as much dust, dirt and hair as you can. This will keep you from scrubbing the debris deeper into the wood crack.
- You can also use a dust mop. These microfiber padded dry mops trap in dirt and dust as you maneuver it easily around the floor. Make sure that you move any furniture around and clean underneath it.
- Finally, you can actually use a vacuum, provided its a cleaner designed for hardwood flooring. Vacuums need to be specially designed to work on hardwood, and they typically have features like adjustable brush rollers (or none at all), and rubber wheels.
- If you’re not sure whether your vacuum cleaner will work, you should use a vacuum attachment. While you can vacuum your hardwood floors, you will want to use a hose attachment or a specialized wood floor vacuum that will turn the rotating bristles off. The bristles can beat against your floors and cause damage to them. A hose attachment will work just as well if you have already swept or dust mopped.
- Use the extended length of the hose to vacuum in corners, around furniture legs and in tight spaces to ensure you get everything up. You can also skip using a dust pan and vacuum up small dirt and hair, opting for a high quality canister vacuum.
Mop the Wood Floors
You can find all types of floor cleaners on the shelves of grocery and home improvement stores. While these cleaners work well, a lot of people opt for natural home cleaning supplies when they are learning how to clean old hardwood floors. This offers a safer cleaning option for your pets and children.
White vinegar is on the top of everyone’s list when it comes to cleaning hardwood floors. The acidic properties of vinegar are what makes it a top pantry cleaning product. When you mix it half and half with water then it lowers the acidity to a safe level for your hardwood floors.
Vinegar works wonders on carpets, hardwood floors, and even tile. You do have to be a bit careful, as it can dull the shine on your flooring.
You can also add a few drops of Dawn to the mixture to help with any grease or grime on the floors. If you don’t like the vinegar smell then you should add a few drops of essential oils. They are not harmful to your floors and will brighten your home with your choice of smell.
The most important thing to remember before you mop is to make sure that you use a damp mop or rag (not soaking wet). You never want to put large amount of water on your wood floors, whether they are sealed or not. Water is wood’s worst enemy and will warp your floors.
If the floor is really dirty, then you can go over it multiple times, but resist the desire to dump water on it. Once you use your preferred cleaner on the floor then you can go back over it with clean water to flush out leftover vinegar or Dawn.
- Mop your floors using a damp mop or hand wash with a damp rag.
- Mop in straight lines if you are using a sponge mop, or a figure eight pattern for rag mops.
- Use a paper towel or rag to clean hard to reach corners.
- Use a microfiber cloth or towel to go over the floors after you finish mopping to pick up excess water.
- You can also open widows if it is a warm day or use a ceiling fan to circulate the air to help the floors dry faster.
Following these mopping steps are the best way to clean old hardwood floors. It will get them primed and ready if you need to reseal them or for untreated enjoyment as they are.
Maintain Clean Floors
Daily sweeping or dust mopping can help keep your floor looking spotless, along with dusting and vacuuming. If you are unable to sweep your entire floor daily, then try to focus a few moments to sweep the high traffic areas such as front doors, hallways and the kitchen.
Encourage family members and guests to take off shoes to limit dirt being tracked into the house. You can also put down area or small rugs in these high traffic spots to help trap dirt. Also keep an eye on the amount of dirt your pets are tracking into the house.
If you have pets that shed then a dust mop or quick vacuum will help make the pet hair cleanup easier. A primary wood or laminate floor vacuum is a great investment if you made mostly wood floors and don’t want to be limited to using an attachment for cleaning.
Know When to Deep Clean
While mopping will deep clean your wood floors, you don’t want to mop all the time. Since water is bad for wood, it is good to limit your mopping to once a month or try to spot clean your floors if they are sticky or grimy.
If you are able to keep your floors clean by simply sweeping then you will find that you don’t need to mop as often. Now that you know how to clean old hardwood floors, you can sit back and bask in how easy it can be to keep them beautiful.
Lauren Moldvay is a freelance writer from Virginia and the mother of one (not always) sweet little girl. She specializes in trying to help others find easier ways to clean, manage the home and save money with DIY projects.
Hardwood is one of the sturdiest flooring materials in the market. Cared for properly, they can last up to 100 years. Additionally, old hardwood floors add character and history to the decor of the house.
With a little attention, it can be restored to its original glory, which you can then maintain by establishing an appropriate cleaning routine.
So, how to clean old hardwood floors? Here’s how.
Prepare The Floor
You first need to scrape away materials such as stuck-on dried paint, wax deposits, and the like. Once the extra elements have been scraped, sweep your floor thoroughly to get rid of the dust/dirt.
Get Rid of Grease & Grime
There are a few options you have here to cut through the grease and grime and restore the shine to your floor.
Buy one of the specialized hardwood cleaning products available in the market. Be sure to buy one made for wooden flooring and follow the instructions.
It is also important to remember that water is the biggest enemy of wood. For this reason, it is best to clean small areas of your floor with a damp- not dripping- cloth immediately followed up by a dry cloth to get rid of excess moisture.
Homemade Hardwood Cleaners
Homemade cleaners have the advantage of being cheaper and environmentally safer than their commercial counterparts.
There is a couple of options:
- DILUTED VINEGAR: Vinegar is acidic and on its own can harm the wooden flooring and dull it in appearance. However, if you dilute vinegar in water, it loses its acidity and becomes an effective cleaner, cutting through the grease and grime from the floor and bringing its shine back.
Mix half a cup of white vinegar with half a bucket of warm water. Dip a mop in the solution and thoroughly wring out excess water. Try first on a small inconspicuous area to see how the vinegar affects the floor.
If, after drying, the floor looks clean and shiny, then continue cleaning in small batches immediately drying the wiped areas to keep moisture away from the wood.
- DILUTED LEMON JUICE: Like vinegar, lemon juice will lose its acidity when mixed with water, and will effectively cut through the grime and grease, without dulling the appearance of the floor.
You can add olive oil to the mixture to shine the floor. Again, make sure to wring out any excess moisture from the mop before wiping the floor.
Make sure to check on a small area before cleaning the whole floor and look out for any excess water pooling and wipe away immediately with an absorbent towel.
Get Rid of Dark Stains
For those particularly stubborn, standout stains, you will need to use something a little stronger. Here too, there are a couple of options:
These are relatively inexpensive, commonly found products that are effective in helping get rid of dark, stubborn stains on wooden flooring.
Vinegar and Baking Soda
Make a paste equal parts vinegar and baking soda. Apply it with a cloth or sponge to the stained area and leave to dry. Once dry, wipe it up.
Get Rid of Pet Odors
If you have pets, then you are familiar with how difficult it can be to get rid of pet odors and stains. One way you can do this is to apply hydrogen peroxide on the areas of your wooden floor where the odors are most deeply embedded.
If those odors or stains are very strong, pour hydrogen peroxide on the spots and leave rags to soak the excess. Leave overnight and remove the excess next day, sanding the area if needed.
This is how to clean old hardwood floors so they look as good as new. Once you have cleaned and restored the look of your old hardwood floors, it is important to follow it up with a regular cleaning regime to ensure the results of your efforts are long-lasting.
Tips on maintaining hardwood floors
Daily cleaning is key in maintaining your old hardwood floors to the highest level. Sweep your floors every day to get rid of dust, dirt, pet hair, and all other types of dry debris.
Dusting with a micro-fiber towel is also a good way of getting rid of the dust and grime on your wooden floors. Try and sweep in the direction of the wood grain as this will ensure that no dirt or dust is stuck between the planks of wood.
Set your vacuum cleaner on the bare floor setting and vacuum your hardwood floors once a week. The bare floor setting will ensure that your vacuum does not leave scratch marks on the floor and vacuuming will help suck out the dust and dirt that may have accumulated between the planks of wood.
Once a month use a hardwood cleaner and damp mop to wipe the hardwood floors, making sure to keep the moisture to a minimum by wiping up excess water immediately.
Make sure not to use harsh chemicals such as ammonia or vinegar in this regular cleaning regime. Avoid using water-based cleaners. If your hardwood is damaged use the hardwood cleaner directly on the floor and wipe away with a dry cloth.
Use mineral spirits to wipe away stains or scuff marks.
With a well-established cleaning regime, you will be able to keep your hardwood floors clean and well-maintained, ensuring they last a long time while adding to the aesthetic and financial value of your home.
How to clean wood floors
Hardwood floors add a beautiful touch to just about any room, but there’s some debate about the best way to clean them.
“There are several different mixtures to use for hardwood floors, and you’ll want to be sure to try any cleaning solution on an inconspicuous area first,” Natalie Wise, author of “The Natural Home: Tips for Cleaning with Natural Ingredients,” told TODAY. “A pretty fail-safe way is to use good old soap and water.”
Donna Smallin Kuper, author of “Cleaning Plain & Simple,” offered a word of caution, “Some hardwood floor manufacturers recommend using a mop dampened with water only, and may even void a warranty on new floors that have been cleaned with any other cleaning solution.”
Follow our easy steps to transform your floors from dull and grimy to gleaming, gorgeous and clean!
In high-traffic areas, like the dining room and kitchen, sweep or vacuum daily if possible and mop hardwood floors once or twice a week. Mop less-trafficked areas once a month or once a season.
How to clean wood floors
Remember: Water is wood’s worst enemy (even on sealed floors!), so use a damp mop rather than a soaking wet one.
“You don’t want to let any water sit as you’re cleaning your hardwood floors, so be sure to work in one small area at a time,” Wise said. “If you don’t want to be on your hands and knees with a soft cloth, a spin mop will get your mop dry enough to work your floors. Begin by dusting or sweeping your floors well. Then make a cleaning mixture using 4 cups warm water and a few drops of castile soap or dish soap. Do not shake, but gently mix this, then mop or scrub small sections at a time, drying them with a clean cloth or dry mop after.”
“Allow floors to dry while you clean another area,” Smallin Kuper said. “Always clean top to bottom in a room, which means that you should clean the floor last.”
Do’s and don’ts
Do use a floor-cleaning product recommended by the floor finisher or opt for plain soap and water. If the recommended product is hard to find or costly, and other floor cleaners contain ingredients that violate your floor’s warranty, try soap and water. Try 1/4 cup of mild or pH-neutral soap (like liquid dishwashing soap) or Murphy Oil Soap (despite the name, it doesn’t contain oil) to a bucket of water.
Don’t use oils, waxes or furniture sprays. Oil leaves a residue, furniture spray creates a slippery surface (think ice-skating rink!) and wax takes time to apply and makes re-coating difficult.
Don’t use straight ammonia, alkaline products or abrasive cleaners. They’ll dull or scratch the finish.
Don’t rely on lemon juice or a vinegar-and-water solution to clean hardwood floors. “I don’t recommend using vinegar or lemon juice, at least not in large quantities, as these can damage the floor’s seal,” said Wise.
Using interviews with specialists, online reviews and personal experience, TODAY editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! TODAY does have affiliate relationships with various online retailers. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.
This story was first published on May 1, 2011.
It’s easy to learn how to clean old hardwood floors and keep them looking in top shape. Simple household products and a little time are all it takes to transform dull hardwood floors into a clean, smooth living environment. Hardwood floors require minimum maintenance and can make any room look spacious and professional. Depending on the level of wear and tear on your hardwood flooring, extra care may be needed to remove stains and other imperfections.
Begin by using a standard dust mop to remove any loose dust and dirt on the surface of the floors. Follow the dust mop with a broom or vacuum to remove any hidden dirt in corners and crevices. It’s important to have all grim removed from the floor for a better clean. Consider working in sections to reduce the amount of walking if working with large area flooring.
In a medium-sized bucket, mix one-half cup white vinegar with one gallon of lukewarm water. It’s important not to have the water too hot as this can damage wood floors. Vinegar works as a great cleaning product and deep cleans to remove tough stains and grime from your hardwood floors. Soak your mop in the vinegar solution and squeeze out any excess. Mop the floor in sections, paying more attention to high traffic areas. Be careful not to use too much water as moisture can damage hardwood flooring.
Immediately after cleaning your floors, it’s important to dry the floors completely to eliminate moisture sitting on the wood. A towel or dry mop can be used to soak up any water on the surface. Repeat this process a maximum of once per week to keep your hardwood floors looking their best. Avoid using a wet mop more than once per week to eliminate the risk of damage.
For those looking for a professional clean, a hardwood floor wax or polish may be used to make dull floors look like new once again. A piece of very fine steel wool or alcohol can be used to remove stains from your hardwood floors . If wax or polish is regularly used , there may be a risk of adhesion problems when recoating the floors. Although there are many methods on how to clean old hardwood floors, these options are simple and can keep floors always looking their best.
House cleaning and maintaining is hard and especially when one has little children. However, despite that fact, cleaning house requires attention and usage of the best ways to make sure that the house is spotless and shining.
Cleaning of floors and especially old hardwood floors requires one to be very careful and professional. There are some best ways that one can use to make sure that old hardwood floors are immaculate. Old hardwood floors require great care when cleaning because of their delicate issues.
This article will let you know how to better clean the old hardwood floors. These included removing the dust, accumulated wax, and other great tips for hardwood floors cleaning. See our recommended hard floor vacuums .
How to remove dust from old hardwood floors?
Your level needs to be dust free and clean. There are some cleaning tips that you can apply to ensure that your old wood floor is clean. The removal of dust from the floor needs to be done regularly to avoid the accumulation of excess dust on the crevices of the hardwood floor and make it difficult for cleaning.
- Sweeping – Use a soft sweeper to rub dust from the service of the floor.
- Vacuum – To choose a proper cleaner, here are the tips to vacuum your hardwood floors.
- Mop – Nowadays, many people prefer a steam mop and there are many choices available in the market.
Removing old wax accumulation on the hard floor
Remove old wax by using any cleaning product, although some products like ammonia end up affecting the level and even causing significant damage to it. For the removal of wax, it is advisable to use the products approved by the manufacturer.
Also, applying good wax on the floor service helps keep it clean and shiny. You can use the following process while using the wax on the floor.
- Use only the kind of wax that the manufacturer has recommended. Make sure that the ventilation of the area is well when applying the wax to ensure that it dries faster and well.
- Implement the first coat of wax and when it had dried well implement the second and distributed all over the floor. Once the second coat of wax has dried, apply the last coat of wax and let it dry. When the drying has completed using a cloth to buff the floor and give it a shiny appearance, you can also use a buffing machine is you have one.
Tips to Clean Old Hardwood Floors
There are other great ways of cleaning the hard floor:-
- Usage of water and soap also helps in cleaning the old hardwood floor. However, this needs to be a thorough cleaning to achieve the best results that you want. An excellent type of soap to use in this kind of cleaning is Murphy soap which gives incredible results.
- Mix vinegar and oil. It is a home remedy for cleaning hardwood floors. Spray the mixture on the dusted hardwood floor and just use a small amount of water as plenty of it can destroy the floor. After the cleaning rubs the floor evenly with a mixture of vinegar and vegetable oil in equal proportions, this will make the floor look very shiny.
- Using steel wool. It is a great way of removing stains of different kinds of levels even on hardwood ones. Use some alcohol on the steel wool and rub it once this is over buff the floor. If this seems not effective in removing the stains, you have to sand the area.
- Have hardwood floor vacuum cleaners. There are many cleaners on the market for wooden floors. Using a neutral cleaner mixed with water is the best option for all sealed hardwood floors. As for the worn patches don’t spray water as this will cause warping which can affect the service.
- Use gliders. As a process of making the hardwood floor look new always use planes when moving furniture in the house and avoid dragging objects on the floor, just carry them.
- Doormats. Place them at every entrance into the room. They will help in preventing the spreading of dust that accumulates of the shoes when one is walking, as dirt on the shoes can cause surface damage. If you have pets that have the habit of urinating on the hardwood floors, remove the mess immediately. If no one is at home, keep the pets away from the hardwood floors until there is someone at home.
Maintaining the floor of our house clean is important. However, hardwood floors are delicate, and great care is necessary for cleaning them. The above tips are the best ways to clean such floors. Take care in the process of cleaning.
Use all the tip well and in the right way to make sure that your floor is amazingly clean and prevent it from other damages that can happen in the process of cleaning the hardwood floor.
Eileen asked: How do I clean an old (50+ years) hardwood floor that no longer has a seal? I will eventually have the floor professionally done, but until that time, I would like to clean it and make it look decent. It looks very dry.
Cleaning unsealed floors can be challenging because the wood will soak up the moisture that is applied. Because of this, all cleaning products should be used sparingly and applied in the smallest amounts possible.
You Will Need:
- Cloths or rags
Steps to Clean the Floor:
- Begin by sweeping the floor thoroughly to remove as much dirt and dust as possible. The Swiffer sweeper may help to pick up bits of dust and dirt that can get caught in the wood’s grain.
- Fill the bucket with warm water and add a small amount of vinegar (1/4 cup per gallon of water).
- To apply the cleaner to the floor, a mop or a cloth can be used. Regardless of which one is used, ensure that it is thoroughly rung out to prevent dampening the wood any more than necessary.
- If the floor gets too wet, follow the mop with a dry cloth to absorb any remaining water.
- Allow the floor to dry completely.
Martin Deja / Getty Images
Renewing your old hardwood floor may be easier and cheaper than you think. That’s because unlocking a sad floor’s hidden beauty doesn’t always involve messy sanding and staining, particularly if yours aren’t damaged. To decide the best solution that works for your home, here are seven things to consider before renewing or refinishing old hardwood floors.
Are Your Wood Floors Dull as Dirt?
Sure, it’s a no-brainer that dirt and dust make floors look dingy. But you may be surprised to learn that when tracked, both leave behind superficial scratches that dull the surface. Fortunately, restoring dirty floors that lost their sheen can be relatively straightforward.
Deep Cleaning is as Easy as One-Two-Three
A good deep cleaning may restore your tired floor’s former luster. Here’s what to do:
- Begin by thoroughly sweeping floors with a soft bristle broom like this one. So that you know, stiff bristles can scratch the wood’s surface.
- Next, use a vacuum to remove hard to reach dirt in room corners and between floorboards.
- Afterward, mop using a micro cloth and concentrated cleaner specially made for hardwood floors. Method Squirt and Mop, and Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner are two good ones. Keep in mind steam, water, vinegar and cleaners like Murphy’s Oil Soap that produces suds should never be used to clean wood floors.
Hardwood floors in high-traffic areas in your home may require a deep cleaning by a flooring professional. Experts like these typically use a scrubbing machine designed to remove embedded dirt.
After deep cleaning your floors, here’s what you need to do to keep them in tip-top shape:
- Surface clean three times per week using a vacuum or micro cloth.
- Deep clean once per month using a concentrated wood floor cleaner.
- Professionally deep clean once per year.
DIY a New Finish Without Sanding
If deep cleaning didn’t restore your wood floor’s glow, you could give it a fresh new finish without sanding or staining using one of the following products:
- Rust-Oleum Transformations Wood and Laminate Floor Renewal Kit: It includes everything you need to create a fresh, semi-glossy polyurethane finish without changing your floor’s color. Once applied it takes 24 hours to dry, and seven to 14 days to cure. FYI, this stuff is not compatible with waxed wood floors.
- Minwax Hardwood Floor Reviver: Designed to restore a wood floor’s existing polyurethane finish. The high-gloss sheen will last up to six months.
- Rejuvenate Wood Floor Restorer: This stuff is created to restore previously sealed old hardwood woods. It’s available in both satin and glossy finishes.
Another good to know, products like these that were created to refresh floors without sanding, have a thick consistency that will fill light scratches and soften small dings.
When Refinishing is the Best Option
Unfortunately, some hardwood floors are beyond quick fixes. Dry, grimy floors with deep scratches and wide gaps like this one need refinishing.
Getting the job done is a lengthy and labor-intensive process. Planning to DIY? You should know each step: sanding, patching, staining, and top coating will take a weekend or more to complete if you’re refinishing less than 500 square feet.
If you want your floors professional refinished, you can find local contractors using several online services like Yelp or Angie’s List. Average cost depends on your area, but you can expect to pay at least $3 or $4 per square foot.
You’ll want to get bids from three or more companies, which will involve a visit to your home to inspect the floors at no charge. Before deciding which contractors to reach out to, do the following:
- Read all of their online reviews carefully. Got questions? Message the person who left the review for additional information. Concerned about fake reviews? Authentic ones usually provide details about the user’s experience.
- Check the Better Business Bureau for complaints. But if you spot one, don’t assume the worst until you read how the consumer’s claim was resolved. Even contractors make mistakes from time to time. But a well-intentioned one will settle customer problems in a professional manner where all parties are satisfied.
- Confirm that the contractor is bonded, licensed and insured to work in your area. To do ask for each number and certification, then confirm if all are up to date.
Fixing Those Darn Gaps
Trowel filling after sanding is the easiest way to repair deep gashes, dings, and gaps when refinishing your floors. But if done during the wrong time of year, it’s not a long-lasting fix.
Why? In a nutshell, wood compresses during the winter and expands in summer.
When you fill gaps between floorboards when it’s cold and dry, the material used is often squeezed out during sultry weather. That’s why it’s best to fill floors when the humidity is higher during the summer.
But even then trowel filling is not a long time fix, especially when used to patch small crevices where filler can easily come loose. What to do? Only fill larger gaps. Leaving the smaller ones unpatched will accommodate wood expansion.
What You Need to Know About Dark Floor Stains
If you decide to refinish your wood floors, the fun part is picking a new stain color like rich Mahogany, or dark Oak, which are both very popular right now. The problem is, while you may think darker colors would hide dirt, they make dust particles more noticeable.
Satin or Glossy?
Glossy floors do you look lovely, but stain finishes have been growing in popularity, especially in households with small children. The main reason: compared to their shiny counterparts, it’s harder to slip on a satin finish.
Good news: everything you need is probably right in your pantry.
Cleaning household surfaces
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If you’re wondering how to clean wood floors and maintain their integrity, the key is to clean them often and methodically. After all, wood floors take the greatest amount of wear and tear in our homes. Think about all the dust, dirt, grime, and debris you bring in from the outside. Adding children and pets to the mix creates a whole new level of dirt and mess.
Dirty wood floors aren’t simply unclean, but can be damaging to the wood itself, which is expensive to repair, refinish, or at the very worst, replace.
Melissa Witulski, the business operations manager for Merry Maids, stresses the importance of regularly cleaning your floor before it becomes a major task or unmanageable. “I suggest doing a quick cleaning a couple of times per week to your floor to keep it from getting really dirty,” she says.
Is there really a best way to clean wood floors? It depends on your needs as well as your lifestyle. Various kinds of wood flooring, whether solid wood, laminate, or composite, may need to be maintained differently. This applies to how these surfaces are cleaned as well as the products used to maintain them.
First, invest in the right cleaning tools
“The best way to clean hardwood floors is to use a microfiber dust mop to remove dust, dirt, and whatever other particles were brought into your home. The microfiber dust mop will not scratch your floors as some vacuums might.”
The Casabella Magnet Mop ($25; bedbathandbeyond.com) is a great microfiber mop for hardwood floors and works just as well on other surfaces including tile, marble, linoleum, and vinyl. Just make sure to have plenty of clean microfiber mop refills ($13; bedbathandbeyond.com) on hand. This is also better for the environment than using disposable pads.
If you are wondering how to clean wood floors daily or the best way to clean laminate wood floors, especially when you are short on time—it’s easiest to use a robot vacuum. The Ecovacs Deebot M81 ($300; wayfair.com), is a smart choice because it both vacuums and mops. It can also be programmed through an app to clean when you are away from home. Just make sure the wheels and other components are free of dirt and debris every time you use it.
How to clean wood floors naturally
According to Witulski, vinegar is the best cleaner for hardwood floors, and it also happens to be natural, safe, and inexpensive. Witulski suggests making a solution by mixing a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar with a gallon of warm water.
If you don’t have apple cider vinegar on hand, alternatively you can add half a cup of white vinegar to a gallon of water to clean any type of floor. If you don’t like the scent of vinegar, just add a few drops of essential oil to mask the smell.
Using this DIY solution not only cleans your floors thoroughly, but it’s also safe for people, pets, and children. Another bonus of cleaning wood floors with apple cider vinegar and water is that it doesn’t leave a film or require rinsing like many store-bought or chemical-based cleaning products. This can also be a good timesaver.
Witulski suggests starting by dusting the surface to remove any dust particles, then fill a bucket with the homemade vinegar solution. After that, use a flat mop with a microfiber cover, dip it into the water mixture and begin cleaning. As you clean, it’s important to remember never to get wood floors too wet because it can remove the finish or potentially cause warping or deterioration.
Keep in mind that finished wood floors don’t necessarily need to be cleaned with vinegar. You can use water only, but be careful that too much doesn’t seep in or it can remove the finish.
How to clean wood floors without water
If you want to clean wood floors without water—that’s also easy. Just choose a product like Method Squirt and Mop Hard Floor Cleaner ($13; amazon.com). It requires zero rinsing and it also won’t leave a sticky residue. The shower spray style nozzle also makes the product easy to dispense—no puddles or pooling. This allows you to control the amount you use, so nothing will go to waste. Another bonus is the fresh, earthy scent.
Tips for keeping wood floors clean
Wood flooring can go from sparkling clean to completely filthy in a matter of seconds. A spill, a pair of muddy shoes, or even a dirty dog that comes charging into the house can suddenly become a great nuisance.
Then there is the everyday dirt that’s a result of people coming and going from the home. Witulski says the best way to deal with this is to prevent messes in the first place. She suggests making your home a shoe-free zone. If that isn’t something you are comfortable with, purchasing a doormat ($39; wayfair.com) and wiping your feet before entering is another alternative. Encourage your guests to do the same.
And don’t forget to wipe down Fido’s paws before he comes back inside from a walk. Consider keeping a portable paw-cleaning device ($15; amazon.com) just outside your door or purchase some paw wipes ($17; amazon.com).
How to clean unsealed hardwood floors
Unsealed wood floors are different from finished hardwood floors because water can be easily absorbed through the wood, having a greater impact on the life and condition of the flooring. “I suggest using a dust mop regularly, so there is never too much build-up. When you need to do a deeper clean, use a damp microfiber cloth (as needed) and dry immediately with a dry microfiber cloth,” says Witulski.
Hardwood floors are a popular flooring choice for many. These floors provide depth, texture, and a natural feel that is unrivaled from other flooring materials.
Wood flooring is not exempt from getting dirty, unfortunately. Dust, dirt, pet dander, and spills can all take their toll. Surfaces such as carpet can best hide some of these issues, but with hardwood flooring, it’s all in plain view.
While cleaning your floors frequently ensures a sparkling clean surface for your home, it can also help with the upkeep of your flooring, extending its life in between refinishes.
With that said, here are some tips for ways to effectively clean your hardwood floors.
What Not to Do
Before delving into the various methods and situations, it’s helpful to first state what should be avoided when cleaning these floors.
Nearly all modern hardwood floors are coated with either acrylic, urethane, or polyurethane coatings. Because of this, waxes, oils, and furniture sprays should all be avoided. First of all, they aren’t needed when these coatings are present. Secondly, they can turn your home into a skating rink, as the oils will “float” on top of the coating instead of penetrating it.
Alkaline, ammonia, and other abrasive cleaners should be avoided a well. These cleaners are much too harsh for wood floors, and can actually scratch the finish.
Areas in your home that have high traffic should be swept at least every other day. If you have pets, daily sweeping will most likely be in order, as this ensures that your floor is free of hair and dander. If left unchecked, pet hair can be sucked into your vents, and accumulate in corners and under baseboards.
Brooms are effective enough for wood floors, but using a vacuum can be even more effective. The best vacuum for hardwood floors are models that can get low to the surface, and also feature detachments that allow for easy cleaning in corners and around baseboards.
Mopping should be done at least once a week in heavily trafficked areas, and one or two times a month in other parts of your home. For mopping, a chamois-style mop is recommended.
What to Use to Clean Hardwood Floors?
The best way to clean hardwood floors is just to keep things simple. To mop, fill a bucket with a mixture of warm water and mild cleaning solution, wring it out as much as you can, and mop in the direction of the wood grain, rinsing your mop often.
If your mop bucket becomes murky, simply empty the contents and refill with water and cleaning solution again. Once you’ve used the soap throughout the area, go back over it with a clean mop to get all the soap off the floor.
It’s crucial to make sure you are not using too much water. Although your floors are sealed, they can still warp from exposure to excessive amounts of water.
Wood floors are prone to minor scuffs and scratches over time, which can diminish the look of the floor, making it look old, damaged, and dull. To minimize the effects of scuff marks, shake a small amount of baking soda on a small, damp sponge, and rub it into the scuff marks.
Cracks are a whole different issue, and are best left alone. You may even notice more cracks in your wood during the winter time. Dry heat from your heating system can cause the boards to shrink and reveal cracks.
Summertime and humidity causes the boards to expand, which minimizes the look of the cracks. Although not required, a humidifier can help in this situation year round.
Other Cleaning Methods
While sweeping and mopping is very effective, they aren’t always guaranteed to get out all of the bacteria from the flooring, especially in between boards. Because of this, many opt to steam clean their hardwood floors. While this can be effective, it should be done with extreme caution, or by a professional with the right equipment.
How to Clean Old Hardwood Floors
Although most homes have modern coatings on their wood floors, older coatings such as varnish, lacquer, shellac, and oil-treated floors still exist. If you aren’t sure whether your floor has a modern coating or not, simply rub your finger along a board. If it leaves a smudge, you’ve got an older coating.
Routine Old Hardwood Floor Cleaning
Since older finishes aren’t waterproof, damp mops are discouraged. Instead, simply sweep or vacuum the floor, and apply fresh wax when needed.
Old wax build-up can be removed using stripper made from mineral spirits. Once the wax is removed, a paste wax or liquid wax can be used to reapply the coating. Once the new coating is dry, apply one more. Be sure to avoid water-based waxes and furniture waxes. The new wax coating can then be buffed by hand, or with a buffing machine.
As far as stains go, use a small amount of dishwashing liquid to break up oil-based stains. Other marks and stains can be removed by using No. 000 steel wool and floor waxes.
Preventative Maintenance for Hardwood Floors
Messes on your flooring can be minimized by following a few easy steps. Placing entryway mats on the outside and inside of your doorways gives you and your fellow house inhabitants a way to clean shoes off before coming inside. If that’s not enough, remove your shoes by the doorway.
Clean up and liquid spills immediately, as they can warp the wood if left to sit. If you have pets, try to clean your floors once a day to prevent buildup that can be tracked throughout the home and into cracks.
Placing felt pads under chairs and using area rugs in play areas and high-traffic areas will reduce wear and tear and messes as well.
Hardwood Floor Cleaning Services
If you have a larger home, or simply lack the time and effort to clean your hardwood floors, you can elect to hire a hardwood flooring cleaning service for both.
Restoring old wood floors brings back their natural beauty and shine. If you live in an old home, wood floors are a classic touch. A perfect way to add some freshness to your home is to restore your old wood floors. It can dramatically change a room and give it an updated look. For example, you may have a really dark and worn-out stain on your floors. You can remove it and replace it with a light stain. The simple replacement of a lighter stain will add some brightness to a once dark room. At the same time, you may even want to go a step further and lighten your walls to add to the overall brightness of the room.
If you live in an old house, there might be something very unique and special about your wood floors. Some wood floors are rare nowadays. There are several species of trees that are now protected and cannot be used for lumber any more. Further, most trees that are used for wood floors today are fast growing and fast to be cut down. Many species of trees don’t grow for as long as they would have historically before they are cut down. For example, you don’t see a wide plank pine floor very often. Wide plank floors are almost always more than 100 years old. Similarly, you don’t see a lot of old growth pine any more in forests or on tree farms for that matter. Stylistically, tastes change. It is pretty uncommon to see an ornate herringbone floor. In current times, these classic floors add tremendous value to a home because of the rareness and beauty. No matter what the case may be, old hardwood floors are almost always worth the work to restore them.
You may have moved into an old house and have the itch to restore your old floors. Maybe you have been living in the same house for a long time and finally decided to remove the old carpet to find old hardwood floors that haven’t been exposed in decades! Whatever your case may be, a lot of homeowners do not know when to restore an old floor or pull out an old floor and replace it with a new one. Besides, nowadays with the popularity of prefinished floors, not everyone knows how long a quality wood floor should last with average traffic. Your well maintained hardwood floor should probably last you one hundred years. In contrast, your typical prefinished floor with average wear will last significantly less than your hardwood floor. It is dependant on the type of floor, how well it is treated, and so forth. For those of you who don’t know, both engineered and bamboo floors fit in this category of floors that have a substantially shorter life as compared to a hardwood floor. Even though bamboo is extremely popular today, these floors are notorious for being prone to some serious scratches quite easily – no matter what the floor manufacturer promises you about the bowling ball finish.
That said, it will be 100 years before you have to rip it up and install a new hardwood floor if you have a traditional wood floor. Of course, you will still need to maintain. Just because something lasts a long time, does not mean it does not require maintenance. Regular cleaning is important. For example, say you live by a beach and you often track sand when you come in your house, sand will in time scratch the finish on your wood floors. Shoes will wear away your floor finish so it is best to remove shoes before walking on your floors. Water will also damage your floors, causing them to swell and sometimes even grow mold. For more information on general cleaning, please read both parts of my article “How To Clean and Maintain Hardwood Floors”. The first part can be found at https://www.woodfloordoctor.com/_how_tos/articles/cleanpt1.shtml and the second part can be found at https://www.woodfloordoctor.com/_how_tos/articles/cleanpt2.shtml
Old wood floors generally, if restored properly, will add value and beauty to your home. Usually, you will know when to restore your floor by simply looking at its appearance. Does the finish look warn or uneven? Does the floor look dull? Does the wood look dirty even after you have cleaned it? Are their blotchy areas or dark spots? Often, an older, well walked on floor, will have the most wear-marks where the most foot traffic has been. For example, if the wood floor is in a corridor or hallway, usually the center of the corridor will have the most worn off finish. Are there scratches in the finish or in the floorboards? Sometimes these can be surface scratches in the finish and sometimes they can penetrate into the floorboards. Do you know when the floor was refinished last? It is okay if you don’t. You be the judge and decide if your floors need to be refinished. If you think you are ready to sand down your old wood floor, you should read, “How To Sand Wood Floors WITHOUT Leaving Machine Marks” which can be found on https://www.woodfloordoctor.com/_how_tos/particlesshort/sandwoodfloors.shtml
Restoring floors is not only about elegance and the longevity of the floor. Often is a question of hygiene. Sometimes odours that come off of your floors are unhealthy to breathe in. If your floors do not smell fresh, no matter how much you clean them, maybe you have a pet or maybe you had a spill sometime ago that was not taken care of properly, read “How To Remove Various Stains and Smells From Wood Floors” which can be found at https://www.woodfloordoctor.com/_how_tos/particlesshort/removestains.shtml
Most of the time, all you are going to need to do is sand it down and finish it again. Not a big deal. However, if there is serious water damage, sometimes it is best to cut out that section of floor and replace it with new floorboards, depending on how bad it is and if extra sanding will help or not.
Even if your floors have no finish left on them because they have not been maintained by the previous homeowner, it does not mean that it is time to rip out the floors. Sometimes, if you ask a contractor, he will advise you on ripping everything out and installing a new floor. The reason for this is simple: this is a much bigger job and he can charge more for it. Often, all you will need is a thorough sanding. When sanding your floor down, remember that it may take a good sanding because floors do not wear evenly. You will see a larger indentation or more wear in the areas where the most foot traffic occurs.
Do your research. If you just recently purchased a home, ask the previous owners about the history of their wood floors. If they do not know, and have never finished them, chances are it is time to restore them slightly. You be the judge. If you like the stain, ask for the name of it so when it comes time you will know what to use. Colour matching stains is messy but possible.
The more research and reading you do before you start restoring your old floors, the better the odds are that your floors will turn out exactly the way you want them to look. Even if you decide not to do the job but to hire it out to a floor contractor, it helps tremendously to know what you want and what to look for. Old floors are beautiful, especially if they are well-maintained.
- How to Rewax Floors
- What Kind of Wax Is for Hardwood Flooring?
- How to Repaint Flooring
- How to Apply Acrylic Floor Finish
- Floor Refinishing Screening Pros & Cons
Years of traffic eventually wears the finish off on a hardwood floor, but the finish can also lose its luster if it’s hidden under old coats of floor wax. You may be able restore your floor’s finish simply by removing the wax and giving it a once over with the right type of cleaner. If that doesn’t work, and the floor is still in good condition, you can restore luster with a topcoat of a new finish, a job most anyone with sanding and painting experience can complete.
Away With the Wax
Paste wax can turn yellow and collect dirt when you allow it to accumulate. Regular removal makes it easier to maintain, as the job gets more difficult as layers accumulate. You can find a variety of wax-removing products for hardwood floors; many are brand-specific, so buy the one that’s intended for your flooring to get the best results. In a pinch, you can use mineral spirits. The procedure is a hands-and-knees one — you rub a section of the floor with a pad of very fine, 0000 steel wool until all the wax is gone, then wipe that section down with a non-abrasive cloth before moving on to the next section.
Cleaning the Gunk
Whether or not you remove an old layer of wax, you’ll want to give your floor a good cleaning, but before you reach for the warm water and detergent, remember that water can damage the wood. It’s better to use a product specifically designed for cleaning hardwood floors — the cleaning agents in such products are usually suspended in a non-aqueous solvent, such as ethylene glycol. Again, if you can find a cleaner intended for the brand of flooring you have, use that cleaner. If you must use water, mix a cup of white vinegar with a gallon of warm water, dampen a rag with it, wipe a section of the floor and dry that section immediately to prevent moisture damage.
Repairing Minor Scratches
As a floor ages, the finish sustains multiple surface scratches that keep the finish dull, no matter how thoroughly you clean it. A number of wipe-on products can take care of these small scratches. These products usually contain a small amount of urethane or acrylic that fortifies the finish and fills the small scratches. Because treating the floor with one of these products is tantamount to wiping on a new coat of finish, the floor must be completely clean. Some kits come with a liquid sander that etches the existing floor finish. The kits also include an applicator so you can wipe on the etching compound and then wipe on the finish restoration product.
Screen and Recoat
Sometimes the best way to restore a finish is to sand it completely and apply a coat of new finish. This type of restoration, which is an easy alternative to refinishing the floor, requires a floor buffer, a 150-grit sanding screen, clear finish and application tools. You screen the floor by running the buffer over it — this etches the finish while knocking down defects, such as bubbles. After vacuuming and wiping the finish with a damp rag, spread one coat of the new finish. The entire procedure can be completed in a day, and while it raises some dust, you can confine most of the dust to the room in which you’re working by closing the doors and working with a dust mask on.
- How to Prepare to Paint Acrylic Enamel on Wood
- Economical Way of Cleaning Porcelain Tile Floors
- Homemade Non-Toxic Floor Cleaner
- How to Deep Clean Terazzo Tile Floors
- How to Restore Shine to Linoleum Flooring
Things You Will Need
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Clean mop bucket
1 gallon warm water
Cotton cleaning cloth
Clean terry cloth
Commercial wood floor cleaner
You can substitute a dust mop for the vacuum cleaner.
Do not allow the wood floor to air-dry; this can cause the wood to warp.
The durability and natural colors of hardwood makes it a popular home flooring. These floors can be coated with surface finishes containing oil, wax, varnish or polyurethane to add shine. Frequent foot traffic produces dirt and grime accumulation on hardwood, causing the floors to appear dingy. Hardwood floors require frequent cleaning and maintenance to prevent grime and debris from scratching and denting the wood. When the floors become extremely dirty, certain solutions are effective at cleaning the wood.
Sweep the floor thoroughly with a vacuum cleaner. Remove all loose dirt and grime from the floor’s surface.
Pour 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar in a clean mop bucket. Add 1 gallon of warm water to the mop bucket.
Dip a cotton cleaning cloth in the vinegar solution. Wring out any excess liquid from the cloth.
Wipe the cloth over a 3-by-3-foot section of the wood floor to remove dirt and grime buildup. Frequently rinse the cloth with warm water.
Dry the 3-by-3-foot section of the floor immediately with a clean terry cloth. Repeat the cleaning process on each 3-by-3-foot section of the wood floor.
Inspect the wood floor for remaining residue or grime buildup. Use a commercial wood floor cleaner to remove difficult grime and discolored finishes, according to the cleaner manufacturer’s directions.
by Anita Alvarez
There’s knowing how to clean hardwood floors, and then there’s knowing how to clean them the easy way. Murphy ® Oil Soap knows that you’re busy, and sometimes you just need to get the job done quickly. Here’s how to do a quick and easy clean, and a more thorough job.
QUICK AND EASY
A quick formula like Murphy ® Squirt & Mop Wood Floor Cleaner makes Saturday cleaning a snap. Simply take the bottle with you as you mop, squirting the liquid where you need it and following up with a wet mop. When you’re short on time, you can use Murphy ® Squirt & Mop to clean up spills, remove tracked-in dirt or spot clean. When you have the extra time or just feel motivated to do a thorough cleaning – work one section at a time, applying the cleaner and then mopping, and continue to alternate as you go until you make it across the entire room. This product is specially formulated to use directly on the floor, so it doesn’t need to be diluted and it’s safe to use when applied right onto the hardwood floor.
For a deep, conventional cleaning, consider using a concentrated product like Murphy ® Original Formula. You’ll need your mop and bucket for this job. Measure Œ_ cup of cleaner for every 1 gallon of warm water you pour into the bucket. Your bucket should list its size on the inside; otherwise, picture a milk gallon jug to estimate the bucket’s size. Then, work your way across the floor, mopping a few strokes across the floor, dipping the mop back into the bucket and then mopping another section of the hardwood floor.
As always, limit the amount of water on the floor as you clean it, as moisture left behind on floors can cause damage. To avoid the problem entirely, always wring out the mop tightly before placing the mop on the floor.
Get the most out of your Cleaning Time and use products like Murphy ® Oil Soap that can get the job done. Whether you’re cleaning one area or all of your flooring, Murphy ® Oil Soap is safe to use on hardwood floors.
This article was brought to you by Colgate-Palmolive Company, the makers of Murphy ® Oil Soap. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of the Colgate-Palmolive Company.
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We have very old hardwood floors in our house, however we do not believe they have ever been sealed. We can’t refinish the floors (most of them have their nails so close to the surface we can’t refinish them, or the nail heads would be sticking out). So how do we best clean them? All the stuff sold in stores is for sealed hardwood. I know they’re not supposed to get wet and stay wet, but could we use any of the wood floor cleaners and as long as we dry it by hand we’d be okay?
🙂 ‘seal’ is a modern term.
wood floors in fine homes were cleaned with a damp rag, stains buffed out with pumice (rottenstone) or fine sand and oil, and over the generations, were burnished to a shine that plastic coatings will never match.
you can clean wood floors with plain old water most of the time, a mild solvent (vinegar, 1/4 the recommended amount of your favorite cleaner) at most.
my floors relatively new, about a hundred years old, and the powder/laundry room gets butcher-waxed twice a year (it’s 7ft square, less the washer and dryer footprints, so it doesn’t take much) but everything else? gets rubbed down with a combination of olive oil, lemon essential oil (which the furniture-grade ‘lemon oil’ has very little of) and bees wax, melted together and applied warm (sparingly) then buffed (I’ve got my dad’s old bonnet polisher from his car-buff days) and even my husband has to admit that there is a difference between walking on wood, and walking on poly-cryl sealant.
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you could use a damp mop. I would real than once they are clean. Since they are older, a wax finish may be the most appropriate.
Oops — seal, not real the floors.
Cleaning wood floors
Best way to clean wood floors?
how to clean and maintain wooden floors
How to clean wood laminate floors?
Unfortunately, we’re not in a position to seal the floors right now. We don’t really know what we would want to seal them with anyway, and it probably doesn’t make sense to seal them before we figure out a way to sand them. I thought briefly about wax, but my when I told my mom about that she was horrified and said that her mother used to wax her floors, and the effort and build up and needing to take it all off as it built up was just horrendous and that’s why everyone though wall-to-wall carpeting was such a god-send!
If we use a wood-floor cleaner, is it really going to hurt our wood? Especially if we plan on refinishing the floors anyway at some point in the future?
I have very old un-sealed hardwood [under my carpet now] but when I cared for them I would use vinegar and a well wrung mop. I also used paste wax and a buffer but if you ever intend on sealing them I would NOT use wax on them.
The nails and such should not be a problem for a professional floor company.
If you do it yourself you rent a walk behind sander that takes most of the guess work out of a nice level sanding.
I checked into having ours done and the price was well below the cost of carpet but carpet thru the house won out. [husband won]
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Save your money and don’t buy the fancy/schmancy products. I, too, would use the vinegar/water mix or I would use mineral spirits (rag and wipe) for cleaning. I would not use products unless I was 6 zillion percent sure that there wasn’t wax in them. assuming you don’t go the paste wax route.
Can you counter sink the culprit nails?
One way to check how thick your flooring is – remove a floor register if you have one or take off a small piece of quarter round and see the height difference. You can see how much sanding has occurred in the past.
I’d just use area rugs until you know how you want to finish the floors.
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Would love to countersink the nails. we have a parquet floors, though. Each 12×12 parquet square is made of six individual slats, and each slat has six nails in it. So 36 nails per square foot of flooring covering about 500 square feet. Countersinking just ain’t gonna happen!
I will use a barely damp vinegar/water mix from here on out.
Thanks for everyone’s input!
My son is renting a large apartment about a building that is about 80 years old. He has wood floors in every room except the bathroom. They are very dull and need a good cleaning. Thanks for the tips about the vinegar and water. I think that would be the way to go. Since he’s just renting I don’t think he wants to invest in sanding and or sealing. But it would be nice to have it look “fresh” while he lives there.
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I’m replying to this old thread instead of starting a new one with the hopes that someone can clarify things for me on this topic.
We’re renting a house built in the early 1800s; well, part of it was. One room I know has the original wood floor because of the unevenly-sized very wide boards used. But in the living room and dining room it is newer, relatively. Thinner boards that have more consistent sizing. We were told that most tenants put in carpeting (either an oriental room-sized rug or a carpet remnant) in the living room and perhaps that has led to the wood floor in there appearing to be even more dull and almost dirty. We’ll be here another 15 months at least but I’m not sure about buying carpet pieces yet.
Either way, I gotta clean this. Cat puke that we didn’t find til morning; husband dropping a greasy piece of food; a bunch of things have happened that have left stains that just look like it’s wet but it’s not. I tried to cover the grease spots with salt right after it happened, I read that that might draw it out of the wood but it didn’t work. I tried the Swiffer wet jet for wood floors on part of the living room – it didn’t do anything bad but I don’t think it did anything good, either.
So what can we do to :
1. Remove the stains
2. Make it shinier (bc the way it is now, it looks dusty & dirty even during the short time it’s not!!)
3. Make it easier to prevent/clean up stains in the future
We were going to call this “How to Clean Your Hardwood Floors” but realized that it would be the shortest blog in history. That’s because there are really only a few items that should touch your prefinished hardwood flooring, but we’ll get to those later. First, we want to make sure that you are aware of what not to use to clean your hardwood floors. This is actually a more important perspective, as some of the items mentioned below can harm a floor’s finish with just one application.
Cleaning that may work for some parts of your home might not be the correct method for your hardwoods. Knowing proper hardwood care and maintenance is an important step to protecting your investment.
How NOT to Clean Hardwood Flooring
Before we start, here is a little background to help explain why some of the solutions used in the past are no longer applicable. Prefinished flooring is not the same as unfinished hardwood flooring, natural oil finished flooring, or site-finished flooring—all of which require their own cleaning instructions. Prefinished (or factory-finished) hardwood flooring is created by applying decorative stains and durable finishes that are cured with UV light. Prefinished floors were introduced to the American consumer in the early 1950’s.
Since then, finishes have kept evolving, and so have their care and maintenance instructions. Even in the last 10-15 years we’ve seen great advancements in the formula and processes that “finish” floors. This is why your Great Aunt’s oil soap or the cleaning lady’s vinegar solution not only won’t clean today’s prefinished planks, they can ruin them. It’s important to point out here that when you are cleaning you really aren’t actually cleaning the wood; you are cleaning the finish that protects the wood.
Here is a list of products that are the most common enemies of your prefinished hardwood, which unfortunately most people still use:
Though definitely a great household product in other areas, the acidic nature of vinegar will eat right through the dirt on your floor and devour your finish! Even one application will dull the shine.
Like vinegar, ammonia is very acidic, with a pH that can not only eat away the floor’s protective finish, but can also cause discoloration.
They work great for carpeting. But even if they indicate that they are for hard surfaces, they can warp and damage hardwood with excessive heat and moisture.
Floor Waxes and Self-Polishing Acrylic Cleaners
Even though they say they are going to put a shine on your floors, don’t believe it. Most store-bought waxes will leave a sticky film on the surface that will attract debris and pet hair, leaving a dulled finish that looks even dirtier than before and becomes almost impossible to clean.
Oil soaps are designed to absorb into the material that’s being cleaned to prevent drying out. The coating on prefinished hardwoods means that the oil will remain on the surface. This would not only pose a hazard to walk on but can look milky and dull.
Water – Don’t Wet Mop
We don’t mean a quick spot clean with a damp rag, we mean a bucket of water and a wet mop sending moisture between the planks. This can cause cupping, buckling, and even cracks over time.
We promise you that though a furniture polish’s label reads “good for all wood surfaces,” flooring was most likely not on the manufacturer’s mind. Make no mistake, your oily or lemon-scented furniture cleaner will not only NOT clean your floors, it will make them as slippery as ice.
All Purpose Cleaners
“All purpose” is another misleading statement. The surfaces they are designed for are not porous like wood, and the harsh chemicals they contain to combat smudges on glass can destroy your flooring’s finish.
It’s not just about cleaning solutions… hard bristle broom and even vacuum cleaners with the wrong attachments can scratch flooring. A soft bristle broom is the best method to sweep up dirt and dust.
How to Properly Clean Hardwood Flooring
Well, now that we’ve given you a long list of “don’ts,”here are four “dos” LIFECORE recommends:
1. Damp mops, following instruction using any of the hardwood floor cleaners made by Bona. We are not affiliated with Bona, but we chose to mention their products because they were created specifically for prefinished hardwood flooring by flooring professionals. They are also effective, reasonably priced, and can be found in most supermarkets, home goods, and hardware stores.
2. A soft, dry mop (preferably microfiber) to apply cleaners, mop up wet spills, and defend your home against dust in the interim. Find these in most stores carrying housewares or online.
3. A soft-bristled broom to sweep up dry spills.
4. If you have a cleaning service or helpful friend who lends a hand in cleaning your hardwoods, have cleaning instructions and product available for them. This will avoid a good intention gone wrong.
So, there you have it. Barring the unforeseen, those three items should keep your prefinished hardwood floors looking spectacular for years to come!
Experts from the American Hardwood Information Center share tips on how to clean hardwood floors after accidents and spills of various kinds.
Photo: Armstrong Hardwood Flooring
Special problems need special solutions—and that’s particularly true of wood flooring. When accidents happen, first aid is essential. Here are some tips from the American Hardwood Information Center that will help you maintain hardwood floors.
Food Spills. If caked or dried, use a sharpened knife blade and, working from the outer edge toward the center, scrape up the spill (while taking care not to scratch the wood surface). Rub the damaged spot first with a slightly dampened cloth, then with a dry one. If your floor has a waxed surface, re-wax and buff the area you’ve repaired.
Wax and gum removal with ice. Photo: Martha Stewart
Other Flaws. Crayon marks usually come off when rubbed with a soft cloth dipped in a mild dishwashing detergent. Removing chewing gum and candle wax, on the other hand, is more challenging. Apply a wood-floor cleaning product and let it permeate the spill to loosen, then proceed to scrape off the blemish with a plastic spatula or sharpened knife edge. You can also apply ice until the spill gets brittle, then remove in the manner described above.
Oil and Grease. On a surface-finished (urethaned) floor, apply mineral spirits or TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) and wipe with a clean cloth. If your floor has a penetrating finish, applying TSP or a high-lye-content soap should do the trick.
Serious Stains. If your floor is marred by an ink spill or the remnants of a pet accident, clean the spot with No. 2 steel wool and mineral spirits or a cleaning product created for wood. Then cleanse with household vinegar and let stand a few minutes. Depending on your floor’s finish, either re-wax and buff or apply two coats of urethane.
Stubborn Stains. Mix an ounce of oxatic acid with a quart of water, apply the solution to the stain and let stand for one hour. (Be sure to wear rubber gloves; oxatic acid is toxic.) Finally, wipe the damaged area with a dampened sponge. When dry, the next step is to refinish.
Learn how to clean wood floors with smart methods that will make caring for your flooring and maintaining a clean, polished look even easier.
Floors take on a lot, including daily traffic and inevitable spills, scuffs, or mishaps. The best way to clean hardwood floors starts with smart preventive measures, which not only help protect floors but also cut down on the time you spend cleaning. To lessen tracked-in dirt, place floor mats both outside and inside exterior doors. In snowy or rainy weather, set up a boot removal area to avoid damaging floors with tracked in water and de-icing agents. Along with a spot to sit down and a place to store shoes, keep a rag or cleaning cloth tucked away next to the door to quickly clean up errant puddles on wood floors.
Even when the forecast doesn’t call for precipitation, it’s smart to remove shoes when coming indoors so dirt, grime, and germs don’t get tracked all over the house. Especially with hardwood floors, scratch-causing heels and cleats should be checked at the door. Prevent marks on hardwood floors by using floor protectors under furniture and adding rugs in play areas to ensure children’s toys don’t scratch the floor. In addition to these daily best practices, follow our tips for cleaning wood floors to keep your home in top shape.
How to Clean Wood Floors During Your Regular Cleaning Routine
A regular once-over with a broom or dust mop will do wonders for cleaning hardwood floors. How often you have to do this chore depends on the traffic your hardwood floors see. For a quick clean, dust wood floors with a mop that has been treated with a dusting agent to pick up dust, dirt, and pet hair that might scratch the floor surface. Options for the best mop for hardwood floors include those with a microfiber head. This material is designed to trap dust and grime. Follow the mop manufacturer’s recommendations for using wood floor polish or dusting sprays; some mops won’t require an extra cleaning agent.
When considering how to clean hardwood floors, don’t overlook vacuuming. For weekly or biweekly cleaning, vacuum with a floor-brush attachment. Do not use a vacuum with a beater bar attachment, which can scratch a wood floor’s finish. For quick dusting, use disposable electrostatic cloths.
How to Mop Wood Floors (The Right Way)
The best way to clean hardwood floors starts with preventive measures and routine cleaning, but sometimes a deeper clean is in order. Dirt, oil, and grime build up over time and aren’t completely removed by a weekly dusting.
For how to deep clean hardwood floors (consider doing this cleaning in the spring or just before the winter holidays), use a wood floor mop and wood floor cleaning product diluted according to the label instructions. Saturate a sponge or rag mop in the water, then wring it almost dry so it feels only slightly damp to the touch. Damp-mop the floor, being careful to prevent standing water on the floor. Rinse with a clean mop dampened in clean water, but only if the cleaning product requires it. Wipe up excess liquid because standing water can damage wood surfaces. If the weather is humid, operate a ceiling fan or the air-conditioner to speed up drying. If cleaning isn’t cutting it, you may need to refinish the wood floors to help them look like new.