Cleaning hardwood floors is less difficult than it sounds

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Hardwood flooring has enjoyed a lot of popularity in recent years. The timeless beauty and elegance and the warm glow of a wood floor is a hard act to follow. The only snag to a hardwood floor is cleaning it. Many homeowners are afraid to use commercially produced cleaners on their wood floors for fear of turning the polyurethane finish to sticky goop.

We’re told by flooring experts to sweep our hardwood floors with a soft broom or vacuum them with a soft vacuum attachment. Then we’re instructed to damp mop the floors to get any grit or grime captured inside the seams. Let’s examine how to properly clean a wood floor.

Preventing dirt getting into wood floors

We bring dirt, grass and leaves, rain, snow, and de-icing agents inside on our shoes. Our pets track all manner of dirt and grime onto our floors. Placing a mat outside each door opening to the outside will catch the majority of that muck. Placing a mat on the inside of each door opening to the outside will catch what’s left on shoes and paws.

Have everyone remove their shoes at the door. You can keep a shoe rack or a basket there for ease of containment. If you keep a chair or bench at the doors, those coming in can be seated as they shed their shoes. Keeping a cloth on the bench or chair will enable you to clean the dog’s feet before he tracks muck on your hardwood floors.

Properly cleaning a wood floor

Even if it’s been separated from its tree form and planed into planks, wood is still a living thing. It’s porous. That means it still breathes and absorbs moisture. Too much moisture in the form of humidity or mop water, and wood floors buckle and warp. Too much dirt and grime, and wood floors look dull and gray.

The first step in cleaning hardwood floors is sweeping the dirt away. A broom or vacuum attachment with hard bristles will scratch the floor. This gives dirt a new place to hide. Use a soft bristle broom or a dust mop. Go over the floor at least twice to be sure you’ve got all the dirt you can get.

The second step is to damp mop the floor with clean, clear cold water. Water, even the tiny amount in a damp mop, will attract what dirt and dust is left on the floor. However, the tiny amount of moisture isn’t enough to soak the wood and make it buckle or warp. Take a clean dry cloth and go back over the floor you just damp mopped. Getting up all the moisture further protects the wood.

It’s important to not use chemicals on a hardwood floor. Once the polyurethane finish is gone, the wood itself will absorb the chemicals. This will harm the wood and possibly change its color. If you feel the need to seal the floor or make it shine, use one part olive oil to one part lemon juice. Let it dry naturally for a moisturized, shiny wood floor.