Hardwood floors give any home an “interior-design-magazine-worthy” look. But they require regular maintenance and cleaning to keep them looking that way. Unlike tile and carpet, hardwood floors require extra care to maintain their smooth texture and sleek shine. Even with protective finishes, wood can still be easily damaged by excess levels of moisture or humidity. Added to that, sharp and hard objects are the enemy, as they can scratch or chip the wood.
So how do you treat your wood with the respect it deserves?
Here's how to clean hardwood floors for a flawless finish:
1. Start with the surface level sweep
Use a dry broom or microfiber mop to remove the initial layer of dirt and debris. Pro tip from The Home Depot: If you want to use your vacuum, make sure the brush roll is off so you don't scratch the wood. If the vacuum has a "hard floor" setting, it will automatically do this. Rubber wheels are also less likely to scratch the wood than plastic ones. You can work around most furniture, but feel free to move objects out of the way if they're easy to move.
2. Mop away
Now you can break out the wet - or technically, damp - mop. A cleaning solution of water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid should do the trick, but you can also buy wood cleaner. Be sure to ring out the mop well so you don't soak the floor with excess water. Microfiber mops work especially well for cleaning hardwood floors because they absorb moisture, rather than leaving the wood vulnerable to water damage. Glide the mop back and forth, careful to follow the grain of the wood with long, smooth strokes.
3. Buff the floor
Once the floor is clean, you can work on reviving its glorious shine. Using a soft cloth, rub against the floor in circular motions. According to Real Simple, cloth baby diapers are also great for this step because they're soft and absorbent. For additional shine and floor protection, use wood polish during this buffing stage. If your hardwood floors are in desperate need of restoration, you can use floor wax for a deep clean. Floor wax is also useful for removing dark spots, pet stains and heel marks. Better Homes & Gardens recommends applying the wax with steel wool to better remove these stains.
How to keep up the shine
Now that your hardwood floors are clean, continue showing them some love. The Home Depot recommends cleaning the floors you walk on most frequently every week or two for proper upkeep. You'll also want to use soft pads on the bottom of all furniture to avoid scratches. Other hardwood floor maintenance tips to keep in mind include:
- Avoid walking in high heels on hardwood floors.
- Don't slide objects (like heavy furniture) across the wood unless they are soft or have furniture pads on them.
- Use soft cloths or microfiber mops for quick dusting.
- Avoid using vinegar-based cleaning solutions, as the acid can dull the finish over time.
- Maintain comfortable temperature and humidity levels: Hardwood floors love temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees with 30 to 50 percent humidity, according to Apartment Therapy.
Cleaning is the first step to home maintenance. From deep cleaning your microwave to taking care of your light fixtures, every part of your home deserves some attention. If your home systems show signs of trouble despite your best cleaning efforts, reach out to a professional to diagnose the issue.
Being prepared before home repair issues arise is always a good strategy. Plans from HomeServe can help with the costs of covered repairs. See what plans are available in your area.