Cleaning Your Hardwood Floors
Hardwood is a fantastic flooring material that can last a lifetime, or even longer. To keep your floor looking its best, it’s important to clean it regularly. It’s also critical to pick the correct products for your floor’s finish, and to avoid accidentally using products that could degrade or damage your wood.
What’s Your Finish
The first thing you’ll need to determine is your floor’s finish. There are two common types:
- Surface Finish: This is now the most common type of finish. Most surface finishes are water-based polyurethane varnish. They form a protective, clear coat on the top of your wood to protect it from scuffs and scratches and keep water out.
- Penetrating Finish: A penetrating finish will seep into the top layer of wood. They are usually oil-based, and finished with wax for extra shine. These finishes will not repel water, so care needs to be taken when cleaning finishes with a wax finish.
Bust The Dust
To prevent buildups, your floor should be cleaned weekly to keep dust under control. It’s recommended to either dry mop, sweep, or vacuum to control dust buildup. A dry mop (like a swiffer) is safer than wet mopping for hardwood floors. If you sweep or vacuum, make sure you avoid using a broom or vacuum sweeper with abrasive fibres that can scratch your finish.
Revitalizing Your Floor
Even with your best efforts at weekly cleaning, eventually your floor is going to start to lose its shine. At this stage, your best bet is to bring it back to life with a deep clean. The product you use will vary depending on whether your floor has a surface or penetrating finish.
- Surface Finish: If your floor has a surface finish, it’s best to clean it using a pH-neutral, wax and petroleum-free deep cleaner such as Bona PowerPlus Hardwood Floor Deep Cleaner. You should apply the product to the floor using a damp mop, using circular motions to remove built-up dirt and grime. Remove the product using a clean, damp, mop and fresh water.
- Penetrating Finish: You’ll first need to remove the old coat of wax using a mineral-spirit based cleaner. Leave it to soak for five minutes before cleaning it away with a rag or cloth and allowing your floor to dry. Once your floor is dry, apply a new flooring wax and polish your floor, either by hand (appropriate for smaller rooms), or with an electric polisher, which can be rented at your local hardware store.
Whether you have a surface or penetrating finish, it’s best to perform a deep cleaning twice per year, whether your floor appears visibly grimy or not.
Maintaining Your Hardwood Floor
Now that your floor is looking spotless and clean, make sure that you maintain it properly to avoid degrading its appearance or even damaging it!
- Act Fast: Never ignore either excess moisture or sticky substances on your floor. Pick up dropped ice or clean up spills immediately, and don’t let liquids like juice leave a residue when they dry.
- Remove Standing Water: Whether from a big spill or from using too much water when you mop, standing water can seep between your boards and cause headaches later on, making it necessary to refinish your floor. Wood floors and water never mix!
- First, do no harm: All cleaning products are not created equal. Never allow harsh cleaners such as vinegar or ammonia to be used on your floor, and don’t use a product meant for penetrating finishes on surface finishes or vice versa.
- Be Gentle: Many standard brooms, vacuum attachments, and other tools will scratch the finish of your floor. To avoid having to refinish sooner than necessary, always pick gentle tools.
The best way to maintain your floor’s appearance is to clean regularly, either with a microfibre mop or a vacuum with a soft floor nozzle.
Your hardwood floor needs attention to keep looking its best. The good news is that if you treat it with care and the right products/techniques, your floor can continue to look shiny and new for decades to come.