How Do You Clean Wood Floors and Care for Them?
Protecting and getting clean wood floors isn’t difficult, but it’s important to understand how different sealers work and the advantages and disadvantages of each. If you’ve just installed prefinished hardwood flooring, you’ll be particularly concerned with protecting that new finish. There are two basic types of wood floor cleaners and sealers: penetrating sealers and “top” sealers. Penetrating sealers, as the name implies, soak into the wood and seal from within. When the floor becomes worn, you can re-apply penetrating sealers. Top sealers, like lacquer, shellac, and varnish stay on top of the wood and cannot be applied for worn spots without showing. With top-sealers you have typically have to sand and re-apply the entire finish.
There are some natural cleaners that can be made from home-made solutions:
- For a good all-around cleaner, add a 1/2 cup of vinegar to one gallon of water and mix. Spread with a sponge and be sure not to apply it directly to the floor
- Take a soft cloth and use mineral oil to clean small areas of a wooden floor
- A less-traditional remedy for cleaning hardwood floors is to brew a strong pot of tea and apply it with a soft cloth
- By freezing gum or crayon stains with an ice pack, you can gently scrape it off when it hardens up
- Alcohol or turpentine can be rubbed into marks or burns
- Enzymatic cleaners are best for any odorous conditions like pet stains
Alternatively, a surface or top-coat can be made from a 1:1 mix of vegetable oil and vinegar. Just apply a thin coat of the solution on the surface of the floor and rub it in well with a soft cloth.
How Do You Clean Wood Floors That Are Painted?
If you’re trying to get clean wood floors and your floors are painted, try mixing a teaspoon of washing soda into a gallon of hot water. Use a mop to wash the floor. This also works well to remove mildew.
Oil Soap is sold under several brand names and should be used according to the directions provided by the manufacturer. Before going all out, first wash a small area of your wood floor that isn’t in a highly visible area. If the finish holds up and doesn’t change in appearance, continue to follow the instructions and use the product on the remainder of the floor. If the finish does show discoloration, you should consult a wood flooring professional.
General Cleaning and Waxing of Wood Floors
You want to vacuum your wood floor regularly in order to keep dust and dirt from grinding into the surface over time. We use a Hoover Air cordless vacuum that is nearly effortless for this type of work. If you have a spill, wipe it up quickly so it doesn’t get to set in. The idea is to use a damp (but not soaked) cloth or towel to quickly clean up sills. Then dry the area with a paper towel. When necessary, you can use a solvent-based liquid wax to remove dirt and old wax. Like older style car waxes, these products are applied with a clean cloth (or cloth-covered applicator) and typically leave a coating which must be buffed after it dries. Electric polishers are available from many rental stores that can aid in this entire process.
If you take care of your wood you will be able to enjoy it longer and with less periods of major maintenance. There is no reason a residential wood floor cannot last virtually forever provided it is maintained and cleaned periodically.