According to statistics, one of the most popular flooring options in most homes is hardwood floors. If you have read about hardwood flooring, then it’s not difficult to understand why. Unlike other floorings, hardwood floors have a tendency of blending well with the rest of your indoor acoustics leaving your home looking at its absolute best. But, despite bringing an earthy and warm beauty to your interior, hardwood floors endure a lot including foot traffic, grime, debris, and inevitable spills caused by kids and pets. Since cleaning is part of your daily routine, learning how to clean hardwood floors is one way you can restore the marvelous luster it once enjoyed.
But, cleaning your hardwood floor doesn’t involve the usual old broom and mop method. There’s a lot more you need to learn to ensure that your floor continues to look magnificent even after years of use. With that said, this guide has gathered insightful information in form of a detailed step-by-step guide to help you clean your hardwood floor without ruining its marvelous luster.
How to Clean Hardwood Floor: Step by Step Guide
General Maintenance Tips For Hardwood Floors
Whether you’re installing hardwood flooring for the first time or you already have one installed, one thing about this type of floor is that it’s quite unique and very tricky to maintain. So, without the right information, cleaning and maintaining hardwood floors will be quite difficult something that can lead to rapid wear and tear. Thankfully, this guide has highlighted some key maintenance tips that must be observed at all times.
Determine the Type of Wood Finish You’ve Got
So, before you start cleaning your hardwood floor, the first thing you need to think of is the type of floor you’ve got. You see, hardwood floors come in different variations such as stained vs. unfinished, solid vs. engineered, and sealed vs. coated. Therefore, before you start cleaning the floor, you need to determine whether the seal on your wooden planks is old or modern or whether the wax on the shiny floor is resilient enough to offer the much-needed reinforcement in case the floor gets into contact with water.
To test whether the floor is waxed or not, you can try scrubbing a small area of the floor with steel wool to see whether you’ll see some wax. To test the seal, you can try adding a few drops of water on the floor then leave it for a few minutes to see whether the water droplets will get absorbed.
Once you get an idea of the type of floor you’re dealing with, you can easily determine the type of cleaning method you’re going to employ.
Always Use the Recommended Cleaning Products
Once you determine the type of flooring you’re dealing with, the next step is to stick with the recommended cleaning products as directed by professionals. If you don’t have any idea on what to use, always consult professional cleaners on which products to use depending on the type of floor you’ve installed.
If your home is one that receives high foot traffic, then you need to vacuum the floor at least once daily. This way, you’ll manage to remove dust and dirt more easily instead of letting it accumulate over time. Now, when cleaning your floor routinely, you can opt to use a soft-bristled broom or a vacuum with a soft-bristled brush.
The reason for using a soft-bristled brush is to prevent large particles such as sand and grit from scratching your floor. Also, some of the particles can get into crevices making it difficult to clean them especially if you’re using the wrong brush.
Take Off Your Shoes While Indoors
Although we’ve mentioned about vacuuming your floor regularly, one tip that will help to reduce the amount of dirt and dust that’s accumulating on your floor is by keeping rugs on the front door. Also, it’s good to remind your visitors and members of the family to remove their shoes while getting in to reduce the amount of dust. Lastly, by taking off your shoes, you’ll reduce the rate of wear on your floor as scratches will be reduced to the minimum.
Always Clean Spills ASAP
Although spills are inevitable, drying them up immediately is one way you can guarantee the longevity of your dear hardwood floor. Regardless of the type of finish you’ve got, failure to clean spills exposes your floor to rapid wear as fluids can penetrate into the grains to damage the wooden planks permanently.
Still on spills, when cleaning your hardwood floor, always avoid using excess water. Instead, use a damp sponge or soft cloth to wipe the surface in case of spot cleaning. Also, avoid using wax or oil-based products as they too can damage your floor by making it look dull and cloudy.
If you have pets around, you will need to figure out how you can protect your floor against unavoidable scratches. You see, when your pets are anxious, emotional, sick, or hungry, there are chances that they can scratch your hardwood floor as a way of conveying a message. If you don’t repair these scratches immediately, then they can end up providing perfect hiding spots for dirt and grime. As they become deeper, your floor will eventually get ruined forcing you to replace the entire floor altogether.
Best Ways to Clean Your Floor
Now that we’ve discussed everything you need to know before cleaning your hardwood floor, this guide will now focus on three main methods you can use to clean your floor. These are dry mopping using a vacuum, wet mopping using a mop, and using home-based products to clean your floor.
Dry Mopping Method
The first method we’ll be discussing here is cleaning your floor using the dry mopping method. In most cases, using a vacuum is considered the most effective method as you only have to use the hard floor setting to clean your floor.
A dry mop and a broom are two other great tools you can consider as they too perform well in removing loose dust, dirt, and debris from your floor. But, when choosing any of these tools (especially the vacuum), you need to choose a model that’s versatile enough to clean both hardwood and carpeted floors. So, for that reason, I will discuss several tools that you can consider if you’re using this method.
Gather Your Supplies
- A Vacuum Cleaner
- Microfiber Mops
Since most of you must be wondering which vacuum cleaner is the best, I’ve rounded up two perfect options you can consider.
· Shark Rocket HV301
One of the best vacuums you can consider when getting ready to clean your new hardwood floor is the Shark Rocket HV301. The reason why I selected this vacuum over hundreds of other choices is due to a couple of factors. The first one is its lightweight. At just 7 pounds, this vacuum is easy to hold and maneuver throughout the floor when cleaning.
The second feature is its high suction power which is all thanks to its 4.2 Amps motor. By combining its high suction power with the swivel steering, you’ll manage to vacuum your entire floor without a hassle.
· Hoover Linx SH20030
Another great recommendation is the Hoover Linx SH20030. This upright model uses the cyclonic technology that gives it tremendous suction power to suck any dirt, dust, and debris that comes its way. It has rubber tires at the bottom that prevents it from scratching your floor. The handle can easily recline to allow the vacuum to reach those hard to reach areas beneath your furniture.
The long 20 ft. cord allows you to clean a wider area without feeling restricted. This vacuum comes with several attachments that make it useful in cleaning both hardwood and carpeted floors.
If your hardwood floor doesn’t have a carpet, you can instead use a microfiber mop to capture more dust and dirt from getting stuck on your beautiful floor. Here are two models you can consider.
· Turbo Microfiber Mop
The Turbo Microfiber Mop is a versatile mop that boosts being efficient enough in cleaning a variety of floors. Provided your floor isn’t carpeted, this mop can do a perfect job of cleaning hardwood, tile, and laminated floors with enthusiasm. The microfiber pads have a length of 18” which is wide enough to handle expansive floors.
It also has an aluminum frame that makes it extremely light when used by both kids and seniors. The head can swivel at an angle of 360° making it much easier to use. The package comes with at least two microfiber mops that can be machine washed to be reused.
· Microfiber Wholesale Professional Mop
Just like the Turbo Microfiber Mop, this one too is fitted with a light aluminum framework that makes it easy for you to do the mopping. The mop head is 18” in length which again is wide enough to help you accomplish most of the cleaning work.
· O-Cedar Fast ‘N Easy Angle Broom
In case you need to clean small messes here and there, then you can consider using a broom which in this case is the O-Cedar Fast ‘N Easy Angle Broom. Weighing just 1.3 pounds, this broom is among the best to consider as it’s made from 80% recycled plastic bottles. The bristles are soft and are the best for cleaning tough messes that are hard to get rid of when using a soft microfiber mop or a vacuum.
How to Clean the Floor
Now that I’ve discussed the right tools you’ll need for your project, the next step is to commence the cleaning process.
- Step One:
If you’re planning to do a general cleaning over the weekend, then the first step you’ll have to take is to clear your floor by moving the furniture to one side. Since heavy furniture can scratch your hardwood floor if dragged, you need to use furniture pads and coasters to help you slide the heavy stuff effortlessly without causing any damages to your floor.
However, if you have a tiny space, or maybe you’re a senior who is unable to drag the furniture around, then you can start the cleaning process immediately by taking advantage of a vacuum cleaner such as the Hoover Linx SH20030. This vacuum can easily get beneath your furniture which is a huge plus for you.
- Step Two:
Once you’re done moving your furniture to create space, you can start by inspecting the floor to ensure there are no spills. In case of any, then you use a dry paper towel to clean the mess starting from the edges making your way to the center. This step is very critical as it will prevent you from spreading any fluids to neighboring parts of the floor.
Still while inspecting your floor, you can use a broom such as the O-Cedar Fast ‘N Easy Angle Broom to clean any food or large particles that lie on the floor. This will make it easier for you to jump to the next step.
- Step Three:
In our next step, simply grab your vacuum or your microfiber mop and start cleaning your hardwood floor. If you’re using a vacuum, always use a brush attachment that’s specifically designed for cleaning hardwood floors.
On the other hand, if you’re using a microfiber mop, avoid repeating the same area over and over as this can cause dust and debris clinging on the mop to get back to those areas that are already clean. In case you get to those tricky corners, you can use a broom to get rid of dirt then continue vacuuming.
Wet Mopping Method
In most cases, dry mopping is considered the first step in cleaning your hardwood floor. In case there are more messes such as dried stains, spills, pet urine, and muddy shoe prints, then wet mopping is definitely the other half of your hardwood floor cleaning equation.
Gather Your Supplies
- Hardwood cleaning products
Now, in the case of the damp mop, you can use the regular damp mop and a bucket or you can go with my recommendation which is the Bona Hardwood Floor Premium Spray Mop. The best thing about this damp mop is its microfiber cleaning pad that’s versatile enough to work on any flooring.It’s also machine washable and wide enough to cover a large area.
About the cleaning products, I’ve opted to recommend the Weiman Wood Floor Cleaner and the Method Squirt + Mop Cleaner. The reason why I’ve selected these two products is due to their pH-neutral formulation that’s perfectly safe for both finished and prefinished hardwood surfaces.
How to Clean the Floor
- Step One:
Since wet mopping is considered the other half of your floor cleaning equation, you will simply go straight to the point where you’ll mix your water-based cleaning product with distilled water as per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Mix the two in a bucket and get ready to start mopping.
- Step Two:
Having taken off your shoes, start by dipping the damp mop into the bucket then rinse it entirely before wiping your floor along the wood’s grains. Always clean your floor starting from the furthest corner working towards the door. This will prevent you from stepping on the already cleaned areas. In case the solution gets too dirty before you’re done, you can always replace it with fresh content to guarantee maximum efficiency.
- Step Three:
Once you’re through cleaning, rinse, and squeegee the mop entirely to get rid of any water. Use a damp mop to rinse off any excess water from your hardwood floor. Continue repeating this step until the entire floor is dry.
You see, although most modern hardwood floors are protected by surface seals, most of these seals cannot tolerate being wet for too long. So, by rinsing the floor entirely, you’re able to get rid of any excess water which is healthy for your floor.
- Step Four:
When cleaning, there are times when you might get close to tough stains. In case this happens, don’t feel distressed. Instead, sprinkle some cleaning solution on the affected area then use a clean microfiber cloth to scrub it over the affected area.
- Step Five:
Now that your floor is completely clean, it’s time to make it sparkle. This step usually comes last and it’s meant to restore your floor’s former luster. So, the first step here is to mix your preferred cleaner concentrate with water according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
- Step Six:
Next, mix the solution inside a spray bottle then get ready to spray directly on the floor. But, before you start spraying, it’s recommended that you first test the reaction by spraying it in a separate inconspicuous area. Here, you’ll be looking for any discoloration, clouding, or bubbling on your floor.
Once you’re satisfied with the results, start spraying the solution on your floor by first spraying then buffing the floor using a clean microfiber cloth. In case the floor is too wide, you can opt to use a damp mop instead.
If you’re lucky enough to own a buffing machine, then you can use it to buff your floor until it sparkles.
Using Homemade Floor Cleaners
If you have kids around, there are times when you might consider taking the DIY homemade route to reduce chemical buildup on your floor. So, if you intend to protect the environment, then you can ditch those chemical cleaning products and instead consider using vinegar. The reason why I’ve chosen vinegar is due to its immense popularity as a green cleaning product.
You Will Need
- ¼ cup of white vinegar
- 1 tsp of castile soap
- 1 gallon of warm water
How to Clean the Floor
- Step One:
Just like in our previous methods, always start by sweeping your floor using a broom to remove large debris such as sand and grit that can easily scratch your floor.
- Step Two:
When you’re done, mix a ¼ cup of white vinegar and one tablespoon of castile soap to a 3.8-liter gallon full of warm water. Stir the content thoroughly to ensure all the vinegar plus castile soap have dissolved in the warm water.
- Step Three:
Using your damp mop, soak it inside the bucket then rinse thoroughly before mopping the floor. Mop the entire floor strategically from one corner to the door. When moping, make sure that you pass the mop at least twice in one area to ensure that all dirt and dust particles have been wiped off the floor completely.
- Step Four:
When mopping, you might notice some dark spots that are quite tough to remove. In the case of such stains, mix equal parts of baking soda and white vinegar. By mixing the two, you’ll form a paste that will be essential in cleaning those dark stains including spills and pet urine.
During application, you’ll only have to apply the paste on a non-abrasive sponge or a cloth then spot clean the floor by applying pressure on the affected parts.
- Step Five:
Although it’s optional, it’s always wise to buff your floor with a clean non-abrasive sponge or a clean towel. Despite giving your floor that shiny and sparkling appeal, buffing your floor allows you to detect and wipe off any water pooling on the floor.
What to Avoid When Cleaning Hardwood Floor
- When mopping hardwood floors, always avoid using cold or hot water as this can warp/dull your floor.
- When removing tough stains, avoid using abrasive scrubbers and instead stick to soft brushes, sponges, and towels.
- Avoid wax-based cleaners as much as possible. Such cleaners leave a thin film over the surface of your floor that can become a hiding spot for dust.
- Never clean your floor with your shoes on. This can easily scratch your floor in case you step on large debris such as sand and grit.
- Avoid leaving the floor wet. Always wipe it dry and if possible, use a towel to buff it until it’s entirely dry.
As you can see from this guide, cleaning your hardwood floor doesn’t cost you the whole world. With the right tools and information, you don’t have to wait for the weekend to clean your floor. Instead, you can develop a ritual of spot cleaning your hardwood floor every time you spot small messes. This way, you’ll maintain your floor’s beautiful luster for a long time without allowing it to fade or wear out.
Lastly, this insightful guide has discussed three major methods you can consider when cleaning your hardwood floor. I’ve discussed professional methods and concluded by discussing a homemade method you can employ if you want to avoid chemical buildup on your floor.
So, with that said I just hope this guide was both helpful and insightful. Please share these tips with your friends and family and most importantly, don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments section below.