So you have beautiful hardwood floors in your home. They are a really good investment as they are long lasting but they have to be looked after properly. Each plank of solid hardwood flooring is made from the best domestic and other exotic hardwoods. They come in different widths, and each plank is usually about ¾ inch thick. They need to be regularly protected and maintained so they look good for many years.
The cost associated with installing hardwood floors is rather high. You know you have invested in beautiful flooring and it definitely makes sense to learn how to keep them clean, how to keep the colors bright and looking good.
How hardwood floors get dirty
Hardwood floors get dirty from everyday activity. You have adults, kids and animals walking to and from, you have animals lazing around on the floor and sometimes, you wheel bicycles over the hardwood flooring. If you have a baby, the pram, like bicycle will be wheeled in and out just about every day. All this traffic contributes to dirtying, scratching and covering the floor in dust and hair. With all activity in and about, it is no wonder that the life and color of your hardwood floors is slowly diminishing. Remember that the time you spend cleaning your floors is really nothing to moan about compared to the years of use and longevity you will get out of these enduring floors. Let’s look at some basic tips on what to remember when cleaning your hardwood floors:
- Get it right from the beginning. These floors don’t just absorb dust and grime like carpets so you cannot see it. You will see every little spec of dirt. Learn the correct way to go about cleaning.
- Always use the cleaning method and equipment your installer recommended. If you just mix water and vinegar and scrub down the floor you are going to strip the shine and the floor will look dull and as if it needs a refinish, and that will just cost money. Also do not use any soapy cleaning mixtures or any that contain wax. They tend to leave oily marks behind and can lead to long term damage.
- Using a broom is not as effective as a microfiber mop or cloth. One of these should be used every day. The microfiber cleaning pad or mop is the best option as the dust cannot escape out from under it, whereas with brooms the dust tends to get pushed around so it spreads and you never really get rid of it.
- A very good idea is to use felt pads under the feet of your furniture so that they do no indent or mark the floor.
- In areas where you have a lot of traffic, buy hard-wearing rugs with waffle weave so that they can protect your floors. At doorways and stress areas, put down thick rugs and mats to eliminate extra damage being done to your floors.
How to clean hardwood floors
Vacuum cleaners are ideal for getting dust and dirt out of those hard to get at corners and under furniture – all the places, a mop or dusting will not reach. Also in-between the planks of hardwood, dust can get trapped in there and with the vacuum you can suck it right out. Be careful if your vacuum has a beater bar, as you do not want to bash the floor and cause a dent or permanent mark you cannot get rid of. An upright vacuum will work very well, just watch out the wheels do not leave a mark.
Scheduling the cleaning
Besides vacuuming on a regular basis, it is good to schedule your cleaning. In general, most people clean their floors on an adhoc basis – whenever time permits or when the floor starts to look dull. With a schedule, you will know exactly what needs to be done. Because cleaning hardwoods is not just a matter of vacuum and moping. Let’s take a look.
On a daily basis (if time permits) try sweeping and reaching all the hard to get to places with your broom – under the furniture, the corners and any tight crevices.
Vacuum and mop weekly
Do not use too much water, use a spray bottle to mist the floor slightly. Too much water, combined with regular cleaning can damage the flooring and cause it to lose color after a couple of years.
Every 4 months or so you can bring the floor polisher and give your floor a great all over polish and re-shine so that it looks as good as new. Floor polishers play a very important part in cleaning hardwood floors. They add beauty, shine and longevity to the life of the hardwood floor. Floor polish gives the floor back its original new looks and shines and protects it. It will also fill in the micro cracks or any little pock marks, and even out the floor so it looks as good as new again. Make sure you do not leave lines where to start to polish and then stop. Try and “feather” out the joins.
Every 3-5 years, you can give your floors a deep clean or a complete re-sanding. You will remove the protective finish and replace it, while at the same time filling in any grooves or marks so the floor has a an even and uniform look. Then you polish it. Now you know your floor looks beautiful.
What to avoid
Vinegar and ammonia
The acidity in both of these products will slowly destroy your hardwood floor. This shine will disappear and the rich color will fade and become stained;
Since wax is oily and sticky, it will attract dirt and dust so that it will be so much more difficult to clean as all the grime will stick to it making it harder to dislodge;
Another no-no, is that if your floors are varnished, this wax will not penetrate into varnish and get rid of the dirt. It will only clean the surface to remove visible marks and stains. It will also make the floor very slippery upon application.
Here you have all the information and tips you need to keep your hardwood floor in tip top condition year in and year out. Try not to use any rubber mats on hardwood floors as they tend to trap dust and any moisture underneath them and you could end up with nasty stains that you will have the re-sand and re-polish to get them back to normal. Spend time on home improvement learning, on how to take care of your hardwood floors and invest in the correct equipment. They will save you a lot of money in the long run.