How to Clean Wood Floors
Not only are wood floors elegant and add a feeling of warmth and spaciousness to a home, but they’re also amazingly easy to keep clean.
Wood floors really require just a minimum of maintenance and can last, literally, for hundreds of years if you follow these handy tips.
Tips for Cleaning Wood Floors
- The very best thing for any wood floor is to always vacuum and dust mop it regularly. This will prevent dirt from building up and scratching and allowing the dirt to settle and damage the floor.
- Always use the least amount of water to remove the grime.
- Never soak the floor with your cleaning solution.
- Always sweep or vacuum your hardwood floors to reduce scratching and pitting from the dirt and small rocks. This will prolong the shine and life of the wood finish by years.
We usually mop wood floors with a vinegar and water solution by mixing 1/2 to 1 cup of plain white vinegar to 1 gallon warm water. It is a mild deodorizing and non-residue cleaning solution that does not need to be rinsed and leaves no streaks.
- Work on one small area at a time
- Dip a cotton cleaning cloth or mop into the mixture and squeeze out most of the liquid.
- Wipe or mop the floor without spreading the liquid and getting it soaking wet.
- Immediately dry with another cloth or towel bring out the shine and luster.
- Do not allow your wood floors to get too wet and by wiping it dry you will not have any water spots.
Waxing Hard Wood Floors
By hard wood, we mean older wood floors that have not been finished with an epoxy type resin (called Swedish finish wood) These floors are found in older buildings and though incredibly beautify if properly maintained require a different type of cleaning than the newer epoxy coated wood.
If your vacuum or dust mop does not restore the shine and luster to your wood floor, (again not Swedish finish) try buffing the floor to restore the shine rather than applying more wax. Buffing should always be tried first as it will often restore a nice shine and luster without adding another layer of waxy build-up.
If buffing does not work, you will need to first apply a specific wood floor cleaner such as murphy oil soap cleaner or other hardwood floor cleaner and a liquid wax that is made specifically for wood floors. After the wax is applied, let it dry, and then buff it again.
How to Wax Swedish Finish Floors
The answer is; don't ever use wax.
Swedish finish wood is covered in an epoxy resin, that does not need and will not benefit from a wax. If using a dust mop does not shine to your Swedish finished hard wood, try using a cleaner recommended by the manufacturer.
With time and traffic, the finish will come off and the shine will become dull. Do not wax these floors, do not use wood polish. Call a specialty company and have the floor surface refinished.
Here is a true story:
My sister was the proud owner of a new home with swedish finish wood floors. When my family and I arrived to see her home, my kids went sliding and almost hit the wall because the floors were so slippery. This is not an exaggeration, this was a serious safety hazard.
After asking her what was going on with the slick surface, she disclosed that the floors were scuffed and dirty looking when she moved in and she tried every thing under the sun to make them look shiny and restore the luster. Nothing had worked, so she had finally resorted to using some kind of furniture wood polish. The oily kind that you spray on your real wood furniture.
So the oily polish on top of the epoxy made this floor worse than walking on pure ice. I explained to my sister that the wood surface was coated with an epoxy, the polish and wax would not help, and could actually harm the surface depending on whatever chemical she used.
Clean Swedish Finish Wood Floors with Plain White Vinegar
Swedish finish does not need a thing to make it shine brightly, though the epoxy finish will spot if any cleaning residue is left on it.
I have researched and tested this. We are a good sized company and we've cleaned thousands of homes. It's not worth it to buy a substandard product if the client complains and I need to send out another team to re clean the floors.
Use a solution of 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar to 1 gallon of water. The vinegar smell dissipates quickly, it is a natural germ killer and deodorizer that leaves no residue and makes the floor shine brightly. No rinsing required.
If vinegar and water does not work for you, it's likely the floor needs a new surface finish. Remember that you should not wax a surface finished floor, but you might need to contact a wood floor finisher and have the floor surface reapplied.
How To Clean Polyurethane/Epoxy Wood Floors
If you use an oil based cleaner on a polyurethane finished floor, it will leave an oily residue on the floor surface which will make cleaning the floor not only difficult, but dangerous and could actually degrade the floor and cause problems when the floor is buffed and re-coated.
When cleaning your hardwood floor, only a minimal amount of water should be used. So mop and wipe only with a dampened, not but not dripping wet cloth or mop. Dry the floor using a sh-mop or dry cotton towel to remove water and prevent water spotting.
The best way to clean any sort of wood floor finished with a urethane is to use vinegar or other polyurethane specific cleaner which can be purchased from a home improvement store.
Cleaning Old (Real) Wood Floors
Oil cleaners such as Murphys oil soap are best used on the older type of wood, including an unwaxed and bare-wood floors.
Murphys oil soap mixed according to directions and mopped once a week works. If you keep the dirt off the floors, you will rarely have to mop it. Remember to vacuum frequently, use mats at doorways, and your floor will thank you.
Always check with your manufacturer and follow their instructions.