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Cleaning and Maintaining Your Hardwood Floors

As nice and beautiful as wood floors can be, there is no such thing as the “self-cleaning” wood floor. Fortunately, if done properly, cleaning your wood floor can be quick easy and lead to a longer-lasting floor. Here are some quick tips on getting the job completed fast and efficiently.

Wood floor cleaners

DO's of Cleaning

  1. Use rugs in heavy traffic areas and areas of entry to the house. Rugs help trap dirt and grit and help prevent premature wear in high-traffic areas. At entry areas, they give people a place to wipe their shoes. This will help prevent water damage by entry doors.
  2. Vacuum when needed. Preventing the floor from accumulating large amounts of dirt and grit will significantly increase the longevity of your floor. Avoid vacuums with beater bars as they can scratch the floor.
  3. Sweep your floor with a microfiber mop. This is a quick and efficient way to keep your floor from accumulating dust and small debris. Even 10 minutes, two to four times a month will help keep your floors dust free.
  4. Use proper cleaners. These cleaners leave no residue and don’t dull the floor's sheen. This should be stated clearly on the bottle. They can be spritzed on the floor or the microfiber pad before giving the floor a quick sweep. The use of proper cleaners will allow your floor to be recoated when signs of wear start to show.
  5. Help the floor color evenly. On woods that change color over time, take up rugs from time to time or on vacation to let the floor underneath “catch up” in color. Try to protect areas with high exposure to UV light with blinds or drapes.
  6. Always use felt pads and be very careful when sliding furniture. Always use felt pads under pieces of furniture that move. This includes beds, chairs, tables, and anything else that can wear on your floors’ finish. However, even with the feet protected with felt, grit can still get caught underneath and scratch the floor. Also, if you slide something heavy very quickly, you can give your floor “carpet burn,” leaving a shiny sheen streak.
  7. Have your floors recoated when needed. All floors will eventually show wear and scratches over time. This can be anywhere from one year in commercial settings to 15-20 years in light residential settings. When signs of wear are noticeable, have a professional come and recoat your floor by buffing the floor and applying another coat of finish. This small investment will keep your floors from needing a more costly refinish for many, many years.

DON'TS of Cleaning

There are a few things that need to be kept in mind when taking care of your hardwood floors. Some of these rules go against public perception. But always trust your professional over a DIY website or your all-knowing neighbor.

  1. Never allow standing water to sit on your floor. Water is woods' number one enemy. This means NO wet mopping the floor and always be diligent about protecting entryways where wet shoes may bring water in the house.
  2. Never use products on your floor that leave a residue. This means absolutely NO wax, Murphy’s Oil, Pledge, Orange Glow, or any other product that will leave behind a residue. These products dull the floor and will not allow the floor to be recoated in the future.
  3. Never allow high heels on the floor. A 100-pound woman walking in high heels exerts around 1,500 pounds per square inch (psi). If the nail is exposed in the heel, she can exert well over 5000 psi. To put it comparison, a 3-ton elephant only exerts around 75 psi. In other words, a petite woman in high heels puts 20 times more pressure on your hardwood than an elephant. Not even a metal floor will stand up to that.

What Cleaner Do I Use On My Hardwood Floor?

We are big advocates of just cleaning with hot water and a quality micro-fiber mop (which you will receive if we sand your wood floor). However, if you do choose to use a cleaner, there are some things you must know about hardwood floor cleaners!

First off, you can make things much worse with the wrong cleaner, but you won’t know it until it’s too late.

A clean wood floor
Keeping your new wood floors residue free is very important
The Wrong Cleaners for Wood Floors:

Any cleaner that leaves a residue should never touch your floor. This includes Murphy’s Oil Soap, Pledge, Mop & Glo, Orange Glo, or any cleaner that doesn’t specify that it is a “No-Residue” product. If it has “Polish” or “Shine” in the name, it’s probably a no-go.

There are two reasons you don’t want to use these products on your floor...

  1. The residue these products leave can prevent any future re-coating (buffing and applying another coat of finish). If you have a pre-finished floor, this may not be possible anyways. However, if you have a site-finished floor, you can get another decade or two out of your floor before having to re-sand it if you have it recoated when the floors require another coat of finish. The oil residue won’t allow for proper adhesion of the new coat of finish.
  2. The residue in the cleaner builds up over time and leaves the floor looking cloudy and the sheen uneven. Once you realize you are building residue on your floor, you can see how that residue will start clouding the floor. Even worse, your high-traffic areas will wear down the residue leaving shiny spots, and your floor will be shiny in some areas and dull in other areas. The only cure will be to apply more residue cleaner to the floor, which makes it look good for a short time, but makes the problem worse in the long run.

Please only use “No-Residue” cleaners on your hardwood floor

Only use “No-Residue” cleaners on your wood floor. Any cleaner that has something to the effect of “No-Residue” on the label is acceptable to use. As the label implies, these cleaners will not leave much of a residue on your floor and will allow for future recoats.

So why do we not recommend these cleaners ourselves?

It’s not that they aren’t ok to use now and again, but even these cleaners can affect the sheen of your floor if used too often. Although we don’t have any scientific data to back this up, we believe most store-bought cleaners leave some residue over time, leading to cloudiness an uneven sheen.

What about adding good-ole-fashioned vinegar to the water?

Here again, 1 parts vinegar to 9 parts water can be an effective cleaning solution once in a while, but, if used too often, the acid in the vinegar can have unwanted effects on your floor.

If you have any questions or concerns about cleaning your hardwood floors or which products to use, please don't hesitate to reach out and give us a call (701-893-5257) before you make a costly mistake.

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