Hardwood Floors & flooring

Hardwood Floor Cleaning Tips

by Anita Alvarez

A woman cleans her hardwood floor

The best way to clean hardwood floors isn't set in stone. Much of what works when it comes to cleaning hardwood floors involves the elbow grease you're willing to put in, the time you have to devote to it and the cleaners you choose to work with. Here are some of the best ways to approach the job.

1. Pre-Cleaning

Use a soft-bristled broom or hard-surface vacuum to clean the floor. This step ensures that you remove any dirt or debris that, if left on the floor, could damage the surface or scratch the finish.

2. Choosing a Solution

The next step involves mopping. At this stage, the best cleaner is simply the ideal solution for the condition of your floor. If you're seeking a general cleaning, select a cleaner that's pH neutral and based in water. These are gentle on hardwood and its finish. If the floors are especially dirty, and you need to tackle hardened dirt and grease, an alkaline and water-based solution is best. Liquid dishwashing soap or baking soda and water will do the trick in this case.

3. Not So Rough

Don't use these types of cleaners too often, however, as they can also dull the floor's finish. To get rid of mineral deposits or hard water spots, use an acidic cleaner that's water-based, like white vinegar. The Housekeeping Channel finds these kinds of natural cleaners have a moderate 5-percent strength in relation to chemical cleaners (for example, if you're removing tar), and they won't damage the finish.

Remember to avoid using harsh cleaners on the floor, as well. Abrasive cleaners like an Ajax product can damage the flooring, whereas bleach and ammonia will leave a residue behind. In this same vein, don't use furniture spray or wax on the flooring. Safe, natural cleaner like Murphy® Oil Soap, however, won't leave a residue or damage the floor, and it safely tackles dirt and grime.

Getting to the Task

You can approach the job of mopping your floors two ways:

  • Damp mop the floor. For this method, you should get your mop just barely saturated and pass over the floor two times. The first pass removes dirt, and the second pass rinses the floor.
  • Wet mop the floor. Get the mop very wet, and the floors too. Once they're nice and soaked, use a non-abrasive scrubber to pass over the floors. Wring out the mop until it's almost completely dry, and work your way over the floors to pick up residual water. Then, pass over the floors again to rinse them.

The final step for both methods should involve dry-mopping the floor to remove any lingering water. Leftover moisture can warp floors that are in otherwise good condition, by seeping into openings between wood slats or tiny nicks in the finish.

Now that you know the best way to clean hardwood floors, get to work so that your floors shine.

Image source: Flickr

This article was brought to you by Colgate-Palmolive Company, the makers of Murphy® Oil Soap. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of the Colgate-Palmolive Company.