Using natural cleaners for wood floors has several benefits to you, your family and the environment. These solutions can come as store-bought products or homemade formulas. No matter what cleaner you use, however, read the ingredients and safety warnings on the label. Some natural products can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that cause respiratory issues.
Here's how to apply these items for a safe, beautiful result.
Natural, Organic and Safe
Labels touting "natural" don't necessarily guarantee its safety or that it contains only natural ingredients; there are no rules that determine when a product can use the term "natural" on their labels. Organic products, however, do carry certain regulations. Companies can only use "organic" on their label if the product contains 95 percent or more organic ingredients, as stipulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Reading labels and understanding a product's contents have always been the best ways to decide if a product meets your needs.
Why Use Natural Cleaners for Wood Floors
Wood floors can cover a huge area of a house. So a synthetic solution can produce odor and poor air quality, making breathing unpleasant at best especially for those who have certain sensitivities or asthma. Luckily, cleaners with natural solvents emit less of the smell often contained in petrochemicals. Although some may have scent added, such as orange or lavender essential oil, these are much safer to breathe in as the floor dries and generally have a more pleasant scent.
Safe for Every Family Member
Another reason to use a natural or organic cleaner is if you have young children or pets. A harsh cleaner used on floors that kids might play on can cause issues unique to young residents, such as skin rashes. Safety for pets holds similar importance, as animals spend time rolling around and risk having some cleaner ingested. This residue should be monitored each time you apply a fresh coat.
Cleaners That Work
Some commercial products, even homemade formulas containing natural ingredients like vinegar, damage the surface of softer species of wood over time. But items made primarily with oleochemicals, according to the American Cleaning Institute, consist in plant-based oils that can feed and protect these sensitive materials without compromising the floor's original luster while still removing dirt and grime. These types of natural cleaners for wood floors are generally easy to use and require no supplemental product, as well. They alone can protect the investment you made in your home's flooring.
Good for the Budget
Many natural cleaners may cost a little more at checkout, but because they are often concentrated, so a little goes a long way. Some all-purpose natural wood floor cleaners suggest you mix in water to modify the strength and consistency. Homemade cleaners might be even more budget-friendly, but care should always be taken when incorporating ingredients that could react and release VOCs.
The first step in keeping wood floors clean is to vacuum and dust mop. Removing surface debris prevents scratches and wear against the floor's finish. Wood floors in low-traffic areas only need to be mopped monthly or seasonally. In high-traffic spaces, mop as needed. When using water, ring the mop until it feels just slightly damp, according to Better Homes and Gardens. Drying wet spots after mopping prevents water from penetrating the wood's pores, allowing you to enjoy hardwood that looks as healthy as the solution you put on it.
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.