So, you’ve dished out the dough and installed some high-quality solid hardwood floors in your home, or perhaps you’re lucky and have moved into a home with pre-existing hardwoods. Your next immediate thought should be: how do I keep these looking nice forever?
Solid hardwood floors are such a luxury to have and can skyrocket the value of your home. You also will likely never have to replace solid hardwood flooring in your lifetime due to its amazing durability.
So, it’s worthwhile to look at it as a valuable investment and take care of it accordingly so.
Your floors take a serious beating day-to-day, especially when you have pets or kids, and keeping them looking nice can seem like more work than it’s worth. However, there are few tricks that, when done often, will keep you from having to deep clean regularly or worse, having to sand and refinish your floors.
So, before you grab that mop bucket and that old bottle of mystery all-purpose cleaner you have kicking around in the back of your cabinet, let’s take a step back and consider what the best solution is to cleaning and maintaining those gorgeous hardwoods.
1. Throw That Soggy Mop Out Right Now
Let’s just trust Martha Stewart on this one (as we should with all things): water is a hardwood floor’s worst enemy, especially water that is allowed to sit on the surface after you mop.
Sure, a soaking wet mop works wonders to clean tile or laminate floor (or does it?) but you should banish the mop to your kitchen and bathroom only.
Depending on your hardwood finish, you should also avoid using any harsh chemical cleaners or vinegar, especially for polyurethane, as it can eat through and leave your floors looking dull. When in doubt, do a spot check in an inconspicuous place on anything you want to use to clean your hardwoods.
Oil soaps are marketed for cleaning hardwoods but tend to leave a residue that can, in turn, trap even more dust and make daily clean-up more difficult over the long term.
Ideally, you should rely on dry mopping, dusting, and vacuuming hardwoods often, which leads to our next tip.
2. Vacuum Hardwood Floors Daily (or, Ya Know, Semi-Daily)
Vacuuming (or dust-mopping if you don’t feel like dragging your vacuum out of the closet every day), is your go-to for hardwoods.
Keeping your floors vacuumed will not only make your house spick-and-span on a daily basis but will cut down on the amount of dirt and dust on the surface of your floors that can lead to scratching.
3. Spot Clean
If you happen to spill your coffee or your cat takes revenge on you by peeing on the floor, clean it up ASAP. Run, don’t walk, to the paper towels before it has a chance to permeate any cracks.
For tough spills and stains, spot clean with a damp rag and make sure it’s dry afterward. The #1 thing to consider when cleaning spills or stains out of hardwood is the specific finish and the type of stain you’re dealing with.
Vinegar and cleaning agents can take the shine off of polyurethane finishes and should be avoided at all costs. Again, if in doubt, test in a hidden spot first before applying any type of cleaner.
4. The Semi-Annual Deep Clean
When you absolutely must mop your floors, do so with a very gentle, mild cleaner formulated for wood floors and be conservative with the amount you are applying.
Even better, make your own! There are tons of tested and safe recipes for DIY cleaners that can be used for hardwood floors. Apply with a sponge mop that is not too saturated.
This should be done, at most, every 1-2 months when things are getting a little too grimy. Consider doing this in the transition seasons like during Spring cleaning or before winter holiday madness. You don’t want those in-laws noticing your dirty floors, do you?
5. Prevention is the Best Medicine
In order to prevent having to deep clean often, which can wear down the finish on your hardwoods, take these few simple steps to prevent damage. First, take your shoes off!
This is the simplest yet most effective way to cut down on dirt and dust you have to clean up off your floors, and also nicks, scratches, and scuffs. Encourage guests to do the same upon entering and remind yourself to do so by placing a shoe rack by your main entry.
Rugs are another great way to reduce the amount of maintenance and damage control you need to perform on your hardwood floors. By covering large areas of your hardwoods, you will need to clean these areas much less often and the risk of spills and scratches are next to none on those areas. It’ll also provide some peace and quiet in a rambunctious house!
Lastly, furniture pads are a cheap and convenient way to reduce scratching your floors. You can find them at any hardware store and will make furniture moving much less risky. Furniture items to focus on include dining chairs, coffee tables, and anything else that is moved often.
You’d be hard pressed to find anyone that doesn’t swoon over gorgeous, shining solid hardwood floors. It’s a true investment to your home that’s worth some effort when it comes to maintaining its beauty for generations (yes, generations!) to come and it’s really not as hard as it may sound.
Has this article convinced you that you need hardwood floors in your life right this minute? Check out our full line of flooring options or contact us for more info.