Every season brings new problems for your hardwood floors. Winter comes with snow, ice, and salt, spring brings rain and dirt, summer adds on chlorine and salt water, and fall brings more dirt and leaves. Despite all the upkeep, though, wood floors are simply too stunning to skip. This is exactly what your hardwood floor maintenance routine should look like, according to the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA). Yes, they exist, and you had better listen to their advice if you want to maintain your floors for years to come.
Clean Spills Immediately
Use a dry or slightly damp cloth to immediately wipe up anything you spill, avoiding wet or steam mops, which the NWFA says will cause more damage over time. Because wood swells and shrinks depending on moisture, both on it and in the air, it is important to keep humidity levels down to avoid cupping, splitting, and gapping of the wood. The best way to prevent these issues are to clean up spills as soon as they occur, to keep your home’s temperature between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (also between 30 to 50 percent humidity), and ban wet shoes from the house. They’re kinda gross, anyway
Use Furniture Pads
Scratches are some of the toughest problems to solve in wood floors. While some scratches are inevitable, others are definitely preventable. One of the best ways to prevent them is to add furniture pads to the legs of your chairs, sofas, tables, etc.
Sweep Or Dust Daily
It may seem excessive, but it’s a solid recommendation. Even if you have a no-shoes rule in your home, dust forms everywhere, and then settles into the grain and between floor boards. If you have furry friends around the house who never stop shedding, consider it a hygiene issue, too.
As painful as this one also sounds, weekly vacuuming is not only key to keeping your home clean, but also making sure any crumbs and dirt you missed while sweeping don’t scratch your floors. Not into vacuuming on your own? Invest in a Robotic vacuum.
Mopping Your Floors
Remember: Water is wood’s worst enemy (even on sealed floors!), so use a damp mop rather than a soaking wet one. You don’t want to let any water sit as you’re cleaning your hardwood floors, so be sure to work in one small area at a time. If you don’t want to be on your hands and knees with a soft cloth, a spin mop will get your mop dry enough to work your floors. Begin by dusting or sweeping your floors well. Allow floors to dry while you clean another area. Always clean top to bottom in a room, which means that you should clean the floor last. Follow the manufacturers recommendation for cleaning products.
Do’s and don’ts
Do use a floor-cleaning product recommended by the floor finisher or opt for plain soap and water. If the recommended product is hard to find or costly, and other floor cleaners contain ingredients that violate your floor’s warranty, try soap and water. Try 1/4 cup of mild or pH-neutral soap (like liquid dishwashing soap) or Murphy Oil Soap (despite the name, it doesn’t contain oil) to a bucket of water.
Don’t use oils, waxes or furniture sprays. Oil leaves a residue, furniture spray creates a slippery surface (think ice-skating rink!) and wax takes time to apply and makes re-coating difficult.
Don’t use straight ammonia, alkaline products or abrasive cleaners. They’ll dull or scratch the finish.
Don’t rely on lemon juice or a vinegar-and-water solution to clean hardwood floors. “I don’t recommend using vinegar or lemon juice, at least not in large quantities, as these can damage the floor’s seal,” said Wise.