Before you start cleaning your wood, first know how it is sealed – you should determine the type of finish. It is very important to know the finish as it will determine how you will clean your hardwood floor.
You will notice that most floors are sealed with polyacrylic or urethane. This types of floors are water and stain resistant. They are also very easy to clean and maintain. They are called surface-sealed floors. You sweep them then mop them and you good to go.
There are those floors that are finished using oil. This is called a penetrating seal treated floor. The oil will soak into the wood and hard it. You have to go an extra mile and take care of this kind of floor, you will have to pamper it and use paste wax or liquid to protect it.
There are floors that have no surface finish. They are simply varnished, lacquered or shellacked. This kind of floors are less resistant to stains and water compared to others. However, you should treat your floor with this finish to prevent them from getting further damage.
If you do not know the kind of finish you have, you are not alone. There are a simple home procedures that can help you determine the kind of finish you have. It is as simple as running your finger across your floor. If you do not observe smudge, then your floor is sealed. If you see some smudge on the floor, it has been treated with a penetrating seal, shellac or oil finish.
If you have a surface-sealed floor, the following is a guideline that you can follow. Avoid using waxes, oils or furniture sprays. You will notice that oil will leave a residue and some furniture spray will leave the floor slippery and wax will take you a lot of time to apply it. The other problem of waxing is recoating difficulties.
Avoid alkaline products and direct ammonia as they may leave some scratches on the floor’s surface. Experts also recommend against the use of cleaning products that are advertised in the market, and instead opt for plain water and soap. You can use a special kind of soap that is pH neutral and a bucket of water. This will save your floor and the cost of buying this products.
DO NOT rely solely on water or vinegar alone to clean your hardwood floors. If you use water alone for a long time, you will notice that your floor will look dingy and water is unable to prevent the accumulation of dust overtime. Water and vinegar is not as effective as soapy water and it may cause your floor to dull. The dullness may become permanent with time.
In places where people traffic is high, consider sweeping the place daily. These are areas like the dining area and your kitchen. If possible, consider wiping those areas more than once a week. Those areas that are less trafficked should be mopped once a season or a month. Note that water is number one wood enemy so be sure to use a damp mop and not a wet one.
Dip your mop in your cleaning solution and wring completely before cleaning your floor. As you clean, mop in the direction of the wood grains and then repeat it again and again until your floor is clean. When your cleaning water gets dirty, change it and prepare a new cleaning solution.
After that, go through the cleaned place with clean water and rinse it. If you want the best from your cleaning exercise, you should not be afraid to get dirty. Get down on your knees and hands and give your floor the serious attention it needs. If you have stubborn stains on your floor, use a commercial cleaner that will help you remove the stain easily.
If you observe some hair-like cracks on your floor, do not panic. They are caused by dry heat that comes during winter, they will close up when summer comes. If your floor still looks dull after cleaning, consider recoating it. In fact, you should recoat your floor every 5-7 years.