This article comes from The Spruce.
How to Clean Wood Floors
Wood floors add warmth and a unique look to all styles of home decor and most are easy care if they are finished and cleaned properly to maintain the shine. One important key to cleaning the floors properly is knowing what type of wood or wood-look floors are installed in your home: solid hardwood flooring, engineered hardwood flooring, or laminate wood-look flooring.
Solid hardwood flooring can be installed in planks or strips and left natural or treated with a wood stain. The flooring can be any type of hardwood (oak, maple, teak, walnut, ash) that is cut from one solid piece of wood.
Engineered hardwood flooring is manufactured by gluing together several thin plies of hardwood. The layers are stacked with the grains running in different directions to give the floor pieces strength. The surface layer can be a thin veneer or a thicker layer of hardwood that can be sanded and refinished overtime.
Laminate wood-look flooring contains no hardwood. The surface is actually a photographic image of wood covered by a thick layer of melamine resin over fiberboard.
Keep these essentials on-hand to keep wood floors looking their best and lasting as long as possible.
Broom and Dustpan
A soft-bristled broom is the best choice for removing crumbs and grit from hardwood floors while preventing additional scratches. The bristles can be made from nylon or rubber. Both types of bristles are static-charged and help to grab particles. Use a dustpan or hand-vacuum to grab the accumulated soil.
It’s best to have two microfiber mops: one for dry mopping to capture dust and one with denser fibers for damp mopping. Or, you can save room in your pantry by using a mop like the Clorox Dual-Action Dust Mop that features two surfaces, one for dry mopping and one for damp mopping. Microfiber mop heads attract dust better than cotton or sponge mops and can be easily washed and cleaned. A clean mop equals a cleaner floor.
While a vacuum can be used on hardwood floors, choose one that has soft-bristle rollers and a retractable beater bar to prevent scratching. Use the upholstery brush attachment to reach dusty corners of the room.
Since most wood floors are sealed with cured polyurethane or polyacrylic urethane, it is important to choose a cleaning solution that will leave the sealant bright and without streaks. Never use harsh chemicals like chlorine bleach, ammonia, pine oil, or undiluted vinegar. Choose instead a commercial product that is formulated for sealed wood floors. Never apply liquid or paste wax over a polyurethane-sealed wood floor.
Cleaning Hardwood Floors
Now that you have your tools together, follow these tips to keep solid and engineered hardwoods gleaming.
Tackle Messes as They Happen
Don’t allow any type of dry mess or wet spills that can leave water rings to remain for more than a few minutes on hardwood floors. This is especially important for mud or any foods or liquids that are dark in color and can leave difficult-to-remove stains.
After cleaning up the spill with a paper towel or cloth, give the floor a final “rinse” with a slightly water-dampened cloth or mop. Wipe in the direction of the wood grain to prevent streaking.
Sweep or Vacuum Daily
Sweep or vacuum daily to remove grit and crumbs that can cause scratches and wear down the finish of the floor. Don’t forget to clean under area rugs on a regular basis. Remove scuff marks as soon as you notice them.
Dust Mop Weekly
To capture the dust bunnies that seem to appear from nowhere, dust mop wood floors at least once per week.
Damp Mop Seasonally
If you have been taking care of messes promptly and keeping floors free of grit and dust, then you should only need to damp mop with a cleaning product a few times each year. NEVER use a sopping-wet mop. Excessive water can damage every sealant on wood floors and cause them to buckle.
Lightly dampen a microfiber mop and always clean following the grain of the wood and allow the wood to dry completely before walking to prevent spotting. If you live in an area with hard water, damp mop with distilled water. The excessive minerals in hard water can leave the floor finishes looking dull.
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