Wooden floors or hardwood is a high-value investment which adds to the price of your real estate, besides adding a good-looking finish. It is made up of timber-based (or even bamboo-based) material known for durability and environmental profile. There are three main kinds of hardwood floors: Solid wood, engineered wood and surface finished wood (laminates, vinyl finish ply etc.). Each has a specific texture and wooden floor cleaning demands.
Even before we look at the cleaning methods, we need to determine the type of finish or sealing our floor has, so we can pick whether to go for chemical cleaning or laminate cleaning. We look at them one by one:
- Solid wood – Solid wood floors could be strips, planks or parquets. Each could be nailed or screwed to the base. Since they expand or contract depending on temperature, installation usually leaves some room for that between floor and the wall. Cleaning solid wood floors involve the following steps:
- Sweeping – Sweep the floor with a soft bristled brush to keep away large dirt particles and grit. It prevents them from scratching the floor while mopping
- Damp Mopping – Water is the worst enemy of wood, so even with sealer on them. A mildly damp mop is better than a soaking wet one.
- Baking soda on sponge – a great solution for scuff marks. Don’t be shy to get down on all fours and give it a good rub.
- Neutral pH cleaner – Unlike popular belief, it is better to use water and Murphy Oil soap (or any other neutral dishwashing liquid) rather than vinegar, to avoid early damage to sealer or dullness of appearance.
- Buff cloth or dry mop – no matter how good the seal, it’s imperative to clean up excess water with a buff cloth or dry mop. It gets rid of streak marks and increases life of seal.
Recommended product: Bona Premium Hardwood Spray
- Engineered Hardwood – Engineered wood is usually delivered in planks with some extra room for expanding owing to weather. Wooden floor cleaning of these involve:
- Dusting – Light brooms with soft plastic bristles work best to skim out dirt particles from ridges and gaps as well as on the surface.
- Vacuuming – Soft brush vacuum cleaner, with the felt attachment, is the best bet for vacuuming engineered hardwood floors once or twice a week.
- Light Mopping – any spills, mud, oil or colour must be immediately cleaned with light mop. Engineered hardwood floors are particularly sensitive to chemical stains from nail-polish, hairspray etc. Stay away from alkaline/ bleaching agents as they harm the floor.
- Heavy Mopping – the rules are similar regarding neutral pH cleaning liquids like solid woods, though shellac or lacquer coats give these floors better resistance to mildly acidic cleansers. Stay away from wax-based cleansers, which could potentially attract more dirt and grime.
Recommended product: Murphy’s Oil Soap
- Laminate wood, surface finish floors – Technically, laminates are not exactly wood, but wooden prints on a more synthetic surface. However, owing to their texture like wood, they respond to most wooden floor cleaning methods, and some laminate cleaning techniques:
- Extra fine steel wool – Being synthetic, these surfaces are relatively more resistant to steel wool. Use extra fine steel wool and mineral spirits to rub off stubborn stains and spots on laminate floors.
- No wax – stay away from wax which promises to enhance the surface finish on hardwood. Laminate floors are already shiny and applying wax could make them extremely slippery or dull the finish prematurely.
- Microfibre sweeping mops – One of the best things in business for laminate cleaning are electronic mops with microfibre pads to sweep and mop out the dirt
- Damp mopping with recommended liquid – To prevent damage or stripping of surface finish, it’s best to get company recommended cleaning liquids and damp mop the floors. Repeat drying with a cloth or dry mop to prevent wet marks.
Recommended product: Swiffer mop
In addition to the above, keeping the hardwood floor clean involves little steps like not walking around with shoes on the wet floor, not allowing spills to settle, replacing wax coating regularly and using rugs to catch dirt and grime in heavy traffic zones. Adding rubber soles on furniture legs, as well as staying away from spurs or pencil heels are also good ways to ensure minimal floor damage.