Cleaner hardwood floor: The Best Way to Clean Hardwood Floors — Advice From Bob Vila

The Best Way to Clean Hardwood Floors — Advice From Bob Vila

Q: I have never given much thought to cleaning my cherry wood floor, but I’m starting to notice how dingy it has become. What’s the best way to clean hardwood floors? I’d love recommendations for wood floor cleaning techniques, and a good hardwood floor cleaner.

A: It’s true, regular cleaning is a must to maintain hardwood floors. Because different floor finishes have unique care requirements, the best way to clean hardwood floors will depend on the type of finish rather than the wood species (e.g., cherry, maple, or oak). If you use the wrong method or cleaner, you could damage the wood.

Read on to learn how to identify your floor’s finish and select supplies for dusting, deep cleaning, and removing stains. Using these recommended techniques for the best way to clean hardwood floors will keep yours looking great for years to come.

First, figure out what kind of finish your floor has.

There are two main types of hardwood floor finishes: surface finishes and penetrating finishes.

  • Surface finishes such as urethane and polyurethane form a protective, waterproof barrier on the surface of the floor. When liquids come into contact with surface finishes, they pool rather than penetrate the wood. It’s safe to use water and water-based cleaning products on surface finishes.
  • Penetrating finishes such as linseed or tung oil soak through the surface of hardwood floors and then are usually topped with a wax coat for added sheen. These finishes easily absorb water, and water can warp wood floors. Use only solvent-based cleaning products instead of water-based ones on floors with penetrating finishes.

The easiest way to check if a floor has a surface finish is to take a sharp knife blade to a small, hidden area of the floor and scrape off a tiny amount of finish. If the scraped material is clear, your floor probably has a surface finish. If scraping the floor finish smudges it, but no clear material comes away, the floor likely has a penetrating finish.

RELATED: New Floors? 5 Top Hardwood Options to Know

Bust dust by mopping, sweeping, or vacuuming regularly.

Dry mopping, sweeping, and/or vacuuming on a weekly basis are the best ways to rid hardwood floors of light dust, dirt, and pet hair accumulation. This routine works on floors with either surface or penetrating finishes.

The best mop for wood floors is usually one with a large, flat head affixed with a microfiber cloth pad, such as the Swiffer Sweeper. These mops have pads with tiny synthetic fibers that reach into the grooves of wood floors to pick up and hold dust without scratching the wood.

To keep costs down and lower your environmental impact, choose pads that can be removed, machine washed, and reused. Compatible on a variety of hardwood floor mop brands, a pair of reusable pads like the Old Home Kitchen Mop Pads costs less than $15.

If you prefer to sweep rather than mop, opt for a broom with synthetic fiber ends to help trap collected dust in the broom head and prevent it from resettling on the floor.

If your preferred mode of dust busting is vacuuming, use a floor-brush attachment and avoid the beater bar—its rotating brush can dent wood floors. Move your cleaning tool from one side of the floor to the other, paying extra attention to areas where adjacent floor boards meet. These nooks are hiding spots for trapped dust.

Scrape off food stains.

Remove caked-on food by carefully inserting the tip of a plastic knife under the lower edge of the debris and then gently sliding the knife upward. Rub the scraped spot with a clean cloth slightly dampened with a few drops of water, then make a second pass with a dry cloth to dab up the water.

If using this technique on a floor with a penetrating finish and a small section of the wax coat gets stripped by the knife, reapply a dollop of the hardwood floor wax to the area with a soft cloth, buffing it in to render the area shiny and spotless.

Fight oil stains with TSP.

Oil and grease stains on floors with surface or penetrating finishes easily break down when exposed to trisodium phosphate (TSP). Don protective gloves and safety glasses, and dilute 2 tablespoons of TSP in 1 gallon of warm water in a large bucket. Dip the tip of a clean cloth into the solution, then use gentle circular motions to work it into the stain. Once the TSP dissolves it, run a water-dampened cloth over the area to sop up the TSP, then quickly dry the area with a clean cloth.

Ice out wax and gum.

Dried candle wax, crayon marks, and chewing gum on floors with surface or penetrating finishes can easily be removed with ice. Fill a Ziploc freezer bag with a few ice cubes, place the chilled bag over the buildup until it becomes brittle, then scrape it off with the edge of a plastic spatula.

If the spatula removes the protective wax from a floor with a penetrating finish, use a soft cloth to reapply a solvent-based hardwood floor wax to the scraped area, then buff it into the repaired area with the cloth.

Scrub water, ink, and pet stains well.

Spots left by water, ink, or pet urine are some of the most stubborn stains. For floors with penetrating finishes, it’s best to tackle these stains with the following steps using only an appropriate hardwood floor cleaner and a scouring pad designed for a penetrating-finished floor.

  1. Remove the spots from floors with penetrating finishes by lightly sanding the stain with extra-fine sandpaper.
  2. Gently scrub with a coarser “00” grade steel wool wet with mineral spirits.
  3. Wipe away the mineral spirits with a damp cloth, then use a dry cloth to remove the water.
  4. With a soft cloth, apply a solvent-based hardwood floor wax to the scrubbed area and buff it in to restore its shine.

Deep clean the floor with a quality hardwood floor cleaner. 

The type of wood floor cleaner that’ll work best for your floors depends on the floor’s finish.

If a surface-finished hardwood floor still looks dingy or dull after dusting, deep clean it with any pH-neutral, wax-free, and petroleum-free cleaner, such as Bona PowerPlus Hardwood Floor Deep Cleaner, or a homemade solution comprising ¼ cup of dish soap and 1 gallon of warm water.

The best way to mop wood floors with a surface finish starts with saturating a sponge mop with the cleaner, wringing out the excess liquid until the mophead is damp but not dripping, and then mopping 3-foot sections of the floor at a time using circular motions to draw out dirt and grime. Then, rinse the mop in clean water, wring out the excess, and damp mop the floor again to soak up lingering cleaner. Use a soft, clean cloth like the AIDEA Microfiber Cleaning Cloths to dry the floor.

If your floor has a penetrating finish, the best way to deep clean it is to strip away the grimy old wax coat and reapply a fresh wax coat. Rub a clean cloth saturated in mineral spirits over 2-foot sections of the floor at a time, letting the mineral spirits dwell for 5 minutes on each section before wiping away with a fresh cloth dampened slightly with water. Then, dry thoroughly with a fresh, dry cloth.

Finally, apply a solvent-based hardwood floor wax, such as Trewax Paste Wax, with a soft cloth. Use the amount the manufacturer recommends. Then use the cloth or an electric polisher (buy one or rent one at a hardware store) to buff the wax in circular motions, polishing in 2-foot sections at a time.

Perform the appropriate deep-cleaning routine on a biannual basis, whether you see grimy buildup or not. It can be hard to notice gradual changes on a floor you walk on every day, but after it’s clean you may be impressed by the difference.

RELATED: The Best Hardwood Floor Cleaner Machines of 2022

Final Thoughts

When looking for the best way to clean hardwood floors, first determine the type of finish on the floors. The type of finish determines the kinds of cleaners and methods that will safely help clean the floor. While a good deep cleaning can help restore the look of wood, it’s usually only necessary a few times each year. In between, regularly mopping, sweeping, and vacuuming can help maintain the finish and keep floors looking their best.

FAQs About Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Whether there is natural wood flooring or engineered wood flooring underneath your feet, there are bound to be questions about what’s safe and effective for cleaning wood floors. Keep reading for answers to some of the most popular questions about how to clean wood floors.

Q. Can I use vinegar on hardwood floors?

Using a hardwood floor cleaner made with white vinegar can help with cleaning heavily soiled hardwood floors. It’s important to dilute the white vinegar, using ½ cup of white vinegar for every gallon of water, as it can be too harsh and damaging on its own.

Q. How do you deep clean old hardwood floors?

Deep cleaning old hardwood floors is very similar to cleaning newer floors. Choose a method and cleaner that’s made to clean wood floors with the same type of finish. However, it’s important to test a small area and go slowly, as the wood may need some small repairs or have damage that’s only visible up close.

Q. Is Dr. Bronner’s safe on wood?

Dr. Bronner’s is a pure castile soap that is safe on wood if it’s diluted. To make your own homemade wood floor cleaner, add just a few drops to a spray bottle filled with water.

Q. How do you get ground-in dirt out of hardwood floors?

Microfiber padded mops are great for surface dirt, but ground-in dirt may require the use of a plastic knife to scrape out dirt, a vacuum attachment to pull it out, or light sanding if it’s truly trapped in the wood.

Q. Why are my wood floors still dirty after mopping?

There are a lot of reasons wood floors seem dirty after mopping. Make sure to rinse the mophead thoroughly and often, as a dirty mop can’t attract new dirt it encounters on the floor. Also, swapping out mopheads can help when dealing with very dirty floors. To find out if the floor is clean, wipe a white cloth over newly mopped areas to see if the floor is still dirty.

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How to Clean Hardwood Floors Like a Pro in 6 Simple Steps

Sweep daily, if possible. Then, follow up with a dry mop, or dust mop, to pick up remaining dirt. A microfiber mop will also help maintain the luster. If you can’t sweep the entire house every day, aim to hit high-traffic areas, like entryways or hallways, as often as possible. This simple cleaning routine could ensure that the wood floors will have fewer scuffs.

Step 2: Vacuum regularly

In addition to sweeping, you should vacuum regularly. This will help pick up any fine particles that sweeping alone may miss, and the strong suction of a vacuum cleaner is extra useful to pull up dust and debris in cracks, crevices, and between planks. 

Just make sure that you’ve turned on the hard floor setting, which turns off the brush roll or beater bar, to avoid scratching. You could also use a flat attachment to protect the floor from bristles. The the last thing you want to do is scuff the floor as you clean.

Step 3: Mop hardwood floors

Yes, as long as it is done correctly and without excess water. Once you’ve found the right wood floor cleaner, use it on the floors with a damp mop. What you don’t want to do, however, is overdo it and allow standing water to pool on the wood floors. “You don’t want to bring out a wet bucket and start soaking the floors, because that’ll cause the wood to swell,” Miller says. 

To prevent too much water, opt for a microfiber mop instead of a cotton mop, as the former requires less water—and won’t leave you with a dripping wet mop. In fact, according to Bona, a worldwide industry leader in hardwood floor care, microfiber mops use about 20 times less liquid, making them the best mops for the job. You’ll also spend significantly less time trying to wring out the mop head, making it a win-win for you and your wood floors.

Miller advises against using steam and a steam mop. Though it may provide a deep clean for wood floors, it allows vapor to enter small spaces and damage the floors in your living room.

Step 4: Fix scratches in hardwood floors

Vacuum bristles, grime, and even pet hair can all cause scratches—and of course anything else that you may track into high-traffic areas. To a homeowner, these scratches and scuffs can mess up even the best hardwood floor. “It’s part of owning a wood floor,” Miller says. Think of minor scratches as adding to the character of your home. If you do want to fix surface scratches, it’s a relatively simple DIY project. Just use a stain marker from a wood furniture touch-up kit. A wax stick also works for deeper dents.

For a more serious project, select a stain to match the color of the wood floors. Then, buff the scuffs by sanding the area with fine-grit sandpaper. With a clean cloth, apply a small amount of stain, and wipe away. If necessary, brush on a small amount of polyurethane to add back the shine. Just make sure to use the same finish. Minwax, for instance, has a formula that has both stain and polyurethane in one product.

15 Wooden Floors You’ve Never Seen –

15 Wooden Floors You’ve Never Seen Before
What could be better than a real wooden floor? Only an unusual wooden floor. We have collected for you the most incredible, bold, bright and even the most “smart” novelties that have appeared on the market.
15 Wooden Floors You’ve Never Seen Before

What could be better than a real wooden floor? Only an unusual wooden floor. We have collected for you the most incredible, bold, bright and even the most “smart” novelties that appeared on the market

Eco-friendly, warm, beautiful and charming, the tree definitely does not need advertising. Everyone’s favorite material has been tested by the experience of generations. And amazingly versatile.

A variety of wood species creates an inexhaustible palette of colors and textures. Each one has its own pattern, style and character. But the tree is also perfectly amenable to processing. Toning, brushing, heat treatment, bleaching, creating artificial wormholes and cracks – not every paint has such abilities to create effects and illusions. This is what designers and artists use.

Fashion for a deliberately old floor came to us from Europe and America. It’s good if you can remove the carpet and enjoy the effect applied to grandfather’s parquet by playful grandchildren, time and nature. But in Russia, few people can boast of such an opportunity.

How to choose the right floor: comparing parquet and parquet board

Which floor is better: choosing the right option for all types of rooms

Artificial aging comes to the rescue, in which manufacturers have achieved virtuosity. Finex, for example, offers flooring with the same voluminous texture that our ancestors achieved using the outdoor drying method.

Alexandra Alekseeva, Finex:

— Emphasizing the natural — this is the principle we have put in the basis of creating WildWood floors. All natural marks (knots, cracks, shells), traces from the sawmill are not only not hidden here, but are enhanced by special processing and put on display. This know-how is patented in the Russian Federation. The company’s technologists did a good job of ensuring that natural beauty does not interfere with functionality. Wood is pressed with parquet plywood for ease of installation and operation. The resulting design turned out to be so attractive and versatile that it was easily adapted to a variety of products.

Perhaps the most unusual offer in the collection is modular parquet, decorated with splashes of metals: liquid aluminum and brass. Medieval effect should not be misleading. This is a high-tech product – the metal is joined to the wood in such a way that the wood can contract and expand without disturbing the structure of the parquet.

Another novelty reminiscent of the estates of European aristocrats is Oldenburg parquet from Germany. A new type of flooring with end cut (that is, not along, but across) sends the imagination from the ballroom to the master’s office or wine cellar.

Stanislav Abdullin, Europol:

— This is a floor with amazing characteristics. On the one hand, the end arrangement of the fibers has a very high wear resistance and, therefore, is perfect for laying in rooms with high traffic – cafes, restaurants, clubs. On the other hand, it is just a very unusual, beautiful and comfortable floor, which is pleasant to walk on with bare feet. And so it looks and feels great in private interiors.

Such floors come in “slabs” – according to a special technology, the bars are glued to the grid. And these modules are already stacked on the floors. Exotic lovers – an additional option. If desired, the floor can be painted. True, the factory undertakes this only if the footage is large.

Outstanding design solution – corrugated parquet from Holland. And this is not a processing method, namely geometry. The masters of Bolefloor have learned how to create curved floors and assure that the new technology saves on scraps: less wood makes more finished board.

Just a few unexpected artistic finds from the Austrian company Mafi . A floor with a three-dimensional 3d structure in the form of a wave, a rhombus and dots; floor with glowing cracks and floor with laser pattern. You can learn about how else the 3d effect is used in the interior from our article.

If you’re not ready for such drastic experiments with your floors, but still want to try something unusual, a wooden rug will help you. Om-Parquet offers unique Italian know-how in Russia. Legno DiVino rugs with mosaic pattern are handcrafted from planks of oak wine barrels. The squares are firmly glued to the fabric base, and if necessary, such a mat can be rolled up and removed.

Canadians have taken a different path. Their novelty strikes not so much aesthetically as functionally. Lauzon offers a “smart” floor, not only environmentally friendly in itself, but also able to purify the air in the house. Canadians treat their floors with titanium dioxide, which is said to destroy toxins, bacteria and mold in indoor air. Already a few months after installation, the level of formaldehyde in the house decreases and the smell of freshness appears.

Learn how to choose the right wooden floor and what to look for in our materials. pinterest


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types of boards, dimensions, type of wood, installation features

Wood has been used for interior decoration since ancient times. It has not lost its relevance in our days, especially often boards are used for flooring. Wood floors are practical, durable, sustainable and look amazing.

A variety of textures and color shades of various breeds brings a unique charm to the interior, which provides the widest possibilities for design. Leading manufacturers produce different types of boards, so users always have the opportunity to choose the best material for a particular room.

The richness of shades and a wide range of lumber allows you to build wooden floors in almost any room: offices, living rooms, bedrooms, children’s rooms, dining rooms, libraries and even bathrooms. Thanks to toning, an inexpensive wood floor can be turned into a flooring that looks like it was made from a rare tree. Modern technologies make it possible to perform antique design, which makes it possible to use the coating in the interior of retro and Provence styles.

Types of floor boards

The choice of material is one of the most important stages in the construction of flooring. The strength, durability and appearance of a wooden floor will depend on the quality and size of the boards, as well as the type of wood.

The main operational characteristics by which lumber is selected are:

  • strength;
  • durability;
  • noise and heat insulation;
  • resistance to deformation.

Strength is one of the most important parameters, because the level of resistance of the coating to constant loads depends on it. The durability is influenced by the type of wood, the type of lumber processing and operating conditions. Thermal and sound insulation is the hallmark of wood, and resistance to deformation determines how the shape of the board changes under the influence of various factors.

There are several types of floorboards, each of which has its own distinctive features and purpose:

  • parquet;
  • terraced;
  • deck;
  • plain pubic;
  • edged.

The latter type is used for rough floors, so there are no strict requirements for the appearance of the material.

The parquet board is made of several layers (planks) glued together. As a rule, three segments are used, the middle of which is a connector and has a protrusion on one end and a recess on the opposite. The thickness of the middle element is the largest, since it is load-bearing, and is 13-20 mm. The thickness of the top is 3-6 mm, the bottom is 8-10 mm. The top layer is decorative, it can be sanded, which allows you to restore the appearance of a wooden floor after long-term use.

In open areas with high humidity, decking flooring is installed. The floorboard has a corrugated surface that prevents slippage. For the internal floor, a deck board is more often used – an analogue of a terraced one, but without corrugations. The best material for these two types of floorboards is Siberian larch. Wood is distinguished by high strength and hardness, it is not interesting for pests, not only is it not afraid of moisture, but it becomes stronger under the influence of a humid environment.

The terrace board is used for floors of balconies, verandahs, arbors and other open constructions. Deck, like parquet, – for rooms of houses and apartments. The length of the floorboards can be in the range of 1.5-6 meters, the thickness is 22-28 mm, the width is 150-160 mm.

The usual floor board is universal and is used for all types of premises. The length of the floorboard is 1-6 meters, width – 110-136 mm, thickness – 27-36 mm. To increase the rigidity of the flooring and facilitate installation, lumber is made with grooves and tongues. One of the most common types of tongue-and-groove boards is Siberian larch.

We make the wooden floor in the apartment ourselves

The first stage in the construction of flooring is the choice of materials. Floorboards should be dry, but not overdried. In the first case, they will quickly lose their shape, and the floor will go in waves, in the second, they will crack. The moisture content of wood should be 8-12%. In order for the material to be enough, you need to buy with a margin of 15%.

The most popular way to install a wooden floor among those who decide to do it themselves is to install it on the logs. The main advantage of this type of installation is the ability to hide differences and lay communications inside the structure, for example, heating. For boards with a thickness of 22-28 mm, the logs are installed in increments of 80 cm, for thicker ones, the step can be 1 meter.

The floorboards begin to be laid from the wall, and the gap between the floor and the wall is closed with a plinth. Plywood can be used as a rough coating. This is a durable material that practically does not bend, while the plywood base does not require additional work – the finish layer can be laid directly on it. Also, a wooden floor can be installed on a concrete base, however, direct contact of concrete with wood should still be avoided. To do this, you must first apply foamed polyethylene or ground mastic to the base.