Hardwood floors are beautiful and certainly have the power to add style and value to your home. Wherever you have hardwood floors, whether in your living room, kitchen, bedroom, or other room, you likely love the way they look.
However, you might be worried about finding ways to keep those gorgeous floors clean without harming them. It’s true: hardwood floors can be temperamental. But if you know how to clean them safely, they will be just fine and last a long, long time.
Here are tips to consider when thinking about cleaning your hardwood floors! No need to fear. You can keep your floors clean AND safe.
Step 1: Avoid the wrong cleaning products.
Perhaps the most important element to keeping your hardwood floors both clean and safe is using the proper cleaning products. This also means avoiding products that will NOT keep your floors safe.
When learning how to clean your hardwood floors, you must also learn which products could harm them. To protect your hardwood flooring, avoid the following products:
- Steam cleaners
- Floor waxes
- Oil soap
- Wet mops
- Furniture polish
- All purpose cleaners
- Abrasive vacuums or brooms
Avoiding these products means avoiding acidic solutions, heavy amounts of water, oil and polish that will make your pre-finished floors too slippery, or harsh chemicals that will wear out your hardwood floors prematurely. Chemicals and acidity both ruin and erode hardwood finishes.
When you read that you should not use water on your hardwood floors, no need to panic: you can still use a little water to quickly clean up a spill. However, you should definitely avoid large amounts of water that you would normally use when steam cleaning or wet mopping. Too much water on your hardwood floors can cause buckling and cracking over time.
As for abrasive vacuums and brooms, be sure to use the proper vacuum attachment and only soft-bristle brooms to avoid scratching your hardwoods.
Be careful to trust companies that sell products for wood finishes and not necessarily hardwood floors, especially without fully investigating their ingredients. For example, furniture polish brands claim their products are great for making wood surfaces look shiny and beautiful, but they will often actually create a very slippery situation when used on prefinished hardwood floors.
In general, just trusting a label is the wrong path to take if you want to keep your hardwood floors healthy in the long-run.
Step 2: Use the right cleaning products.
Instead of all of the above “wrong” products, utilize the “right” products–products that will protect your hardwood flooring. For example, you can and should use damp mops with specific hardwood flooring products when cleaning wet spills. If you have prefinished hardwood flooring especially, you’ll need to use products designed specifically for them.
When sweeping up dry messes, use a soft-bristled broom. You should also use microfiber cloth when possible.
If you’re unsure which products to use on your hardwood floors, ask your installer or manufacturer for tips. If you have unfinished hardwood floors, for example, the instructions will be completely different. However, you should be able to find the information by searching the company that installed your hardwoods or reading up on ways to maintain hardwood flooring from experts.
Step 3: Protect hardwoods with soft materials.
Heavy furniture and furniture that constantly moves against hardwood flooring, like kitchen tables and chairs or couches that you might shift around frequently can easily scratch your hardwood flooring. In addition, furniture that sits on your hardwood floors for too long can cause problems.
In order to protect your hardwood floors, consider placing rugs under heavy furniture and avoid moving furniture pieces without placing felt or another soft materials under them first. You can even purchase felt stickers to adhere to your couch, chair, and table legs.
Along with avoiding moving furniture without protecting your hardwood flooring, you should also keep abrasive shoes off your hardwoods. Ask guests to take their shoes off when they walk on your floors, especially if they are wearing heels or cleats. Although you might feel too strict to ask this, creating guidelines will help you protect the investment you’ve made in your hardwood flooring.
If you follow these tips and continue to be mindful about your hardwood flooring, you will add to their longevity and help them stay as beautiful as they are today.
While you should obviously take the time to enjoy your hardwood floors and not constantly obsess over protecting them, forming positive hardwood cleaning habits now will allow you to easily maintain your floors.
Your floors can be safe and clean at the same time! Now, take a look at your gorgeous hardwoods and breathe a sigh of relief.
Katie Caldwell is the content writing and marketing specialist for LIFECORE, a flooring products company committed to enhancing the beauty, health, and environmental integrity of its clients’ homes.