How to Care For And Clean Hardwood Floors eHow

How to Care For And Clean Hardwood Floors eHow

Instructions

The first thing that you want to do is recognize what type of finish you have on your hardwood floors. Many times if you have floors that date back to around the mid-60s or earlier, the finish may be shellac or varnish. If you are not sure, try using a sharp too in a hidden area to make a small scratch. If it flakes, it is probably shellac or varnish. It also probably should be sanded and refinished, however I will tell you how to clean it if you are keeping it.

Popular finishes for wood floors are urethanes and polyurethane sealers, which is very resistant to spills and splashes. An alternative to this would be covering a waxed floor with a sealer. There are also penetrating sealers that soak into the wood and then harden to protect against dirt and stains. They are usually then covered with a wax as a final protective finish. To figure out if you have a waxed floor, drip a couple of drops of water on a hidden area. If the drops become white within 10 minutes, you have a waxed floor. Wipe it up, and the white spots will disappear.

CARE FOR WAXED FINISH — usually needs to be re-waxed about once a year (maybe more/less depending on the traffic.) Self polishing liquids are the easiest to apply. However, paste wax will last the longest. It will need to be applied by hand or with a non-electric applicator, and then buffed according to product instruction. There is also a buffable liquid wax that you can buy which is long lasting, yet easier to apply than paste wax.

**Avoid those self-polishing waxes meant for other floor types. They often can seep into wood gaps making stained areas, need multiple coats to look correct, and do not go on evenly when dealing with WOOD floors. Avoid your Mop N Glo type products for wood. You want a solvent-based wax that will strip off old wax and apply new wax in one step.

CARE FOR OTHER FINISHES — Truthfully, if it is in bad shape, you need a professional to deal with it. That may not be affordable, and you can find my other article How To Fix Scratches in Hardwood Floors to help you get through some of the problems. Other than that, the best care advice would be to use area rugs and mats for protection — but avoid those with rough bottoms as over time they will cause a sanding effect in that area. Look for the rubbery type of non slip bottom either separately or attached to the rug or mat. Use furniture coasters, etc. to avoid scratching the floors. Avoid walking in high heels all the time on the floors, as the heels concentrate all the pressure in one tiny area (the bottom of the heal) that would normally distribute your weight throughout the entire foot. That is like all your body weight slamming down in one small space, similar to a hammer. Keep it clean, and avoid getting it WET. It should never be wet, only damp-mopped, and if a spill occurs do not allow it to sit. Be aware of planters and such things that will cause wet rings over time. Protection is the best form of care for any hardwood floor.

CLEAN HARDWOOD FLOOR — As far as your regular maintenance of the floors, it is pretty simple for the everyday person who is not a wood floor finish expert. First you want to get up all of the dirt/dust with your weapon of choice — mine is a canister vacuum with a brush head so as not to scratch the floor. Some people like the dust brooms, regular brooms, etc. I find that with a good canister vacuum, it is very easy to get up just about all of the dirt/dust that is there. You will notice dust/hair balls actually move towards the vacuum head instead of flying away as they will with a broom. Once that part is done (and hopefully you have already cleaned the rest of the room so that you will not redeposit the furniture’s dust onto the floor) you should use a simple mop, like the Libman Wonder Mop, that can be squeezed out really well to avoid having a wet mop. (There are other mops like this, but this is the one that I am familiar with.) You DO NOT need fancy hardwood floor mops and cleaners. You can use a simple solution of about 1 gal water to 1 cup vinegar. Whatever mopping tool that you are using, it should be just damp — NOT WET — in order to avoid dulling the finish over time. That is the cheapest cleaning that you can get while being effective. I will mention another cleaner that I LOVE for almost anything, especially wood floors and/or panels. It is Holloway House Quick Shine Concentrated Floor Cleaner. Forget the shine in the name, it is no type of waxing agent. A little of this in some water really brings out the beauty in wood. I have yet to find a product as versatile, or that I like better than this. You will see me mention it often in related articles.

For some reason, you will find that hardwood floors, as beautiful as they are, tend to attract a lot of dust and show it off. Keeping up with it by vacuuming and/or using a dust broom will keep them looking great. The mopping should be done very infrequently, or when necessary (spills, drips, outside dirt or water brought in from shoes.) If the floors are spill or water free, you can even go a month without actually mopping the whole floor. This is less work, and adds time to the life of the floor. Maintaining the dust and dirt is vital here.


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