Cleaning Your Hardwood Floors

Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Over time, your hardwood floors will begin to lose the luster and shine that they once had. You probably spent a lot of money buying and installing your hardwood flooring and want to protect your investment. When you begin to notice scuffmarks, blemishes, and spots, it is time to get serious about cleaning the floor. Using proper cleaning techniques will give you the beautiful hardwood floor you want.

In order to determine the right way to clean your hardwood floor, you need to know type of finish had been applied to the surface. According to the cleaning experts at Dobmeier Janitorial Supplies, hardwood floors with a polyurethane finish are easier to clean than those finished with lacquer, shellac, or varnish.

Hardwood Flooring – Polyurethane Finish

Removing pet hair, loose dirt, and dust is the first step in getting your floor clean. Use a broom with soft bristles or a vacuum to sweep up debris. When using an upright vacuum, be sure to use the floor setting so the beater bar will be disengaged and cannot scratch the wood surface. Likewise, if you have a canister vacuum, make sure to use the attachment with the soft brush and not the rotating head.

Pouring a bucket of water onto any hardwood floor is never a good idea, but for cleaning polyurethane finished floors, it is perfectly acceptable to use a damp sponge mop. Use a bucket and filled with water and add a water-based hardwood cleaner. (Follow the directions on the bottle to create the proper mix of water and cleaner.)

Soak the sponge mop thoroughly and then wring it out so it is moist but it will not create puddles on the floor. Starting on one side of the floor, and mopping length-wise over the planks, go up and down in rows, slightly overlapping each row to make sure you get full coverage. Once you have finished, do not walk on the floor until it has had enough time to dry.

Hardwood Flooring – Lacquer, Shellac, or Varnish Finishes

Similar to a polyurethane finish, floors with lacquer, shellac, or varnish finish should be swept or vacuumed before you clean. Keep in mind that with wood floors with lacquer, shellac, or varnish finish you should never use water or water-based cleaners on the surface. You should only use a solvent-based cleaner.

PLEASE NOTE: Solvent-based cleaners contain chemicals that can be flammable and harmful. They can be dangerous if not used according to the manufacturers directions. Always be sure the area in which you are working is well ventilated.

Begin by using a dry wax applicator to spread the cleaning solution into the floor. You should work one small section at a time, rubbing the solution in the same direction as the wood grain. Move on to the next section and repeat the process while the first section dries. After you finished with the second section, return to the first section and wipe the surface down with a clean rag. Repeat this process until the entire floor has been treated. Finally, use a buffing machine to bring out the luster in the floor. If you do not own a buffer, you can rent one.

Cleaning hardwood floors is something any homeowner can do. Simply remember to avoid creating puddles of water and use the appropriate type of hardwood cleaner for the floor finish. The process will take you approximately an hour or two to complete, but when the end results are worth it.


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