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Wood floor care

Updated on March 15, 2010

After you have installed your hardwood flooring, the next step is maintenance.  Wood floor maintenance will consist of two things:

Regular Cleaning- This is the basic stuff-  Vacuuming or sweeping your floors or running over it with a damp mop.

Yearly or bi-yearly routine maintenance-
 This would include refinishing your floors in high traffic areas or places like the kitchen where wear and tear will be most noticeable.  I say yearly or every other year but really this is indicative of how much wear and tear there is.  I have gone for a decade without having to refinish and I have had to resurface a kitchen floor twelve months after it was installed.  If you want to know more about how to refinish a wood floor, you can go to that section.
The first step to having great looking floors is preventative practices
In addition to this, there are some things that you can do to protect the wood.  Things like area rugs and runners in hallways will help to preserve the floor and make it look new.

Other things like placing protector padding underneath furniture legs, bed posts, and other places that could damage the floor if it moved.  While many don’t realize it, something as simple as a couch leg that moves a little everytime you sit down can shorten the length of time before you scratch it or dent the wood.

What Shouldn’t You use on a Hardwood Floor to clean it?

There is a lot of confusion as to what is acceptable and what isn’t.  First of all, your manufacturer will have “guidelines” to follow to keep your floor looking great.  If they don’t, you can always ask your hardwood floor installer for cleaning tips.  This said, there are some certain no-no’s when it comes to cleaning a wood floor….

  • Never Use Wet Mops-  Water is wood’s #1 enemy.  It is primarily the reason why you need to clean up any water or spills immediately.  Understanding this, why would it be any different with a wet mop?
  • Never Use Products Containing Ammonia-  This includes pretty much anything that is used to clean the kitchen or bathroom.  The use of cleaning products containing ammonia will cost your floors a little of its life and it may discolor the wood itself. Diluted Vinegar is a better solution for removing a stain.
  • Don’t Use Dust Cleaners either- While something like pledge may sound like a good idea, understand that most dust cleaners have a “wax” application making the wood look “shiny”.
  • Don’t wax a Urethane Finish-  Applying a wax on top of a urethane finish.
  • Don’t Use Wood Oil or “soap” like Murphy’s Oil-  Most hardwood manufacturers will void the warranty if you do.  While most people think that a wood oil is acceptable, the reality is that most hardwood products have a recommended cleaning product that they personally endorse.  If unsure or if the manufacturer doesn’t endorse a product, you should always go with a generic wood floor cleaner.  You probably won’t find this in the grocery store…you will need to go to a wood speciality store like LumberLiquidator’s or a big box retail home improvement chain like Lowe’s.

Acceptable wood floor cleaning Products

Now that you know what NOT to clean wood floors with, here are the suggested items to clean one with:

  1. Vacuum or broom
  2. Mop (preferably a cleaning pad made for hardwood floors)-  You can buy hardwood pads that can be washed after each use.
  3. The Proper Wood Floor Cleaner, preferably the one that the manufacturer suggests.


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