Hardwood floors can be a real pain to keep looking clean. Gravity pulls dropped food crumbs and melted gum to the floor and your dog’s paws, building blocks and hockey sticks scuff and scratch the flooring.
Sweep, vacuum and mop your floors daily to remove dirt before it scratches or dulls the finish. And protect your hardwoods with furniture pads on chair and sofa legs.
1. Clean It Regularly
Keeping your floors clean is a must-do task. But it can be challenging with kids, pets, and everyday life getting in the way.
If you have concrete, use a pH-neutral cleaner that’s designed for the surface of your floors (available at any hardware or home goods store). Also, sweeping and vacumming daily prevents the build-up of dirt particles that can scratch the floor’s surface.
If your hardwood floors are polyurethane or wax, a quick buffing with a solvent-based wood floor wax can help them look like new again. For oil and grease stains, use trisodium phosphate (TSP) that’s diluted with water and applied to the stain using a cloth. Also, place floor mats at all exterior doors to prevent tracked-in dirt and grit. Rugs and furniture pads protect flooring from scratches, as well. Make sure to put a pad under the legs of movable furniture, and keep a tray for puddles or drips under plant pots.
2. Keep It Dry
Keeping your floors dry is one of the most important things you can do to keep them looking great. Moisture can damage wood floors and cause mold and mildew. If your wood floors get wet, try to remove furniture and rugs as quickly as possible to let them dry. Use fans to promote air circulation and speed up drying time.
For general maintenance, mop your hardwoods with a manufacturer-approved wood floor soap. Be sure to follow the instructions for application and allow the wood to dry completely before walking on it. For stains, blot them rather than rub them—rubbing can cause the stain to spread and leave an uneven appearance. Use area rugs in high traffic areas and feel pads under heavy furniture pieces. This will prevent scuffing and scratching of your beautiful new floors. Also, place a door mat at each entrance to catch dirt and debris that can scratch or scuff your floors.
3. Vacuum It Regularly
Vacuuming seems like a simple task, but it can have significant consequences. Vacuuming frequently, even as often as every day, helps keep dust and dirt from settling on your floors and in your breathing air.
In a hardwood-floored home, you should vacuum at least once per week. Be sure to use the hard floor attachment on your vacuum and disable the beater bar. A beating bar can cause scratches on hardwood floors and other surfaces.
Mats are also a great way to keep dirt off your floors, especially at the doors. They can help trap rocks and other small debris that could scratch the surface of your hardwood. In high-traffic areas, rugs are a good idea to keep dirt from tracking onto your floors. These rugs should be washable and made of breathable materials. They should not be abrasive to avoid scratching your floors.
4. Keep It Clean
There’s nothing like dirt and grit to damage even the finest flooring. Taking preventative steps, such as placing rugs or mats in areas of high traffic and making sure people take off their shoes at the door (especially those wearing cleats or high heels), will help keep floors looking their best. But as pictured on this website, if you choose the right type of flooring in the first place, you won’t have to worry about ruining your flooring all the time.
Also, it’s a good idea to close curtains or blinds during periods of high sun exposure as this can cause some types of flooring to fade. This can be avoided by choosing materials that are naturally fade-resistant or by regularly moving rugs and furniture to redistribute sunlight over the entire floor surface.
When mopping, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for using a ratio of vinegar to soapy water as some finishes are more sensitive to acid.
5. Keep It Cleaner
Using the right cleaning products and implementing preventive measures will help your flooring last longer. This includes avoiding highly acidic products, oily formulas and anything not recommended by your manufacturer. It’s also important to skip abrasive scrubbers and brushes, and instead use steam or a gentle, ph-neutral cleaning solution.
Spilt liquids should be wiped up immediately; the longer they stay, the more likely your floors are to stain. A plastic scraper or kitchen rag can remove gum, blood or wax stains, and a dry cloth can erase crayon, soda, ink, or lipstick marks.
To keep your flooring shiny and protective, apply a layer of solvent-based floor wax once a year or so. To do this, rub a clean cloth saturated with mineral spirits over 2-foot sections at a time, then buff with another clean cloth. This will not only look shiny but also reduce the chances of your floors getting damaged or dulled by direct sunlight over time.
6. Keep It Cleaner for a Longer Time
Whether your flooring is vinyl, wood, or something else entirely, there are certain steps that you can take to make it look cleaner for a longer time.
For example, never allow wet spills to sit; they will dull the finish and attract more dirt. Instead, blot spills as soon as they occur.
Additionally, removing shoes before entering the house can help reduce dirt, grime, and germs from getting tracked on the floor. Avoid abrasive heels, cleats, or spikes that can scratch hardwood floors.
Direct sunlight can cause some flooring materials to fade over time, so closing curtains during the hottest parts of the day can prevent this. Adding area rugs can also help prevent fading. Lastly, consider using liquid scratch concealers to repair and fill in small scratches on wood floors. These can usually be found at most hardware stores.
7. Keep It Cleaner for a Shorter Time
Keeping your floors clean is more than just an aesthetic goal. For instance, tracked-in dirt and grit can cause wood species to fade or even scratch and scuff. And crawling infants and toddlers who play on the floor can end up ingesting lead from paint or dust.
To avoid this, use door mats in entryways to trap the dirt before it enters your home and sweep or vacuum regularly. Also, be sure to use a soft brush or sweeper without metal bristles or hard-bristled attachments. Then, mop your flooring with a gentle cleanser or wood oil soap (following the manufacturer’s directions) and allow it to dry before walking on it. A few minutes is usually sufficient time to let it dry completely. This will also help minimize water damage and discoloration.
8. Keep It Cleaner for a Longer Time
Your new flooring is a significant investment, so you want it to stay looking great for years to come. That means taking preventative measures to keep stains and odors from damaging your floor’s finish.
Experts recommend keeping a few key items on hand to make cleaning and protecting your floors easier. For example, add a natural or colorfast mat to each entryway to capture outside debris and trap dirt and moisture before it can scratch hardwood floors. Consider using a floor protector pad under furniture to prevent scratches and dents. And place a breathable area rug in high-traffic areas to catch spills and dirt before they can stain or scuff the surface.
Vacuum and sweep daily to help prevent dust and dirt from becoming ingrained in your floors. And remember to clean up spills and messes as soon as they happen. Letting wet messes sit on wood floors can damage the finish and attract additional dirt and dust.
9. Keep It Cleaner for a Shorter Time
Even the best-made flooring can get dirty and smudgey, especially if it’s dark. But keeping your floors clean doesn’t have to be a laborious chore.
The best way to keep your floors clean is to remove stains and spills as soon as they happen. If you blot rather than rub a stain, it won’t have time to absorb into your floor’s finish.
Sweep or dust mop your floors regularly. Use a microfiber sweeper that can trap and lift dirt without scratching the surface of your floors. Place mats at entranceways to help catch grit and rocks that could scratch your floors, and use furniture pads under the legs of your chairs and tables. A good pad can protect your floors from scratches for years to come. It will also protect your investment in new or restored hardwood floors.
10. Keep It Cleaner for a Shorter Time
Your home’s flooring is an investment. A little care can keep it looking fresh and new for years to come.
Clean up spills immediately, as the longer a stain sits, the more difficult it is to remove. Use a paper towel and a cleaning product that is safe for wood floors.
Mats at each door can help reduce dirt and rocks that could scratch your floors. Rugs placed in high-traffic areas can also cut down on wear and tear from people walking across your wood floor several times a day.
If you have to rearrange furniture, put pads on the bottom of all pieces to prevent scratches. Always test a cleaner or mop on an inconspicuous area of your floor to make sure it won’t cause damage. Then, sweep regularly and mop frequently to keep your floor looking its best.