Hardwood floors are a staple of elegance and durability in many homes. However, that classic, timeless look comes with the responsibility of regular maintenance. Keeping your hardwood flooring in pristine condition is easy with the right tools and know-how. Here are a few helpful tips for cleaning hardwood floors to keep them in great condition for years.

Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Understanding Your Flooring

Before you begin cleaning, it’s helpful to understand the finish on your hardwood flooring, as this influences the cleaning method. Most contemporary hardwood floors have either a surface-sealed finish or a penetrating oil-treated finish.

Surface-Sealed Finish: This waterproof finish requires minimal maintenance. Common sealants include polyurethane, urethane, and acrylic. A simple sweep or vacuum and occasional damp mopping with a specified hardwood cleaner are usually sufficient.

Oil-Treated Finish: These floors are protected from the inside out. Known for their natural look, they benefit from regular applications of cleaning oils or soap to wash the surface and maintain the wood’s integrity.

Routine Maintenance for Hardwood Floors

For day-to-day cleaning, follow these tips to remove dirt and keep your flooring looking great.

  • Use a soft, dry microfiber mop or a vacuum cleaner with a smooth floor attachment to remove surface dirt and allergens.
  • Damp-mop once weekly or as needed using a specialized hardwood floor cleaner. Don’t use excessive water; standing water can warp wood over time.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals like ammonia and abrasive cleaning products that can damage the wood or its finish.

Deeper Cleaning Techniques

Follow these tips for a more thorough clean, especially in high-traffic areas – or just for an occasional deep clean.

  • Create a gentle, homemade cleaning solution by mixing warm water and a mild dishwashing detergent. Apply this sparingly with a slightly damp mop. Dry the floor afterward to prevent water damage.
  • Use vinegar to add shine. For sealed wood, a mixture of ¼ cup of white vinegar and a gallon of water helps restore shine without harming the finish. Moisture control is crucial; use a damp mop and dry the area thoroughly.
  • Buff the flooring with a dry microfiber cloth to remove residue from cleaning products or stubborn stains.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls

To maintain the flooring, protect it from damage. Prevent scratches and fading with these tips.

  • Limit the wearing effects of high heels by placing rugs in high-traffic areas. Keep pets’ nails trimmed to avoid surface scratches, and install felt pads on furniture legs to reduce abrasion.
  • Direct sunlight can cause discoloration. To protect against this, install curtains, shades, or blinds to limit exposure during the sunniest parts of the day.
  • Accidents happen. Promptly clean spills to avoid staining and warping from water damage.

When to Refinish Your Hardwoods

Even with meticulous care, your flooring will require a professional to refinish the hardwood. Signs that it’s time to refinish the flooring include significant surface damage and fading.  A general rule is to refinish every seven to ten years, depending on wear and tear.

With the right approach, caring for your hardwood floors is straightforward. Regular maintenance combined with proactive protection measures will maintain the beauty and integrity of your flooring and enhance the warmth and comfort of your home.

AWP Home Inspections offers home inspection services to homebuyers and sellers in West Central and Central Indiana. Contact us to request an appointment.