How To Properly Clean Hardwood Floors
Hardwood floors are one of the best investments a homeowner can make in order to improve their home value. In today’s market, hardwood floors are in high demand. If not properly taken care of, hardwood floors can decrease a home’s value. Most homeowners choose hardwood for its durability and warm charm. They can easily be added to any room. Hardwood floors never go out of style and can save you money in the years to come. Carpeted floors tend to lose their appeal and often need to be replaced every few years.
Keeping your hardwood floors looking beautiful can be a problem if not cleaned properly. Using the wrong type of cleaner such as one that contains harsh chemicals can destroy the appearance of the wood and can leave a homeowner with a big job of trying to restore them. There are quite a few methods used in cleaning hardwood floors. The first would be steam cleaning, which is a good alternative to scrubbers. Some scrubbers may leave a residue behind on the floor. The steam cleaning process uses water, which removes the dirt easily. The floors dry quickly and there is no need to barricade the area while cleaning. There is also no worry of slips and falls, or dirt being carried back unto the cleaned floors by family members or pets.
The best steam cleaner uses a process called flash heating. It is similiar to a tank-free water heater and enables the water to heat quickly. Regular tap water may be used. Most home water systems are sufficient to use unless is is a hard water system. If so, then distilled water should be used. It is important to make sure floors are free from dust and grit before starting the process. By washing over grit and dust, the floors could be scratched. If a cleaning solution is added, make sure that it is neutral with a medium ph level. Seal the area before use and do not use a floor scrubber on worn spots, this will cause warping if water soaks into the wood.
Before cleaning hardwood floors, you must know what type of finish was put on the floors. New floors today are sealed with urethane, polyacrylic, or polyurethane. Surfaced-sealed floors are stain and water resistant and are easy to care for. Just sweep and mop and your floors are clean. Penetrating seal or oil finishing products soak into the wood grain and harden, therefore, they must be protected with liquid or paste wax.
Varnished, lacquered, and untreated floors are not as resistant to water spills, moisture, and wear as the other sealants. Treat these floors as you would treat oil-treated floors. If you are not sure as to what type of floors you have, you can rub your fingers across the floor. If no smudge appears then your floor is surfaced sealed. If a smudge does appear then the floor has been treated with a penetrating seal, oil finish, shellac, varnish, or lacquer and then waxed.
Do not use oils, waxes, or furniture sprays on your floors. Oil will leave a residue and furniture sprays will cause the surface to become slippery. Wax takes time to apply and makes re-coating difficult. Using straight ammonia, alkaline products, or abrasive cleaners will dull or scratch the finish. Floor refinishers will recommend safe products to use, but these products are sometimes hard to find and may be costly. Murphy’s oil soap and dishwashing soap with water may be used.
Do not mop with water alone as this will cause floors to look dingy and it will not remove the dirt and grime. High traffic areas should be swept daily and mopped twice a week. Low traffic areas may be mopped once a month or with the changing of seasons. Always use a damp mop and not one that is soaked, as this will damage the wood floors.