Hardwood Flooring Care: 7 DIY Tips for Maintaining Wood Floors

Best Practices for Cleaning Hardwood FloorsHardwood floors add significant beauty and value to a home. Aside from being durable, wood floors offer many benefits, including being low maintenance and easy to clean. If a homeowner takes good care of hardwood floors, they'll go some time without needing to be refinished. Here are seven DIY tips for maintaining wood floors to help them look great and last for years to come.

Don't Allow Shoes

One of the best ways to maintain the beauty of hardwood floors is to keep the dirt and grime away as much as possible. Place tough-bristled doormats for people to use before entering the room and take off shoes before stepping onto the hardwood. Plan to bring pets in from another entrance on rainy or snowy days to cut back on the dirt.

Routinely Dust Mop

Dirt, dust, hair, pet hair, and other particles left unchecked could scratch the floor. Plan to dust mop the entire floor frequently. It's surprising how a simple daily dust mop makes it a lot easier to keep hardwood floors looking their best. A microfiber dust mop easily does the trick.

Sweep Regularly

To pick up the dirt a dust mop doesn't catch, use an angled, soft-bristled broom to get into all the nooks and crannies to ensure less buildup occurs. When sweeping, aim to move with the natural grain of the wood.

Vacuum Carefully

It's OK to vacuum a hardwood floor as long as specific precautions are taken. Be sure to avoid using vacuums with beater brushes and brush rolls because these are harsh on hardwood floors and can damage them. Instead, use a vacuum with soft floor nozzle attachments. Some vacuums with brushes have settings that prevent the brush from scratching.

Don't Ignore Sticky Debris

If any spills (even water) or stickiness occur, wipe them off immediately with a damp, clean cloth. Use a small amount of wood floor cleaner to pick up any residue and give it a good rub. If water is left unchecked, it can put moisture between the slats and cause damage to the wood over time.

Be Careful When Choosing Products

When washing hardwood floors, use pH-neutral, non-toxic, and biodegradable formulas. Only use floor products recommended by the floor finisher or clean lightly with a mop dampened (not soaked) with water. Don't use oils, waxes, or furniture sprays—they leave residue and create a very slippery surface.

Take Protective Measures

In addition to cleaning floors properly, other protective measures can be taken to reduce the possibility of damage. For instance, place a rubber rug underlayment (waffle pattern) in high-traffic areas and entryways to minimize wear and tear and install felt floor protectors underneath the legs of furniture to prevent scratching.

Mistakes to Avoid When Caring for Hardwood Floors

Sometimes the best intentions can go awry when it comes to maintaining wood floors. Here are five mistakes to avoid when caring for hardwood surfaces.

  • Never steam clean, as this puts way too much moisture and heat in contact with the wood.
  • Avoid using lemon, vinegar, or baking soda solutions, as they can dull a floor and damage its seal.
  • Don't use alkaline products, straight ammonia, or abrasive cleaners.
  • Avoid soaps or sprays that will leave a waxy residue.
  • Don't use string mops; opt for microfiber instead.

Cleaning hardwood floors isn't hard, but it does need to happen regularly to keep them shiny and looking new. By maintaining a cleaning routine, it'll be easy to keep floors in great shape.

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