With the proper care and maintenance, hardwood floors can last a lifetime. It seems the most commonly asked question we at Extreme Floor Care get asked almost daily is “What should I use to clean my new wood floor?” I have all the information you need below but if you need a professional like this client did above we also provide hardwood floor cleaning services.
Let’s start by telling you what NOT to use: Never clean a hardwood floor with products like vinegar, ammonia, household dust treatments, floor waxes, steam cleaners, household cleaners including Murphy’s Oil Soap, liquid polishes or anything with instructions that include the words “mop and bucket.” Although many cleaning product manufacturers will promote their merchandise good for wood floors, we’ve had to refinish a substantial number of floors that were routinely cleaned with such products. Many of our clients have cleaning people who use the wrong product, go out and buy the right product and make sure that is all they use on your hardwood floors.
Compounds like vinegar are acidic and will etch into the finish and create dulling. Ammonia is harsh and can discolor the wood. Liquid polishes and household dust treatments have a waxy material that shines and leaves a slick residue with a contaminating film on the floor. Floor waxes build up layers that can dull and discolor wood. Household cleaners have detergents that can harm the finish and also leave a contaminating film behind.
Never wet mop a hardwood floor, as standing water can cause the wood to warp. Although widely promoted as prime hardwood floor cleaners, steam cleaners are the most damaging. Water damages the finish, and heat and steam can actually crack the wood.
We recommend "squeaky clean" which you can get at CoastTile & Marble supply on Fire Road in Egg Harbor Township,the recommended method for cleaning is the use of a specially formulated hardwood floor cleaner sprayed on a dry micro-fiber pad or a cotton one and applied to the floor after a thorough sweeping. Only make the pad damp not wet. This doesn’t have to be done every day; once a week is a great routine.
Other maintenance tips include a daily “dust mopping" or vacuuming using a soft brush attachment. Do not use an upright vacuum with a beater bar. All liquids and spills should be wiped up with a dry paper towel or cotton/terrycloth material as soon as possible. Use a dry paper towel or terrycloth material after the clean-up to make sure no liquid remains.
Using entrance rugs helps catch dirt and grit at the doorway before it gets tracked in and scratches your floor. It is really important to keep the humidity level between 40 and 60 percent to help prevent the contraction and expansion of your wood boards. This is most important during the winter months when the heat is on and the air is very dry. Additionally, the use of felt pads on furniture legs is extremely helpful in preventing dents and scratches from sliding chairs or when moving heavier furniture.
With the proper care and maintenance, hardwood floors can last a lifetime. However, many consumers and cleaning professionals are either uninformed or misinformed as to how to properly care for wood flooring. Fortunately for today’s consumers, caring for wood floors requires much less effort than in the past when wax flooring was the preeminent choice. Most of today’s wood floors have a surface building finish that allows for easy care and maintenance. Regardless of the finish, style, or species, one thing remains abundantly clear – maintenance is key! A good maintenance routine that protects the finish from scratches and moisture can add years to the life of your floor.
While it’s true that cleaning methods vary based on finish types, the following general maintenance guidelines apply to all residential and commercial wood floors and finishes.
Sweeping & Vacuuming – Use a soft bristle broom, dry dust mop, or vacuum to routinely remove the grit and grime that accumulates on the floor. Left unattended, dirt particles can work like an abrasive when trapped under footwear and scratch and de-gloss the floor. Use a vacuum that does not have a rotating beater bar, as it can damage the finish.
Window Coverings – Wood is a natural product and thereby affected by light. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays can have a dramatic effect on the exposed wood and fading or bleaching may occur. Window treatments can go a long way in helping to keep your wood’s color intact.
Area Rugs & Floor Mats – It’s good practice to place area rugs at all entrances, pivot points, high-traffic areas, near sinks, and/or any other place where dirt or water may accumulate. Be wary of rubber backed mats and non-slip rug pads, as they can be unkind to the floor’s finish. The pattern on the non-slip mat may actually imprint onto the floor. Rugs, mats and pads with natural backings are your best bet. Keep in mind that the use of area rugs may cause shading differences in the floor due to light exposure.
Floor Protectors – Install floor protector pads to the bottom of anything that will come in contact with the floor. This includes all furniture, baby items, large toys, etc. Never slide or drag heavy items across the floor, as wood finishes can easily scratch and mar under extreme pressure.
Other Protective Measures – Some other ideas include keeping shoes in good repair. High heels in particular are a threat if they lose their protective cap and the nail is exposed. Obviously, all athletic cleats and spikes should be left at the door. As far as pets go, make sure their nails are clipped and trimmed regularly. Wipe spills immediately and pay close attention to the flooring around the dishwasher, refrigerator, house plants, or any other areas prone to spills or leaks. Finally, keep the temperature in-line with normal living conditions in your area, as extremes of humidity and temperature can wreak havoc on wood floors.
Adhering to these basic guidelines will go a long way in helping to protect your investment by extending the life of the hardwood floor and finish.
It’s interesting to note that the color of hardwood changes with age and exposure to sunlight. If you use area rugs, they should be rotated in the room in order to keep the overall color more uniform. Also, when using area rugs, be sure their backings are of only untreated natural fiber such as wool or jute or a 100-percent non-solvent-based rubber. Same thing goes for slip pads, do not use sticky or tacky backers – they contain plasticizers that can attack and discolor the finish. If you have any questions please feel free to call us at Extreme Floor Care at 609-272-9173 7 days a week from 8am to 10 pm or visit our website at www.extremefloorcare.com