How to care for wood floors

Properly cleaning and maintaining your hardwood flooring will protect them for years to come! Read on for tips from the experts on how to clean and maintain your hardwood floors.

1. Avoid dirt and scratches altogether

Even the most heavily protected hardwood floors are vulnerable to damage from grit, heels, pet claws, furniture, and the products and moisture needed to clean them. Avoid damage altogether by promptly wiping spills and stains, encouraging people to remove shoes, and placing area rugs in high-traffic zones and mats at entrances.

2. Clean often

Sweep or vacuum hardwood floors daily. It’s not just about making your wood floors look clean; it’s about removing debris that can scratch, become embedded, wear the finish and dull the floor over time. Be sure to use only soft-bristled brooms and vacuum attachments (no beater bars).

3. Pick the proper process

Clean and buff all hardwood floors with the grain and never wet mop or use furniture polish. For polyurethane-treated feet, the cleaning process is: sweep or vacuum, damp mop with a cleaning solution, and buff gently with a soft dry cloth. Cleaning frequency for this type of floor is once per week in high-traffic areas; never wax a polyurethane-treated floor. For all other finishes, the process is: sweep or vacuum frequently, clean spills promptly, and – one to two times per year – strip, apply a new coat of wax, and buff using a machine.

4. Pick the right products

Commercial non-abrasive cleaning solutions with a neutral Ph are recommended for hardwood floors that withstand damp mopping. Cleaners that are too alkaline can dull the floor’s finish; cleaners that are too acidic – including vinegar, lemon, tea, and other oft-recommended homemade solutions – can cause the finish to deteriorate and leave dirt behind by failing to bond with it chemically. Some floor manufacturers make and sell their cleaning products or recommend products for use with their floors; these may be expensive but are likely the best choices.

5. Spot-treat stains

For polyurethane-treated floors, address stains locally using appropriate cleaning solutions (e.g., detergents for greasy stains, ammonia for blood, etc.). Apply the basic rule for all stain removal: start with the gentlest possible method, escalate for tougher stains and stop as soon as the stain is removed. Pencil erasers work well on scuff marks. For oil-sealed floors, ultra-fine steel wool may be used – very gently – to remove stubborn stains.