Tom Robbins once wrote, “There’s birth, there’s death, and in between there’s maintenance.” Routine care is an important part of homeownership, as it keeps your home not only running smoothly but also looking its best. This is especially true for hardwood floors, which can add so much to the beauty of a home – unless you neglect them. With just a few maintenance basics, you can keep your floors in tip-top shape all year round.
When cleaning hardwood floors, your main goal is to eliminate dirt, dust and other foreign particles that might mar the floor’s surface. This is best done with a high-quality, soft-bristle broom or a microfiber mop. A rotating terrycloth mop can also be used. Avoid brooms with harsh, stiff bristles and tools with rotating brushes as these can scuff the floors. To remove dust from seams and bevels, use a vacuum cleaner without the beater bar – or with it turned off – and choose the “bare floors” setting.
Door mats at every door encourage guests and residents alike to wipe the dirt from their shoes before it gets ground into your floors. And speaking of shoes, keep cleats and high heels off the hardwoods when possible as they can dent the surface of the wood. Apply adhesive felt protectors under the feet of your furniture to prevent scrapes or gouges when the furniture is moved.
Remember to never wet mop a wood floor. Too much moisture causes hardwoods to swell, crack and splinter. Clean spills promptly with a damp – not wet – cloth. Place rugs and mats designed for wood floors in wet areas, staying away from non-porous or rubber-backed mats that can stick to your floors and pull off the finish when they are removed.
Cleaning products formulated for vinyl or tile can damage your floors. Self-polishing acrylic waxes can make surfaces dangerously slippery and tend to dull urethane-coated wood floors quickly. Other products that dull the finish of hardwoods are ammonia cleaners and oil soaps. For best results, use products created specifically for use on hardwood floors, such as the Pledge Floor Care Wood product line or Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner, and follow the directions carefully.
With regular care and a few preventative measures around the home, your hardwood floors will look like new for years to come.