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How to Clean Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors add value and beauty to a home and are an investment worth protecting. Routine cleaning and maintenance tasks are easy and will keep your floors in tip-top shape for years to come.
Dirt and dust can cause micro-scratches in the wood that can become unsightly over time. That’s why it is best to vacuum, sweep, or dry mop the floors at least once a week. Spray on a nontoxic “green” floor cleaner to better pick up dust, dirt, and environmental pollution.

Periodic deep cleaning is necessary to remove grime and oils that build up over time. Use a wood-cleaning product following manufacturer’s instruction. If you have any doubts about the cleaner, apply it first in an inconspicuous place to make sure it won’t damage your floors.

Hardwood floors can be washed with a sponge or mop but precautions are necessary. While most modern hardwood finishes are water-resistant, too much water can cause the wood to warp and loosen over time. Make sure your sponge or mop is only slightly damp; if you can wring water out of it by hand, it’s too wet. When cleaning, avoid leaving puddles of standing water and wipe up excess liquid immediately.

Hardwood floor cleaners should be pH neutral to prevent damage. For example, vinegar makes a great household cleaner but it’s acidic and can damage the finish on the wood. Same goes with bleach, ammonia, and abrasive cleaners.

Experts recommend polishing hardwood floors every two to four months, depending on the amount of foot traffic. Polish fills in scratches and provides a layer of protection. Before polishing, move furniture and rugs and clean the floor with a damp mop or vacuum. Squirt the polish on the floor and spread it around with a cloth or applicator. Allow the polish to dry at least an hour before walking on it. If the area is subject to heavy traffic, try to stay off it for 24 hours.

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