Before You Start
Hardwood floors are very popular to have in a home, but to get them shiny and streak-free is a little difficult for some. But with the right tools combined with an excellent cleaning technique, you can get those floors to shine like you’ve always wanted.
But before we even think about getting started, we need to do a little bit of research into the type of hardwood you have.
Determine the type of hardwood finish
The first thing you want to do is determine the type of finishing your hardwood floor has. If your floor has a modern finish, it can be wet-mopped. If it has an older finish or has been waxed, then it requires a gentle damp-mopping.
Prefinished floors are the easiest to recognize since every board has beveled edges. If your floor isn’t glossy, then you have a stained or unfinished floor.
If your floor shines, some testing is required. To determine whether your hardwood floor contains wax, moisten extra-fine steel wool and rub it on a discreet area. If you see a light gray smudge appear on the wool that means you have a wax finish.
If there is no smudge, then place a few drops of water on the most high traffic area of the floor. If you have a modern seal, the water will remain beaded after several minutes. If the water soaks up or darkens the wood, then you have an older seal or a poorly-finished one.
If you’re unsure about the type of flooring you have in your home, then always choose the gentler method of cleaning your hardwood floor.
Cleaning Different Types of Hardwood Floors
A.Cleaning hardwood floors with a modern surface seal
Oil, wax, and furniture spray should NOT be used. Oil leaves residue that will hold dust and dirt while furniture spray makes the floor very slick (very dangerous). Wax creates problems in the case you ever decide to recoat your floor.
Instead, use a liquid dishwashing soap and water. Liquid dishwashing soap is great to use since it’s so mild.
Using distilled water is highly recommended. It should be available at your supermarket, and is inexpensive. Using distilled water is the secret to streak-free floors!
- Sweep the floor
Sweep the floor with a soft-bristled broom. You must broom first to get rid of large particles like sand, small rocks, or grit that may scratch your floor if caught under a mop. You can also vacuum the floor, but make sure that the attachment has the soft bristles to prevent scratching.
Mop the floor using the water and soap solution. Mop with the grain of the wood and DO NOT soak the floor. Work as quickly as you can and make sure to change the water when it darkens.
With a soft micro-fiber cloth, dip into the water and soap solution and spot-clean grimy areas.
- Mop up the soapy water
Rinse the mop in clean water and squeeze is thoroughly. Working quickly, start drying the floor with the mop. This doesn’t need to be a perfect job because you still have to rinse the floor ahead.
Rinse and wash the mop one more time. Clear out the water in the bucket and fill it up with clean water or store-bought distilled water (recommended!). Rinse and clean the floor once again with the distilled water.
This is the final step! Using a fresh mop, or on your hands and knees with a micro fiber cloth, buff the floor dry.
B.Cleaning all other hardwood surface types
Many of the same guidelines apply for this one as well. Do not add soap to the water, use a mop that has been wrung nearly dry and be very gentle!
- Sweep the floor
This step is the same as the other method. Sweep the floor with a soft-bristled broom or use a vacuum.
- Dampen the mop
WFill a bucket with water. Of course we suggest using distilled water for a streak-free clean! Dip the mop into the water and wring it thoroughly. Working with the grain, use the damp mop and run it over the floor. Change the water when you see it darkening.
Using a soft cloth, spot-clean the floor.
- Dry and Buff
With a terry cleaning cloth, buff and dry the floor.
While cleaning, be sure to take off your shoes and work in socks. These methods on how to clean a hardwood floor should leave your floors looking amazing and….STREAK-FREE!
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Very informative post! Thanks for this blog, selecting the correct cleaning solution for your floor type. Use a mild floor cleaning detergent and hot water for linoleum and rubber tiles; ½ cup vinegar and a gallon of hot water for brick, stone or ceramic tiles; or equal parts vegetable oil and vinegar for wood floors.
Thanks for helping me understand that oils and waxes should never be used to clean hardwood floors. As you mentioned, it will hold dust and the floors will be slippery as well. I will keep that in mind to ensure that I am cleaning the floor properly when we have them done. I just wanted to have hardwood flooring in our living room to make it look cozy before the winter season sets in.
I like what you said about using a microfiber cloth to wipe down the floors. I need to get a floor specialist to redo my concrete floors. They need a full polish.
So, Vacuum, Mop, Change Water, Spot Clean, Dry, Change Water, Rinse and Clean, then Buff the whole floor. This would literally take me 5 hours. Thanks for reminding me I should have tile.