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Keep Your Hardwood Floors Shining: A Guide to Safe Cleaning Methods

December 18, 2021
 James Connor

Cleaning Hardwood Floors the Wrong Way Can Damage the Topcoat Finish

Hardwood floors add beauty and value to any home. However, they require proper care and cleaning to maintain their pristine look. Using the wrong cleaning methods can actually damage the protective topcoat finish on hardwood floors. Here's what you need to know to clean hardwood floors effectively without causing harm.

The topcoat finish is essential for protecting the wood underneath and providing a smooth, shiny surface. It acts as a shield against moisture, scratches, scuffs and other damage. Cleaning products that are too harsh strip away this protective layer over time. Once the finish degrades, the floor becomes susceptible to staining, erosion and discoloration.

Avoid using harsh cleaners like ammonia, bleach or abrasive powders on hardwood floors. The chemicals and gritty texture of these products can eat away at the finish. Instead, use pH neutral cleaners specifically formulated for hardwood floors, like Zep Hardwood Floor Cleaner or Squeaky Clean by Basic Coating. Always wipe with a slightly damp mop and immediately dry the floor to prevent standing water damage.

It's also important to sweep or vacuum the floors regularly to prevent buildup of dirt and debris. Sand and grit particles act like sandpaper on the finish when walked on. Try to wipe spills quickly as well. Allowing liquids to sit gives them time to seep in and cause stains.

With the proper gentle cleaning methods, your hardwood floors can maintain their beautiful topcoat finish for years. Avoiding harsh chemicals and promptly removing spills and dirt will help prevent scratches, discoloration and other damage. Show your hardwood floors some TLC and they'll continue looking pristine.

Hardwood Floor PH Neutral Cleaner

Understand Your Floors' Finish

The first step is understanding your hardwood floors' specific finish. Older floors may be waxed or have oil/varnish blends. Most modern hardwood floors have a clear urethane topcoat finish. Factory-finished floors also have aluminum oxide or ceramic microbead layers for extra wear resistance. Site-finished floors rely solely on polyurethane. Knowing your finish type determines the cleaning approach. Wax and oil finishes need less moisture. Polyurethane topcoats can handle damp mopping when done properly. Identify your finish before wet cleaning to prevent hazing, whitening, and surface deterioration. Consult your flooring provider if unsure.

Daily Maintenance is Key

Preventing dirt buildup through quick, daily cleaning is essential for hardwood care. Sweep, dust mop, or vacuum to pick up surface-level grit and debris. This prevents abrasion damage from foot traffic and furniture movement. Stick to dry methods for daily cleaning. For spills and set-in dirt, spot clean using a hardwood cleaner and barely damp cloth. Don't over-wet. Wipe up excess moisture immediately. Following this routine maintenance prevents the need for deep cleaning. Your floors stay cleaner longer with quick daily attention.

What Microfiber Mops Are Recommended?

  • Amazon - Various brands like O-Cedar, Turbo, Libman, etc. Offer 18" microfiber mop heads and handles. Can buy additional replacement heads.
  • Home Depot - Carry 18" microfiber mops from brands like O-Cedar and Turbo. Replacement mop heads available.
  • Lowes - Offer microfiber mop heads and handles from Libman, O-Cedar, and their house brand. 18" size available. Can purchase extra mop pads.
  • Target - Microfiber mop and refill pads from Up & Up, O-Cedar, Turbo Mops brands in 18" size.
  • Walmart - Mainstays, TurboMops, O-Cedar 18" microfiber mops sold. Replacement mop heads can be purchased.
  • Ace Hardware - Carry 18" microfiber wet mops from brands like Quickie, O-Cedar, Libman. Replacement pads available.
  • Online specialty retailers - Sites like CleanItSupply.com, WebstaurantStore.com sell commercial-grade 18" microfiber mops and replacement heads.

Sweep Away Dirt and Debris

One of the best things you can do for your hardwood floors is sweep or dry mop every day or every other day. This removes abrasive particles like dirt, sand, and pet hair that accumulate on the floor. Leaving these can scratch the finish with normal foot traffic and furniture movement. Use a soft-bristle broom, microfiber mop, or vacuum with hard floor attachment. Sweep/mop in the direction of the boards. Get into corners and under furniture/rug edges. Remove dust and debris without wetting the floor. Then spot mop as needed. Sweeping away grit minimizes swirls and maintains shine.

Mopping Basics for Hardwood Floors

When a damp microfiber mop becomes necessary, be cautious not to over-wet. Choose a mop with a terry cloth head or detachable microfiber pad. Liberally spray the mop head or pad with cleaning solution first and until barely damp. Use a back-and-forth motion in line with the floorboards. Avoid circular scrubbing. Work in 3x3 foot sections, immediately drying each section before moving on. Don't let solution puddle up. Re-wet the mop/pad as needed. With these precautions, occasional wet mopping is safe for unwaxed polyurethane floors when done properly.

How To Clean Hardwood Floors the Right Way

What if My Wood Floors Have Lost Their Shine?

Over time, even well-maintained hardwood floors can lose their shiny, lustrous appearance and become dull and lifeless looking. This can happen for a variety of reasons - wear and tear, dirt build-up, grime in the pores, chemical residues from cleaners, water damage eroding the finish, etc. When your wood floors look drab and lackluster, there are steps you can take to restore their shine.

For unwaxed polyurethane-finished floors, a thorough deep cleaning is often the solution. Concentrated hardwood floor cleaners or oxidative treatments break up residue buildup that causes dulling. Hiring a professional cleaning service with specialized equipment can best remove ingrained dirt and revive shine. DIYers can use urethane-safe cleaners with a buffing pad to gently abrade away grime. If you use an advanced acidic cleaner, you will need to follow it up with a pH neutral cleaner or the acid may damage the finish.

Floors with wax or oil finishes should be assessed to see if reapplications is needed. Natural finishes require periodic recoating to maintain luster. Seeking professional advice ensures proper product selection and technique.

With the right assessment and treatment method for your floor's specific finish, you can successfully restore lost luster and get your hardwoods glowing again. Prevent future dullness through proper daily and routine care.

When Should I Hire a Professional Wood Floor Cleaner?

While DIY methods work for routine upkeep, periodic professional cleanings are recommended. Hire pros annually before major events, after construction/renovation, or whenever a full resanding/refinishing isn't needed but floors are grimy. Professionals have specialized equipment like buffing machines and moisture meters. Their expertise avoids amateur mistakes that damage floors. They also offer services like stain removal, odor elimination, and gritty buildup extraction that exceed DIY capabilities. For waxed or oil-rubbed floors, hiring pros for reapplication preserves the finish. If unsure how to deep clean your specific wood flooring, contact the manufacturer to locate certified technicians in your area. If you live in Northeast Indiana, such Allen County IN, and surrounding areas, Keystone Hardwood Floor Care offers an affordable hardwood floor cleaning service.


Wood Floor Maintenance Care

Refinishing your hardwood floors in Allen County is an easy and fast way to completely transform the interior of your home.

  • We will sand the floors down to bare wood.
  • Apply a commercial-grade sealer or your choice of stain color.
  • Finally, two coats of professional polyurethane will be applied.

A newly protected wood floor will appear as good as the day it was installed once the process has been completed.

What Sets Us Apart from Others?

There are certain circumstances in which hardwood floors do not require refinishing or replacement. Homeowners are often surprised to discover that their floors may only require a screen and recoat. This method is less costly than refinishing and can be completed in a single day. You will receive an honest consultation with options. This is what sets us apart from other companies. We will not upsell you services that you do not need.
If you are on a budget, we may be able to provide you with a custom solution. At the very least, we need to protect your floor from further damage. Contact us if you would like to schedule an assessment and consultation.

Refinishing hardwood floors Allen County

Allen County, Indiana + 60 Mile Radius

We cover the following areas in Northeast Indiana and West Ohio;

  • Allen County, Indiana
  • Noble County, Indiana
  • DeKalb County, Indiana
  • Defiance County, Ohio
  • Paulding County, Ohio
  • Van Wert County, Ohio
  • Adams County, Indiana
  • Wells County, Indiana
  • Huntington County, Indiana
  • Whitley County, Indiana
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Wood Floor Care Allen County IN

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