Cleaning wood floors does not have to be difficult. In fact, once you learn some basic cleaning tips, you’ll likely find it much easier than cleaning softer flooring materials. Hardwood flooring is legendary for its durability and this reputation persists for good reasons. Even the most ancient of stains can be removed by cleaning hardwood floors in the right way, meaning that these floors can be an investment that lasts for generations.
Items Needed for Cleaning
Cleaning hardwood floors will require that you have a few basic items on hand, depending upon the severity of the stain.
- A damp — not wet — mop
- A neutral cleaner
- A soft cloth
- Fine grit steel wool or sandpaper
- Wood oil
In the worst case scenario – cleaning floors with deep stains – you’ll have to actually remove the stained wood. This doesn’t mean that you have to actually cut the plank in half and remove it. The stain is probably not too deep into the wood and, in some cases, cleaning wooden floors simply means using sandpaper or steel wool to buff out the area with damage. This is how to clean wood floors when everything else has failed, however. The usual process to clean your wood floor is remarkably easy: Take your damp mop, rub out the stain, and let it dry. This is a huge part of the reason that hardwood flooring is so popular.
Remember that you should never create a puddle of water while mopping hardwood floors, no matter what kind of flooring you have. For cleaning wood floors, you may want to even skip the mop. A damp cloth and a gentle cleanser are usually more than enough to get rid of a stain. The sealant used on wooden floors, polyurethane, is very protective of the wood and, most often, you’ll really just be wiping the mess off of the surface, as it won’t penetrate deeply.
Solid Hardwood and Laminate Floors
Cleaning wood laminate floors is entirely different. First, never use an abrasive on these floors. Laminate floors are not wood, and using abrasives will destroy them. Never use standard hardwood floor cleaners, either. The manufacturer of your floor will likely have a line of cleaning products designed for the surface. Use that product, or something similar, and nothing else. Cleaning wood laminate floors—and cleaning hardwood floors, for that matter—usually just means sweeping. Dust and dirt, however, are significant threats to both types of flooring if they’re tracked around, so a good portable vacuum or dust mop is essential for maintenance.
Removing stains should only be done after a thorough sweeping of the surface. If you have dirt or debris under the cloth you’re using for floor cleaning, you’re basically using sandpaper on your wood flooring. This is doubly true of cleaning wood laminate floors. Cleaning old hardwood floors is oftentimes just the opposite. You may have to actually use sandpaper and steel wool to get older floors in good shape again. Remember, however, that you can always refinish an old wood floor, add a protective coat of wax or polyurethane, and, in most cases, you’ll probably be amazed at how new it looks after you do refinish it. Cleaning wood floors and hardwood floor care after refinishing becomes much easier again.