Hardwood floors are becoming the first choice for many homes. The beauty of fine hardwood adds a subtle yet distinctive look to the design of any room. Equally appealing is the seemingly easy care offered by hardwood. But “easy care” doesn’t mean “no care.”
Hardwood floors need to be cleaned regularly, to remove dust and dirt particles before they can scratch and dull the finish. Regular vacuuming will do the trick, but you need to be sure you’re using a soft-bristled floor tool designed for dusting floors. Otherwise you risk dulling the finish or even scratching the floor as you vacuum.
Some people prefer using soft-fiber or microfiber dust mops. These are great choices, but you need to be careful. They, too, can scratch fine floor surfaces with the dust and dirt they collect. We prefer using the vacuum cleaner for regular cleaning: Virtually all of the abrasive material collected is sucked up and off the floor and the cleaning tool.
A steam mop is a good choice, too, so long as the floor doesn’t have a waxed, oiled or varnish finish. Otherwise, a steam mop is better than a regular mop, since the steam mop uses significantly less water and the floor usually dries in seconds. The heat from the steam isn’t an issue, either, unless you let steam mop sit in one place for an extended period of time. So, keep the mop moving.
When it comes to deeper cleaning, avoid soap-based cleaners. They can be good choices for furniture and other wood with natural, oil or varnish finishes, but today’s hardwood floors typically are finished with polyurethane or acrylic. Soap cleaners can dull these finishes and leave a cloudy film on the floor, even when rinsed well.
Likewise, vinegar and water and similar cleaning solutions can be great choices for general cleaning, but can dull hardwood floor finishes over time.
We use and recommend Bona hardwood floor cleaner. It won’t dull the floor’s finish or leave a residue. It’s effective, environmentally friendly and non-toxic. That last item is important for homes with children and pets.
Of course, never use steam cleaners on hardwood. The heat and hot water not only can damage the finish, it can warp and damage the wood, as well.