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Do's and Don'ts for Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Posted: Monday, May 16, 2011

Do's and Don'ts for Cleaning Hardwood FloorsYou got the best. You have the most beautiful, unique hardwood floor you've ever seen. You searched and researched, and you're delighted with the results. So now that you've put in the investment in a hardwood floor, you'll definitely want to take care of it to the best of your ability. And it's really not that difficult, unlike the horror stories you might have heard, and there are some natural, "green" products that do an even better job than store-bought cleaners in keeping your floor looking brand new.

First, you definitely want to do the logistics work at the "gateways" of your floors. To keep dirt, debris, and grime down, be sure and use doormats at each entrance to the outside. You can look for walk-off mats, which not only do the job of catching the dirt, but also reduce the amount of lead and pesticides that come into your home on people's shoes. But beyond this and regular sweeping, there are some cleaning ideas that can really keep the life in your floor — and don't bring in toxic elements into your breathing space.

One of the cardinal rules for cleaning any wood floor, whether surfaced, oiled, or laminate is to never use a typical mop, where you flood the floor with water, as you might do with a vinyl or tile floor. No matter how well sealed your hardwoods, water is its most violent enemy. So when you mop, wring out your mop head or sponge thoroughly before drawing it across the floor.

On hardwood flooring that has a surface coating, like a lot of engineered floors, you want to avoid any cleaner that promises "shine." They cause build up that is tough to remove when you need to resurface the floor sometime, and any products that contain ammonia can cause your surface coating to become cloudy. On these types of floors, go with a quarter-cup of regular dishwashing detergent in a bucket of warm water. Be sure and wring it out well. And after going over the floor with the soap solution, run over the floor again with just plain water.

For hardwood floors that have a penetrating finish (oil), never use water-based cleaners. Just apply a light spray of a natural citrus solvent, which is an effective and green choice. Then just rinse, and for both of these methods, buff with a try towel attachment, and watch your floor shine.

Another terrific, inexpensive, and very eco-friendly method is s to use tea. Just brew three tea bags (black tea only) in a quart of water and use a wrung-out mop or rag to apply. And no rinsing necessary. Oh, and don't forget to let the tea cool off first.