The Best Way to Clean Hardwood Floors - Revealed

Many homeowners love hardwood floors not only for their look and durability, but also because they're simple to clean -- at least relative to carpet, tile, and many other surfaces. But maintaining spick-and-span hardwood floors isn't quite as simple as it may seem, which leaves many homeowners wondering: What's the best way to clean hardwood floors, anyway?

Remove debris regularly

Your first line of defense is to remove dirt and debris as quickly and as often as possible. Even the smallest specks of dirt act like sandpaper, and can scratch the floor's surface and make it look dull. So, make sure to vacuum or sweep regularly -- ideally once every two or three days, or more for high-traffic areas, says Brett Miller, vice president of education and certification for the national Wood Flooring Association in St. Louis.

Wipe spills immediately

Hardwood floors look impervious to spills compared to carpet, but certain substances can actually eat away at the top coat of polish on your floor. Some common offenders include milk, mustard, and pet urine. So, if Fido or Fluffy isn't house trained, make sure to pick up after accidents pronto.

Mop the right way

A damp (not sopping) mop can also help keep a hardwood floor clean, provided you use the right cleaner. Most wood floor installers or manufacturers recommend cleaners that contain isopropyl alcohol, which dries quickly, and are available at home supply stores.

To make your own solution for a monthly clean, add a capful of white vinegar to a gallon of water, which will help dissolve grease and grime on the floor, but not strip the finish. 

Whatever you do, do not clean wood floors with a steam mop, Miller says, "Steam is horrible for wood floors. It opens the pores in woods and damages the finish, causing irreversible damage to any wood floor."

Use the right cleaning products

"Wood is probably the easiest floor covering to keep clean, but you have to use the right cleaning products," says Miller. In fact, contrary to what you think, he adds, "anything that says 'polish' or 'shine' indicates that you're adding a layer of something to the floor, and it's not a protective coating."

And if it still doesn't look clean...

If vacuuming and mopping don't restore the luster to your hardwood floors, it may not be due to lack of elbow grease. Eventually, wood floors withstand enough damage that they should be refinished -- meaning the top layer of wood is sanded down to remove marks, then covered with sealant. Hardwood floors should be resealed about once every 10 years, or every two to five years if they get substantial traffic from kids or pets.

Source: Fox News