It’s impossible to underestimate the vast importance of properly cleaning your hardwood floors. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called in to perform a re-coat on a floor only to test it and find impossible-to-remove residue left behind by good-intentioned cleaning with the exact wrong products. Nothing ruins a homeowner’s day like finding out a simple, inexpensive re-coat has now become a major refinishing job

The Wrong Products = The Kiss of Death

You wouldn’t think that cleaning your hardwood floors is such an exact science, but the wrong products can leave your floor in worse shape than if you never cleaned it at all. Some cleaners—Murphy’s Oil Soap, Mop & Glo, and Orange Glo are the worst of the worst—will not only leave your floors looking dull and hazy, but they’ll also make it impossible at worst and very difficult at best to re-coat your floor down the road, because a new finish won’t stick to the old if the wrong products have been used.

Other damaging ways to clean your floor include using a steam mop, which can cause water damage and lead to cupping and warping, and cleaning it with vinegar, which may be nontoxic to humans but which is highly toxic to your finish.

To properly clean hardwood, the only cleaner you should use is one formulated by a hardwood floor manufacturer and recommended by a hardwood flooring expert. I always recommend Bona products, because I like that they’re nontoxic and gentle on the floor while at the same time highly effective at removing grime and restoring shine.

The Cleaning Routine 

Keeping your floors in tip-top shape is largely a matter of keeping them clean. To properly clean hardwood floors, you should run a dust mop across them daily to remove debris and particles that can scratch the finish and vacuum and mop weekly to clean between the boards and in hard-to-reach places.

Daily Dust Mopping

It doesn’t take long to run the dust mop over your floors—at least in high-traffic areas—but the benefits are huge. Tiny particles and pieces of debris that come in on your shoes or hitch a ride in on your pets can scratch up the surface of your floors. Over time, the microscopic scratches add up to a dull-looking finish.

To dust mop, use a dry electrostatic microfiber pad. The pad will attract and trap dirt, microscopic particles, and allergens that can damage your floors and compromise your indoor air quality.

Weekly Vacuuming & Mopping

Vacuuming lifts dirt and harmful particles off your floors and cleans between the boards, where dirt and debris can become trapped over time. It also enables you to thoroughly clean the corners and other hard-to-reach places. Use the floor setting on your vacuum cleaner. If it has a beater bar, make sure it’s not touching the surface of your floors. Before you roll the vacuum cleaner onto your floors, check the wheels for little particles that can scratch the wood as you wheel it around.

To mop your floors, lightly mist them with an approved hardwood floor cleaner, and use a microfiber pad to clean. Don’t use water, which is not only unnecessary but which can also damage your floors. Bona makes a hardwood floor mop that has a trigger built into the handle to spray the floor with a fine mist from the attached refillable cleaner cartridge. While the Swiffer WetJet looks similar, it contains silicone, which will leave a film on your floor that will attract more dirt, and so it isn’t recommended for use on hardwood floors.

A Note About Polishing Your Floors

You can find a range of urethane acrylic polishes on the market that are purported to rejuvenate your floors, fill in microscopic scratches, and shine up the surface. It’s best to resist the temptation to use these types of products—even the ones developed by hardwood floor manufacturers—because again, they’ll leave a residue that can’t be removed unless you sand the floor down to the bare wood. Instead of polishing your floors with these products, consider a re-coat every three to five years, depending on how heavy the traffic is on your floors. Periodic re-coats prevent damage and keep your floors looking like they were just installed yesterday.

Contact the Floor Doctor

For more information about how to properly clean hardwood floors or to find out whether your floor is a candidate for a re-coat, contact The Floor Doctor today. We offer free in-home consultations and guarantee honest and ethical business practices, a high level of expertise, and high-quality work. That’s what makes us the premier hardwood floor contractor in the Omaha area.

Trevor Hayden is The Floor Doctor, specializing in restoring damaged or worn hardwood floors to their former glory using the least invasive procedures, the highest quality products, and the latest technologies and state-of-the-art equipment.