Hardwood floor is quite the investment. They look exquisite though they can be damaged relatively easy by improper cleaning. Though you may think you’re doing the right thing by cleaning hardwood flooring, one can easily do more harm than good with a mistaken approach.
Here are the best ideas on how to wash hardwood floors in an ecofriendly manner:
1. Check for Manufacturer Instructions
Before we give any general instructions, know that some hardwood floor types or finishes may require specific considerations in what products to use.
Find out which types of engineered hardwood flooring you’ve got and consult with manufacturer guidelines to see if there’s anything specific in its maintenance and care.
2. Use Water or a Hardwood Floor Cleaner
The best way on how to wash hardwood floors is to use water with an ecofriendly floor cleaner. Water is often enough to get your floor clean. When you want to do a more thorough clean, hardwood floor cleaner is your best bet.
Look at the label of any floor cleaner before you purchase. A hardwood floor cleaner should be pH-neutral and meant for urethane-finished hardwood flooring specifically.
3. When to Avoid Using Water
Certain finishes you want to avoid using water on. If your floors have a finish of wax, oil, or monocoat, water’s not a friend. The manufacturer will likely direct you onto a specific cleaner you can use.
4. Distilled Water v. Tap Water
Experts in the floor cleaning industry always suggest distilled water. This is because tap water contains things like chlorine, softeners, and other ingredients that may or may not cause discoloration and leave behind mineral deposits. All in all, tap water should be alright for most hardwood floors but to be safe, you may want to consider using distilled water.
5. Dilute Your Cleaner the Right Way
There is such thing as ‘too much of a good thing’. Follow instructions when diluting in water a concentrated cleaner. If you’re not using a premixed cleaner and are creating your own, use a spray bottle and test your finished mix on a non-visible area of your floor to ensure it isn’t causing discoloration, bubbles, clouds, or residue.
6. Work in Small Sections
Spray a small section of your floor with cleaner. Mop a small section at a time. Work backwards. Always go with the grain as much as possible. Many people use figure-eight motions and work side-to-side. This is how you wash hardwood floors and allows your mop to collect the most amount of grime as possible.
7. Never Saturate the Wood or Create Puddles
Wood is very sensitive to wetness. You don’t want to oversaturate a hardwood floor or create puddles of cleaner. Spray just enough product on the floor and then, get it dry as quickly as possible. Some may choose to go over it again with a dry mop head after the floor is complete, gathering up any moisture left behind.
8. The Biggest Threat to Your Hardwood Floor is Water Damage
We can’t emphasize it enough. The most frequent reason as to why hardwood floors need replacement comes down to water damage. Too much water is a bad thing. Hardwood floors aren’t waterproof or water-resistant. Once water causes the wood to begin rotting, it isn’t something it can come back from. Hardwood planks will shrink, swell, buckle, splinter, or worse. Never use a steam mop on hardwood floors for this same reason.
9. Avoid Irreversible Damage
It’s unfortunately common to create irreversible damage when washing hardwood floors. Discoloration, a milky white look, delamination, the wood splitting, or bubbles or ripples in the hardwood finish are all examples of damage that can only be cured by refinishing or replacing the flooring altogether.
10. Cleaning Products to Never Use on Hardwood Floors
Pine-Sol, Pledge, furniture polishes, rubbing alcohol, vinegar, ammonia, bleach, Swiffer Wet Jet, and any solvent-based cleaners should never – ever – be used on hardwood floors. If you’re already using solutions with these products in them, stop. You also never want to use any scrub brush, Brillo pad, or steel wood to clean a finished floor. Doing so is akin to taking sandpaper to it.
11. Can I Use Dish Soap And Water on a Hardwood Floor?
If your hardwood floors can tolerate water, diluting a couple drops of dish soap in water is an effective hardwood floor cleaner. A good rule is to use 4 cups of warm water for every 2-3 drops of dish soap. It’s inexpensive and eco-friendly. Be careful of leaving soap residue behind. Ensure you use a clean damp mop to do the entire floor and allow it plenty of time to dry.
12. How Often Should I Clean Hardwood Floors?
High-traffic areas and spot cleaning can happen as needed once or twice a week. For less-trafficked areas, once a month or even once every three months works. By cleaning your hardwood floors the right way and with as little water as possible, you keep them clean and looking their best for days on-end.