The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning and Protecting Your Wood Flooring: Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices

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The Safest Ways to Clean Wood Flooring

With its warmth and character, there’s no wonder why so many homeowners and businesses are embracing wood flooring for their living spaces and work environments. Often selected as a low-maintenance flooring option, in reality hardwood floors need regular cleaning and care in order to retain their natural beauty and appeal.

Commonly used in high-traffic areas, wood floors collect dirt, grime, dust, pollen, dander, and other debris tracked in daily by feet and pets. If not properly cleaned, these particulates can build up over time — making wood floors look dingy and feel gritty. What’s more, ground in dirt and grime can degrade and damage wood floors, while dust, pollen and dander can potentially worsen allergies and respiratory conditions. Porous in nature, wood floors are also a breeding ground for viruses and microbes.

Investing the time to regularly clean wood flooring can ultimately save you money in repairing and refurbishing damaged or discolored wood, as well as help provide a healthier, more attractive and inviting environment for your family, employees, guests, and occupants. When it comes to wood floors, however, you may be wondering how to best to keep them clean while preserving their beauty. Here’s a good place to start.

Different Wood Flooring Types

To maintain your wood floor’s original shine, color and natural beauty, weekly and even daily cleaning is recommended. Your choice of cleaning methods will depend on the type of wood flooring installed: solid hardwood flooring such as oak, maple, teak, or walnut; engineered hardwood flooring comprised of thin layers of hardwood glued together; or laminate flooring that uses a photographic image to replicate wood, covered by a resin layer over fiberboard. 
Hardwood floor cleaners can dull solid wood and engineered wood flooring. Given the different types of wood flooring available, here are some general wood floor cleaning tips to follow.

Use a Soft-Bristled Broom

A broom that uses soft nylon or rubber bristles are the best option for getting rid of crumbs and grit on hardwood floors and laminate wood flooring, without scratching, staining or otherwise damaging the surface.

Dust with a Microfiber Mop

To better eliminate dust, we recommend using a microfiber mop head rather than a sponge mop. You can also safely use a vacuum on wood floors, just be sure to choose an attachment with soft bristle rollers to avoid scratching the wood. An upholstery brush attachment should work.

Streak-free Cleaners

Avoid solutions like chlorine, bleach, ammonia, pine oil or vinegar that use harsh chemicals when cleaning hardwood flooring. Instead, choose a cleaning solution especially formulated for your type of wood floor. If you have a polyurethane-sealed wood floor, be sure not to apply liquids or waxes to the surface.

Clean Spills Right Away

Because of their porous and organic nature, hardwood floors quickly absorb liquid, grease, and food spills that leave behind stains and discoloration that can be very difficult to remove. Accidents happen, so when the baby spills her juice or your teen drops their plate of spaghetti or Rover leaves behind his calling card, act quickly to clean and dry the area before the stain sets in.

Protecting Wood Flooring from Scratches

Regular cleaning won’t remove scratches from hardwood floors and laminate wood flooring, but it can go a long way to help prevent scratching caused by dirt and grime. Here are a few other simple ways to help protect hardwood floorings from damage.

  • Avoid putting potted plants directly onto wood flooring.
  • Add felt pads to the bottoms of table legs, bed legs, and chairs to avoid scraping.
  • Use doormats by entrances for people to wipe their feet, and keep the mats clean.
  • Ask people to remove their shoes before stepping onto your wood floors.
  • Move furniture and heavy objects by placing a thick blanket under the item or using a dolly to prevent direct friction.

When it’s Time to Call a Pro

Life gets busy, and you may not have the time to regularly clean and maintain your hardwood floors or laminate flooring. If your wood floors are older, you may also notice them losing their luster. When a simple sweep of a broom or pass with a vacuum cleaner won’t do the trick to remove stubborn dirt, stains and dullness, then it’s time to call in a professional wood floor cleaning service.

Look for professional wood floor cleaners who are independently certified and specially trained in cleaning all types of flooring, including solid hardwood floors, engineered wood floors, and laminate wood floors. Ask about their methods for removing deeply embedded dirt and debris, and what cleaners they use to provide a streak-free shine while protecting any existing wood sealer. Make sure they use wood-safe cleaning equipment, cloths and solutions, and find out how they clean in those tight corners.

Your wood floors are a thing of beauty — and add tremendous value to your home or business. Make sure you’re protecting that asset with regular cleaning, including service from a reputable, knowledgeable wood floor cleaning expert.

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