Hardwood floors are popular for their timeless feel, but their appearance can be hard to maintain. Wood flooring is susceptible to damage, from stains to buckling if not correctly cared for. Most of these problems are due to moisture.
Moisture can come from leaking appliances, high humidity and improper acclimation, among others. But what many homeowners don’t know is that improper cleaning practices can also cause excessive moisture, resulting in flooring damage.
We don’t recommend using excessive water for cleaning timber floors, especially if you’re leaving standing pools on the flooring. The puddle can corrode the sealant, damaging the wooden planks.
Tile Importer shares this complete guide on how to clean timber flooring properly, preventing moisture-related issues and preserving the look of the hardwood.
Sweeping and Dusting
A regular dusting or sweeping of your hardwood floors is ideal. This prevents the dust from settling in between the wooden planks. Also, small pieces of dirt and debris can abrade the surface of your flooring, resulting in ugly scratches.
The best way to sweep your timber floor is with a soft-bristle broom or a vacuum cleaner. If you’re choosing the latter, make sure you use an attachment with a soft-floor brush head. You can also use disposable electrostatic cloths for a quick dusting.
You probably only need to vacuum or sweep once a week. But if you live with several people or have pets, you may need to dust more often.
Mopping and Removing Grime
Some homeowners make the mistake of using a mop to clean sticky, grimy timber floors. Although you CAN use a mop, you have to make sure that the mop isn’t dripping wet. Use a slightly damp mop and warm water to prevent moisture from soaking into your wooden floors.
Another option is to use a microfibre mop or cloth and a spray bottle.
Make sure to wipe away the excess liquid on the floors after mopping. If the weather is humid, turn on your AC unit or ceiling fan to speed up the drying.
We don’t recommend steam cleaning timber floors. Timber is a natural product, so steaming it can cause the floorboards to expand then retract, resulting in cracks or deformations.
Don’t wait for your hardwood floors to develop grime before you mop it. The best way to clean timber floors is to deep clean every two weeks to preserve their condition.
Examine your hardwood flooring’s finish before trying to remove stains. If the stain is just on the surface, that means your floor has a hard finish, like urethane.
In this case, use a cleaner specifically formulated for urethane finishes. If the stain is stubborn, you can scrub at the spot using a scrub pad for urethane floors. Never use steel wool, sandpaper or harsh chemicals that can abrade or corrode the finish.
If the stain has penetrated through the finish and to the wood, your flooring likely has a soft oiled finish. This kind of finish is common in older homes with floors that haven’t been resealed in years. For soft-oiled finished floors, your cleaning method will depend on the kind of stain you want to remove.
- Dark spots and pet stains: Use floor wax and a no. 000 extra fine steel wool to rub at the spot. If this doesn’t work, dip a small brush into a small portion bleach then brush the stain. Allow the solution to soak into the wood for about an hour, but not for too long. Rinse with a damp cloth then wipe dry.
- Oil-based stains: Rub the area using a soft cloth dipped in dish detergent to break down the grease. Rinse with warm water. Repeat this until the stain is completely gone. Let the spot dry then use fine sandpaper to smoothen the raised grain.
- Heel marks: Rub in floor wax using a no. 000 steel wool until the mark disappears. Be careful not to scrub too hard.
- White stains or watermarks: Use a no. 000 steel wool and floor wax to rub at the spot. If the stain is a bit deeper, you can sand the floor lightly. Clean after using odourless mineral spirits and a fine steel wool.
Choosing the Right Cleaning Product
Talk to your flooring manufacturer to identify the best cleaner for your hardwood floor. They’ll recommend a product that doesn’t corrode the finish and wood of your flooring.
If you can’t reach your manufacturer, determine if your timber flooring uses pre-finished boards or not. If they are, that means you can use any kind of cleaning product. Otherwise, avoid chemical-based cleaning solutions. These products react to the varnish of boards that aren’t pre-finished, giving the floor surface a cloudy look.
Another common issue with the longevity of hardwood floors is the quality of the timber. Cheap timber boards tend to absorb water much easier because of the low-quality wood. This kind of flooring is difficult to maintain, no matter how careful you are with your cleaning methods.
Make sure to purchase only top-grade timber flooring. Look for a reputable supplier to ensure the quality of your flooring boards.
Leading Timber Flooring Supplier in Melbourne
Since 1966, Tile Importer has been providing home builders, DIY renovators and everybody in between with quality timber flooring. We carry an extensive range of hardwood and softwood flooring, sourced from industry-leading manufacturers like Hurford Hardwood and Preference Floors.