Bring Your Wood Floors Back to Life With These Tips

Do you have beautiful wood floors? Make sure they stay looking their best with these quick tips.

Cat Yawning

Hardwood, Not Hard-Work

If the idea of cleaning your wood floors brings to mind Cinderella—the Disney character that scrubbed floors on her hands and knees with a brush and sudsy bucket—this post will bring a smile to your face and relief to your back. Hardwood floors are much easier to clean now than they used to be. And you can keep them looking good for years with consistent maintenance.

Frequency Action
Daily Sweep or Dust/Mop
Weekly Vacuum Using the Bare Floor Setting
Monthly Clean with Recommended Wood Flooring Cleaner
Every 3-5 Weeks Maintenance coat
Every 10 Years Sand and Refinish

The Basics

Start cleaning your floors by dusting them. You don’t have to use anything fancy. Take a Swiffer-type tool and cover it with a microfiber cloth or even a tube sock turned inside out. The swivel handle makes this no-charge-necessary tool a thorough cleaning machine. Bend down to get the tool far under heavy furniture and chairs. Flip the cloth over when it gets full of dust bunnies and cobwebs. When you’re finished, shake out the cloth and pop it in the laundry basket. (If you haven’t dusted in awhile, you might need a second cloth.)

Go Deeper with your Vacuum

Vacuuming helps to get deeper dirt and dust. Use the floor brush attachment on a vacuum or use an electric broom. A canister-type vacuum will likely scratch the floor, especially if you use the highest speed. Dirt, mud, oil, grime and good old-fashioned muck settle in floors after time. You’ll have to use some muscle for this next step, so consider it your day’s workout. Purchase a wood floor-cleaning product. Pour into a clean bucket according to product’s directions. Saturate a mop in the liquid and squeeze until almost dry. Scrub spots until clean.

If the product you chose needs to follow up with a water rinse, do so. Otherwise, turn on a ceiling fan and let the floor dry completely before using.

Out, Darned Spot!

Cleaning a heel mark, pet stain or oil-based stain on a hardwood floor is slightly different than from vinyl or other surface. First, consider the floor’s finish. If the stain has penetrated to the wood, the floor probably has a soft oiled finish.

Gather the following materials:

  • No. 000 steel wool
  • floor wax
  • clean, soft cloth
  • damp cloth
  • liquid dishwashing detergent

For dark spots, pet stains, heel marks, water marks, white stains, rub the spot with the steel wool and floor wax. You might have to re-stain, wax and buff to match the spot to the rest of the floor.

For oil-based stains, rub the area with a soft cloth and dishwashing detergent to break down the grease. Rinse with clear water.

Prevention Is Worth the Effort

You can prevent some of the deep scratches and marks if you follow some of these tips.

Shoes off at the door is a rule for a reason!

Avoid walking with high heels or cleated shoes. For example, a 125-pound woman wearing high heels with an exposed nail can exert up to 8,000 pounds per square inch. If you’d rather your family members go without shoes, provide a slipper or sock station near the door.

Rugs, fashionable and a secret weapon

Place rugs or mats near doors to cut down on some of the outside coming inside. Dirt and debris can scratch wood floors. Encourage family members and guests—including pets—to wipe their feet before entering the house. Keep a towel nearby for four-footed family members.

Put your back into it!

Do not slide furniture when moving it. Either pick up the furniture or place felt-bottom wood protectors under each sofa or chair leg. Clean or replace them when they become gunked up with dirt or pet hair. The rubber-based furniture mover pads will scuff floors, so put a soft cloth under each before moving. Never use a steam cleaner on hardwood floors. Water and steam can damage the finish or wood itself.

Snow is just around the corner…

Place a shoe tray near exterior doors. Those coming in from inclement weather will be encouraged to put muddy or icy boots on the tray and not walk on the wood floors.

I believe in you!

Following some of the tips and performing regular cleaning and maintenance will keep your hardwood floors looking great for many years.

About the Author

AuthorImage

Debbie Kubik Evert juggles several part-time jobs (writing, research, dog sitting) and often spends her free time gardening, coloring and creating personalized products for friends and family. She was born and raised in Wichita, graduating from Southeast High School. She continued her education and graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism. Debbie shares her home with labradorable Cocoa.

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