If you have hardwood floors in your home, you have probably wondered how to clean hardwood floors naturally. More people have chosen to have hardwood floors instead of carpet in their homes in today’s world due to busy lifestyles and more frequent allergy issues.
Hardwood floors are quick and easy to clean, and they trap fewer allergens than carpets and rugs. If you have children and pets in your household, especially puppies in training who may make puddles, you are sure to have spills, messes, and accidents. These things are much easier to clean off a hardwood floor than out of a carpet. Dog hair, cat hair, and dander can be another problem. With the right equipment, cleaning them off your hardwood floors takes very little time and is really simple.
We’ll talk about the best way to clean hardwood floors, but first, there are some things you should know about your hardwood floors.
The beauty and elegance of a hardwood floor have withstood the test of time. Wood floors add a natural element to your home. If you properly maintain your wood floor, it should never need replacing. Therefore, if you’re considering selling your home or simply doing some home improvement for your own benefit, you may want to consider installing some hardwood floors.
Know Your Hardwood Flooring
In order to properly care for your floor, you need to know what kind of wood your floor is made of and what kind of finish it has. Is your floor engineered hardwood or solid hardwood? What’s the difference? Engineered hardwood is made of three or more layers of high-density or medium-density fiberboard and topped with a real hardwood veneer layer bonded together under heat and pressure. Solid hardwood is milled from a single type of real hardwood.
Three Popular Hardwoods For Floors
Oak is the most popular choice for hardwood flooring. Oakwood flooring is easier to clean. Oak flooring can pick up scratches fairly easily. Therefore, you’ll want to be sure to have felt pads or coasters on the bottoms of table and chair legs, as well as on the bottoms of any other furniture you may move across the floor to prevent scratches and marks.
Maple is another popular choice for hardwood floors. Because maple is one of the strongest woods, many people choose this wood for households with children or flooring areas that get heavy foot traffic.
The third most popular choice for hardwood flooring is teak wood. Most insects, including termites, find the natural oils in teak wood undesirable. Teak is water-resistant which makes it popular with people who have children or pets.
Popular Hardwood Floor Finishes
Your hardwood floor needs a finish to protect it. The finish will also enhance the grain of the wood. Your finish may have a shiny, high-gloss finish or a finish that is a little more matte.
Water-based polyurethane is the most popular finish for hardwood floors. It provides a clear finish, leaving a traditional hardwood look. It gives a smooth, wet look after several coats. Water-based polyurethane also comes in semigloss and satin finishes.
Oil or penetrating oil sealer doesn’t dry as hard as polyurethane. However, the oil sealer brings out the grain patterns in the wood and enhances the color of the wood. You may have a floor with an oil sealer if your home is antique or traditional style because it is low-gloss and gives a natural look to your floor.
A hard-wax oil finish provides premium protection for your floor. This type of finish requires an ongoing process of reapplying the wax about every two to three years.
Acid cured or Swedish finish is a more durable finish than polyurethane. This finish offers the extra protection needed for exotic woods like Brazilian cherry or tigerwood. This finish needs anywhere from three days to a month to dry due to its high toxicity levels. You don’t want to breathe in its toxic fumes!
Aluminum oxide is the reigning champion of finishes. This finish will last up to twenty-five years. It is a great choice for engineered hardwood floors. This finish is only available as prefinished flooring, sometimes referred to as “treated wood”, due to the equipment that is used in the application and drying processes. Prefinished wood flooring makes the installation of your hardwood floors much faster.
Maybe you’ve been contemplating doing some home improvement ideas and decided to install your own hardwood floor. Therefore, you know the type of wood and finish of your floors. Maybe you had a flooring company install your hardwood floors. Therefore, you may have to contact the flooring company to find out the type of wood and finish of your floors.
Or, maybe, you purchased your home with hardwood floors already in place and don’t know anything about the type of wood or finish. Don’t worry. There are a few things you can do to find out the information you need before you try to clean your hardwood floors.
Discovering Your Floor’s Type of Wood
Many types of wood are recognizable just by looking at them; woods like oak and pine. However, due to different types of finishes that can alter the color a little, or a stain from a spill or mess that wasn’t cleaned properly, you may have to scrape off a little of the finish to discover your wood type.
More importantly, you need to know if the floorboards are hardwood or softwood. Simply push your fingernail into the surface of a floorboard. If the wood is soft like pine, your fingernail will make an indentation.
You can examine a wood species catalog to discover your floor’s wood type by comparing what your floor looks like to photos in the catalog. You may have to find a small section in a closet to scrape off the finish to see the actual wood grain in order to make an accurate discovery.
Discovering if your floor is solid wood or engineered will be trickier. You can pry up the threshold in a doorway with a pry bar. If you don’t want to do that, you can pry off a baseboard and slide a mirror between the boards and wall to see if the floorboard is layered (engineered) or one-piece (solid).
You may also discover that what you thought looked like a wood floor is not real wood but laminate flooring. Laminate flooring looks just like wood (it can also look just like stone or tile.) However, laminate is scratch-resistant and water-resistant.
Discovering Your Floor’s Type of Finish
The first thing to do is run your hand over the floor’s surface. As you touch the surface, if you can feel the texture of the wood, the floor is probably coated with penetrating oil. It may also be coated with wax. The best way to look for wax is to gently rub the edge of a coin on a floorboard in an unnoticeable place, then examine the coin’s edge to see if there is some buildup on it.
As mentioned above, you may have to scrape off some of the finish in order to discover your floor’s type of finish. For this, you’ll want to use a utility knife and run it along the surface of a board that isn’t easily visible.
Look for shavings. This is a sign of a film finish. It could be polyurethane or shellac. To test for shellac, put some of the shavings in a single drop of alcohol and place a small glass over it. If the material dissolves, it is shellac. If not, the finish is a varnish, most likely polyurethane or aluminum oxide. Aluminum oxide finishes are thicker and harder than a polyurethane finish.
How to Clean Hardwood Floors Naturally
Cleaning your wood floor doesn’t have to be a long, difficult task. Learning how to clean hardwood floors naturally really is simple. The best way to clean hardwood floors is by following a simple schedule: sweep with a soft bristle broom and use a dust mop daily, or at least, every other day; vacuum weekly using the bare floor setting on your vacuum – you don’t want the brush to run on the floor, the brushes on vacuums can scratch your wood floor; mop once a month using clear water or a mild wood floor cleaner.
Let’s look at how to clean hardwood floors naturally by either sweeping or using a dust mop. What types of brooms or dust mops are the best for cleaning wood floors?
If you’re going to use a broom, don’t use one that has hard, sharp bristles. That will scratch your floors. Make sure the broom has soft, flexible bristles. Even using a soft bristle broom isn’t a guarantee that your hardwood floors won’t get scratched during the sweeping process. Simply brushing dust and dirt over your floor’s surface can cause the dust and debris to scratch your floor.
For this reason, a dust mop is a better choice. Champion Supplies has a dust mop that makes cleaning your hardwood floors quick and easy. This is an old fashioned dust mop like your grandma used to use, but it’s even better. It doesn’t need to be paired with toxic cleaning chemicals, like cotton, microfiber, and wool dust mops need. This durable dust mop is made of multi-colored yarns that have an electromagnetic static charge. This electrostatic makes them superior at grabbing dust.
The Champion Supplies Old Fashioned Dust Mop has a wedge-shaped head that reaches into corners other dust mops miss. Using this old fashioned dust mop is the way to clean!
What To Mop Wood Floors With
To clean hardwood floors deeper than a dust mop can, you will want to mop your floors. This shouldn’t be necessary more than once a month, and you don’t want to use too much water or harsh chemical cleaners. Too much water can damage wood floors, causing them to become weak. Harsh cleaners can damage your floor’s finish and can also damage your floor’s wood and make it weak.
In addition to damaging the floor, harsh chemical cleaners can affect the health of you and your family as you breathe in the toxic fumes of the chemicals. Using a mild floor cleaner, hardwood floor cleaner, or plain water protects your floor and keeps your family safe.
For the occasional spills and small messes, it is important to clean them up quickly. Wipe them up as soon as they happen. Use a dry or slightly damp cloth.
Using a good mop that requires little water is recommended to get your hardwood floor clean. A damp mop, not a wet mop is what to use to mop wood floors. If you really think you need more than just clean, clear water to clean your floor, use a minimal amount of a mild, wood floor cleaner or mild dish soap in a bucket of water. If you choose to use a cleaning agent, make sure it is made for sealed wood.
Some people recommend microfiber mops, electric mops with a gentle scrubbing action, and steam mops to clean hardwood. Use caution when choosing one of these options. They can damage your floor’s finish and wood over time.
Champion Supplies has a great mop solution – the Super Yellow Floor Mop. This mop is super absorbent. Its fibers soak up to five times their weight in water and wring out easily by hand. Though the fibers are very absorbent, they do not put too much water on the floor. When you wring them out and apply them to the floor, it is more of a damp mop which is what you want for your hardwood floors.
The design of this mop allows the fibers to get into the most difficult corners. This mop head’s fibers rinse clean quickly. It is easy to use and doesn’t streak or lint. It is washable in your washing machine up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. It leaves your floor clean and shiny.
If you have additional flooring surfaces in your house, the Super Yellow Floor Mop will also work on any other type of flooring surface you may have: tile, ceramic tile, laminate, linoleum, vinyl, rubber, concrete, and porcelain tile.
One of our customers shared a story with us about mopping their floor during the holidays. We would love to share it with you!
Well, this customer of ours had a family get-together for the holidays. The foyer in his home had a hardwood floor. It received a lot of foot traffic during the end of December. Afterward, it was looking quite dull. He grabbed his Champion Supplies Old Fashioned Dust Mop and Super Yellow Mop and set to work mopping the area. The dust mop did an excellent job of cleaning the dust and dirt particles from the floor, including all the way against the walls and in the little corners.
Then he submerged the Super Yellow Mop in a bucket of clean, clear water and he was surprised at how easily it was to wring out. He said the fibers felt similar to a sponge, but not porous. He was able to wring most of the water out of it, and when he mopped the floor, it was simply a damp mop.
When he finished mopping, what an improvement! The clean wood was shiny again. The floor was no longer dull, and there were no streaks and no lint! This is the way to clean hardwood.
Protect and Maintain Your Hardwood Floors
Here are a few floor tips and tricks for maintaining your hardwood floors: use mats at external door entrances to help prevent your hardwood floor from getting dirty; dusting with a dust mop daily also helps. If your pet and your children track mud in the house, wipe it up immediately with a dry or damp cloth. If you didn’t notice the tracked mud until it was dry, a damp mop should provide the solution. Otherwise, using a damp mop on your wood floor once a week should be sufficient.
Floor mops with disposable pads are not recommended for cleaning your hardwood floors. Cleaning naturally with a damp mop and plain water is recommended to wash your wood floors. One very good reason for cleaning naturally with a damp mop and plain water is that it will prevent a buildup of cleaner residue which gives your floor a cloudy appearance.
Some people choose to polish their wood floors. If you choose to do this, be aware that polishing hardwood floors can lead to the floors becoming sticky. Always use felt protectors or coasters under furniture.
Moisture can be a real problem for hardwood floors, and the main cause of moisture damage in most homes is due to humidity. The best way to prevent moisture damage to your hardwood floors, due to humidity, is to install a dehumidifier, maybe two depending on the size of your home. The dehumidifier extracts humidity and moisture from the air. This will help prolong the life of your hardwood floor.
Long-Term Maintenance of Hardwood Floors
Cleaning old wood floors isn’t difficult, especially when you have the essential cleaning tools, but there are some other steps you should take for long term maintenance.
After a period of time, your hardwood floor will begin to show signs of wear and tear. Refinishing your floor will help bring back the healthy shine of your floor. Let’s look at a couple of techniques for refinishing your wood floor. You can refinish your floor, using one of two ways depending on how it looks. If it has surface scratches, you may choose to lightly sand the surface of the floor and apply a new topcoat. You will want to be sure to use the same type of finish as your original flooring finish.
However, if your floor suffers more damage than surface scratches, you may need to sand the old finish off all the way down to the bare wood. Then you will have to apply a brand new finish. When you apply finish to your wood floor, you are protecting it with a seal that will prolong its life.
Congratulations! You now know how to clean hardwood floors naturally and with ease! Happy cleaning!