Maintenance, Care and Cleaning of Solid Hardwood Flooring


cleaning-maintenance-care-guideSolid hardwood floors are quite tough, and new finishes add to their ability to withstand scratches, dents and spills. However, they are not indestructible, and there are some things  you should keep in mind when planning for solid hardwood flooring maintenance and care. A little TLC goes a long way with wood flooring. Like all the maintenance flooring guides on this site, this one will help you keep your flooring looking great for a longer period of time. You’ll find wood flooring maintenance do’s and don’ts that are very practical.

Maintenance Tools, Equipment and Supplies

Less is more with hardwood floors. The simplest method of keeping hardwood floors clean is to sweep them regularly and then clean them with a mop that is only slightly damp. A very light vacuum can be used for sweeping if you have dust allergies and don’t want to use a broom. A vacuum without a beater bar, just suction, is preferred.

Using an alcohol-based floor cleaner kit once a month or as needed is okay. Choose a cleaner you spray on and wipe off. Many love Murphy’s Oil Soap. Ask your wood dealer about using Murphy’s on the product you buy. It may not be right for all solid wood flooring products.

Avoiding Scratches and Dents

Here is a checklist of the best ways to avoid these problems:

  • Place carpet runners in all high-traffic areas.
  • Use cushioning pads beneath all furniture legs.
  • If moving furniture or appliances, put carpet scraps with the nap down under each leg and slide the furniture.
  • Don’t weather spike heels on hardwood floors.
  • Consider cloth boots for dogs or keep dogs off the hardwood floors.
  • Use handcarts with balloon tires rather than hard tires.

Avoiding Water Damage

Clean up liquid spills immediately. If your shoes are wet, set them on a plastic mat when entering your home. If water gets under the plastic mat, remove the mat and dry the floor. In winter, get the snow and ice out of your shoe treads before going inside or it will melt and may cause a mess.

If the door mat inside your home gets wet, hang it up to dry. Don’t let it sit on the hardwood floor while wet. Shut windows near hardwood floors when it is raining. Also, do not use rubber-backed door mats because they can damage hardwood floors. Buy mats made to be used on solid hardwood.

Taking Care of Problems

Your hardwood floors will get scratches in the protective finish, and that is to be expected. Most won’t be visible. Putting on a new top coat after 3-4 years can rejuvenate the luster of the floor.

For deeper scratches that are visible, you’ve got several options:

  • Use a cotton swab to apply stain to the scratch.
  • Use a scratch kit from the wood manufacturer.
  • Use a magic marker of similar color for very small scratches.
  • Use a wax stick of the same color as the stain.
  • If your floor is not prefinished, you may be able to sand out scratches and reapply the finish.

Refinishing Your Solid Hardwood Flooring

One of the benefits of solid hardwood flooring is that it can be refinished multiple times before it needs to be replaced. Depending on the level of traffic your floor gets, it may last 7-20 years before refinishing becomes a necessity. The average age for refinishing is 12 years.

Refinishing can be a DIY project for handy homeowners. There are plenty of pros around too who can restore your floors to their original beauty or give them a different finish if you’d prefer.

Maintenance and Care FAQs

Q: What cleaning options are bad for floors?
A: DO NOT use a steam cleaner on hardwood flooring. The cleaner will force moisture into the cracks and crevices, and that is the best way to destroy solid wood flooring. Water and vinegar have been used for a century or more, but it is not recommended for today’s floors. Avoid ammonia cleaners too. Do not use wax on floors with polyurethane finishes because they will dull the finish.

Q: Can juice stains be removed from hardwood floors?
A: If the stain has penetrated into the wood, it will be impossible to remove without sanding. The good news is that most of today’s prefinished hardwood floors stand up to juice, wine and oil quite well. Clean up any spills as soon as they occur.

Q: What should you do if your hardwood floor gets really wet?
A: if the floor gets a good soaking from a pipe leaking or something similar, don’t panic. Soak up all the water you can as quickly as possible. Use absorbent towels for the purpose. Then, place a fan so that it moves air directly over the floor. If it is summer, turn up the air conditioner since ACs are wonderful dehumidifiers.