Hardwood floor care 101


Hardwood floor

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My fiancé and I recently purchased our first home, and much to my enjoyment, our first floor is a beautiful swath of dark hardwoods. Much to my enjoyment — and my horror. How am I to clean these floors, I thought? The last thing I wanted to do was damage such beauty, and such an investment. After scouring various sources, I found many conflicting tips, some of which seemed too scary to even consider. (Steel wool? On hardwoods?) I decided to turn to a most trusted source of home care — Martha Stewart — and take her word as the “golden rule.” So, here’s my advice, based on Martha’s, on how you should care for your hardwood floors.

  1. Start first with a vacuum, whether your floors are waxed or sealed with a polyurethane. Vacuuming will remove particles and everyday dust, making mopping easier. Using a microfiber dusting pad when you don’t have time to vacuum is highly recommended.

  2. Most hardwood floors these days are prefinished floors and can be damp-mopped but not wet-mopped. With damp mopping, you apply water or a cleaning solution to the mop and wring it out so it’s only slightly wet. Wet mopping — or leaving lots of excess liquid in the mop or dumping the liquid directly on the floors — can be risky because water can seep between the boards and start to ruin the wood.

  3. A water-based floor cleaner formulated for hardwoods can be used for deep cleaning, but never allow puddles of liquid to pool on your hardwoods.

  4. If your floors are waxed, never wet-mop them, as the liquid could damage the wood. Instead, wipe spills immediately with a damp paper towel and buff with a soft cloth.

  5. Despite some reports to the contrary, it is never a good idea to use vinegar on wood floors. Because vinegar is acidic, it will eat away at the sealant, leaving your floors exposed to further damage.