A Guide to Caring for Hardwood Floors
Hardwood floors add warmth and elegance to any home. If you put in the time, use the right cleaner and tools and take preventative measures, hardwood's natural beauty can last a lifetime.
Get on a Schedule
In order to keep hardwood floors looking their best, the following cleaning and maintenance schedule is recommended.
- Daily: Sweep up dirt and wipe up spills.
- Weekly: Clean using a product approved for your specific hardwood floor.
Use the Right Cleaner
Whenever possible, get cleaner recommendations and care instructions from your flooring retailer or manufacturer. Some manufacturers even produce their own brand of floor cleaner. For example, Shaw Floors makes an R2X Hard Surfaces Flooring Cleaner that removes dirt, grease and other signs of daily wear from hardwood floors.
When selecting a cleaning product, avoid using the following materials to clean your hardwood floors:
- Water: Surprisingly, you shouldn't clean your hardwood floors with water. Water and wood don't mix, because moisture can damage wood over the longer term.
- Silicone, ammonia or undiluted vinegar: These products can damage your floor's finish.
- Products that contain oil soaps, liquid or paste wax: These cleaners leave a residue on your hardwood.
- Products that contain citrus, lemon or tung oil: These products can eat away at the floor's finish.
Use the cleaner at least once a week after you've swept up loose dirt. Be sure to spray on the cleaner evenly and never pour it directly on the floor. Use a mop with a terry cloth or micro-fiber pad. Again, read the label of any new product carefully before using it on your floor.
Use the Right Tools
Sweep your floors regularly to keep dirt from building up and causing scratches. Use a broom with polypropylene or acrylic bristles. You can also vacuum with a bare-floor attachment with a brush or felt-type head
Some experts say vacuuming picks up the most debris, but the choice of tool is really a matter of personal preference. Make sure the wheels of a vacuum or other tool are free of debris or sharp edges. Soft cloths are perfect for picking up spills. Clean up sticky substances with a damp cloth and be sure to dry the area immediately.
Never use a steam cleaner on hardwood; it can warp the floorboards. Hard-bristled brooms scratch hardwood, and vacuums with rotating brushes can make dents in the floor.
Some manufacturers offer hardwood flooring that is resistant to scratches and other imperfections. Shaw Floors offers ScufResist Platinum, a hardwood floor finish that resists scuffs six-times better than the competition. However, hardwood floors are susceptible to damage, and prevention helps protect them. Put rugs in high-traffic areas, use entry mats at doorways to reduce wear and place felt pads on the feet of furniture to minimize scrapes and gouges. Placing entry mats at doorways is one of the most important things you can do to protect your floors. Blinds or curtains prevent the sun from bleaching out areas of your floor. If you have a dog, keep its nails trimmed, so they don't scratch up the floor. If you have indoor-outdoor pets, keep their paws free of dirt, gravel, grease and oil.
If you have to move furniture across a hardwood floor, don't drag the piece. Instead, lift and carry it - with proper help of course. For heavier items, you may need to use sheets of plywood or other floor protection and a dolly. And if you or anyone in your home wears heels or cleats, try to remove these shoes, especially stilettos or damaged heels, before walking across your wood floors.
If you're willing to put in some extra effort to care for a hardwood floor, you'll be rewarded with a lovely, long-lasting design foundation for the rest of your home.