If you think hardwood floors are delicate and require special TLC, think again. It’s quite the opposite really: Most wood floors are finished with polyurethane, making them one of the most durable flooring options out there. Like everything else in your home, it’s best to clean hardwood floors well and often. Wood floors can be prone to wear and tear, especially in high-traffic areas, that’s why Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, has an easy-to-follow guide on most effective ways to restore your dull, dirty hardwood floors.
Not every hardwood floor needs the same level of care. First, examine how much traffic your floors get and then establish a cleaning schedule that makes the most sense. As a general rule of thumb, hardwood floors should be vacuumed at least weekly and wet cleaned every one to two months (more or less frequently, depending on traffic). When it comes time to clean, follow the steps below:
Because dirt isn’t always the main culprit. When you move furniture or wear shoes indoors, you may notice scuffs on your hardwood floors. Luckily, they can easily be rubbed away with some elbow grease.
“I am a firm believer in taking my shoes off as soon as I come in the door, because this simple act goes a long way to eliminating virtually all of the tracked-in dirt that can wreak havoc on a wood floor’s finish,” says Forte. Dirt and grit are abrasive, which can scratch floors over time.
Nothing removes dirt and fine debris from the cracks and crevices of a wood floor like a good vacuum cleaner. The best choice is a canister vacuum because it has a long, oval floor brush attached to reach tiny spaces. “If you only have an upright model, be sure to turn off the rotating brush to keep the bristles from scratching your floors,” Forte recommends.
Spills are inevitable, but if you let them dry on the floor they’ll dull the finish and attract additional dirt. Blot spills immediately with an absorbent cloth. “The worst thing you can do is let water puddle on the floor,” says Forte. Follow up with a damp paper towel to remove any residue and buff dry.
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