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Hardwood Floors - Not So Hard to Clean

Those expensive wood floors in the home design magazines always look so gorgeous and pristine, and those pictures have sold more than one hardwood floor to a homeowner. But once you have the perfect wood floor, keeping it pristine can be a challenge.

One way to prevent damage to wood floors and keep them looking new is to vacuum them. Regularly removing dirt from your floor reduces the likelihood of people grinding dirt into the wood as they walk around your home. Also be sure to clean up any spills immediately. Simply use a damp cloth to wipe up the spill and then dry the spot with a paper towel.

In addition to vacuuming your floor you should plan to thoroughly clean it with a solvent-based liquid wax made especially for wood. This solvent will remove dirt and old wax, and leave a thin wax coating behind. You can apply this solvent in a variety of ways-on your hands and knees with a cloth; standing up and using a wax applicator (a tool like a squeeze mop); or with an electric floor polisher. The important thing to remember is to ensure the cleansing surface (whether it's a cloth in your hand or the pads on the polisher) is changed frequently. This ensures that you are removing dirt from the surface of your floor, not rubbing it back into the floor. Once you finish applying the solvent you will need to buff the floor immediately if you applied the solvent by hand, or after 20 to 30 minutes if you are using the electric polisher.

Many products are available to clean wood floors, and when using a new product always read and follow the directions on the product label. This may sound like worn out advice, but when working with solvents you must be sure to have proper ventilation and to avoid any spark or flame. Test any new product in an unobtrusive location to be sure the product will not damage your floor.

To remove particularly tough stains try using fine grade steel wool on the spot. Some mild scouring powders may also help to remove a stubborn spot, but test them first as scouring powder will permanently scratch your floor if it is too abrasive. You should not use water solutions or cleaners that need to be rinsed off with water. Once you have removed the stain, rinse and dry the area completely and reapply any floor wax that was removed.

Sources:; Michigan State University Extension program

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