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: www.doityourself.com; Michigan State University Extension program.