Gleaming hardwood floors can make a room, and amazingly, they are also fuss-free, holding up to household traffic while still being easy to clean. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no maintenance needed whatsoever; as time goes on, the material will start to show its age if it’s not properly cared for. We turned to two experts—Tammy Perez, Mohawk’s director of hard surface brand marketing, and Michael Barnett, senior wood product manager at Armstrong Flooring—for their top tips on how to clean wood floors and how to keep them looking their best for years to come.
1. Start by sweeping your hardwood floors.
The best way to keep your floors clean is by sweeping frequently. Regular brooms tend to move dust and small dirt particles around, so use a microfiber mop for a more effective sweep. Wood floors should get a once-over with a dust mop every day or every other day.
2. Use the right vacuum for wood floors.
Vacuuming regularly—about once a week—will pick up dirt and debris that could cause scratches and get particles in hard-to-sweep spots, such as corners. When vacuuming, always use a soft-bristled attachment, notes Perez. Attachments with beater bars can lead to damage, and watch to make sure the wheels of the vacuum don’t cause scratches.
3. Use a hardwood floor cleaner when mopping.
Sweeping and mopping hardwood floors is a no-brainer, but don’t make the common mistake of using whatever floor cleaner you have on hand, which could have chemicals that damage wood, says Perez. Instead, use a product that’s specially formulated for the surface with a damp—but not soaking—mop. “Water is wood’s worst enemy,” Barnett explains. Wipe up any excess water quickly with a clean, dry towel. Floors should be mopped once a week.
4. Prevent dings and scratches with floor pads.
“Keep felt pads under furniture legs and be sure to lift furniture off the floor when moving it instead of scuffing it across the floor,” Perez says. She also recommends removing shoes (especially high heels!) at the door and keeping pets’ nails trimmed. Placing a doormat by each entrance can help keep debris from getting inside the house.
5. Respond quickly to spills.
Soak up spills as soon as they happen to avoid the liquid sitting on and potentially damaging the floors. Follow up by applying a hardwood cleaner with a soft cloth. Worried about scratches? Mask nicks with a touch-up marker or filler (check with your flooring manufacturer to find one that matches your wood’s finish).
6. Create a comfortable environment for hardwood floors.
Fluctuating humidity levels can damage hardwood floors over time, so keep a room’s relative humidity level stable—between 35 percent and 55 percent—by using a humidifier in dry conditions and an air conditioner or dehumidifier in hot weather, Barnett says. Fading from sun exposure is pretty much inevitable over time, but it can be mitigated by using window coverings that block UV rays. Rearranging furniture and rugs every so often will also help ensure that floors fade evenly, says Perez.