How Can I Get My Hardwood Floors to Shine Without Wax?

Whether you are installing new hardwood floors, or if you have recently bought an older home, and you find them there, this type of elegant flooring is a bonus to the value of your home. Hardwood floors are durable, enhance the aesthetic of your decoration, and they are increasingly valuable at the time of resale.

Some decorators may prefer a matte finish, yet it is safe to say that a majority of people who have hardwood floors prefer a finish that shines. You want a trick that will keep your floor shining many years after installation, despite wear and tear.

However, not everyone wants to use wax, and sometimes just practicing good cleaning habits during your weekly bout of housework can give your floor everything it needs to be spectacular.

If your woodfloors need to be cleaned and shined spotlessly, we have some easy ways to do that as well. But what if they are unsealed?  How can you clean unfinished flooring without causing damage?

Consider this

Before you go jumping into cleaning anything you need to be aware of the type of finish your hardwood floor has. Check and find out if your floor was sealed with polyurethane or poly acrylic urethane, or maybe was it finished with a paste wax.

If you did not lay the floors it is unlikely you will know what the type of finish is, so you can do a little test to figure it out and what type of process you should use.

Approach a part of the floor that has normal foot traffic, drop some water on the floor.

If the water is quickly absorbed, or if it creates a spotting then this means that the hardwood was not sealed. If the water sits on the surface then it means that it has been sealed.

If you wish to test to see if it was finished with wax, then grab some fine steel wool and rub it over the corner of the floor. If it has been waxed then you will find a gray wax film on the wool.

Proper cleaning is the most important thing when it comes to acquiring a shiny floor. How you clean can affect the cleanliness of your flooring.

For example, you may simply be redistributing the dirt. If you use a dirty mop, or neglect sweeping, dusting or vacuuming then when you clean you will simply spread the dirt about, instead of removing it.

You should also be mindful of your cleaners. Some acrylic-based liquid waxes that promise beautiful shiny floors can do more harm than good.

If they are applied on top of polyurethane or paste wax finishes then it can turn your floor patchy or milky. Mineral spirits and elbow grease will get rid of this, but it is a hard and tiresome job.

If you want to completely reinvigorate the floors you will likely have to strip and reseal them if the damage is too great. Be aware that chlorine bleach, ammonia, pine oil, and vinegar can all damage your floors finish too.

Also be wary of using too much product, remember less is more. Never leave the job half done, you should buff after mopping or waxing, if you don’t, you may be met with streaking.

Practice scratch prevention that can be brought about by pets and certain shoes, and be aware of waxy build-ups. This can be common if you use a carnauba paste wax to create a shine, or if you applied a paste wax on top of a polyurethane sealant.

Fix it

In your first step to ensuring shinier hardwood floors, you should make sure your room is prepared for proper cleaning, this means that arranging your furniture in a way that best allows for easier cleaning of your floors without obstructions.

It may be best to push furniture against walls to create an ample space for shining your wood floors. Be mindful not to drag your furniture about on the floor surfaces as this causes ugly and painful scratches in your floor.

You should also sweep regularly, if you can, it is best to sweep on a daily basis. This removes dirt, dust and grits that will help to protect the finish while mopping.

If there are any dust, dirt, or grit particles on the floor surface while you are mopping, then your mop can drag these about and cause scratches in the finish of your floor.

That being said you should be cautious of scouring brooms as these will also cause scratches in your finish. It is best to use microfiber cloths, or brushes with soft bristles. The first step in keeping a healthy floor is to remove any abrasive particles from the surface.

You should wet clean your floor surface, when we say this we literally mean just wet. Stay away from detergents and try using just warm clean water. You should also wring out your mop properly too to avoid over saturating the floor. Too much water is a nemesis of wood floors.

If your floor is filthy you can use a mild cleaning agent for this, but do not use concentrated detergent as it will diminish that luster and will leave streaks behind.

Also ensure that you make up a new solution when the water is dirty, dirty water also leaves streaks when dry. Avoid rinsing your floor, instead buff your hardwood with an absorbent towel to eliminate all the moisture. The act of rinsing will add more moisture to the wood surface, and it may cause risks of warping in the wood.

As extra care, you should also wipe up any spills as soon as they happen, doing so will prevent watermarks and will avoid the floor becoming saturated, especially if the spill is large.

Unless your floors are incredibly dirty and excessively need a serious cleaning, then you should damp mop, and unless it’s bad, there is really no need to damp mop any more than four times a year.

You should also clean in the direction of the wood gain. The best cleaning appliance is to use a spray applicator, using a mist of about a teaspoon of cleaner per 2 ft of floor for the best results. There is no need for any more than this traditionally.