Hardwood floors are beautiful installations that add character to any room. Moreover, they’re meant to last for decades with proper care. When I first moved into my new apartment and had my hardwood floors installed, I thought cleaning them would be a simple task. After all, what harm could water and soup do?
Yet over the years, I’ve found out that it’s easier than you think to ruin your hardwood floors if you’re not careful with the type of cleaner you’re using. That’s why in this article, I’ve gathered 6 common cleaners that cause implicit damage to hardwood floors that most people are unaware of.
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1. Vinegar, Ammonia, and Bleach
Despite being household staples for many years, these products are quite harmful to hardwood floors. As they don’t have a neutral pH level, they’re too harsh to clean with, even when diluted.
Using these products over time will leave your floor with a dull appearance and damage its finish by breaking it down. It could even strip it away completely, so be careful not to use them or cleaners that contain them.
2. Furniture Polishes
Furniture polish seems like a safe choice when cleaning hardwood floors. After all, it leaves the floor with a shiny, brand new appearance.
Yet, this appearance doesn’t last for long. Eventually, the floors will become dull and covered by a residue that’s difficult to remove to the extent that when it’s time to get them recoated, you might need to sand your floors down to bare wood.
Vacuums themselves aren’t harmful to hardwood floors. In fact, they’re one of the safest cleaning tools to use. Yet, there are small details that one is prone to overlook that seriously damage your floor.
The wheels on vacuums could scratch your floor; that’s why you should avoid vacuums with hard, plastic wheels and instead opt for soft, rubber ones. Another part of your vacuum that could scratch your floor is the beater bar, so make sure to turn it off beforehand.
4. Steam Cleaners
Water is hardwood flooring’s biggest enemy, and that doesn’t change in the case of steam.
The changing temperatures of steam cleaners and the moisture cause severe damage to the floors, such as peeling, shrinkage, and warpage. These damages are almost always irreversible and could require completely replacing the floor.
5. Bristle Brooms
Hardwood floors are prone to scratches when handled with rough materials. When using a bristle broom, you apply a force that pushes those bristles onto the flooring and scratches or deteriorates the finish.
A microfiber broom is a much better choice. Microfiber is soft and picks up all of the dust with ease leaving your floors looking brand new.
6. Soaking Wet Mops
This one is pretty self-explanatory. When mopping your hardwood floors, they should dry quickly so that the water isn’t absorbed and potentially warp the floor.
That’s why you should never use a soaking wet mop to clean your hardwood floors. Instead, use a damp one and make sure that as you’re cleaning, there are no puddles of water left.
4 Tips to Make Your Hardwood Floors Last a Lifetime
Now that we’ve gone over the common mistakes to avoid when cleaning your hardwood floor, here are 4 tips that’ll guarantee that they keep their shiny, brand new appearance for as long as possible.
Find a Suitable Cleaner
The first thing you need to do before purchasing any cleaners for your floors is to make sure they’re suitable for your type of hardwood floor and its finish. Don’t rely on common recommendations; instead, make sure that the cleaner you’re getting is made specifically for your type of flooring or at least doesn’t contain ingredients that’ll damage it.
Even after buying a suitable cleaner, it’s still better not to use it on your entire floor right away. First, do a patch test using a small amount of your cleaner as instructed on a small, barely-noticeable area in your house. When you’re done, check that area for residue, swelling, discoloration, or any unusual marks.
Once you’re sure your cleaner is safe, proceed to use it on your entire floor with no worries.
Use Floor Protection
Using floor protection under your furniture is an easy way to ensure that your furniture will never scratch your floors. This is especially helpful when moving it around.
Simply place felt pads or felt chair glides underneath your furniture legs. You could also use an adhesive to make sure that the felt stays on.
Dry Your Floors Quickly
As you’re cleaning, make sure not to leave your floor to dry for too long. Oversaturating it with water could lead to swelling or warpage.
If you notice excess water that’s taking too long to dry, simply go over it with a dry cloth or mop, preferably a microfiber one, as those don’t hold as much moisture as other materials would.
Instead of waiting to do all your cleaning at once, you could try spot cleaning. It helps get rid of stains quickly before they become too much of a hassle to remove.
To do that, pour some of your cleaner into a spray bottle and keep it in easily accessible places. Use it to spray high-traffic areas in your house, such as the entrance, kitchen, or hallways. Make sure to dry the cleaner with a soft cloth, such as a microfiber one, for more efficiency.
Floors are an essential yet often overlooked part of every home, and taking proper care of them is bound to elevate the house as a whole. We hope that this article helped you understand how ruining your hardwood floors by using the wrong cleaners can be so unintentional. Happy cleaning!