How to Clean Hardwood Floors Naturally

To ensure your hardwood floors remain beautiful and shiny for years, regular and methodical cleaning is essential. Hardwood floors endure significant wear and tear, accumulating dust, dirt, grime, and debris from outside or from wearing shoes indoors.

Neglecting to clean hardwood floors not only compromises cleanliness and hygiene but can also damage the wood, leading to costly repairs, refinishing, or in the worst cases, replacement. By incorporating regular cleaning with a few simple tools and natural products, you can extend the life of your hardwood floors. Follow these expert tips from Melissa Witulski, business operations manager at Merry Maids, to clean your hardwood floors naturally and effectively.

 

Frequency of Cleaning Hardwood Floors

To maintain the beauty and longevity of your hardwood floors, it’s essential to clean them regularly. Lightly clean hardwood floors a few times a week to prevent the buildup of dust and dirt. For a deeper clean, use a mop specifically designed for hardwood floors once a month or more frequently if needed. Schedule your cleaning sessions during periods of minimal foot traffic, such as when the house is empty, to make the process more efficient.

Melissa Witulski advises performing quick, regular cleanings a couple of times per week. She recommends using a microfiber dust mop to effectively remove dust, dirt, and other particles without scratching the floor’s surface, unlike some vacuum cleaners.

 

Considerations Before Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Check if the Floors Are Sealed

Before cleaning your hardwood floors, it’s crucial to determine the type of finish applied. To check if the floor is sealed with a polyurethane finish, place a drop of water on the surface. If the water sits on the surface, the floor is sealed and can be safely cleaned with water-based solutions or steam cleaners. If the water is quickly absorbed, the sealant is either worn away or never applied, indicating the floor is unsealed. For unsealed floors, minimize water usage during cleaning. According to Witulski, “For a deeper clean, use a damp microfiber cloth and dry immediately with a dry microfiber cloth.”

Invest in a Quality Vacuum

For homes with extensive hardwood flooring, investing in a cordless vacuum cleaner designed for hardwood floors is beneficial. The Dyson Omni-Glide+, for example, is highly recommended and ranked among the best vacuums available.

If you have pets, opt for a vacuum that handles pet hair effectively and is gentle on hardwood floors. For a hands-free option, consider a robot vacuum designed for both hard surfaces and carpet. Some robot vacuums for hardwood floors also include a mopping feature, providing an all-in-one cleaning solution.

 

What do You Need to start cleaning :

Supplies for Cleaning with Vinegar

  • Dry microfiber dust mop
  • Broom or vacuum without a beater bar (optional)
  • Large bucket
  • Distilled white vinegar or cleaning vinegar
  • Wet microfiber mop

Supplies for Cleaning Cracks

  • Bowl or small bucket
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Handheld vacuum or vacuum with crevice tool (optional)

Supplies for Removing Paint from Floors

  • Small bowl
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Cleaning cloths
  • Hard plastic putty knife or old credit card
  • Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
  • Lemon juice
  • Soft-bristled toothbrush or non-abrasive scrub brush
  • Blow dryer or heat gun
  • Citrus-based paint remover (optional)

 

How to Clean Hardwood Floors Using Vinegar

Step 1: Clear Clutter, Dirt, and Debris

Begin by clearing clutter and removing small items like area rugs from the floor to streamline the cleaning process.

Next, eliminate loose dust and soil using either a broom, a vacuum without a beater bar (to prevent damage to hardwood surfaces), or ideally, a microfiber dust mop. Microfiber mops effectively attract and trap dirt, and their mop heads are washable for reuse.

Step 2: Prepare the Cleaning Solution

In a large bucket or sink, mix 1 gallon of water with 1 cup of distilled white vinegar or 1/2 cup of cleaning vinegar. Alternatively, if using a commercial hardwood floor cleaner, adhere strictly to the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid residue buildup that could diminish the floor’s luster.

Step 3: Mop the Hardwood Floors

Dip a clean microfiber mop into the vinegar solution, wringing it until damp but not dripping. Avoid excessive moisture on the floor surface.

Start mopping from the farthest corner of the room towards the exit, ensuring thorough coverage. Rinse the mop frequently in the solution, wringing it until slightly damp, to effectively remove soil from the floor.

Step 4: Allow Floors to Dry

Allow the hardwood floors to air-dry completely before walking on them. Excess moisture can harm wood floors, so expedite drying by using ceiling fans or a circulating fan. Once dry, you can safely replace rugs and other floor items.

Following these steps will help maintain the cleanliness and shine of your hardwood floors using vinegar as a natural cleaning solution.

 

How to Clean Hardwood Floor Cracks

Older wood floors and improperly installed hardwood can develop cracks between the boards, which tend to trap dirt and dust, especially during periods of low humidity when the wood contracts and exposes gaps.

Step 1: Divide the Floor Into Small Sections

To effectively clean hardwood floor cracks, divide the floor into manageable sections. Begin cleaning from the furthest corner of the room and proceed towards the door. This approach allows you to maintain continuity in cleaning if you cannot finish the entire room in one session.

Step 2: Prepare the Cleaning Solution

In a small bucket, mix 2 cups of warm water with 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar. This solution helps to loosen dirt and grime while being gentle on the wood.

Step 3: Scrub the Cracks

Dip a soft-bristled toothbrush into the vinegar solution, shaking off excess liquid until the brush is damp but not soaking wet. Gently scrub the cracks between the hardwood boards to dislodge trapped debris. Wipe away loosened dirt with a soft cloth or vacuum it up using a handheld vacuum or a vacuum equipped with a crevice tool.

Step 4: Complete Floor Cleaning

After cleaning the cracks, proceed to clean the entire floor by dusting with a microfiber dust mop and mopping with a suitable hardwood floor cleaner or the vinegar solution prepared earlier. Follow standard cleaning procedures to ensure thoroughness.

By following these steps, you can effectively clean and maintain the cleanliness of hardwood floor cracks, preventing buildup and maintaining the beauty of your hardwood flooring.

 

Removing Paint Stains From Hardwood Floors

Accidental paint splatters and drips are common during interior home painting projects, but they can be effectively removed from hardwood floors with the right techniques and cleaning products. Water-based paints, such as acrylics, are generally easier to clean, but even stubborn oil-based paints can be tackled with the appropriate methods.

Using Dish Soap

  1. Prepare the Solution: Mix a few drops of dishwashing liquid with 2 cups of hot water in a bowl.
  2. Apply and Scrub: Wet a cloth with the soapy solution, wringing it out until it’s damp but not dripping. Work in the direction of the wood grain, gently scrubbing the paint splatter.
  3. Wipe Off: As the paint loosens, use a dry rag to wipe it away. For more stubborn spots, carefully use the edge of an old credit card or a plastic putty knife to scrape away the paint.

Using Alcohol and Lemon Juice

  1. Prepare the Mixture: Combine three parts rubbing alcohol with one part lemon juice in a bowl.
  2. Apply and Let Sit: Dip a cloth into the mixture, wring it out, and place it over the paint stains. Allow it to sit for five minutes to loosen the paint.
  3. Scrub or Scrape: Gently scrub the affected area with an old toothbrush or again use a credit card to scrape away the loosened paint.

Using Heat

  1. Apply Heat: If paint remains stubborn, use a hair dryer set on high to direct heat towards the paint. Heat softens the paint, making it easier to remove.
  2. Repeat Cleaning Methods: Once softened, reapply the cleaning solutions and methods mentioned above to remove the remaining paint.

For Oil-Based Paints

If the paint is oil-based and proves resistant to the above methods, consider using an eco-friendly citrus-based paint remover. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully for safe and effective removal.

By following these expert methods, you can effectively remove paint stains from hardwood floors, restoring their pristine appearance without causing damage.

Tips to Maintain Clean Hardwood Floors Longer

To extend the cleanliness of your hardwood floors, implement these effective strategies:

  1. Immediate Spill Cleanup: Quickly wipe up spills to prevent moisture from staining the floors. Use a shop vac or wet/dry vacuum for efficient removal, especially in cases of spills.
  2. Daily Dust Mopping: Dust mop your floors daily or at least weekly, focusing on high-traffic areas. This routine removes loose soil, grit, and dust that can scratch and dull hardwood finishes.
  3. Use Doormats: Place doormats both inside and outside entrance doors to trap dirt and debris from shoes. Regularly clean these mats to maintain their effectiveness in preventing dirt from entering your home.

By adopting these practices, you can effectively preserve the cleanliness and beauty of your hardwood floors, reducing the frequency of intensive cleaning sessions.


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