If you live in an old house, you may have some old hardwood floors to go along with it that have clearly seen better days. Sometimes you try your best to clean them or refinish them to get them looking a little fresher but nothing seems to work. Fortunately, there are still plenty of ways for you to get your floors looking like they once did—and we’re going to share them all with you today. With no further ado, here are 30 easy tricks to cleaning your hardwood floors like a pro.
1. Make sure to vacuum your floors weekly.
Though nobody particularly likes to vacuum, it’s important to keep dirt and other debris off of hardwood floors. The longer it stays there, the longer it has to be ground into the floor by people walking on it or stepping on shards they shouldn’t step on. By vacuuming it regularly, you can prevent that extra damage.
2. Be careful with hairspray and furniture polish.
Though this guideline goes for virtually any kind of chemical spray, the point is that harsh chemicals can hurt the finish on your hardwood floors. To prevent this, make sure that you wipe up any sprays or spills as they hit the floors as soon as possible, or avoid using them near hardwood floors altogether.
3. Avoid both water and rain!
Though most people know this, too much can do significant damage to your wood floors. This is why hardwood floors need to be mopped and cleaned a very specific way, but it also extends to how you manage other parts of your homes. Be sure to pay attention to the weather and keep your windows closed if it’s going to rain!
4. Be sure to use a wood cleaner without any wax to clean up any significant stains.
Sometimes you have a stain or a spill on your floor that’s a little thicker than your average. In those cases, you may need to use a heavier wood cleaner to take them out—just don’t use one with any wax in it! To this, wipe as much of the spill up as you can first and then use the cleaner on it.
5. Put some area rugs down over the parts of the floor that get used the most.
For a bit of added protection against scratches and grime, consider buying some runners or area rugs for the parts of the floor you and your guests walk on the most. Though you’ll still have to clean the rugs and take care of the wood around them, this will definitely help.
6. Don’t skimp on the doormats, either.
Doors are where a lot of dirt and debris happens to go into and out of your house. For that reason, it’s important to pay attention to those areas by having both indoor and outdoor doormats! Even if you don’t want to put rugs all throughout your home, having more doormats than you think you need is generally a good idea.
7. Keep a very light dust and lint catcher around to do a primary cleaning every few days.
A big part of cleaning wood floors is just preventing too much gunk and grime from accumulating on them—and you can accomplish this 80% of the way by just giving them a light dusting. If you don’t already have one of these wood floor dusters, invest in one to make the rest of the process a lot easier.
8. Use a microfiber mop and some spray to clean your floors weekly.
As we’ve said already, too much water on your hardwood floors is going to do some damage. You can avoid that by using a spray bottle and a gentler mop on your floor. That way, you can control exactly how much moisture is hitting their surfaces and exactly how much abrasion is happening as well.
9. Remove any rough scuff marks by using a tennis ball.
If you own wood floors, you know just how disappointing it is to have a big scuff mark in a highly visible area. Fortunately, you can use a tennis ball to buff those areas out if the mark isn’t too bad. As it turns out, the texture of it is perfect for gentle scrubbing.
10. Take out any grease marks or grease stains by using a pencil eraser.
Though grease can sometimes be a little more resilient, using an eraser will help you get further than you usually would. To do this, all you have to do is take an eraser and rub it over the greasy area first. When that’s done, wipe the area with a clean, damp washcloth and the remnants should come right up.
11. Use olive oil to fix any particularly sticky areas on your floor.
Every so often, you may get a piece of tape or some other sticky substance stuck on your hardwood floors. To avoid that, try putting a little bit of olive oil on the sticky parts. Let the oil sit on top of the affected area for a few minutes before wiping the area away with a microfiber cloth. When that process is over, the area should be as good as new.
12. Take out any water stains by letting it dry out and using an iron.
Despite our best efforts, we may still get some water stains in our hardwood floors from time to time. If this happens to you, first let the water-stained area dry out entirely. When that’s done, cover the area with a dry washcloth and then run an iron over it without using any steam. Keep doing that for a few minutes while moving the iron around constantly. If the stain is still good, rub the area with a cloth dipped in lemon oil. Once the stain disappears, use a simple wood cleaner to take away the excess oil and you’re good to go. If you don’t want to risk burning the floor, you can also use a hairdryer!
13. Use basic rubbing alcohol to take out any nail polish stains.
If you spill nail polish or paint on any of your floors, don’t fret—you can take it out by using a little bit of rubbing alcohol. Still, it’s important to use this product on this spills while they’re still wet if you want to get the best results from this method.
14. For any pet accidents, use a mop as well as a vinegar and water solution.
It’s always frustrating when your pets go to the bathroom on your floors. Still, there’s a proper way to deal with these accidents when they happen. First and foremost, make sure to collect up the mess with paper towels first. After that, wipe the area down with a 1:4 solution of vinegar and water, respectively, to take care of the odor.
15. Use liquid cleaners to pick up deeper grime that has built up over time.
Even with all the preparations and protective steps, you’ll need to get in there to clean up the deeper stuff from time to time. Though you still don’t want to overdo it with chemicals that are too strong or too much moisture, Murphy’s Oil Soap is a good place to start.
16. Use a wood crayon or pen to cover up any bad scratches that remain.
In the case of deep scratches in the wood, try buying a little wood finish pen that matches the color of the scratches to color in the scratched areas. Though it might take some time to dry, it will definitely improve the overall look of your floors.
17. Try using a basic hot tea mixture to clean your floors for some extra shine.
As it turns out, you can actually boil up some teabags in hot water and use it to clean your wood floors as well. Just fill a bucket of water like you normally would and put two teabags in it with a dark tea. Let them soak and use a soft cloth to soak up the liquid. Wring it out and use it on the floors to give them a nice shine.
18. Determine what kind of finish your wood floors have.
Depending on what kind of floors you have, you may have to adjust your cleaning strategy. For the most part, wood finishes are generally either penetrating or surface finishes. In essence, a surface finish will leave a glossy and waterproof protective surface on your floor, meaning that it’s safer to use water-based cleaning processes on it. On the other hand, penetrating finishes absorb water very easily, so you should avoid using it on these surfaces.
19. To deep clean floors with a penetrating finish, it’s best to just start over.
For non-waterproof floors that have a penetrating finish rather than a surface one, they tend to get overly grimy and may even become warped over time. If you’re looking to make them look like new, you’ll have to actually make them new. To do this, use a clean cloth soaked in mineral spirits as a solvent on the old wax coating in small sections of floor at a time. After it’s soaked in, wipe the area clean with another cloth and repeat this process. When the old layer is stripped away, apply a new layer for a whole new look.
20. Use ice to take off hard wax and gum.
If you ever get something thick and sticky like wax or gum spilled on your floors, you know just how hard it can be to get off. Typically speaking, your best bet is to use an ice cube to freeze the affected area before carefully peeling it off of the floor with no damage.
21. Use toothpaste to take out marks left by a permanent marker.
Though we’re not sure just how permanent markers get on the floor in the first place, it’s still bound to happen from time to time. To deal with this, try applying a little bit of toothpaste to the affected area and let it sit for a while. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe it off and you should be good to go.
22. Take up any dents in the floor by using an iron.
Every so often, we make the mistake of dropping something particularly heavy onto our comparatively soft hardwood floors. To fix these situations, all you have to do is dampen the affected area, put a cloth over it and iron it. Make sure you keep moving the iron around as you do it until all the dampness is gone. With any luck, the dent will rise up and fix itself!
23. If you’ve tried literally everything else on an eraser or a stain, try using a magic eraser.
For those who don’t know, magic erasers definitely live up to their name by being one of the strongest and easiest-to-use cleaning materials on the market. All you have to do is gently (very gently) apply the eraser to the area and watch the stain leave like magic. The reason we recommend this as a last resort is that the chemicals in these are very strong and can definitely hurt your floors!
24. Try using a little bit of baby powder to fix your creaky floors.
If you have certain areas of your floor that still creak no matter what, try using a little bit of baby powder to fix them up. All you have to do is dust the creaky area with a generous amount of the powder and use a brush or a paintbrush to work it all into and under the cracks. If done correctly, this technique should muffle any creaky sounds.
25. As an alternate way to fix pet odors, try using a bit of baking soda.
If your dog has a little accident on the floor, do your best to wipe it up with cloth or paper towels first. After that, sprinkle baking soda all over the area and let it sit. It should absorb whatever moisture and odor is left there! After it’s done, sweep or wipe it up and you’re good to go.
26. If other things don’t work, use walnut shells to fix any floor scratches.
Like some of the other tips we’ve mentioned, sometimes fixing scratches is just about concealing them as best as possible. To do that, try rubbing a walnut shell on the scratched areas. Their surfaces should leave some residue and color behind that fill in the scratches nicely!
27. Instead of using a broom on your floors, stick to microfibers to avoid scratches.
Although people in old houses may be used to using rough brooms on their floors, it’s definitely not the best thing to keep your floors looking like new. Instead, switch over to a microfiber duster or sweeper to collect the excess dirt while still keeping your floors shiny and new.
28. Generally speaking, avoid using vinegar and water mixtures to clean your floors.
Although plenty of people who want to avoid chemicals swear by vinegar and water mixtures, they’re often worth avoiding in the long run. Though you can use them once in a great while, they will definitely wear down the finishes on your floors over time.
29. Only use wax finishes on a wax-finished floor (ie, a non-surface finish).
On some finishes, the occasional wax job will leave your floors healthy, rejuvenated and nicely shiny. Still, if you have a surface finish on your floor, putting wax on top of it is just going to make your floor incredibly slippery and will probably break down the finish you already have on it!
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30. Make sure to put furniture pads on all of your furniture.
[slideshow type=desc num=30]Though it’s an easy thing to look, all of your furniture should have protective padding under their corners before they go down on your wood floors. While it might go without saying, moving your furniture around without any pads on them can cause some serious damage to your floors.
In all, there are plenty of different things you can do for particularly tough floor-cleaning situations. The key is to make sure you’re taking preventative steps, protecting your floors with rugs and floormats, and using the right tools when it actually comes to cleaning and deep cleaning. Though dusting and maintenance is important, be sure to determine what cleaners work best for your floors’ finishes, and try to stick only to things that won’t degrade the seal or warp the wood! If you follow these steps closely, your floors should last you for a lifetime. Happy cleaning!
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