Hardwood floors deliver an eye-catching aesthetic that simply can’t be replicated by other types of floor covering. Although relatively easy to clean and low-maintenance, hardwoods need to be protected from damage caused by water and certain cleaning agents.
Daily cleaning should involve nothing more than sweeping, vacuuming and wiping up spills. However, when it’s time to perform more detailed cleaning jobs, a little care and attention goes a long way.
Fortunately, this isn’t rocket science. As long as you have the best vacuum cleaner for hard floors and the right cleaning tools, the process is straightforward.
What type of vacuum cleaner should I use?
Which type of vacuum cleaner you use on hardwood floors is up to you. Just make sure the cleaner head has soft bristles or has different modes for varying floor types.
Try to sweep your hardwood floors every time you cook or prepare food, and when people walk in with their shoes on. This keeps small particles of grit and dirt to a minimum, which is vital in the fight against scratches. If you’re not using a soft-bristle brush, use the vacuum cleaner attachment that is designed specifically for this purpose.
It’s usually not necessary to deep clean hardwood floors every day. In most households, wiping away spillages and droppages as and when they occur is sufficient. Just make sure you use a microfibre, non-abrasive cloth for the job.
Before you do anything, it’s important that you read the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. Some hardwood floor sealants react badly to cleaning chemicals, so make sure you’re following the correct procedures.
Even a sealed floor can become susceptible to water damage. This is why it’s important to keep water and cleaning fluids to an absolute minimum. Never fill a bucket with hot, soapy water — use a spray bottle instead. Choose a dedicated hardwood floor cleaner with a neutral pH. If you’re cleaning manually, use a sponge mop or microfibre cloths.
Alternatively, there are some highly efficient steam mops on the market that are suitable for many types of hardwood floor. The optimum amount of water is used to create superheated steam, which means floors are virtually dry just seconds after cleaning them.
Things to consider when cleaning hardwood floors
When it comes to real wood floors, knowing what not to do is just as important as following cleaning instructions. For example, furniture polish can combine with sealants to create a sticky and unpleasant residue that is almost impossible to remove.
It’s also important to resist the temptation to use oils and wax. These substances should only ever be used if you’re forced to re-seal your floors — which is a major job. Oil and wax also leaves a residue, and can interfere with the water-repellent properties of hardwood floors.
Depending on the wood and the nature of the sealant, some manufacturers warn against the use of traditional and steam mops. However, it might be worth seeking clarification on the issue, as modern steam mops use very little water — often less than is applied by a damp cloth.
Other products to avoid include abrasive and acidic cleaners and anything that contains ammonia. If you’re struggle with a stain or an accumulation of grease, a solution of one part water and three parts white vinegar should be used. Just make sure you test the solution on a small, relatively hidden area of flooring first. And always follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.
A few final pointers
Perform a few Internet searches for the best vacuum for hardwood floors in the UK. And while you’re doing that, search for steam mop reviews and recommendations for which cleaning products to use.
Remember: less is more when it comes to cleaning and maintaining your hardwood floors. The less direct contact, water and cleaning agents they’re subjected to, the longer they’ll last. If your floor doesn’t need a thorough clean every week, simply rely on sweeping, vacuuming and wiping spills.
If you take precautions to protect your floors, they should give you many years of pleasure and faithful service.