Cleaning Hardwood Floors Do’s and Don’ts

Hardwood Floors are not only beautiful but also provide a rich, warm and elegant look to both commercial buildings and residential homes. Maintaining any type of floor can be time consuming and costly if maintained incorrectly. Correct maintenance including cleaning hardwoods floors is critical for achieving esthetically pleasing looks but more importantly, it will extend the life of the floor itself and provide a long lasting high appearance to the wood floors with minimizing costly repairs and corrective action to damaged hardwood flooring. Most hardwood floors are sealed with either oil based or water based seals. In most instances, the seal/finish is either applied at the factory or is sealed/finished after the hardwood floor has been installed by the owner of the building or home.

 

Cleaning Sealed Hardwood Floors – The Don’ts
 

  1. Before cleaning Hardwood floors, allow the floor to properly cure after seal and/or finish application:
    • 7 days for water-based finish
    • 14 days for oil or polyurethane finish
       
  2. Do not use water or any cleaner while the seal and/or finish is curing.
     
  3. Do not put down walk off mats while the seal and/or finish is curing.
     
  4. Do not put plastic or other materials on floor while curing.
     
  5. Do not use resilient restorers on hardwood floors. Use of these products may cause residue build up which will be hard to remove and may cause unsafe slippery conditions to the floor.
     
  6. Do not use treated dust mops because they cause slippery conditions.
     
  7. Do not use excessive amounts of water on hardwood floors. So, wet mopping with a standard mop is not recommended. Heavy amounts of water may damage to the floor.
     
  8. Limited use of an automatic scrubber is recommended and only used on a periodic basis when the soil on the wood floor is so difficult to remove that the mechanical action of power equipment is required to clean the floor. Only a white light duty floor pad should be used on the automatic scrubber.

 

Cleaning Sealed Hardwood Floors – The Do’s
 

  1. Always dust mop the wood floor prior to cleaning. If at all possible and especially in commercial buildings with hardwood flooring, try to dust mop several times daily. This will assist in preventing excessive dust, sand and grit from damaging the finish gloss.
     
  2. Always work with the grain of the wood for both dust mopping and cleaning procedures.
     
  3. Always use cleaners that are either approved by the hardwood manufacturer for their floor or a cleaner designed specifically for wood. There are many on the market for both commercial and residential.
     
  4. Always use hard wood cleaners according to label directions.
     
  5. Always use a damp mopping technique. This technique uses less water and if you employ the use of a flat mop and microfiber mop, the results will be great and use the least amount of water on the floor.
     
  6. Whenever possible and especially in commercial buildings, use walk off mats at entrances to prevent dust, soil, abrasive grit and moisture from the floor. Walk off mats are your first line of defense in keeping and maintaining clean hardwood floors.
     
  7. Install proper floor protectors on furniture used on wood floor to prevent scratching.

 

Proper Cleaning Procedures and Frequency
 

There are two procedural steps to cleaning Hardwood floors. The first is dry cleaning and the second is damp cleaning. Both are necessary steps in cleaning wood floors.

  • Dry Cleaning – sweeping or dust mopping. The removal attached soils such as gum, stickers, etc. using a Blunt Plastic Scraper
  • Damp Cleaning – using a Flat mop with a microfiber pad is recommended.

 

Cleaning frequencies vary for commercial and residential buildings. The cleaning of floors in a commercial building should be done on a daily basis because of the amount of soil and foot traffic these types of buildings receive. However, if the facility being clean does not receive excessive amounts of daily foot traffic then the hardwood floor can be cleaned less often. Remember the lesser amounts of water a Hardwood floor is exposed to; the less chance there will be for damage to the floor. Water is wood’s worse enemy. With that being said, it is still critical to remove the soil as often as possible. Residential Floors could be cleaned less often due to less soil and foot traffic but a rule of thumb is to clean residential floors once weekly.

 

Proper Cleaner, Equipment and Tools
 

Proper selection of a hardwood floor cleaner, equipment and tools will improve your overall results and will also minimize the time it takes to clean.

 

Commercial Buildings

It is recommended that commercial buildings use commercial grade cleaners and equipment like power mechanical equipment utilizing an appropriate floor pad or brush to scrub floors. Best practices include the following.

  • Dust Mop – Untreated with frame and handle and Dust Pan
     
  • Blunt PLASTIC Scraper
     
  • Automatic Scrubber utilizing White colored Floor Pads – NOTE: Used only in periodic cleaning procedures. Power Equipment can damage wood floors and is hard to control the amount of water applied to the floor during the cleaning process. It should be employed when deep ground in soil cannot be removed by spot damp mopping.
     
  • Flat Mop Wet Mop with handle and Bucket with wringer for hard to reach floor areas
     
  • Professional Grade Hardwood Floor Cleaning Chemical – Used according to label directions
     
  • Safety Equipment: Wet Floor Signs, Gloves, Goggles, boots, etc.

 

IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE:  Always post Wet Floor signs whenever using liquids on floors including plain water.  Also, always wear appropriate personal protective gear (goggles, gloves, proper protective footwear and aprons) when dealing with cleaning chemicals.

 

Residential Floors

You do not need to use Professional grade floor cleaners to clean residential floors. However, using professional grade cleaners will achieve improved results and reduce the amount of time to clean the floor in a residence. Commercial strength cleaners can normally be purchased from a local Janitorial Supply distributor, a national distributor like WW Grainger or at a Wholesale Club like Sam’s or Costco. There are many websites that sell hardwood floor cleaners such as Amazon.

  • Broom or Dust Mop and Dust Pan
     
  • Blunt PLASTIC Scraper
     
  • Flat Mop Wet Mop with handle and Bucket with wringer for hard to reach floor areas. A variety of mopping tools are available to clean residential floors. All of which can provide good results. However, for best results, the use of a Flat Mop and microfiber pad should be used.
     
  • Household Hardwood Floor Cleaning Chemical – Used according to label directions
     
  • Safety Equipment: Gloves, Goggles, etc.

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