There are varying opinions on the best way to take care of hardwood floors, but experts agree that the nicest-looking floors need to be kept clean.

Most hardwoods age beautifully, so an older floor that is kept clean can look just as nice as a newer wood floor. Often, older wood floors add character to a room through the distressed marks or knotholes in the wood.

What is the best way to clean a wood floor?

Sweeping or vacuuming (with a hard floor attachment) on a regular basis will remove any dust, dirt, or debris that is tracked in from outdoors. A microfiber cloth picks up a lot of dirt particles, trapping them inside the many fibrous strands of the cloth.

Once the dirt particles are removed, the cleaning methods may vary, depending on the type of flooring installed. Laminate wood floors are usually cleaned differently than true hardwood flooring. The type of finish on the wood also determines the best cleaning methods.

As a first step towards detailed cleaning, understand the manufacturer’s warranty for the flooring, including the finish of the wood, which might include a separate warranty.

Keep the shine showing

Many cleaning chemicals will dull the surface shine of a wood floor. Some cleaners that are sold as specially formulated for wood surfaces may also streak the finish, or cause footprints or handprints to show up.

Contrary to some beliefs, a hot steam method does not get the floor cleaner. The top may look shiny after a steam cleaning, but there are adverse effects of using steam on wood.

A popular disposable steaming cleaner available on the market heats up the surface while applying moisture; but can produce a hazy appearance on the surface. And, with the wrong drying conditions, this can ruin the floor.

When the steaming process heats the surface, moisture seeps underneath the finish because steam is lighter and more permeable than just water. As the surface cools down again, the floor can begin to warp due to trapped moisture beneath the finish.

Further wood damage

Water will damage the wood planks over time. This is often shown by the individual strips of wood either cupping or buckling. Enough of these close together can cause either a crowning or dipping effect in a section of the floor, which can become a safety hazard for walking.

Minerals and rust in the water can create a staining appearance on the wood. Likewise, mold and mildew will discolor the wood, and start a feeding ground for further growth of the mold spores.

Best floor cleaning methods

Usually, a slightly damp mopping is the best method to clean the surface, using water only. If a cleaner is needed, a safe, neutral product designed for wood floors is recommended.

When you have questions about the proper care and cleaning of hardwood floors, call ServiceMaster by the Border. Our technicians complete special training to clean and take care of your wood flooring!