Reader Tip: How to Clean Hardwood Floors

Reader Tip: How to Clean Hardwood Floors

Gregory Han
Aug 26, 2008

While reviewing several of the comments from yesterday's review of the Starfiber Microfiber Mop, we noted that reader "amiencc" (who also happens to operate a cleaning service) left a very detailed and informative cleaning process that they claim is the best technique for keeping your wood floors looking beautiful...

This is the BEST way to clean wood floors according to The Cleaning Bug :

"DO NOT...I repeat... DO NOT use vinegar on a wood floor!! I own a cleaning company and am well aware of the damage this method can cause. Vinegar is acidic and will slowly eat away at the poly coating, or wax coating, or oil, whatever your floor is sealed with. It is fine for no-wax linoleum and ceramic but don't use vinegar on wood floors! If you have new wood floors, using anything but what the manufacturer specifically recommends will void your warranty. When in doubt, use just water. I use a product called EcoMist Colloid W and a Rubbermaid commercial microfiber mop and it gets raves from my clients with wood floors."
1) Use a soft microfiber dusting pad (preferably with fringe) and run it along all the baseboards without lifting it. Then run it up and down the room, like mowing the lawn, again not lifting the mop. Lifting the mop allows larger debris to get under the mop pad, which can scratch the floors. You want the larger debris to be trapped by the fringe and pushed ahead of you while dust and dirt is trapped by the microfiber pad. This is why swiffer is can scratch!

2) Use the hose attachment on you vacuum to run the perimeter of the room and suck up any trapped dirt near the baseboards.

3) Using a spray bottle, mist the floor lightly with water, or a cleaner specifically formulated for wood floors like EcoMist Colloid W, Dr. Bonners, or Method. DO NOT use Murphy's Oil Soap on your floors, nor should you use Orange Glo. Murphy's Oil Soap will ruin the floors and Orange Glo makes them dangerously slippery. Again, when in doubt, just use water.

4) After lightly misting a small area, use a seperate microfiber pad that is labeled for wet use and mop the area following the grain of the wood.

5) Continue to spray as you go. The floor should dry behind you. Never dump a bucket of soapy water on a wood will warp, cup, split, and generally need replacing really quickly.

"I recommend the Rubbermaid Commercial Mop with a seperate wet and dry mopping head..they just velcro to the mop. You can get them at Home Depot for about 20 bucks and they do have replacement heads when you start to get icked out by the old ones, but all you need to do is run the wet mop under the shower tap and use some shampoo to clean it out, while the dry mop can be vacuumed with an attachment then thrown into the wash."

We use a similar technique of removing larger debris with a soft dusting pad, then vacuuming, followed up by using the spray/wipe technique with Dr. Bronner's or Method products on our floors. Though we admit we've used Murphy's Oil Soap in the past without any noticeable damage at previous apartments (in fact, a landlord once commended us for keeping his rental floors noticeably clean during our 2 year stay and rewarded us with the full deposit and a handshake). As we noted in the past, there seems like a wide range of techniques and solutions for keeping wood floors clean, with a bit of controversy about using vinegar (we're apt to agree with advice above, as vinegar is indeed an acid).

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