Hardwood Cleaning Tips

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Today’s Prefinished wood floorings are easier than ever to keep clean, needing only minimal care to keep looking good, year after year. Here’s a few simple cleaning and preventive maintenance tips for hardwood, cork and bamboo floorings with urethane finishes.

  • First, vacuuming, dust-mop or sweeping regularly is the best way to remove surface dust, grit and dirt before it gets walked into the finish, dulling the luster. Vacuuming also pulls accumulated dust from the grooves between factory finished and plank floors. Sand particles are very destructive and are really tiny pieces of glass, like sandpaper ready to scratch the finish. When vacuuming, soft attachment parts are recommended. It’s best to avoid the notorious beater-bar. Its spinning bristles can scratch or generate enough heat to permanently leave hot-spot marks on the finish

If you do have scratches, quite often minor ones can be concealed using liquid scratch covers, sprays or lotions. Dents and nicks can be filled using wood floor repair kits (Touch-up markers, epoxy fill sticks or wax color pencils) usually available at your local home store. If your floor is severely damaged you can consult a professional about refinishing, or perhaps just an individual board replacement may be all that’s needed. Scratching and denting of installed flooring while unfortunate is beyond a manufacturer’s ability to control therefore not considered a product defect. Interestingly, the purpose of today’s urethane top-finishes serves the same function as waxed floors did in the old days in that finishes are intended to take the abuse first, thereby protecting the actual wood. Therefore, as unsightly as scratches are the urethane top-finishes are actually working as intended… protecting your investment.

  • Secondly, remember that wood and water does not mix well. So never pour water directly onto your floor or wet mop the floor like you would ceramic tiles. Even small amounts of water can cause hard water spots, clouding or deterioration to the finish or edge cup the wood. When selecting maintenance products, please note the labeling instructions. Only use products specifically designed or safe for urethane finished floors. Note that some cleaners may interfere with future re-coating such as waxes and oil soaps. The application is also important as many cleaners will direct you to apply the cleaner to the applicator first then the floor, rather than directly to the floor. You must adhere to the manufacturer’s labeling directions for their warranty.
  • Lastly, protect your floors by using chair leg protectors and walk-off mats or throw-rugs just inside the entrances. Choose non-solvent, felt or plant based products. Do not use synthetic rubber or plastic backed mats as trace chemicals can attack, discolor, yellow or fade the finish. These types of mats often react negatively exposed to direct UV light. Some non-slip padding’s placed under throw-rugs may also contain plasticizers harmful to urethane finishes.

Please see our Flooring 101 for more installation details and how to get the most from your new flooring.

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8 Comments

  1. I never knew that some cleaners could potentially interfere with the finish on a hardwood floor! My wife and I recently moved into a new house, and I know that my wife wouldn’t like it if her new hardwood floor was ruined by a cleaner! I will be sure to hire a professional who knows what is harmful and what isn’t!

  2. Lori,
    The only way to remove the v groove is to sand the floor flat and refinish. If you have a solid wood floor this is not a problem and we do have instructions on our Flooring 101 guide to help with this project (on lumberliquidators.com).
    If you have an engineered floor it would depend on the thickness of the veneer. Most veneers will not allow that much sanding. Simply adding a sealer or topcoating will not resolve the problem.
    Hope this helps!

  3. My prefinished hardwood floor is 13 years old. My mistake in buying it was that each piece has a slight bevel in the edge. While the rest of the floor still looks good, the kitchen bevels where the boards meet always look dirty, even with regular cleaning. Nothing short of cleaning it an inch at a time works.
    Any ideas? Please…?

  4. Lumber Liquidators does not recommend "Water brooms" "Wet-Jet Swiffers or steamer type cleaners on laminates, corks or hardwood floors. Although steamers may work well cleaning OTHER types of hard surface flooring, the 130° to 240° heated steam vapor can ruin wood or urethane finish resulting in warped or cupped flooring. Water and wood do not mix well, especially steam. Use these products at your own risk.

  5. Better to remove the leaves fall and put in the compost heap. All foliage will still not be able to remove, as falling leaves will still continue. Will remove the remaining leaves in the spring.

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