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Wood Floor Cleaning Tips

Taking Care of Your Wood Floor

A hardwood floor is an invaluable part of your home, so scratches and stains are especially troublesome. Here are some tips on both how to keep hardwood floors clean and fix scratches. We also have some handy information on how to best maintain your floor so it looks better for longer.

Stains in the Wood Floor

When it comes to keeping clean wood floors in your home, most spills are actually easy to treat:

Q: What hardwood floor cleaner should I use for grease-based stains?
A: Mix a little ammonia with cold water and clean the spot with a towel dampened in the solution. Next, wipe the area down with a towel dampened only with water. Finally, dry the area.

Q: How do I clean wood floors with non-grease stains?
A: Dampen a towel in a solution of warm water and a little normal dish detergent. Clean the spot with the towel. After this, make sure you wipe the area down with a clean towel dampened with water to remove any soap residue. Finish up by thoroughly dry the floor.

Besides everyday stains that sit on top of the floor, there are two kinds of stains that occur when the finish or the wood itself has been directly affected. These stains appear as white rings/marks or black rings/marks.

Q: How do I clean hardwood floors with white rings/marks?
A: When you see this sort of stain, it usually means the finish/protective coating as been affected by water. Follow these steps to treat this sort of stain:

Step 1: First, wait for two days. Sometimes, these white marks will just disappear in 48 hours.

Step 2: If the spot doesn’t disappear, dampen a microfiber cloth in denatured alcohol and rub the spot for a couple seconds. Then wipe it down with a towel dampened in water before thoroughly drying the area.

Q: How do I clean hardwood floors with black rings/marks?
A: If there are black marks on the wood, that often means water has gone through the finish and been absorbed by the wood. This type of stain is much more difficult to remove. Often it’s better to get the area professionally sanded and refinished, but you can try the following method:

Step 1: Take a small brush and dip it into bleach – just use a small amount. Gently rub the bleach onto the problem area.

Step 2: Let several hours pass and repeat this process.

Step 3: Leave the area alone for 24 hours and then wipe it down with a clean towel dampened with water. Dry the area off after this.

Again, there are risks involved with this method, so it may just be better to hire a professional hardwood floor cleaner to completely refinish the floor.

Scratches in the Wood Floor

Scratches and gouges in a wood floor can really hurt the look of a room. While professional wood floor care may be necessary to fully restore a floor, these tips will help you make minor repairs.

Something important to know is that there are two levels of scratches. The first level only affects the finish and the wood is undamaged. The second level exposes the bare wood itself.

Q: How do I fix scratches in a hardwood floor finish (first level)?
A: The following method will help you out:

Step 1: Determine the type of finish you have on your floor and purchase a small amount of it. If you’re not sure of the finish on your floor, someone at a hardware store or the floor’s installer may be able to help you.

Step 2: Before you can make repairs, you first need to thoroughly clean the area. Use a microfiber cloth and a hardwood floor cleaner.

Step 3: Wipe and dry down the area down with a second cloth dampened with water. You want to remove any cleaning residue.

Step 4: Once the area has dried, use a small, soft brush – like a thin painter’s brush – to lightly apply the finish onto the scratched area. Make sure smooth the finish around the scratch, going in the direction of the grain of the floor. You don’t want to leave a puddle of finish that will stand out once it’s dried.

If you’re concerned about damaging your floor or unsure of your ability to treat your floor, don’t worry. Contact a professional for help – when it comes to wood floors, an ounce of prevention is worth several pounds of cure.

Q: How do I fix scratches in a hardwood floor itself (second level)?
A: If a scratch has affected the wood itself, the following method will help. Please note, this method isn’t for deep scratches or gouges:

Step 1: Get a wood wax stick that matches the color of the wood floor.

Step 2: As before, start by cleaning the area with a microfiber cloth and a hardwood floor cleaner.

Step 3: Wipe and dry down the area down with a second cloth dampened with water.

Step 4: Once the area has dried, you need to blend the scratch in by sanding it. Please note that you’re not sanding the entire plank or even a large area around the scratch. You’re smoothing the scratch and its edges out. The best tool for this is fine sandpaper or fine (and clean) steel wool.

Make sure you go with the grain of the wood as you work. Try to reduce the edge of the scratch by feathering it into the wood,  but don’t go far with the feathering. If you do, you’ll just make the damaged/repaired area more visible.

Remember, the goal is blend the scratch into the floor; it is NOT to expose more bare wood. Work slowly and gently, because you can always gently sand more, but you can’t undo an overly vigorous sanding.

Step 5: Rub the wood wax stick into the scratch to fill it. Let the wax sit for 10 minutes (or longer depending on the instructions that come with the stick).

Step 6: Buff the area with a clean, microfiber cloth. This will make sure that both excess wax is removed, that the remaining wax lays smooth with the floor, and that the floor has a nice shine.

As before, if you’re concerned or unsure about your ability to treat the floor, it is best to hire a professional.

Wood Floor Maintenance

The best way to clean wood floors is to keep them from getting dirty in the first place. Try these tips to keep your wood floor healthy.

Q: How do I prevent damage to my wood floor?
A: There’s a lot you can do, but here are some good overall tips:

Socks: Socks are much safer than shoes when it comes to protecting your floor. Shoes can have stones in them or track in bits of grit that can damage the floor. This will also help keep your clean wood floors looking better for longer.

Felt Pads on Furniture: Place felt pads on the underside of any furniture that will be on the floor. These pads will help prevent scratches, dents, and dings.

Dog Claws: Dogs can do quite a bit of damage to a floor if they have long claws. Keep your dog’s claws trimmed to help protect your floor.

Q: How do I keep my wood floor cleaner, longer?
A: Besides regular mopping/dusting, floor mats by exterior doors and in high-traffic areas are a great way to protect your floors. Don’t use mats with rubber backing, as they can discolor wood floors.

Q: Should I regularly polish my floor?
A: There are actually a lot of polishes you should avoid, like acrylic wax polish or silicone polish. These finishes just add coat after coat of material onto the floor, which makes professional wood floor cleaning more difficult and costly.

Q: How often should I hire a professional hardwood floor cleaner?
A: You should schedule a professional cleaning every year to remove built-up dirt and oils.

Oxi Fresh strongly encourages everyone to follow these tips as they’re some of the best ways to clean wood floors, remove scratches, and to keep your home looking beautiful.

Remember that when you do need a wood floor cleaning appointment, just call 877-OXI-FRESH!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Soap and water will be quite effective on the average hardwood floor - no need for expensive cleaning solutions during your routine care. Simply sweeping and moping with a microfiber flat-head or string mop will go a long way between professional cleaning appointments.

Dawn is one of the most gentle and effective soaps out there, which is why it's frequently used on wildlife caught in oil spills.

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