Wood floors are not created equal. Who knew? After reading Mary Hunt’s tips on the proper way to clean your type of wood floor it will ensure the new-look-finish and tips to help keep it that way.
Posted by Karen Nelson, The Village Family Service Center
The 411 on Cleaning Wood Floors
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in searching for the answer to the simple question, “How should I clean my wood floors?” this is it: There is no simple answer.
Naively, I assumed that wood in its simplest form has been standing out in the rain since the beginning of time without the slightest hint of water damage. Surely a regular scrub with a bucket of hot soapy water would be fine. Boy, was I wrong!
Laminate wood. Laminates like Pergo and Wilsonart are dense fiberboard on the inside, covered with a paper pattern layer sealed under high pressure with a plastic-like substance. Damp mop for routine maintenance, but do not use soaps or detergents on laminates because they may dull the floor. For heavy cleaning, use a mixture of household vinegar and water (1 cup vinegar to 1 gallon warm water) or household ammonia and water (1/2 cup ammonia to 1 gallon warm water).
Difficult spots like nail polish, markers, tar and cigarette burns can be removed with acetone or nail polish remover. Laminate floors must never be waxed, polished, sanded or refinished.
Engineered wood. Plywood with a thin veneer of finished solid wood on top, engineered wood flooring has superior strength to wood planks and is the most popular type of wood floor these days.
There are mainly three types of finishes for wood floors: varnish/shellac, penetrating seal (wax) or a surface finish (urethane). You should never use vinyl or tile floor cleaners on wood. Also you should avoid using a wet mop on wood floors.
Unless your floors are quite old, a shellac finish is unlikely. If you don’t know which type of finish you have, try smudging the finish with a finger or scraping the finish with a fingernail or sharp instrument in a hidden area. If the smudge is noticeable or no clear finish material is scraped up, follow the guideline for penetrating sealer.
Surface finished wood. Finished with Polyurethane, Swedish finish or some kind of water-based urethane, surface-finished wood has a very hard water-resistant finish. Use a slightly damp mop that is wrung out well. Never use vinegar or ammonia, as either will irreversibly dull the finish. For heavy cleaning, use a cleaning product made specifically for surface-finished wood floors. Never apply wax to a surface-finished floor.
Penetrating seals. Floors finished with a penetrating seal typically have a wax coating. If your floor has a wax finish, do not clean it with a water-based cleaning liquid. You need to use a solvent-based wax product designed for use on sealed wood floors.
Preventive maintenance. The cheapest way to care for wood floors is to make sure dirt never gets embedded in the first place. Vacuum and dust mop at least weekly, and keep sand, grit and dirt out. When spills occur, clean them up immediately using a towel dipped in warm water and wrung out well. Follow immediately with a dry towel to dry and buff the area.
Reprinted from http://everydaycheapskate.com/
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