Cleaning wood floors

tishtoshnm Zone 6/NMAugust 8, 2007

For the first time, I finally have wood floors. I must say, they scare me a little bit when I see all the dust that accumulates on them and to think about that equal amount in the carpet. With the wood I can see it and therefore I know to clean it but I don't really have a good idea of how. My problems are this:

1. General dusting. How do most of you do it, please be specific. Do you just run a dry mop over it? I have been sweeping and that has not been overly effective. I also have an electric broom that is junk and I hope to one day upgrade but that is in the future. With the general dust as well, how do you handle things such as under the bed (I have no dust ruffle) or under the couch, etc.

2. When mopping I get streaks. Any idea of what is causing this. I am now at the point where I only use water for mopping (I notice the streaks on the tile as well, just not quite as badly). How often do you mop? How do you handle little spots (like a baby spitting up on the floor)and what can be done about all of those footprints.

I am sorry, I know that it is a lot for one post but I greatly appreciate any help that can be offered.

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I have both "Real wood" and pergo. My real wood floors I have to baby b/c if you use too much solution, etc. they really streak. I know it is a "no no" but I use a warm vinagar rinse on them about ever 3 months to strip away the old build up of cleaner, etc. Bruce also makes a hardwood cleaner that is a stripper of old polish/buildup, etc. Sometimes I use this instead of vinegar. On a daily basis, I swifter. About every two weeks I clean them either with the Bruce Cleaner or vinegar rinse.....For Pergo - I swifter daily AT LEAST and then do spot cleaning with just warm water....

    Bookmark   August 8, 2007 at 8:50AM
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I have laminate flooring (love love love it!) I vacuum it most of the time. I use a hardwood floor mop like this:

occasionally. I have a spray bottle with a 1/2 cup vinegar, remainder water and slight amount of Murphy's oil soap in it, and I spray the floor, then use mop on it. The floor never gets very wet and ends up almost completely dry.

There are those who recommend against vinegar and oil soap for wood floors. The oil soap amount is small, and I haven't had any problems with the vinegar (which is also small in this recipe). There are commercial products on the market if you want to go that route -- this one has worked for me.

Jean Marie

    Bookmark   August 8, 2007 at 10:09AM
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I have solid wood flooring-

Daily-floors get vac. with a stick vac.

Bi-Weekly- mopped with hot water and pine sol using a libman wonder mop

Bi-weekly (alternating)- I run the Scooba with Scooba solution

Weekly- I use a quick shine floor wax (holloway house) It is really hard to find here and I buy all they have when I find it. It works great- the floors have a beautiful shine and it doesn't buildup.

Small spills are treated immediately with paper towels and if I just waxed I just use an old cloth diaper and wax that spot.

Jean Marie- I like the Murphy's oil soap and it works great- but DH hates the smell.

Tish-if you're floors are streaky- make sure you are getting all the dirt up prior to mopping, use a good mop that is damp (not too wet) and make sure the mop water is changed frequently. Rule of thumb-if the water looks dirty- it is- change it.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2007 at 6:20PM
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I have a steam mop. It is wonderful on wood floors and they do not get the floors "wet'. The steam dampens it and evaporates quickly, dry in a minute..the worse thing you can do is "wet" wood . I clean all my floors in minutes, doesn't break your back and they are squeaky clean and sanitized ( type in steam mop in search bar on ebay, they are hard to find in stores. (I have the "Homeworks" one ) stay away from Bissell ..never heard any thing good about that brand. The Lysol brand wants you to use their cleaner..stay away from these two- all you need in it is just water.
I also have the hoover floor mate. I put vinegar and a few drops of lemon juice (great mix for wood floors) in place of their cleaner..I love that also.( nearly every room in our house is wood floors) Both of these products are made for hard wood floors, but also works great on tile and other surfaces. hope this was of some help!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2007 at 7:05PM
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What type of finish do U have? All of the advice given here R about "Polly" finished floors. I think most posters R by far younger than I and I am 54. I grew up in the days when U could not use water. My mother was nuts and we had to clean & wax them twice a year. We had Parquet and Oak. This was a total pain!!! U had to clean them with Bruce cleaner, open all of the windows, as U would not B able to take the fumes, then hand apply the paste wax, being Butcher's or Bowling Alley wax. The cleaner would be applied with pads of the finest steel wool #0000, I think, and then had to be wiped up. Then go outside and get some fresh air. Now we would apply the wax. We just took a handfull of wax and placed it into a nylon stocking. Warm it in your hand and go to it. Let it dry and then buff it off with a floor machine with bruhses and the with the lambs wool buffing pads. The dog could not walk and all guests entered at their own risk. Unless U have this type of floor anything will do as U R dealing with plastic. It is just like a Formica counertop. They have never had floors like I just described and never will. I will never have them again as my entire home is covered in white carpet. I have covered all hardwood with this in the last 3 homes. I would never do it any other way and no 1 takes their shoes off on my request. They all do as they all have white carpet so there is no need to worry. That is just the school of thinking. Just deal with this as plastic and don't flood it with water and U will B fine. I clean 4 a living and they pay me big $$ for what I know.

Get a good canister vac 2 do the day 2 day. i can't believe what people think is $$$ on this site!

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2007 at 8:34PM
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I live in an 80 year old house with the original oak floors and an added family room with new Bruce floor.
I have lived all my life but for about 12 years with wood floors....they are really no big deal!
Just dry mop them....I sure don't mop every day!! But amybe once a week...
I just use a dist mop fo a dry swiffer....if they are dirty I use a little ( VERY little vinegar water....I just spritz a little on the dust mop and swish.
I do remember the days of Bruce prefinished floors...not the old shellac finish....and I did the twice a year wax and polish thing....but the really old shellac floors are really nicer and easier...
I sure wouldn't be using any steam mop on my floors!
Linda C

    Bookmark   August 8, 2007 at 10:58PM
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This forum is to share with others in what we use and works for us. Not to put down what someone else may use, if you personally wouldn't use it, that should be kept to your self. Everyone has their own method in what they prefer to use, it may not be what someone else may prefer, but we are not here to be critics, just to share and be helpful to others. My house is a 120 year old victorian with original wood floors in most of the house. They have all been refinished , they are beautiful and clean. They never dulled or have any type of damage from the steam mop, it's tried and true . So you can keep "disting" and I'll keep steaming.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2007 at 8:48AM
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I use a Pledge dry mop a few times a week to pick up all the dust, dog and cat hair. I wash the floors with warm water and vinegar and a few drops of Dawn. The floors are clean and shiny. I use a rag type mop that I saw a cleaning crew I had in use. I think it's Jiffy brand, from HD. You can wash the mop head and ring it out really well before using on the floor. I found the Murphy's left a film on my floors. I have a water based, satin finish on mine, no poly.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 2:50PM
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Try Bona Kemp or Zep, you can buy it from Lowes. Vinegar is not good for your fllor.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2008 at 10:27AM
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I have prefinished hardwood floors. I vacuum weekly with a canister vac, then clean them with a dust mop and spray hardwood floor cleaner by Zep that I buy at Home Depot. This is what the installer recommended when I had them put in a few years ago, and they look great.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2008 at 5:48PM
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As eteinne has aready written, your choice for cleaning products depends on the type of finish you have on your floors. A product that is great for one type of finish would be a disaster for another - you don't want to ever apply wax to a floor finished with polyurethane. Here is a link to help you figure out your floor's finish.

I vacuum my floors with the floor brush attachment. I seldom mop it, I mostly just spot clean with water. I use runners in the hallways.

Here is a link that might be useful: Floor finishes

    Bookmark   January 1, 2008 at 6:20PM
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I vacuum daily, because as you notice, every bit of dust and lint (and pet hair) shows up on wood floors. I used to mop only with a slightly damp mop and a weak bleach and water solution, and once every so often I used a spray-on wood floor cleaner. I decided to try a steam mop and now it is the only thing I use after vacuuming, and my floors gleem like they never did with my previous cleaning method. The steam mop is safe for my particular floors. I have the Shark brand, which does not leave any wetness on the floors at all.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 7:23AM
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Mine are finished with polyurethane and I vacuum them with the floor brush on my cannister and clean them with a steam cleaner. I've been doing this for 14 years without any problems.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 5:49PM
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I have polyurethane coated oak floors. I vacuum regularly. My Miele vacuum cleaner has a HEPA filter that catches a lot more of the dust that a vacuum cleaner without it. Miele is expensive, but there are others with a HEPA filter that are reasonably priced. I also damp mop the floors with Murphy's Oil. It's okay to use this if your floors have polyurethane coating, so check to make sure. With Murphy's Oil, you need to wring out the mop as much as possible. I find the floors dry in a couple of minutes and look clean and crisp. One other thing: if your house has a forced air heating/AC system, you should consider using quality filters of the type that are endorsed by the American Lung Association. They're costly, but they last 3 months and really keep the air in your house (and your lungs), much cleaner.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 11:14AM
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Suprised to see this thread again. I replied back in the summer that I use vinegar water to clean the floors after using the dry swifter.
Now I have the Shark steam mop. I do use the dry wipe Swifter almost every day, it is shocking how much dust gas forced hot air puts out onto your floors. And I now use the Shark twice a week. Way faster than mopping, and the floors dry almost instantly.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 12:27PM
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Some have posted to Murphey's oil, that will cause a build up and when you go to refinish your floor you will have major problems.

Steam cleaners do great, but can and will cause damage in the seams. Think about steam is being shot and high pressure at your floor.

Bleach and vinegar are no good for wood at all.
Here is a link and the post to common hardwood myths.

Damp mopping is the best way to clean a wood floor.
To the contrary, water and wood do not mix. Throw away that bucket and mop! Water causes deterioration of the wood itself, as well as the finish. Use maintenance products and procedures that will not harm your urethane finish.

Kitchen floor cleaner with vinegar, ammonia, or abrasive cleaners are the best products to use when cleaning my floor.
Never use these kinds of cleaners, as they can dull and damage your hardwood floors and void warranties. Use products safe for urethane finishes.

It is always best to use my vacuum with a rotating brush to remove grit and debris from my wood floor.
While weekly vacuuming is important for removing dirt and grit, a special hard surface brush tool should be used.

A beater bar with a hard bristle brush can scratch your hardwood.

Wood floors require a lot of time and effort to maintain them.
Unlike other types of floor coverings, hardwood floors can be kept looking like new with a minimum amount of effort. Never damp mop your floor. Use only products designed for wood floors. Just spray and dry mop across the floor.

I have heard the oil-soaps are the best way to clean my wood floor.
Soaps will leave a harmful yellow film causing the finish to alligator and crack.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 12:50PM
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I use Parker and Bailey wood floor cleaner from Bed, Bath and Beyond with a terry cloth mop head. I have pre-finished Brazilian Cherry. I do use a damp, well wrung out mop head.

I have tried the "spray and wipe" cleaners with the mop head being dry -- they do not clean the spots, drips and marks on my dark floor, especially since my hardwood is is the kitchen. Having the terry cloth mop head slightly damp makes all the difference.

I hope I am not harming my floor but I won't be around in 50 years to find out anyway.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 9:15AM
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I love the Parker & Bailey Furniture Creme (That is what it says on the outside of the container) and was unaware that they made a floor cleaner. They have been around since 1819! My question to you is have you experienced any change in the color of the floor since it has been exposed to sunlight? This is a top of the line home and everything is the top of the line as the husband builds for a living and he can get it at cost. The floors are a mess and 20 changes of color as to N/S/E/W sun exposure. Open a closet door and the closet floor is the original color. This drives me crazy! I did tell the wife not to put this in as this is not the blonde floors from the 50'S! It show all of the flaws. Then they had 2 Weimereiners. I know that is not the correct spelling but they slobber all over the floors! I would be on my hands and knees knocking the dog slobber off these floors with a old credit card as I could not flood them with water. They had to put them down as they were old. That has knocked 2 hours of the cleaning of the house!

Now to all of you who use the "Starfiber" mop. There is a new mop head out there that works better the the Original. I found it 2 years ago and would not order it as they stated that it was more abraisive. I didn't want to damage the floors in the houses which I cleaned so I never ordered it. Last winter I was out in Palm Springs and they were selling Starfiber in some open air market. I was able to see it first hand and purchased a dozen. They were so cheap! I think $2.50! The loops are longer and clean better. It is much easier to push as these are not so dense where the pad hits the floor. You just realy have to wring them dry. Roll them from end to end and squeeze as hard as you are able. Turn it inside out and repeat the process. They are great! I don't have to use the old credit cards any more!!! It saves the knees! LOL

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 8:56PM
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eteinne -- my floors are prefinished Brazilian Cherry (Bellawood) -- they are dark and shiny and show every drip, scuff, scratch and crumb. They did darken after we put them in but stopped probably after a year. They are still darker under my front door rug but really -- who cares? If it bothered me I could just leave the rug up until the floor underneath "caught up".

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 6:43PM
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I have real hard wood floors but it has no shiny top coat or sealant. I know I can't soak it in water but I am thinking of getting a steam mop. I've read not to get bissell brand or lysol brand steam mop. Is a steam mop a good idea for my floors with no sealent? I run a home daycare and I just want to clean and sanitize them once a week.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 9:50AM
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hi everyone, i have been refinishing floors for 27 years and i am going to give you some good advice. i use both oil and water based finishes on my floors, both of these finishes should be cleaned with what i have found to be the best product which is polycare, it leaves no build up or streaks, no residue and its safe for recoating your floors when they need another coat of finish. murphys oil soap is prob one of the worse you can use along with any cleaners that say they restore your finish. its leaving a residue on the floor which will cause major problems with re coating down the road . these products also dull and leave a sticky residue on your floors. trust me and use this product, polycare by absolute coatings.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 8:11PM
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Can I use a little bleach in water to clean my HARDWOOD FLORS?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 2:57PM
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Hi: Just remodeled and had our original oak floors refinished and used a water based poly finish. For the first twenty years were in the house I tried lots of product, but everything left residue. I ended up damp mopping with good results. I have been using a Oreck steam mop for the past six months and I am delighted. Bona is OK for spot clean up but does not really get the floors clean.

I am going to try Polycare.

Thanks to all of the gardenweb saved me from a lot of mistakes on my remodel!!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 7:43PM
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I have wood floors throughout my house and maintain them by vacuuming once a week and (barely) damp mopping it occasionally. I do not have pets and my family takes their shoes off when they come in the house, so it cuts down on actual dirt being brought in.

About dust--I have had an air cleaner on my heating and air conditioner for many years and it really helps. I could go a month without dusting furniture. Floors do need a weekly vacuuming or Swiffer. I also use the
Miele vacuum which doesn't expel all the dust it picks up like some others.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 4:01AM
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Maintenance of wood floors is every bit as important as the installation and finishing processes. Keeping it clean by sweeping daily is the first task to help any floor look its best. Before cleaning your wooden floor, you have to know first what kind of wood it is. If you now it already, you can go to the shops and ask if what type of cleaner suits your floor. That way, you can assure the protection of your floor and you can make it look new as well.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 4:55AM
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I have hand wiped my newly installed Swedish finished red oak floors about 5 times now with a hand towel moistened with Murphey's Oil Soap and water. The floors look great but I didn't realize I was changing the nature of the wood making any future repairs difficult. Is there anything I can do at this point to correct the damage? I feel like I really messed up! Any help appreciated!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 8:51PM
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One thing I never use is Murphy's Soap. It smells nice but it makes the wood floors very slippery. I was skating around for a week after using Murphy's. Now I use Bona products, on my hands and knees. Labor intensive but a little goes a long way. I had my two SILS over for dinner the day after using Bona and they thought I had had my floors re-finished, they were so shiny!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 9:11AM
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This thread has me totally confused;
use water, dont use water,
use Murphys, dont use Murphys,
use steam, don't use steam,
use vinegar, dont use vinegar.

There may be more, I can't read it all again just to get more confused.

1 Like    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 11:08AM
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I've had wood (oak with poly) for over 25 yrs in two houses. I love the look of hardwood, always vacume (when children younger more often than now), and damp mopped. Over the years I have used Boniva products and found them adiquate. My problem is since I updated my kitchen, I have hardwood in there too. I never feel the floor is clean enough, I'm afraid of using steam on it since it's a floating floor and the steam is sure to get into he cracks. The floor looks clean, I sweep and use boniva daily (with vibrating mop). Ir looks clean, anything that get's on it I try to take off immediately, I go by hand once a week around the perimiter of the floor since my back/knees don't allow me to wash my kitchen on hands and knees any more. Any suggestions for better kitchen cleaner for a Bamboo Strand Floating Floor will be appreciated.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 9:45AM
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Speed up the cleaning process by first dusting the floor with a mop that has been treated with a dusting agent to pick up dust, dirt, and pet hair that might scratch the floor surface. For weekly or biweekly cleaning, vacuum with a floor-brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner or an electric broom. Do not use a vacuum with a beater bar attachment, which can scratch a wood floor's finish. For quick dusting, use disposable electrostatic cloths, available at grocery and discount stores. Save money by using both sides of the disposable cloths.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 2:27AM
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My tried and true method: I first use a dust mop (I do the dry dust few times a week) About every 6 weeks I use a tea brew, it nourishes wood (Google it) I brew Lipton tea bags, let it cool, put in a bucket, wet and wring a rag and go over a area and then with another rag dry the area. Yes, a bit f work but what a shining clean result!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 10:40AM
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Valerie Emmerich

We have hardwood floors throughout our whole apartment and recently got a wood floor in the kitchen. Love, love, love it! It's like my baby :-) I sweep every day, use the Swiffer vac a few times a week (which combines the vacuuming with the pad that collects all the yucky dust and hair), and damp mop (barely even damp) on my hands and knees about once or twice a week. And spot clean as necessary. That's it. No vinegar or special products. That's what our floor guy advised.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 3:25PM
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I have lots of wood floors, just did them, easy!, and they shine! This is what I do: I use one of the push soft dusters around and get it clean. I brew 2 bags of Lipton tea, let it cool (Use a big not huge pot) pour it in a bucket, I immerse a torn athletic tee shirt and wring it out and get down on my knees and do areas as the fan blows that area. No rinsing or drying needed, tea nourishes wood. They look beautiful.
Linda Hagelstien

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 4:49PM
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I bet the tannin in the tea has something to do with tea-cleaned floors looking so good.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 11:58PM
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My daughter ruined her hardwood floors with a steam cleaner but she may have been using it wrong.
I always use a shammy mop, they wring out almost dry. I also put just a very small amount of Murphy oil soap in my water, it has never hurt my oak floors.
The trick is vacuum very well, very little soap and the shammy wrung out as dry as you can.
These big cotton mops are too hard to wring out and will put to much water on your floors.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2014 at 2:31AM
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Lorraine Miller

I have laminate floors, however dirt has built up. I don't know whether to try to get something that will lift the first, scrub small spots at a time because of the build up of dirt stains. I cannot get my husband to understand taking off shoes at front door. There is a build up of old wax and dirt. Is there anything I can use to loosen the dirt, then clean the floor. When I use products it gives the shine, but I don't think the floors are really clean. I would love to find a product that stripes the floor and then put a sine on it. Any suggestions

    Bookmark   November 5, 2014 at 10:00AM
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First, mop the floors that has dirt. But for overall hard floors, a canister vacuum can make your cleaning life easier and faster.

There are various canister available in the market now, choose the one that are recommended here:

Here is a link that might be useful: top canister vacuum recommendations

    Bookmark   November 25, 2014 at 11:18PM
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