How do I keep my wood floors clean?

This is a question that everyone asks.  One of the most important aspects in keeping hardwood clean is that however you clean, you can at least “see” what needs to be cleaned.   I don’t know how many times we’ve taken up carpet in a home, only to find a ton of dirt in and under the carpet and even sandy grit under the carpet pad.  I’ve even had some homeowners comment that they vacuum their carpets daily, and are shocked when this dirt is still in and under the carpet.   I’ve never looked at any of this stuff with a microscope, but I have to believe that is is full of “dust mites” and all kinds of other critters that can’t be good for your health.  Most allergy doctors now recommend that the first thing you should do with a child that has allergy problems, is to remove the carpet from their room and install hardwood flooring.

The most important thing about having hardwood floors and keeping them clean is to first remove all the loose dirt.  Dirt is basically finely ground rocks or basically “sandpaper”.   When this gets ground against the finish on the floor, it acts just like sandpaper.  This is how scratches start to form.  It’s always good to provide shoe cleaning mats outside and just inside the doors.  Better yet, don’t wear your outside shoes in the house.  Even tennis shoes can pick up nails, staples, tacks, or even gravels that can easily scratch a wood floor if you move just right.   For removing the loose dirt and grime, basic sweeping is better than nothing, or better yet, Vacuum the floors with a canister vacuum with a horse hair brush.

When spot or general cleaning is required, a floor cleaner is necessary.  For years we recommended a cleaner made by Bona and our customers have gone thru hundreds of bottles of Bona cleaner and microfiber mops in the last 16 years. It is a very good product, but is now rather expensive as a 32 Ounce bottle of cleaner is now priced at about $9.00 and you can go thru a bottle of cleaner in a couple good floor cleanings.  It is still an excellent product however, and everyone that we do a hardwood flooring project for gets a cleaning kit made by Bona with a bottle of cleaner, mop and cover.

I had a customer tell me about how they had cleaned the wood floors in their previous home with Shaklee’s basic H for years and how great it was. Of course I had heard of Shaklee for years and I think my wife had even had a bottle or two of the Basic H in the past, but she had never used it on the floor.

We were just about out of our own floor cleaner and so I thought I would order a bottle and give it a try. My goodness, was I impressed!! Just 1/4 of a teaspoon of Basic H in 16 OZ of water makes a great floor cleaner. You heard me right……1/4 Teaspoon!! One 16 Ounce of Basic H2 will make an incredible 192 Quarts of cleaner!! You’ll probably never need another bottle for your floors, but you may want to use it on other things too….It’s pretty cool stuff. And yes I know that Shaklee is a multi-level marketing company, but you don’t have to peddle the stuff to buy and use it. You can buy Basic H2 without joining anything…..Just try the product, it’s great. They have a spray bottle kit also which gives you 3 different bottles for mixing different concentrations….one for glass, one for general cleaning (this is for floors), and one for a degreaser.   This is the least expensive floor cleaner that I know of.

So the Bona Cleaner works great, and the Basic H works great also.

We do not recommend Murphy’s Oil Soap, or certain “Orange” cleaners on the floor.  Certain “over the counter” products can contain wax, and wax is something that you do not want on a wood floor that has been finished with a urethane finish.  Waxes will prevent floors from being “re-coated” down the road, because the finish will not stick to the floors that have had wax applied.  This will necessitate a complete sand and refinish.  Also, watch out for products called “refreshers” which are either very watered down “water based” finish or finish that has certain waxes.  These products will make your floor look good for a very short time, but will probably cause problems down the road.

Finally, if you have granite countertops, when you do a re-seal on them, be careful not to over-spray the sealer onto the wood floor.  Most of these sealers have silicone products, which act on the wood floor the same way as waxes, and may prevent a re-coat down the road.


To download our printable Wood Floor Care Guide in PDF format Click here.