We want to share something we have learned as landlords for more than two decades now. At first, whenever tenants would move we would replace the flooring. It was expensive. Every time we had a vacancy we knew we had to budget $2-4k to have the carpet replaced or the hardwood floors refinished.
But then we figured out it’s easier and much less expensive to just clean them. Not just any cleaning will do for floors. To get hardwood floors to look new again, you need to know a few tricks beyond just vacuuming or mopping.
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How to Properly Clean Your Wood Floors
Wood floors are often prone to wear and tear, particularly in areas with high traffic. Just like other things in your home, it’s best to keep on top of cleaning your wood floors regularly. Routinely cleaning your wood floors is much more straightforward than restoring wood flooring.
Your hardwood floors should be vacuumed at least once a week and mopped every one to two months. High traffic areas should be cleaned more frequently. Try to develop a regular cleaning schedule that makes sense.
How To Clean Hardwood Floors
- Vacuum the entire floor
- Mop the floor with a hardwood floor cleaner spray.
- Spray a small area at a time and then pick up the dissolved dirt with a damp microfiber cloth floor mop.
- Work around the entire floor, focussing on a small area.
- If you notice any patches that need a quick touch-up, clean these areas with a damp paper towel and then wipe dry.
The above steps are for routine cleaning. But you already knew to clean wood floors you need to vacuum and mop. Below are the tricks we have used over the years when cleaning hardwood floors. Anytime a tenant moved out, we had a new puzzle to solve.
When trying any of the below, be sure to test in a closest or low-traffic area. Vinegar, lemon juice, and other chemicals are usually fine, but in some cases, they may damage your floor.
How to clean cracks in hardwood floors
Old wood floors and poorly installed hardwood are prone to cracks that trap dust. Cracked wood may get worse when moisture drops for periods and the wood will dry out quickly.
Combine 2 cups hot water with 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar. Dip a soft toothbrush into the liquid and rub it into the cracks. Then let it dry.
Should I steam-clean hardwood floors
A steam mop is excellent for cleaning bare nonporous surfaces including sheet vinyl tiles, polished concrete, and marble. High humidity and excessive moisture can cause hardwood floors to fade with time.
If you’re planning on using a steam mop ensure that the wood floor has been properly sealed. Keep it in the lowest temperature setting and avoid creating “steam bursts” while working. Do not leave the mop anywhere.
As parents of 3 little kids, Force of Nature is our go-to all purpose cleaner. It's nontoxic but is EPA approved for use against Covid-19.
We love vinegar, but we use Force of Nature every day.
How to Clean Pet Urine From Wood Flooring
All pet owners know that accidents can happen from time to time. A pet urine mess and a foul odor can leave some unsightly black marks on your beautiful wood floor. Pet mess should be dealt with quickly to prevent it from becoming a much worse problem. Pet stains that have set in a while are much harder to get out.
clean pet urine from hardwood floors
To remove the odor, combine one cup of vinegar in a large bucket of water and a few drops of grapefruit oil. Scrub the floor with this safe cleaning solution, concentrating on the most visible spots. The odor and stains should fade as you scrub.
For a deeper pet urine remover, add vinegar and elbow grease to the mix.
- Before the treatment, blot up any excess urine still on the wood’s surface.
- Take white vinegar and mix it with warm water and a few drops of grapefruit oil to help eliminate the foul odor.
- Scrub the floor with this solution, concentrating on the areas where the urine is most prominent.
- As you scrub, you should see the stain start to disappear.
- Once the stain is gone, wipe it with clean water.
- Buff the floor dry with a clean, dry towel.
We are big fans of cleaning with vinegar. That’s why we wrote 50+ Uses for Vinegar – Home, office, car, garden, beauty, health, and pets.
How to Clean Wine Stains From Wood Flooring
Although panic may occur when you accidentally spill wine on your wood floor, there is no need to worry. You can clean a wine stain from your wood floor with a simple, natural solution. When it comes to wine stains, you won’t need to resort to harsh chemicals to remove the stain, even if it’s red wine.
Take the below steps to clean a wine stain from your wood floor:
- Get some table salt from the kitchen and pour a generous amount over the wine stain.
- Allow the salt to rest for around 10 minutes. The salt will absorb some of the stains, lift the surface wine, and help raise it out of the wood grain.
- After 10 minutes, remove the salt and mix a solution of one part baking soda with two parts grated pumice. Mix this with some lemon oil until it creates a paste.
- Work the paste mixture into the stain and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, wipe the mixture away.
- Continue the above steps until the stain is completely gone.
If the above doesn’t work try using hydrogen peroxide. Cover the stain for six to eight hours with a clean cloth that has been soaked in hydrogen peroxide. We recommend testing this in a closet area first to make sure the hydrogen peroxide doesn’t ruin the floor.
How to Clean Blood From Wood Flooring
It’s best to deal with a blood stain as soon as possible before it can set into the wood grain.
Take the steps below to remove a blood stain from your wood flooring:
- Blot the excess blood from the floor with a paper towel or dry cloth.
- Sprinkle the stained area with some baking soda.
- Dip a brush into some white vinegar and use this to gently scrub the stain.
- Once you’ve finished washing, wipe the area with a clean, dry cloth.
How to Clean Curry Stains From Wood Flooring
A curry spillage can leave a strong odor and yellow discoloration. The best way to treat curry stains is to use products and techniques that help cut through the grease and grime while removing the discoloration.
Take the steps below to remove a curry stain from your wood flooring:
- Blot any curry from the surface of your hardwood floor with paper towels or a soft cloth.
- Add around 1 Cup of warm water to a bucket and mix with around 1/3 Cup of white vinegar and about 1/2 Tablespoon of dishwashing detergent. This will create a stain-lifting and grease-cutting solution.
- Dip a sponge into the solutions and wring it out to remove any excess moisture.
- Wash the wood floor with your homemade cleaning solution. Rinse the sponge periodically. Repeat the process until the stain is lifted.
- Take a clean cloth and dampen it a little with some warm water.
- Rinse the area by wiping it with a damp cloth.
- Use a clean, dry towel to buff the area dry.
How to Remove Scuffs From Hardwood Floors
Dirt is only sometimes the main problem with hardwood floors. When you move your furniture around or when you wear your shoes indoors, this could cause some scuffs on the floor surface. Luckily, these can easily be rubbed off with a bit of elbow grease.
To remove lighter scuffs from your hardwood floors, buff them with a sock or a clean tennis ball. This will help to buff the scuff away.
If the scuff is heavier, apply some baking soda to a damp cloth and gently rub it until it is removed. Rinse the area with a damp paper towel and then buff it dry with a clean cloth or towel.
You can also buy wax crayons to match common wood floor finishes.
Tips For Keeping Your Hardwood Floors Cleaner
Remove Your Shoes
When you remove your shoes at the door, this eliminates all of the chances of tracked-in dirt becoming an issue on your wood floors. Not only is the dirt an issue here. Grit and other types of dirt on shoes can be abrasive, leading to scratches on your floor over time.
This type of dirt can be a big problem on hardwood floors, so it’s best to prevent it altogether by removing your shoes as soon as you walk through the door.
Vacuuming can help remove dirt and debris from the cracks and crevices in your hardwood floor. A canister vacuum cleaner is the best choice as these tend to have a long, oval floor brush that can be used to reach small places.
If you have an upright vacuum, always turn off the rotating brush before vacuuming your wood floor, as the bristles may scratch the floor’s surface.
Many vacuums have a special floor brush attachment.
Clean Spills Immediately
Spills happen. However, you can control when you clean them up. If you let a spill dry on the floor, this will dull the finish of your floor and may attract additional dirt.
Be sure to blot spills up immediately with a cloth capable of absorbing the spillage. Follow that up with a damp paper towel to remove any remaining residue, and then buff it dry with a clean cloth or towel. Dry any standing water immediately. Too much moisture ruins wood.
Buy An Area Rug
Area rugs are an easy way to protect your floors. We have three little kids so we had area rugs made out of carpet laminate. After the kids stop spilling stuff we’ll probably toss out the rugs. But for now they are protecting the floors.
What Not to Use on Wood Flooring
When it comes to cleaning your wood flooring, there are several things that you shouldn’t do. Some products or methods may damage your wood flooring or leave marks behind, so it’s important to be careful when choosing products to use on your wood floor.
Avoid using waxes, oils, or furniture sprays on your wood flooring. Wax can take a long time to apply and make re-coating difficult. The oil leaves behind a residue. Furniture spray can make your hardwood floor slippery, posing health and safety risks.
Avoid using any alkaline products, abrasive cleaners, or straight ammonia. These can dull or scratch the surface of your wood floor, leaving it looking unsightly.
Hardwood Floors Are Made To Last
Hardwood floors are very durable. They can last a long time without needing to be replaced. Often times they don’t even need to be refinished. The key is to clean wood floors regularly and to know the above tricks.
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Erin is the mother of identical twin girls and their slightly older brother. She is a domestic engineer, and previously had a career leading customer service teams for a major HVAC company. Cleaning without harsh chemicals, and cooking easy and usually healthy meals are part of Erin's daily life. She volunteers with youth leaders, and genuinely wants to help others win. Erin has a degree in Communications, with a focus on Broadcast Journalism.