Hardwood Cleaning Tips to Make Your Floors Shine
Hardwood cleaning can be difficult, when a nice sheen on your hardwood floors is what you are aiming for, it can sometimes feel impossible. This feels especially applicable when the ‘tried and true’ methods either leave you with a layer of ammonia water drying on the floor, or force you to go back over the cleaned floor with a dry rag. Now while this will get your floors clean, it might not always restore the glossy surface that shows off the beautiful grain of your floor. We want to use a product that not only cleans off the surface of the floor, but restores the glossy look of the original varnish.
My preferred cleaner that I use on the job is Bruce® Hardwood & Laminate Floor Cleaner, although some people might not like using it because of the perceived harm of chemicals such as 2-Propanol, or Ethylene Glycol Monobutyl Ether. Well I’m here to tell you these complicated chemicals aren’t nearly as bad as you would think! For starters, this ’2-Propanol’ is really just everyday Isopropyl alcohol, and in hardwood cleaning applications, this is extremely useful (and safe) in the dissolving of oils, gums, and resins that have been deposited onto your floor from normal everyday use. Ethylene Glycol Monobutyl Ether, whose proper chemical name is simply 2-Butoxyethanol, is also not nearly as hazardous as the name sounds, as it is used in such applications as paints, inks, leather protectors, oil dispersants, degreasers, liquid soaps, cosmetics, lacquers and varnishes. The combination of the 2-Propanol and 2-Butoxyethanol in Bruce® Floor Cleaner allows us to not only strip the oils and resins off the surface of the floor (with the 2-Propanol), but restore a nice shine to the floor as if you had applied a new layer of varnish (with the 2-Butoxyethanol).
Now, Bruce® is not the only brand of floor cleaner that uses these two chemicals, and those are not the only two chemicals that will give us the desired results, but it is one that is widely available, and the one that I use out on the job cleaning houses. I use a 5 step method in hardwood cleaning, repeating each step as necessary before moving onto the next:
- Sweep the floor with a regular broom to get the bigger debris off the surface.
- Re-sweep the floor, focusing most of your time on the cracks between floorboards and the edges around the baseboards. At this point: TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF! This keeps you from tracking dirt and debris back across the floor.
- Wipe entire floor with dry cloth, or use a microfiber dust mop to get the fine particulate matter off the wood surface
- Spray a small amount of floor (about 5 feet wide and 2 feet deep from where I stand) with Bruce Hardwood & Laminate Floor Cleaner or similar hardwood cleaning solution
- Wipe with a microfiber or cloth mop (NOT a ‘wet mop’) WITH THE GRAIN OF THE FLOOR, always moving your body backward, so you never step on the newly wiped areas. This way even if there are streaks on the floor when it dries, it will only blend in with the grain of the floor, and there will be no foot prints anywhere on the floor!
After using your new technique for hardwood cleaning, and before walking on, or using the floor, you will want to wait for it to dry (only 10-15 minutes, as there is very little liquid on the floor) at which point the floor will still be quite slick, but dry to the touch. At this point if you turn the lights on in the room and get down near the floor you can see the glossy finish that you just restored, and check for areas that you either missed the first time around or areas that need extra attention.
Hardwood cleaning can be difficult when you do not have a plan, but with these steps your floors will retain their shine and be less prone to scratches! With only a few minutes of hardwood cleaning a week, your floors will remind you that a beautiful home starts from the baseboards up.
Also see http://www.scribd.com/doc/200630232/Hardwood-Floor-Cleaning-Tips-From-a1clean-net-Blog