How to Clean Hardwood Floors

How to Clean Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are beautiful. They make a statement and are particularly easy to clean and maintain, compared to other floor types. Cleaning and maintaining your hardwood floors regularly can ensure they last longer. Here are the steps for how to do just that:

Cleaning Hardwood Floors

  1. Give your floor a thorough sweep with a soft broom with fine bristles to get the small detritus and dust out of the way. You can also use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment.
  2. Use a very dry damp mop when cleaning your hardwood floors. You can use a mixture of half a cup of vinegar to a gallon of water. If you’re worried about leaving a smell, don’t worry: vinegar will not leave any odor after it has dried. You can also use lemon oil for stains and more shine.
  3. Use only a minimal amount of water, and make sure to dry the floor up quickly, especially with the older type of hardwood floors. The older type of hardwood floors don’t have the polyurethane seal that keeps out wood-damaging water.
  4. Use a floor polisher for that extra shine. You should also wax regularly to make sure that the hardwood floors are always sealed. Mop up spills immediately to prevent stains or damage to the hardwood floors.


Removing Stains and Spills

There are different methods for you to remove different kinds of stains. Since you are dealing with hardwood floor types, it’s best that you use cleaning agents that will not cause too much damage with the hardwood material.

  • For blood, you can simply use cold water, and for tougher-to-remove blood stains, you can use a bit of ammonia in the water.
  • Lipstick stains can be removed with a mixture of detergent and warm water, using light pressure with a scouring pad.
  • Liquor or alcohol stains can be treated with a cloth dampened with cold water with detergent. You can also alternate the water with another cloth dampened with denatured alcohol.
  • To remove grease, you must first cause it to congeal by using a disposable cold press or a bag of frozen vegetables, like peas. Scrape it off with a dull knife or a bread knife. If there is any residue left, put a rag on top of the grease stain and iron it carefully for the cloth to absorb the grease fully.
  • For ink, warm water and detergent will usually do the trick. If not, commercial ink removers are available in most home supplies shops.
  • Dye can be removed with a solution of 1:3 bleach and water. Do not soak the area.
  • Crayon marks can be removed using mineral spirits. If this does not work, try using toothpaste and rubbing against the marks using a dry rag.
  • Remove fruit stains with a mixture of warm water and detergent. You can also use a solution of water and oxalic acid to rub against the stain.
  • Scuff marks can be removed by a pencil eraser. For stubborn scuff stains, use a fine steel wool with floor liquid wax. Rub gently until the stains are removed.
  • To treat oil spills on your floor, immediately try to soak up the spill using newspapers or paper towels. You should then cover the spill area with a cloth saturated with a dry cleaning fluid for around five minutes. Wipe dry and clean the rest up with detergent.
  • Shoe polish spills can be removed by rubbing a fine steel wool gently against the spill until it is completely removed.
  • If a tar spill is your problem, you should first apply a disposable cold compress or a bag of frozen vegetables to the spill, to make it solid and brittle. Gently scrape it off with a plastic spatula. For the remaining stain, use a detergent.
  • To remove pet urine, soak up the spill using newspapers and towels. Immediately rub the area with a hot damp cloth and scouring powder. Use a 10:1 solution of bleach and water for stubborn stains, and since you are using bleach, make sure that you rinse well with clean water, as bleach can discolor your wood, especially if it seeps through the hardwood’s finish. You can also use vinegar if you do not wish to use bleach.

For any kind of spill and stain, you must make sure that you thoroughly rinse and dry the area. Make sure the area is completely dried and not left to air-dry. If the process of cleaning has stripped off the hardwood’s finish, recoat with the finish or wax.


Posted in DIY
how to refinish hardwood floors

How to Refinish Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are a beautiful addition to any home, but they can wear out after some years, losing their lustrous appearance. When this happens, you can refinish the floors to bring back their shine.

What You’ll Need:

  • Wide brooms
  • Light and heavy sandpaper variety
  • Brushes
  • Polyurethane finish
  • Floor sanders and edger
  • Rags
  • Vacuum
  • Wood stain
  • Gloves
  • Rollers (preferably long-handled types)
  • Trash bags
  • Masking tape


You have to prepare the floor and the whole room before you start this. Really read this check list to understand the amount of work involved, it will help you plan out your job as far as time needed. Here are some tips:

  • Clear the room. Furniture, wall hangings, rugs, carpet, décor, and window treatments must all be gone.
  • Cover your light fixtures with trash bags and masking tape.
  • Shoe moulding must also be removed, but baseboards can stay, unless you plan on replacing them.
  • Vent ducts, electrical outlets and light switches must be taped.
  • Seal the room from other areas of the house by hanging up plastic sheeting. Cracks under doors must be covered with masking tape.
  • To remove debris and dirt, vacuum the floor before you begin sanding.
  • See if there are tacks, carpet staples and nails and remove them. They can rip the sandpaper and ruin the sheet.

Sandingsanding a wood floor

To bring back the grain and level the floor, you’ll have to sand it properly. You’ll need to do several passes, to get a smooth finish. Before you begin, properly ventilate the room by opening a window.

  1. Rent a drum sander from an equipment rental shop. It’s large and noisy, but very efficient, since it can remove plenty of material quickly. Remember that you can easily gouge the floor with this tool, so be careful. Start it while it’s not in contact with the floor or tilted. If it’s your first time to use it, try it on a sheet of plywood first. Keep it moving, working slowly, but allowing the machine to do its job.
  2. Start sanding while in the middle of the room. Make sure you sand with the grain, going from one end of the room to another. You can overlap passes by one or two inches. Repeat the procedure on the other part of the room, sanding the whole center.
  3. When you’re through with the main floor area, use an edge sander to sand the areas the drum sander didn’t reach. A detail sander or hand sand can help you reach corners.
  4. When you’re done with the whole floor, vacuum and repeat the process with a smaller grit sandpaper. Vacuum in between sandpaper changes. Finish by using a 120 grit sandpaper.
  5. When you’re done, vacuum again, then wipe with a dry rag.


If you want the floor to keep its natural tone, you can skip this part, but if you want to give it a better hue, here’s what you should do.

  1. Use a floor broom to brush away the sawdust.
  2. Get a tack rag or vacuum to pick up finer dust particles. If the floor looks cleaner, the better the finish looks.
  3. Using a rag, apply wood stain to an obscure part of the floor, such as at the back of a closet, to see if its the right one you want. Wait for five minutes, allowing the stain to dry. If you like the color, proceed.
  4. Put the first coat to the rest of your floor. For more controlled and lighter applications, use rags. For a darker and heavier coat, a brush is better. Go with the grain as you apply long and even strokes.
  5. Let the first coat dry. If necessary, apply a second coat.
  6. Before you move on to applying the finish, make sure the stain is thoroughly dry.


Putting On The Finish

  1. Stir the polyurethane finish first. Don’t shake, or air bubbles might show up in the final finish.
  2. Apply it on the floor with a roller or brush, using even and smooth strokes with the grain. This will prevent putting marks on the finish.
  3. Let the finish dry. This can take up to three hours.
  4. Add a second coat. Let it dry overnight. After three days, you can move the rugs and furniture back on the floor.

Refinishing hardwood floors is messy and challenging, but definitely worth it. Keep these tips in mind as you proceed with this chore.

Posted in DIY