Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Your hardwood floor is installed. There is no flooring that looks as comfortable or luxurious as a beautiful hardwood floor. How do you care for and clean Hardwood flooring? It is an investment you certainly want to protect. Most major stores will have hardwood floor basics for equipment and supplies for cleaning hardwood floors. You may find some specialty pieces of equipment at flooring stores.

Floor mats are essential when it comes to cleaning hardwood floors. Tiny particles, like dirt, can act like sandpaper and scratch your wood. A floor mat at each entryway and having family members and guests to wipe their feet, the majority of dirt and grime will remain on the mat. Having a good mat before and after you go in your home goes a long way to trap the dirt before you enter the house. Try and use over sized mats where you can and regularly sweep or vacuum them as well. Also put a floor mat or rug in any area where water could be splashed — like near the kitchen sink. This will hinder any possible water damage.

Note that rubber-backed or non-ventilated floor mats or rugs can damage your floor. Instead use floor mats or rugs made especially for hardwood floors or use hardwood floor pads under the mat. It is pretty important to keep under the mats clean as well a build up of dirt and the movement of the mat will cause damage to the floors.

The more frequently you clean the easier it is to keep your hardwood floors clean, and the better care you take, the longer your floor will maintain its original beauty. Step one is to purchase a high quality broom so that you can sweep your floor regularly of dirt, dust and other particles.

Second step is a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar, to get in between the boards and other hard to reach areas. Be sure your vacuum tool is always in good repair and the brushes are good, once they wear you don’t want the actual tool to start scratching the hardwood floors.

Deeper cleaning techniques vary depending on the installation and finish of your hardwood floor. For “Finish in Place” hardwood floors, using an 8”x14” terrycloth mop with a rotating head that makes cleaning corners, under cabinets and along base boards as simple. In any case always use very little water this is why standard mops not recommended to clean hardwood floors. A flat hardwood floor mop leaves little space for water and is always best.

Professional cleaning products recommended by your flooring retailer can be used to remove tough stains and spills without dulling the finish of your wood floor. Makers of “Pre-finished” floors recommend their own specific products for routine maintenance. Check with your retailer for details.

Do and Don’ts

Don’t wax a wood floor with a urethane finish

Do use cleaners that won’t leave a film or residue

Don’t use ammonia cleaners or oil soaps on a wood floor — they’ll dull the finish and affect your ability to recoat later.

Do use a professional hardwood floor cleaner to remove occasional scuffs and heel marks (just spray some cleaner on a cloth and rub the stained area lightly)

Don’t wet mop or use excessive water to clean your floor (wood naturally expands when it’s wet and can cause your floor to crack or splinter).

Do clean sticky spots with a damp towel or sponge

Do minimize water exposure and clean spills immediately

If and when your hardwood floor begins to look like it belongs beneath the feet of gold miners in an old western saloon, it’s time to consider screening and re-coating.

Screening is the process used to abrade or grind down your floor’s polyurethane finish. Next, fresh coats of urethane are applied. The result is a rejuvenated floor that looks as good as the day it was installed!

If the damage to your hardwood floor is severe, then you may require sanding and refinishing. This process involves sanding your floor down to the bare wood and refinishing it. Only go to this effort if screening and re-coating doesn’t solve your problem. Replacement boards may be available so you don’t have to refinish the entire area. Be sure to go pro whenever you have work done on your hardwood floors!

Final Thoughts

All hardwood floors fade or change shades over time. Like our own skin, wood’s exposure to sunlight may greatly increase this process and cause permanent damage.

Window treatments are recommended to shade your floors from the sun’s harsh rays. We also recommend rotating area rugs and furniture regularly, allowing wood floors to age evenly from UV exposure.

To avoid permanent marks and scratches, it’s a good idea to cover furniture and table legs with flannel protectors. Be careful when moving heavy objects across your floor to avoid scuffing.

Ladies — your stiletto heels may be fashionable, but what’s not in fashion (or covered by your warranty) are the dents and scratches they cause to wood floors. I had a friend who held a big dinner party after installing new hardwood floors only to wake up to hundreds of little dents in his brand new (and now not so perfect) hardwood floors. So have a dinner party but keep it casual, nothing fancy. Likewise, trim your pet’s nails regularly and keep any and all other sharp objects (don’t walk with scissors is a good rule always) away from your floors.

Follow these basic tips for clean hardwood floors that stand the test of time for years to come.

Domestic Cleaning

Domestic cleaning is a part of all of our lives. However, the time may come when you have a large house or a busy schedule and you cannot handle all of the cleaning yourself and would like to hire a domestic cleaning company. Before you do so, be sure you know what to expect from a housekeeper.

A housekeeper is responsible for the removal of litter, dirt and stains. A housekeeper does not generally pick up toys, clothes, or other clutter, though. Talk with the house cleaning company to determine what is considered clutter and what isn’t. For example, some charge extra for cleaning dishes, but not for putting dishes in a dishwasher. Dusting, sweeping, vacuuming and mopping are standard responsibilities for a housekeeper. Cleaning tubs, showers, bathroom counters and mirrors are also usually included in the cost.

For an additional charge, you can add on just about anything you want to: washing windows, TV screens, cleaning blinds, dusting baseboards, watering plants, folding laundry and changing sheets. Prices vary depending on the types of services done, the size of your house and how often you have a housekeeper come out. Most domestic cleaning companies require payment at the time of services in the form of cash or check.

You can have a housekeeper come while you are home or while you are away. Homeowners often leave a key with a housekeeper or under the mat, when hiring a company, since the housekeeper may change from week to week. Housekeepers should bring their own supplies and you have the option of choosing eco-friendly products or more mainstream products.

Domestic cleaning service is a great idea for families that are busy and have the extra income to pay for it.

Black Mold

In order to remove house mold there are several different strategies that you could take. Mold inside your home can be a serious problem for you. It can cause health concerns for the inhabitants as well as decimate the value of the property if it spreads throughout. Taking care of mold when you first notice it is very important. Here are a few easy ways to remove house mold.

Using chlorine bleach is one way to help remove mold. However, it will not work in all situations and in all surfaces. You should only use chlorine bleach if the mold is growing on a non-porous surface. For example, if you have the mold in your bathroom on a hard surface such as a bathtub or countertop. If you have mold on wood, chlorine bleach will not work because properties in the bleach prevent it from going deep down into the wood and killing the roots of the mold. You can use bleach to disinfect the area after you remove the mold, but on porous surfaces, you should stay away from chlorine bleach.

One thing that will work on porous surfaces is detergent. One common ingredient in many laundry detergents is borax. Borax is great for penetrating deep into porous surfaces and eliminating mold and other materials. Therefore, if you have mold on wood or another porous surface, this would be a great product to use. You can mix it with water and form a nice compound for removing mold quickly and efficiently. Scrub the area with this mixture and a scrubbing brush to remove the mold. Then you can disinfect it with chlorine bleach after.

Another common household item that can be used to remove mold is hydrogen peroxide. Mix 1 cup of warm water with 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide. Then scrub the surface of the mold with this mixture to remove it.

The Skinny on Brooms

Cleaning Brooms

Make your next broom your last… Some ideas to make your brooms last longer and do a better job.

1. Always use a holder to keep the broom stored off the floor or store with the broom side up. (Resting on the floor the fibers will flatten and reduce the effectiveness of the broom).

2. Comb out the fibers regularly to remove debris.

3. Brooms and dustpan can be cleaned with mild detergent and water; this is a good job for your spouse if they forget your birthday.

4. Always sweep gently in order to let the bristles do the work.

5. Push broom blocks have two handle holes (one on each side). Change the sides often so that fibers wear evenly.

6. The correct length for a broom handle is from the floor to the bridge of your nose. Remember to sweep in an upright position to prevent back fatigue.

Paint from Brick

Brick is a very porous material. Many paints and coatings “soak in” to brick or concrete, and this can make them difficult to remove. If the paint is primarily on the surface, a good scrubbing with a mildly acidic cleaner works best. But if the paint has penetrated, you will have to do a heavy etching with muriatic acid to remove it. Working with Muriatic acid can be dangerous so make sure you read all the instructions so you don’t hurt yourself or the bricks.
There are some specialized coating removers that come in a paste form that work well for this type of application, but they are not widely available at this point in time. The Hydrostrip line from ICI or a product called Masonry Strip available from Napier Environmental Technologies are the products to look for. They are also sold under the brand name found in paint stores like Sherwin Williams, Cloverdale Paint, and major home centers like Home Depot etc. check for a 1-800 to locate the product near you.

Paint Stain from Jeans

This question was submitted from Colleen.

“How can I get green paint out of my jeans?”

If the paint has dried you have a challenge.
Try these techniques :

For an old stain try using a paint remover (from a hardware store). Test a small area first. This is a fairly harsh chemical designed to turn paint to mush so it can be removed from furniture for refinishing etc.

Scrape and remove (using a spoon) as much of the paint as possible.

If the paint remover is working apply more as needed. Be careful not scrub, this will force the paint deep into fibers, and can also damage the fibres leaving a hole or much lighter appearance.

If the stain is still there, cover with glycerin and let sit for several hours in an attempt to loosen the stain.

Then treat as a fresh stain and start by sponging out as much of the stain as possible before applying a laundry pre-treat – launder in warm water. Do not put in the dryer. Inspect the stain to see if you have to try again to remove it. The heat from the dryer will set the stain!

If you are fond of these pants try going to a professional cleaner. Point out the stain and ask if they think they can remove it; they likely can with better results than trying at home.

If the paint is oil based the pre-treatment should be a solvent designed for oil based paint (paint thinner).

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