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The Ultimate Tutorial on How to Clean Prefinished Hardwood Floors: For Lasting Beauty and Spotless Shine

How to clean prefinished hardwood floors

Hardwood is a timeless flooring choice nonetheless. But to actually keep your hardwood flooring looking timeless, it needs proper cleaning rituals and maintenance.

Prefinished hardwood floors come with a lasting shine. Admiring the true beauty of prefinished hardwood flooring requires proper knowledge about how to clean prefinished hardwood floors—and this guide will give you exactly that.

This comprehensive guide will discuss everything you need to know to maintain and clean your prefinished hardwood floors like a pro! 

How to Clean Prefinished Hardwood Floors

Cleaning prefinished hardwood floors? It’s as easy as it can be!

Start by removing the dust and debris by sweeping with a soft-bristled broom or vacuuming. Use vacuum cleaners with a floor brush attachment only to prevent scratching. Use a microfiber mop or cloth dampened with a wood-safe cleaner for deeper cleaning. Don’t use excessive water or harsh chemicals, as they can damage the wood’s finish or even the structure of the wood.

What are prefinished hardwood floors?

Prefinished hardwood floors are a type of hardwood flooring that comes already sanded, stained, and sealed at the factory before installation. This means that each plank of prefinished hardwood flooring has undergone a precise finishing process, which includes the application of multiple coats of polyurethane or another protective finish.

Prefinished hardwood is typically more convenient to install since there is no need for sanding and finishing on-site, which can be messy and time-consuming. Additionally, prefinished hardwood floors often have more consistent finishes and come with warranties, ensuring durability and longevity.

How to Clean Prefinished Hardwood Floors: Regular Cleaning

Dry Cleaning

Dusting prefinished hardwood floors

Simply running a broom or dry mop on your hardwood floors might take you only a few minutes of your day, but it is the most crucial step in maintaining your hardwood floors. Why?

Notice the fine layer of dust or pesky little pet hairs on your floor? They act as sandpapers and scratch your wood’s finish when you step on them. This is why experts recommend sweeping with a soft-bristled broom or dry microfiber mop at least once daily.

Vacuuming prefinished hardwood floors

While daily dusting will keep the surface dirt and debris off your beautiful hardwood floors, vacuuming can pull off some embedded dirt your sweeping might miss. Experts recommend running a vacuum on the bare floor setting once a week. You might need to vacuum high foot traffic areas more frequently.

Wet Mopping

For a more thorough cleaning, you need to mop your hardwood floors at least once a month. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to mop prefinished hardwood floors for a streak-free finish.

Step 1: Prepare the area

Before you start mopping, it’s essential to clear the floor of any movable objects that might get in the way. Remember that the more nooks and crannies your room has, the harder you will have to work. If possible, remove all the furniture from the area. Finally, consider blocking off entrances to prevent children or pets from walking on the freshly mopped floor.

Step 2: Sweep or vacuum the floor thoroughly

Sweeping and vacuuming to get rid of all the dust, debris, and dirt off the floor’s surface instantly sets you up for success. Dragging around dust and debris with your mop will only result in a hazy finish full of streaks. You can also use a dry mop to create a perfect base for the wet mopping.

Step 3: Choose the right cleaning products for prefinished hardwood floors

Experts recommend avoiding harsh chemicals to clean hardwood floors as they can create hazing. Also, avoid anything that says it will polish, shine, rejuvenate, or revitalize the wood floor. These will only create unnecessary product build-up when used too often, making the wooden floors look cloudy after a few months. Avoid using straight ammonia, alkaline products, or abrasive cleaners, as they dull and damage the surface.

Use specifically formulated pH-neutral cleaners for hardwood floors only. Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner Spray is an excellent choice as it is residue-free, and the spray applicator makes the mopping easier.

Step 4: Select the appropriate cleaning tools for hardwood floors

Having the right tools at hand is crucial for a perfect result. For example, a high-quality microfiber mop will easily lift embedded dirt and debris while leaving the floor streak-free. Hardwood-friendly mops will wring out excess water easily and won’t scratch the hardwood.

Step 5: Use a damp mop to clean prefinished hardwood floors

For the best mopping result on your wood floor, keep five key things in mind –

  1. Use a damp mop, not wet
  2. Use a flat microfiber mop or microfiber twist mop
  3. Mop in an “S” pattern
  4. Dry the floor quickly by either using a ceiling fan or microfiber cloth
  5. Mop along the grain of the wood

Start by preparing your mopping solution and letting the mop head soak in the bucket for a few minutes to soften. After that, place the mop in the wringer and twist it to remove excess liquid, making it almost dry. If you’re using a flat-head mop, slide it against the dryer at least 3 to 4 times.

Begin mopping from a corner of the room, using a graceful “S” shaped pattern as you sweep your way towards the exit. Consider breaking it into sections for a more effective cleaning process when dealing with a larger area. And for that extra touch of thoroughness, grab a microfiber cloth for a quick wipe-down to ensure no water is left behind. You can also kickstart the drying process by turning on your ceiling fan.

Keep an eye on your mop water – as soon as it starts looking dirty or you can’t see the bottom of the bucket, it’s time for a change. Remember to rinse and re-dampen your mop regularly to avoid unsightly streaks on your beautiful floors.

High-traffic areas deserve special attention, so aim to mop them at least once or twice weekly. You can get away with a monthly or seasonal cleaning routine for less-frequented spots. And here’s a golden rule: always go with the grain of the wood for the best, streak-free results. Your floors will thank you for the TLC!

How to Clean Prefinished Hardwood Floors: Removing Tough Stains

Spills are inevitable—but that doesn’t mean your hardwood floors must take a permanent hit. If you act promptly and know what you are dealing with, you can tackle these stains and spills effortlessly.

Here is a quick guide to different stains and spills and how to clean them:

Liquid spills

  1. Clean up the spills or messes by wiping them away with a damp cloth, and dry the area thoroughly.
  2. Create a gentle yet effective solution for stubborn stains by mixing mild detergent with warm water.
  3. After treating the stain, thoroughly rinse it, and, as always, ensure everything is dried properly.

Pet stains & odors

  1. First, act swiftly! Grab some paper towels or a clean cloth and blot the affected area to soak up as much liquid as possible.
  2. Next, reach for an enzyme-based pet stain remover and follow the product’s instructions to mix it with water. Apply this solution to the stained area and allow it to sit for a few minutes.
  3. Afterward, gently blot the spot with a clean cloth to remove the stain.
  4. If any lingering odors persist, don’t worry. Sprinkle a layer of baking soda over the affected area, leave it for a few hours or even overnight, and then simply vacuum it up.

Click here to learn how to deal with pet pee on hardwood floors.

Grease & oil stains

  1. First, blot the area with a paper towel to soak excess grease and oil.
  2. Mix a few drops of dish soap with water and apply to the area. Gently scrub the area using a soft cloth. You can also apply baking soda to cut through the grease.
  3. Finish off by thoroughly rinsing and drying the area.

Ink stains

  1. Blot the stain with a paper towel and remove as much ink as possible using a damp cloth.
  2. Apply a few drops of isopropyl alcohol and rub them with a soft cloth. Rinse and dry the area thoroughly.
  3. For a large area or stubborn stain, contact a professional to remove ink stains without damaging the floor.

How to Maintain Prefinished Hardwood Floors

Use Furniture Pads

Erasing scratches completely from the equation might be wishful thinking—but reducing their appearance is not. The arch-nemesis of pristine hardwood? Furniture edges. Use furniture pads beneath each piece, which act as a buffer against potential marks. Opt for a gentle lift when moving lightweight furniture and use a dolly for the heavyweights.

Clean Up Spills Immediately

Avoid spilling on the floor as much as you can. But when the unfortunate yet inevitable occurs, use a dry or damp cloth to clean up any spills and let the area dry completely. You can use a fan to dry the floor faster or wipe it dry using a clean cloth for a more severe spilling accident.

Place rugs and mats strategically

Placing a large area rug can protect spill-prone areas such as the kitchen. Place a mat at the entrances to trap dust and debris from shoes to protect the wood from scratches. Use breathable, high-quality rugs that are compatible with prefinished hardwood.

Polish and refinish regularly

Hardwood finishes wear off from cleaning or abrasion from shoes and furniture—the same goes for prefinished hardwood floors. Polishing and refinishing the floor at regular intervals extends your hardwood’s life and rejuvenates the shine.

Click here to learn more about how to maintain wood floors.

Can I use vinegar to clean hardwood floors?

Vinegar is a widely popular choice for cleaning floors—thanks to its degreasing and disinfecting properties. But is vinegar suitable for prefinished hardwood floors?

In short: Avoid using vinegar for regular wood floor cleaning. Although immediate damage might not be evident, the vinegar’s acidity can gradually deteriorate the floor finish, making it susceptible to water penetration and wood degradation. However, you can use vinegar to spot-clean hardwood floors with some precautions.

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