How to Clean Hardwood Floors – The New York Times

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If you take care of them properly, hardwood floors can last for years. Fortunately, this is relatively simple to do. You can keep your beautiful wood floors looking great with just a small amount of effort.
Dust mop: The quickest way to get dust bunnies into a nice pile and off your floor is to use a dust mop. We recommend the O-Cedar Dual-Action Flip Mop.
Broom and dustpan, or a vacuum: Use either of these to get that pile of debris off the floor and into the trash can. A good broom with angled bristles can get into corners and under heavier furniture better than your dust mop can. Alternatively, a good vacuum set to a bare-floor setting can do a similar job.
Mop and bucket: When you’re dealing with wood floors, it’s important not to let water sit for too long. It could leak through to the materials under the floor or even warp the wood itself. Using a microfiber string mop and a bucket with a wringing mechanism, you can spread the cleaning solution evenly over the floor without creating too much excess moisture.
Cleaning solution: A specialized cleaner, such as Method or Pledge, will work well here, as will a simple solution of liquid soap and water. Avoid cleaners with caustic ingredients like bleach or vinegar, and definitely stay away from abrasive cleaners like baking soda. Don’t use products that add shine or luster to a floor, either. If you ever want to touch up your hardwood in the future, they can make it difficult to apply wood-floor finish, said Brett Miller of the National Wood Flooring Association.
Spray bottle: It’s much easier to use a spray bottle to distribute your cleaning solution evenly on the floor than to spread it with a mop. This method also helps prevent excess moisture. Anything from a small trigger bottle to the very large ZEP Pro Sprayer will do.
Timing depends on how large your floor space is, as well as how much furniture and rug cover you’ll need to clear away. It takes me about 30 minutes to clean the 132 square feet of wood floor in my living room. I run a stick vacuum for about 10 minutes every few days to manage dust, but I do the more intensive mopping once a month.
First, clear your floors of any furniture or rugs that are easy to move, and thoroughly sweep up all of the debris and dust. Use a dust mop and broom or a vacuum for this step. But be sure the vacuum is set to its bare-floor setting so the brush doesn’t spin and add tiny scratches to your floor.
Next, spray your cleaning solution across the floor, coating the area you want to clean. Dip your mop in a bucket of water and ring thoroughly. You’ll use the mop to spread the solution you just sprayed on the floor, not to slop out a bunch more water from the bucket.
Using the dampened mop, spread the cleaning solution over your floor using wide, easy strokes, and periodically wring out excess water as you go. The goal is to spread the cleaner across the whole floor in a thin layer, so that it dries quickly and easily.
It’s good to work in patches on a large floor, starting at one end of the room and working backward so that you avoid walking through the just-mopped sections.
A word of caution: Never use steam cleaners on your wood floors, since doing this will almost certainly deposit moisture between the cracks of your flooring, and this could warp the boards.
After you’ve gone over your whole floor, ring out the mop, empty the bucket, and let the floor air-dry for about 15 to 20 minutes. Once the floor is dry to the touch, move any floor coverings and furniture back into place. To avoid scratching your floors, make sure not to drag any table or chair legs across the surface.
This article was edited by Connor Grossman and Alejandra Matos.
James Austin
James Austin is an updates writer who has worked on everything Wirecutter covers, from board games to umbrellas, and after being here for a few years he has gained approximate knowledge of many things. In his free time he enjoys taking photos, listening to podcasts, and volunteering for a youth robotics competition.
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