You have just installed hardwood flooring in your home. Now what? How do you keep your hardwood floors clean and shiny? Read the following Q&A in which two hardwood floor owners are asking just that.
Q: “I was reading your site and saw that one should not use oil based cleaners. Why? Our installer told us to use vinegar in water, and use a damp cloth to clean the floor about once a week. Will this damage the floor? What is a polyurethane cleaner? Where do you buy it?”
A: If an oil based cleaner is used on polyurethane finished floors, it leaves an oily residue on the surface which can not only make cleaning the floor more difficult, but after a period of time, when the floor is showing signs of wear and needs to be buffed and recoated, this residue can present adhesion problems. When cleaning any hardwood floor, or furniture, minimal water should be used. In other words, wipe with a dampened, not wet cloth. Adding a capful of vinegar can help and is suggested by the National Wood Flooring Association.
However, I have heard one floor finish manufacturer dispute this, believing the vinegar is too acidic and can break down the finish eventually. The absolutely simple and safe way to clean any sort of wood that is finished with a urethane is to use polyurethane cleaners which are manufactured by both hardwood flooring manufacturers and manufacturers of polyurethane. I use Squeeky Cleaner from Basic Coatings. Any hardwood flooring supplier near you should carry this or similar product. Also, Home Depot is a likely place to look, since they do sell hardwood flooring. This cleaner is usually blue in color, and is mixed 4 parts water to one part cleaner in a spray bottle. Mist some on a cloth and wipe. You can use this to clean any wood finished with urethane top coats.
Q: “We bought a beautiful old home with wonderful wood floors throughout which were installed in 93. They looked pretty good when we moved in two years ago, but now they look dull and mottled. Our cleaning person uses ****** for floors and some floor dusting cloth called ********. Could they be the problem? What can we use to get the shine back?”
A: There are any number of cleaners on the market, found in supermarket that say they are for hardwood floors. Your safest approach is to purchase a cleaner created by hardwood flooring manufacturers or floor finish manufacturers. This can be purchased (these products, as far as I am aware, are all basically the same) from local hardwood flooring retailers or a big box store that sells hardwood flooring. Best bet is the Hardwood retailer who specializes in hardwood. I use “squeaky cleaner” manufactured by Basic Coatings. See their web site: http://www.basiccoatings.com.
Mirage cleaner is another one.
It sounds likely that the cleaners being used on your floors are leaving some sort of film on the wood surface. This can create the situation you are describing and can make buffing and recoating in the future impossible to achieve due to adhesion issues.
To sum it up, your best bet to make your floors shine is to purchase a cleaner created by hardwood flooring manufacturers or floor finish manufacturers.