If you’re reading this, you may be wondering if you’re cleaning your wood-look floors correctly—and for good reason.
Using the wrong products or techniques can ruin your floors or cut their lifespan dramatically. This is especially true for hardwood and wood-look flooring.
You obviously want to maintain the beauty of your home’s floors for as long as possible. Stay with us as we go over our top care tips to do just that.
Tips for Natural Hardwood, Engineered Hardwood, Laminate and Luxury Vinyl
Hardwood or wood-look flooring will forever be a favorite among homeowners. They’re beautiful, timeless, durable, go with any decor, and are fairly easy to maintain.
We say “fairly easy” because while they’re not hard to keep up, they’re not like tile, which can handle a wider variety of cleaners, or carpet, which is mostly vacuumed. (See our tips on how to clean your carpet.)
Regular Care Tips
When cleaning wood-look floors, the top advice is to avoid using too much moisture or water.
This is true whether you have natural hardwood or not. Products like engineered hardwood or laminate planks have different varieties of layered wood and can delaminate or buckle with too much moisture. Luxury vinyl, while more durable and possibly even waterproof, can still get dulled or scratched with the wrong products.
Overall, you want to avoid too much moisture, scratching the surface or using products that dull the sheen over time.
For regular cleaning, we advise you to:
- Sweep, dry mop or vacuum 1 to 3 times a week
- Wet or damp mop with a microfiber mop weekly
- Clean spills immediately
Loose dirt and debris can scratch and wear down the top layer, so always clean up debris before mopping. You may want to clean more often in high-traffic areas like the kitchen, main hallway or entryway and family room.
Cleaning Tools and Products
There are a few misconceptions about which cleaning tools and products are safe to use on wood-look floors.
Overall, we recommend the following:
- Use microfiber mops – To pick up dust and debris, microfiber mops are less likely to scratch floors compared to brooms or vacuums. They’re also good for wet mopping as they use less water than traditional mops.
- Avoid steam mops – Although some steam mops say they’re safe for wood or laminate floors, we don’t advise using them. The moisture and high heat can potentially cause damage over time. Use a microfiber mop instead.
- Use vacuums made for hard floors – If you prefer a vacuum, be sure to use one that has a setting for hard floors. This means no beater bar or harsh rotary brush and preferably rubber wheels.
- Clean with products that are pH neutral: Those made with ammonia, oil, wax, or polish can dull the finish over time. A few recommended products include Bona Hard Surface Floor Cleaner, Encore Floor Cleaner by COREtec Floors, or Shaw Floors Hard Surface Cleaner.
If you’ve heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” know that it applies here. Taking preventative measures will help you maintain the beauty of your flooring for 10 to 20 years or more, depending on the type you have.
To keep your floors looking great for longer, we suggest:
- Keeping indoor humidity between 35 – 55%
- Rearranging rugs and furniture a couple times a year to allow the floor to age evenly.
- Using window treatments to protect your floors from prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, which can affect the color and speed up aging.
- Lifting items or using a dolly when moving furniture. Sliding or rolling can cause scratches or indentations.
- Protecting floors with entry mats and non-staining felt pads under furniture/chair legs.
- Using a humidifier during winter when using indoor heating to prevent shrinkage from low humidity. Conversely, use air conditioning or a dehumidifier during summer.
If you get help from someone who cleans your home, tell them what type of floors you have and ask them to use your products and tools instead of their own.
Keep your warranty in mind
Many of today’s flooring brands offer great warranties, some are even lifetime warranties, but there are exclusions, and damage from improper care is one of them. This can include damage caused by vacuums with beater bars, rolling furniture without floor protectors, and changes in color from exposure to natural light.
These are just a few examples. We suggest you check your own warranty for coverage.
Our overall advice is simple: avoid too much moisture, use safe products and protect floors from scratches or marks. We hope this and our list above will help you keep your floors looking as great as they did when first installed.