How do I clean wood floors?
June 2, 2005 8:59 AM   Subscribe

My apartment is wood floor and tile. Hell, my whole building is wood floor and tile. How on earth do I clean all of this (particularly the wood)? What's the best way to clean large amounts of hardwood flooring? (If devices are suggested, any specific brand/model suggestions?)

It's tons and tons of beautiful australian cyprus, covered in polyurethane. I bought a Bissell 35758 Cleanview Bagless Special Edition Upright Vacuum, which apparently lacks the feature to pick up, say, dust. I've tried mopping (sponge mop, Murphy's oil soap), but the only way I can really get the streaks out and a neat reflective floor is by getting down on my hands and knees and buffing it with a dry towel.
posted by sdis to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My wife and I use the Hoover Floormate, works really well. It's more work than a normal vacuum, but less work than hands-and-knees drying.

If you can spring for the $50-70 per visit for a cleaning lady (for a 2,000-3,000 sq. ft. house), they'll typically clean hardwood floors the good old fashioned way; by hand.
posted by Merdryn at 9:24 AM on June 2, 2005

I used this product. It is great for regular maintenance (after sweeping). You just spray it on the floor then use the shammy mop that comes with it to wipe it away. Leaves no streaks as I recall. I had to get it at a specific floor store, though.
posted by Corpus Callosum at 9:32 AM on June 2, 2005

we just use a broom and dustpan, with an occasional vacuum and a damp cloth when there's something stuck. but it sounds like our standards are lower than yours.

if streaks are a real problem maybe it's because of how the light falls somewhere (showing things up badly). if so, appropriate use of large plants/curtains might fix that.
posted by andrew cooke at 9:32 AM on June 2, 2005

I definitely second the Hoover Floormate. Sometimes I still have to spot clean stuff that gets in the grout, but it does a great job otherwise.
posted by y0mbo at 9:46 AM on June 2, 2005

I use swiffer wet or something similar for routine cleaning. I actually use murphys oil soap and scrub on my hands and knees for major cleaning.
posted by Kellydamnit at 10:21 AM on June 2, 2005

Don't use Murphy's, it leaves a film that's very bad for wood floors. Crappy product. The time honored way to clean floors is like your grandmother did: with water. Maybe a little vinegar if things are really grubby. And, have you tried a dust mop?
posted by Specklet at 10:21 AM on June 2, 2005

My mom has always used vinegar diluted in water to clean our hardwood floors. Or you could try the Swiffer WetJet for wood floors.
posted by geeky at 10:26 AM on June 2, 2005

specklet: really? My grandmother was the one who told me to use murphys when I first moved somewhere with wood floors!
posted by Kellydamnit at 10:37 AM on June 2, 2005

The Swiffer Wet-Jet is ass. It smears everything around, and leaves a residue you have to wipe up afterwards, completely defeating the purpose.
posted by mkultra at 11:21 AM on June 2, 2005

Step one: Frequent use of a dust mop.

When scrubbing is needed: Vegetable soaps are effective (and nontoxic) cleaners, but do leave a film. I spot-clean with Murphy's. A quick mop with regular ol' white vinegar, diluted, will leave your floors beautifully shiny.
posted by desuetude at 11:45 AM on June 2, 2005

Water and vinegar--also learned from my grandmother & mother.
posted by fabesfaves at 12:28 PM on June 2, 2005

I second the dust mop -- it's different from a sponge mop, and it does a good job of what it's made for. (I need to get one myself.)

I use Murphy's on our tile kitchen floor, which really does seem to want something more than just water, but I should probably switch to vinegar, I suppose. The fumes are so unpleasant, though! Is Murphy's really terribly awful for tile as well as for wood?
posted by redfoxtail at 1:35 PM on June 2, 2005

Murphy's is cheeeeep and leaves a film. I would never use it on wood floors. Tile? Nah, I'd try and find something else.

I actually once had a landlord who, on the lease, stipulated that no Murphy's be used...
posted by Specklet at 1:39 PM on June 2, 2005

Hey, howsa bout Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap for the tiles?
posted by Specklet at 1:40 PM on June 2, 2005

Varnish and polyurethane may require different treatment. I have old varnished wood floors that had lots of wax and dirt accumulated. The old wax and dirt was removed with an 8:1 water:ammonia solution. Then I applied new paste wax, which has to be buffed a bit. The finish got really beat up in the areas that did not get waxed. The wax protects the wood. It's really slippery at 1st, which makes for comical moments with the dog.

Tile is quite durable; use whatever cleaning product you like. I prefer pine-sol because I don't hate the smell.
posted by theora55 at 1:58 PM on June 2, 2005

redfoxtail, wandering around the web, I find that people tend to be either VERY pro or VERY anti Murphy's. I like the smell of it and like that its non-toxic. The "evilness" of Murphy's is the film it leaves behind. I use it on my tile floors too, again followed with vinegar. I don't mind the smell, though. You might be able to find something vinegar-based that's got a more pleasant smell at someplace like Whole Foods, if you're willing to be less thrifty.

Actually, on the bathroom and kitchen floors I follow the Murphys with undiluted vinegar, as it's nearly as effective of a disinfectant as commercial disinfectants. (Though not much of a cleaner in its own right.)
posted by desuetude at 2:19 PM on June 2, 2005

With polyurethaned hardwood, I was told the first commandment was thou shalt not use anything but water and water. If I absolutely had to use something else, I could add a wee bit of vinegar or windex, but nothing else. Being a natural born sinner, though, I sometimes add a bit of Febreeze for the fragrance.

What helped most though was when I went to a janitor supply place and got one of those industrial string mop wringers with a separated pail. It wrings the mop to a fare-thee-well so you don't get streaks, and with the divided bucket, you're never washing with dirty rinse water. Plus, there's something morally upright about going to town with an old fashioned string mop. More than makes up for any Febreeze indulgences.
posted by wordswinker at 3:58 PM on June 2, 2005

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