How do I clean these wood floors?
September 6, 2016 9:07 AM   Subscribe

Not sure what kind of wood it is. Moved in several months ago, but haven't done more than swiffering for fear of not using the right cleaners.

It's come to the point swiffering isn't enough. Previous owner remodeled and put down new floors. I've attached a photo link here.

They have an unfinished look to them, but I'm pretty certain they are finished wood floors. I don't know what kind of wood panel it is. How do I properly clean this light colored wood without ruining it or making it darker etc. Can I use swiffer wet?
posted by manderin to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Here's some tips for figuring out what type of finish your floor has.

From there, you should be able to determine what kind of cleaning products are safe for your floor.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:16 AM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

That looks like engineered hardwood to me. Slightly damp mop, then drying after should be fine. If you're going the swiffer route, Swiffer wet has a wood floor solution.
posted by Karaage at 9:32 AM on September 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

That flooring appears to be a heavily processed industrial product trying (badly) to imitate planks that have barely been touched since they came off the sawmill. The scratches going across the grain were intentionally added; they are not artifacts of any normal milling or smoothing process. The chamfered edges suggest it was probably pre-finished, not meant to be sanded and finished after installation. Factory finishes are typically pretty tough. I wouldn't choose a cleaner that's particularly harsh, but beyond that I think you'll be fine so long as you don't leave puddles of water sitting on it.
posted by jon1270 at 9:34 AM on September 6, 2016 [4 favorites]

I've always just mopped wood floors with hot water and maybe a teeny bit of Simple Green if they're super-dirty, then towel-dried any really wet spots, and have never had any problems.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:38 AM on September 6, 2016

I use Bona wood floor cleaner on our cherry engineered wood. They sell big jugs of it at CostCo.

A damp mop works fine as well.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:13 AM on September 6, 2016 [4 favorites]

When we replaced all our carpet with hardwood, our installer said don't bother buying floor cleaning products. Just make a 1:15 solution of vinegar and water and damp mop. This is also what many boat owners use to clean their below-decks floors.
posted by Gusaroo at 10:42 AM on September 6, 2016 [4 favorites]

For my hardwood floors, I have a spray bottle of half white vinegar and half water. I use a mop with a flat removable/washable pad. I spray the floor and dampen the mop head, and mop up the dirt. I have several of the mop heads and when the first gets really dirty I swap out for a clean one. The vinegar will have a strong smell while wet, but will completely go away when dry. It will not streak, and will dissolve most grime. If there's a really dirty part, spray the vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes before you mop. The mop I use is like this.
posted by raisingsand at 10:46 AM on September 6, 2016 [4 favorites]

It definitely is a finished floor and you don't need to do anything special with this particular floor. Vinegar and water works well, but there are plenty of options. Swiffer Wet is certainly fine.
posted by ssg at 11:10 AM on September 6, 2016

Bona is what my floor guy suggested when we got ours done.
posted by quince at 11:13 AM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Does vinegar give it shine? That's what I want on my floors.
posted by Miko at 12:12 PM on September 6, 2016

You should be aware that there's a lot of conflicting advice about this, including from people who should be experts. In the past I've mostly used dilute Murphy Oil Soap (I think even based on an thread), but this is highly controversial advice. A lot of people swear it leaves a film that is evil (I haven't noticed that myself), or alternatively swear it is the best thing. Vinegar is another polarizing issue: the problem with vinegar is that it's acidic and so may over the long run be bad for the finish on the floor -- which is what you're really cleaning for most floors, not the wood itself. I guess the safer advice is to use some pH neutral specially designed hardwood floor cleaner that is not oil based, or just water.

About the only non-controversial advice I've seen is not to soak/saturate your floors, and don't use anything petroleum derived.
posted by advil at 1:39 PM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I clean everything I own with 1/2 vinegar + 1/2 water. I can't speak to your specific floor, but I've never seen a wood floor damaged (from cleaning). If you don't like the smell of vinegar, shove the chopped peels from any citrus fruit into the industrial size vinegar bottle. Use that vinegar to mix with water, and all you smell is citrus.
posted by The Noble Goofy Elk at 3:16 PM on September 6, 2016

But what about the very real concern that vinegar is corrosive? That does seem like something that would damage the poly finish that most hardwood floors have.
posted by Miko at 8:52 PM on September 6, 2016

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