best ways to clean unfinished wood flooring

Best Ways to Clean Unfinished Wood Flooring

April 24, 2018 / 6 Comments

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Everyone knows unfinished wood floors are the perfect way to highlight a rustic home: but how do you keep them clean? The answer differs greatly depending on who you ask and your desired results.

Harsh chemicals can stain and strip the wood of its natural grain. Too much water will cause them to warp or discolor.

It’s a delicate balance, but there are methods to clean your floors safely without damaging them. Let’s explore the best options.

Everyday Cleaning

Routine cleaning is essential to keep dirt and dust from scratching or staining your unfinished hardwood. Even if you have a “no shoe policy”, dirt will find a way inside. The best way to combat damage is to establish a regular cleaning regimen.

If you have a hardwood vacuum with a bare floor setting, you’re in luck. This is the simplest and most effective way to remove dust and dirt without damaging the boards. If you’re not sure that the beater bar is set high enough, test it in an inconspicuous area first.

While brooms are the obvious choice, some styles work better than others for unfinished wood. Look for a soft-bristled model or static dust mop. Remember to use light strokes and glide, rather than push the dirt.

Be sure to listen for sounds of scraping, as small rocks can gather in the bristles and leave scratches.

When it’s time to mop your unfinished wood, use liquids sparingly. Use a damp mop, there’s no need to flood the floors. Excess water will soak into unfinished boards, and leave behind stains.

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Suggested Cleaners

When choosing a cleaner for your unfinished wood, look no further than your pantry. That’s right, good ol’ vinegar is the weapon of choice for many cleaning professionals. Besides being cost-effective, vinegar is an all natural product that’s safe to use in your home.

Vinegar is acidic and can be potent if not diluted in water. Most solutions call for 1 gallon of water for every ½ cup of vinegar. To cut down on streaks, mop in the direction of the floorboards and use long strokes.

One drawback of vinegar is the smell. It will dissipate over time, but the fumes can be overpowering. Experts suggest buying odorless vinegar or adding a few drops of essential oil to the mixture.

Another famous cleansing cocktail uses a mixture of water and Murphy’s Oil. To make the solution, add 1 tablespoon of soap to a ½ gallon of warm water. Rinse your floors afterward, to avoid residue build up.

Rather than letting your floors air dry, use a clean cloth to hand dry each section.

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Deep Cleaning Unfinished Wood Floors

Two chemicals effective at removing stains from unfinished wood are mineral spirits, and Trisodium Phosphate. Both of these agent’s will deep clean your floors while leaving behind a natural shine.

Mineral Spirits is a petroleum based liquid, often used to remove paint from brushes and other tools. When used as a cleaning agent, it can eradicate stains without damaging your floors. Rub the product into the boards with either a soft pad or lint-free cloth.

Finish by wiping up any excess with a clean towel or rag. If you’re not sold on mineral spirits, there’s another option.

Trisodium Phosphate is a crystallized powder that’s available at your local home improvement or hardware store. Use a scrub brush to work the chemical into the stain and follow with a warm water rinse. Absorb any excess liquid to prevent permanent water damage.

Remember when using either of these methods, preparation is critical. For the best results, your floors must be clean and free of dust and debris.

As with any cleanser, be sure to conduct a spot test before working in a noticeable area.

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Necessary Safety Precautions

Both of these chemicals are volatile and pose health risks. They are highly flammable and shouldn’t be stored or used near sparks or open flames. Use extreme caution when working with either of these products.

Always wear a respirator when working with toxic products. Make sure your area is well ventilated to prevent exposure to noxious fumes. Never use these solvents in the presence of children or anyone with known respiratory problems.

These substances can irritate your skin and cause painful reactions. Protect yourself by wearing thick gloves designed for chemical applications.

Always read all directions before use, and if you have any questions consult the manufacturer. You can find out more information by visiting the EPA’s website. Remember, these products pose significant risks – make sure to dispose of all rags and gloves responsibly and legally.

In the event of exposure or adverse reaction, seek medical help immediately.

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The Verdict

Cleaning your unfinished hardwood floors takes a bit of elbow grease and some research, but it’s not impossible. If you do make a mistake, all is not lost. The beauty of unfinished wood is that it can always be sanded down to its original state.

Daily cleaning isn’t complicated and doesn’t require a ton of preparation or special tools. For bigger jobs, be sure to consider your options and refrain from taking unnecessary risks.

When working with hazardous chemicals, always consult the manufacturer and follow guidelines to the letter. If you’re hesitant to perform the work yourself, ask a professional cleaning company for rates.

Unfinished wood floors offer a natural elegance. They’re an excellent choice for anyone seeking to create an environment that exudes charm and character.

Do you have unfinished wood floors in your home? How often do you clean them?

About Jeanine Hintze

Jeanine Hintze is a professional content writer, and home improvement enthusiast from Long Island.

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