Cleaning hardwood floors doesn’t have to be toxic for you or your environment. Using natural cleaners that don’t contain harsh chemicals will keep your floors sparkling clean while leaving the earth a better place to live.
Routine damp mopping of hardwood floors is the best way to reduce dust and debris buildup. Other preemptive measures include closing curtains in areas exposed to direct sunlight, adding rugs with breathable backing, and asking people to remove shoes or use a shoe protector.
1. Hydrogen Peroxide
There’s a good chance you already have a bottle of hydrogen peroxide tucked away in your bathroom cabinets. And that’s a good thing because this natural cleaning product is one of the most effective for removing stubborn liquid stains from hardwood flooring.
Hydrogen peroxide works by chemically changing spilled liquids on the wood surface, breaking their bond with it and thereby releasing them. This makes it an excellent choice for cleaning hardwood floors, particularly in humid climates where moisture can cause them to buckle and make stains especially difficult to remove.
When used in the proper concentration, hydrogen peroxide is safe for your hardwood flooring, as well as for you and your family. Just be sure to use a 3% solution readily available at drug stores and supermarkets. Anything higher can have a bleaching effect on the wood, and that’s not what you want.
Before using any solution on your hardwood floors, test it in an inconspicuous spot. This will help ensure that your cleaner won’t damage the finish or stain the wood.
Once you’ve determined that your diluted hydrogen peroxide will not discolor or damage the wood, proceed to clean your floors like any other hardwood cleaning product. Be sure to always mop in the direction of the grain, as this will prevent streaks on your beautiful hardwood floors.
For more stubborn stains, try saturating several layers of paper towels with the 3% solution and placing them over the stained area. Secure the towels with cellophane and leave them in place for up to eight hours. The stains should be gone after this time, and you can remove the towels, rinse them with water, and allow them to dry in a different location.
2. Lemon Juice
Although it may sound a little like a recipe for salad dressing, lemon juice is actually a great hardwood floor cleaner. Its citric acid can cut through dirt and grime, leaving your floors sparkling clean. It’s also a natural disinfectant, which helps to eliminate germs that could make you ill. You can use it on wood and tile floors if you dilute it first.
White vinegar is another natural cleaning product that can help remove stubborn stains from wood furniture, floors, and other surfaces. It can be used alone or mixed with other ingredients to create a homemade cleaner. You can even add a few drops of essential oil to a white vinegar and water solution to give your home a fresh, clean scent.
Avoid using harsh chemical cleansers on your hardwood floors, as they can damage or discolor the surface. Instead, stick to eco-friendly cleansers made with natural ingredients.
If you have to use a commercial cleaning product, look for one that is designed specifically for hardwood floors. You should also avoid using products that contain chlorine bleach, ammonia, or abrasive cleaners. These can scratch or dull the finish on your floors and void your warranty.
You can prevent scratches and other damage to your hardwood floors by regularly swiping them with a dust mop. It’s best to do this on a daily basis in high-traffic areas. You can also place doormats inside and outside of the doors to catch the loose dirt, grit, and debris that can scratch and stain hardwood floors. By following these tips, you can keep your hardwood floors looking beautiful for years to come.
3. Baking Soda
One of the most versatile household products, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), receives high marks as an effective floor cleaner. It works well to sanitize and deodorize floors while erasing scuff marks, per Designing Idea. Just make sure to use a mild cleaner, as baking soda can be abrasive and cause damage to surfaces, especially when wet. To minimize this risk, saturate a sponge or rag mop in water and wring it so that the surface feels slightly damp. Then, mop, rinse, and wipe up excess liquid, as leaving standing water on hardwoods can damage the wood and potentially lead to warping.
Vinegar also is an excellent natural cleaner for wood floors, but its high acidity can disintegrate the seal on prefinished wood and make it dull, according to the American Hardwood Information Center. Therefore, it’s important to test your solution in an inconspicuous area before you use it on the rest of your hardwoods. If you have a urethane finish, vinegar can help bring out the shine of your flooring while removing dirt and grime.
Another natural product to consider is borax, a common mineral safe to use in homes and a popular option for cleaning grout. It’s also an effective fungicide, killing ants and termites while preventing the spread of fungi. To use borax, dissolve half a cup in a bucket of warm water and dip a sponge in the mixture before you clean your hardwoods.
Of course, the best way to avoid permanent wood flooring damage is to prevent it in the first place. Spills, messes, and drips should be dealt with immediately, as should ice cubes spilled on the floor or muddy paw prints from pets. Removing shoes at the door and trimming pet nails regularly is also a good idea, as these items can scratch and scuff wooden floors.
4. Natural Wax
The addition of hardwood floors to your home adds a beautiful natural touch. Whether they are coated in a rich stain or left unfinished, these floors stand up to many years of wear and tear. However, they must be maintained properly to keep them looking great. One way to do this is by regularly waxing them. Wax protects the wood, minimizing the absorption of spills and other damaging substances. It also helps hide scratches, scuffs, and dings on the surface of the wood.
There are a number of different types of natural waxes that can be used on hardwood floors. Some are derived from plants, while others are made from animal products, such as beeswax or tallow tree wax. However, you should always choose a product that is suitable for use on your hardwood floor. For example, a hard wax oil such as SAICOS will not work on wood that already has a polyurethane finish. Likewise, furniture polish can damage your hardwood flooring and should be avoided at all costs.
When choosing a type of wax to use, you should read the labels carefully. Look for a high-quality product with an appropriate melting point for your hardwood floor. Then, follow the instructions on the label to apply it. Using the proper amount of wax will help ensure that your hardwood floors will be protected for many years to come.
Some professionals recommend that you damp mop your hardwood floors, while others cringe at the idea. If your floors are waxed, water should not penetrate the protective layer and can be safely mopped. If you are unsure, place a drop of water on the floor. If the water is absorbed or causes spotting on the finish, your floors are not sealed and should not be cleaned with water.
5. Rugs and Mats
While hardwood floors can withstand a lot of wear and tear, it is always best to take some preemptive measures. Whether adding furniture pads to the legs of your sofas and chairs or setting up a shoe removal area in the entryway, there are several simple ways to help keep your hardwood flooring clean and protected.
Rugs and mats are a great way to decorate an interior space while also protecting hardwood flooring from scratches, stains, dirt, and debris. Rugs can also add color and texture to a room and are especially ideal for open-concept floor plans.
When selecting a rug for your home, make sure that it is crafted with the highest quality materials possible. Avoid rubber-backed rugs, as the padding can cause your hardwoods to dull and scratch. Instead, look for a rug made from cotton, wool, or natural rubber (like those from the tree sap of the rubber plant), as these types of backings allow for airflow and won’t leave behind any adhesive on your hardwood flooring.
Additionally, consider adding a rug pad under your floor. This can prevent dirt and dust from grinding against the hardwood, reducing the risk of damage while also increasing comfort and cushioning for anyone who walks on the rug. A non-toxic rug pad is the best option as it won’t scratch your floors and will not trap moisture or odors, which can warp wood flooring over time. These are available in a variety of sizes and styles to suit any taste and budget. You can purchase a rug pad for hardwood floors from most online or physical retailers.