Quick Tips for Cleaning Your Hardwood Floors

Apartment dweller with trendy leather shoes, mopping hardwood floorDepending on your style, an apartment with hardwood floors can feel cozy, swanky, or vintage. While hardwoods look good and certainly feel good under your bare feet, what about cleaning them? Here are some quick cleaning tips for apartment dwellers who want to make their hardwood floors shimmer and shine!

Tip #1: Determine the type of hardwood.

This is the first item on your to-do list because you’ll need this information in order to safely clean your floors. Find out whether you have a “surface-sealed finish” or “penetrating-wood finish,” which are the two basic types of finishes. There’s a big difference between the two! One is smooth on the top and the other has more texture to it. A general rule of thumb is to place your finger (ha, or thumb) on a clean floor and see if it leaves a smudge. If there’s a smudge, it’s likely a surface-sealed wood finish.

If you’re not sure, though, give your apartment manager a call before whipping out any cleaning supplies. There are specific do’s and don’ts for each of these floor finishes and you don’t want to run the risk of ruining your floors and losing your security deposit, all because you were trying to clean!

Tip #2: Don’t use water (unless it’s on surface-sealed wood)!

It’s okay to use some water on surface-sealed hardwoods (urethane, polyurethane, and poly-acrylic floors). Use water, but sparingly. Water and wood don’t really go together anyway, but if the floors are well-sealed, they should be okay. While cleaning lacquered, varnished, or shellacked floors, which are technically surface-sealed floors, clean them as you would clean penetrating wood finishes.

When cleaning penetrating wood finishes, never, never use water! Water could cause permanent damage by warping, fading, or allowing unwanted moisture in or around the flooring. Moisture build up can be harmful to your health (mold buildup, yuck!), and your floors.

Tip #3: Find the right cleaner for your hardwood.

If water won’t damage your floors, check out these natural cleaning solutions you can mix up from household ingredients you may already have in your apartment!

Olive Oil and Lemon Juice Mix
1 gallon of hot water
3/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice

Essential Oils and Vinegar Mix
3 teaspoons white vinegar
16 ounces of warm water
1-2 drops essential oils

Use a damp mop (or equivalent) to apply the cleaner. Do not saturate the floor with cleaner, even though surface-sealed wood floors can tolerate water.

If you’re cleaning floors with a penetrating wood finish, use a solvent-based cleaner. Apply the cleaner by spraying a light film. Then, dry mop your floors.

Tip #4: Get in a rhythm.

Depending on your personality and style, find a rhythm for regularly cleaning your wood floors. It all depends on the amount and type of traffic in your apartment. Some people clean daily, and others yearly. No matter your cleaning regimen, clean your hardwoods…even if you’re just renting the apartment. Not only will your apartment look better, but you’ll feel better too!

In general, it’s a good idea to mop (or vacuum) your hardwood every week. If you vacuum, make sure to use a vacuum with a floor-brush attachment and not a beater bar attachment.

Then, once a month, give your floors a nice polish by using commercial cleaner or a DIY polishing solution. This keeps them looking great and protects them from damage too.

Tip #5: Remove scuff marks.

A common way to remove scuff marks on hardwood is by applying baking soda with a damp towel to the floor. Scuffs are bound to happen, but don’t sweat it! Just dig in and use a little elbow grease. The marks should come right off!

Tip #6: Cut a rug.

Nothing makes hardwood floors look and feel warmer than some well placed oriental rugs or colorful mats, plus they help prevent those unsightly scuffs we mentioned in the last tip! Start with just two in the most high-trafficked areas of your apartment: a doormat on the inside of your apartment entry door and a rug by the sink or refrigerator.

Tip #7: Consider refinishing.

If you’re in the same apartment for more than three years, ask your apartment manager if they have a policy about refinishing hardwoods. Hardwood experts recommend refinishing your floors every three to five years, and your apartment manager/owner may be willing to refinish them on their own dime. You’ll never know if you don’t ask!

Once you’ve cleaned your floor, found your rhythm, and protected your floors, it’s time to dance! What’s a slick floor without a little song and dance? As always, stay tuned for more apartment life tips and tricks on the Apartment Search blog at blog.apartmentsearch.com!