Okay guys, if you have expensive hardwood floors, you should know that you have to be very particular about the ways that you go about cleaning them. It is dangerously easy to get careless and use inappropriate cleaning chemicals on specialty flooring types like this and end up causing yourself very expensive and easily avoidable damages (and very quickly, I might add!) For those of you that don’t have the ability to hire your own maid service to clean your floors for you, it becomes an issue that you have to address on your own.
Vinegar-based products: the good and the bad
Many people have trusted using vinegar as a household clean-all for years, and with great results! In fact, vinegar is often one of the key ingredients in many popular “green” or “eco-friendly” cleaning supplies that consumers have been going nuts over for the last decade or so. People have flocked to it because:
- It works
- It’s cheap
- It’s more or less considered more “natural” than many of the hard-to-pronounce chemicals that are present in many common consumer-grade cleaning products.
I’ll save the science talk—but putting it simply, vinegar is an acidic solution, and can cause damage to certain flooring types which aren’t meant for it (wood flooring being one of them, often).
Many people opt for material-specific specialty cleaning chemicals, but for those that still want to go the ‘natural’ route, vinegar doesn’t have to necessarily ruled out! Some people argue that a very dilute solution can still be useful on expensive hardwood floors.
Staying on the safe side
For the purposes of staying on the safe side I would strongly recommend that you consider just using a pH neutral cleaning agent (like we will in this guide) to clean your floor. Even if your floor doesn’t show obvious immediate damage, the kind of wear and tear that a nice wood floor takes from using harsh acidic cleaners is cumulative, meaning that it can add up over time.
To anyone that has paid for hardwood flooring, you know how pricey it is. In my opinion, it is not worth the risk. Regardless of everything though, take everything that you read on the internet with a grain of salt and think carefully before doing something that may damage your property!
Alright, let’s get to it…
Equipment & Supplies
Luckily, everything needed for this guide is very cheap and easily accessible for your average consumer. I tried to keep the supplies list as general as possible, to allow room for adaptation and versatility for each person who gives it a try.
To get started, pick up the following either at your local grocery store or online:
- Pick a pH neutral hardwood floor cleaner of your choice. I won’t go into any specific endorsements here—but use a trusted one that comes in a bottled soap formula. Make sure to get one that doesn’t include any wax in it. Just a simple pH neutral cleaning soap.
- 1 ¾ cup of lukewarm tap water
- Plastic spraying bottle
- A mop of your choosing
Optional: residue-free fragrance of your choosing (based on smell)
I’ve got the stuff… now what?
That was easy, huh? Here’s what you do…
- Take a few drops of the pH neutral soap and mix it in with the water.
- Add a few drops of the fragrance (don’t overdo it though!).
- Pour your solution into your plastic spray bottle.
- Gently swirl the bottle around until the soap and fragrance completely mix together without coming up with a sudsy mess. Just make sure it mixes!
Now, take your mop and damp it in tap water. It doesn’t need to be dripping wet, just moist enough that you can use it to scrub your floor without it sucking up all the cleaner that you put down.
Once your mop is moistened, take your spray bottle and pick a moderately-sized spot on your flooring and give it a good misting to evenly distribute the soapy solution over your cleaning area.
Immediately take your mop and vigorously scrub the area that you misted with the soap solution. The key here is to clean the floor bit by bit… applying enough cleaner to adequately clean the area you are in without going overboard.
Once you have gone over the area, remove any excess water that’s on the floor and let it dry completely while you move onto the next location.
Once it’s dry, assess and modify your technique to ensure that you are applying the correct amount of cleaning solution each time.
Sparking clean—doesn’t get much easier than that!
…and that’s basically all there is to do! I’ve known many people to disregard vinegar completely once they get this kind of process down. The key is working up your own solution and process, and finding out which combination works for your specific floor. Give it a whirl and let me know how you do!
Scott Lakey is a Tampa, Florida native who enjoys publishing and discussing topics including cleaning, home improvement, science, business, and entrepreneurship. He is the owner of Maids of Glory, a local Tampa Bay residential cleaning service.