5 Winter Wood Cleaning Steps to Maintain Your Floors

When the colder air of the winter settles in, your hardwood flooring will need even more TLC than you usually give it, due to all that dirt tracked in from muddy shoes and less moisture in the air. The less moisture in the air, the greater chance of developing gaps in between planks. Here’s a plan of action that will help keep them in good shape – this winter and all year through.

1.  Remove the Dust and Dirt

Dust mites are at their peak in late summer, leaving behind buildups of bacteria that will scratch hardwood floors once they get ground in. Make it a point to vacuum or sweep up the dirt and dust once a week with a dust mop or vacuum with a brush attachment. Use gentle motions and soft brushes to prevent damage to your floors and furniture.

2.  Restore the Shine

Sweeping and mopping won’t be enough to keep your floors grime-free. Use a natural oil soap and a damp mop to refresh your floors and preserve their luster without damaging the wood in the process. Don’t leave standing water on the floor, which also damages wood. Be sure to wipe it dry and let it sit. Perform a deep clean right before winter to maintain your hardwood and guard it against the elements that find their way inside.

3.  Prevent Gaps

Gapping can happen to your wood flooring in winter due to the low indoor humidity levels, which can dry out the wood – especially after the year’s highest moisture levels just occurred in the summer. When wood experiences moisture loss, it tends to contract and shrink, revealing spaces between the boards. You can reduce this winter gapping by controlling this annual range of moisture. Run a humidifier in the rooms that are subjected to the most fluctuation in humidity, such as rooms that have doors to the outside. Make sure the relative humidity (RH) levels don’t swing more than 20% from the wettest to driest.

4.  Use Rugs and Runners

Rugs do a lot more than just make a room feel warmer and cozier in winter; they also serve a very big role in protecting your floors from wear and tear. Put rugs and runners in high-traffic area and at entrances to guard against scratches and to prevent wet shoes from warping the wood. Steer clear of rugs that have rubber or vinyl backing because these can damage the finish and retain moisture underneath.

5.  Put a Mat Outside

Keeping dirt from getting on your floors in the first place is the best course of action. Place door mats outside your home at the entryway, and side and back doors. This way, family members and guests can wipe off their shoes before entering. It’s also a good idea to put a shoe rack in your entry hallway to ensure any remaining dirt, moisture and rock salt from boots and clothing stays away from your floors.

Regular preventive maintenance will go a long way toward keeping your wood floors clean and in optimal condition.

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