Can you use vinegar on hardwood floors?
Your wood floors are a beautiful investment that can potentially grace your home for several decades if they are well-maintained. One of the most crucial steps for proper floor care is to keep the surface clean. Dust, dirt, pet hair and other debris will fall onto your floor regularly. In addition, grime can build up over time. This can make the floor appear dull and filthy even after you have just swept away the superficial layer of dirt. Many people are accustomed to cleaning with white vinegar and water. Is vinegar safe on hardwood floors? Both apple cider vinegar and white vinegar have exceptional cleaning benefits and are effective on many countertop surfaces, tile, glass and more. However, cleaning with vinegar can result in significant damage to your beautiful hardwood floor. Learning how to clean your engineered hardwood floors safely and effectively is essential for their long-term care.
Everyday Cleaning Tips
Regardless of whether your hardwood floors have a high-sheen finish, a distressed look with deep striations or another finish, dust, dirt and other debris is easily visible. Because this debris can accumulate substantially in a high-traffic area, you may need to sweep the floor daily. In less busy areas, sweeping once or twice a week may be sufficient. Use a soft-bristle broom, and ensure that debris that could scratch the finish is not caught in the broom bristles.
While sweeping at least a few times each week is a good idea for general floor cleaning, you will need to mop the floor periodically to remove the layer of grime that can accumulate. Mopping can also restore the wood floor’s sheen when the right cleaning product and supplies are used.
The Importance of Knowing Your Hardwood Floor’s Finish
When cleaning a wood floor, you are not actually touching the wood. A floor finisher has been applied to the wood to seal and protect it. Therefore, any cleaning solution that you use should be safe for the finish rather than for the actual wood. Because multiple types of finishes are used on wood floors, you should first determine the type of finish on your flooring.
If you do not know the type of finish on your floor, simply run a finger over the surface. If the floor does not smudge, your flooring is surface-sealed. This type of wood floor finish is the easiest to maintain, and most modern wood floors have this finish. Because this finish is stain-resistant and water-resistant, you can follow easy cleaning instructions with a damp mop after sweeping.
If a smudge appears on the floor after you run your finger across it, your flooring may be oil-treated, or penetrating seal-treated. It also could have a surface seal with a material that is not moisture-resistant. These floors should be cleaned with specialized floor cleaners and waxed periodically.
When and How to Mop Your Hardwood Floors
If your home has surface-sealed hardwood floors that are common in many homes today, understand that the material is water-resistant rather than waterproof. Excessive moisture as well as moisture that remains on the floor too long can result in water damage. Moist mopping should only be completed with a microfiber mop. This is because traditional mops generally use more water and leave extra moisture on the surface. With a microfiber mop, you are less likely to create water damage on your wood floor.
Before cleaning the floor with moisture, remove the large particles and debris by dust mopping or sweeping. Once the large particles are removed, choose the right cleaning method. Many people prefer to clean with a special floor cleaning product. Ensure that this product is safe for use on your specific floor type. It should have a neutral pH level. Work in small sections, spraying a fine layer of cleaning product onto the floor in front of the mop. Ensure that the section that you are working on is not excessively wet before moving to the next section.
Vinegar is acidic, and it can strip away all types of finishes, therefore vinegar is not safe on hardwood floors. The same effect is possible when using ammonia, abrasive cleaning agents and alkaline-based products. You may be inclined to use furniture waxes and oils on the floor to restore the sheen, but this not advisable. These products are oil-based and make the floor slick and dangerous to walk on. Keep in mind that the use of some cleaning products could negate your flooring warranty.
The floor finisher may have recommended a specific cleaning product that is safe and effective for your floor. You can also use dishwashing soap and water. Rather than filling a giant cleaning bucket with soap water that could easily spill over, fill a small spritzer bottle with soapy water. Do not allow the soapy water to remain on the floor. You should follow up by completing the process with clean water. You may need to scrub tough spots with a soft dish towel.
These tips will help you to care for your hardwood floor in the years ahead. Before using any new products on your floor, carefully research the ingredients. A smart idea is to test the product on an inconspicuous area as well before applying it to the entire floor.