A clean hardwood floor is a thing of beauty.
But the very shiny, reflective surface that makes hardwood look brilliant and sparkling will also show any streaks from incorrect mopping techniques. Streaking usually is a result of ineffective pre-cleaning, hard water, or inadequate rinsing or drying.
If you don’t want unsightly streaks messing up the shine on your maple, pine, ash or cherry, follow these easy tips.
- Take your shoes off. Dirt tracked in on your soles is just going to make your job more difficult, not to mention the dirt that will wind up getting swirled around the floor.
- Never use too much or the wrong kind of cleaner for your floors. You’ll only cause product buildup, which can cause a streaking problem.
- Mopping comes at the end of your cleaning session, not the beginning! You should already be sweeping and dusting floors two or three times a week. Dust is the number-one cause of dull floors to begin with. If you neglect dust removal, a mop will swirl dust particles around and leave dull, streaky residue behind.
- How hard is your water? Water that is full of minerals, such as limestone or calcium, makes any cleaning job tougher. Cleansing agents don’t work as well, and the water is more likely to cause dullness or streaks. Consider buying distilled water for your mopping needs to completely avoid this problem.
On the other hand, a household water softening system makes every cleaning task easier and is nicer on your skin and hair. Now may be the time to make that purchase!
- Try spraying your cleaning solution on the floor instead of applying it with a mop. It’s safer to spray — you are less likely to cause damage to the wood from water soaking into the floor. If you have done a good job keeping the dust and grit at bay, you shouldn’t need too much cleaner anyway. The fine mist is less likely to leave a streaky effect than cleaner applied with a mop.
- If you are applying the cleaner with the mop, wring it out thoroughly and rinse it often in the cleaning solution. Don’t let the mop head get dirty, and don’t mop with cleaning solution that’s full of dirt.
- Always work on a small portion of the floor at a time. Work the mop with the grain of the wood.
- Once you have mopped with the cleaning solution, finish up thoroughly rinsing your mop in plain water and wring it out. Again, go with the grain of the wood.
- Before moving on to another part of the floor, go ahead and dry the section you’re working on with a towel. This will completely remove any liquid — always safer for your floors — and keep the drying streaks at bay. It’s the same concept as drying your car with a chamois cloth instead of letting it air dry.
- If you find any white water spots, attack them with mineral spirits. Gently dab on with a soft, clean cloth (white only), blot with another clean cloth that is slightly damp with water, and let it dry.
Proper mopping is really not all that complicated, but taking the time to do it right will give you a perfect shine that truly reveals that gorgeous wood floor.