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How to deep clean wooden floors  

21 August 2023

Wood flooring expert Martin O'Callaghan provides expert insight on how you should be caring for your wood flooring now that the summer months are coming to an end. 

SUMMER IS a crucial period and failing to regularly deep clean your wooden floors can result in the build-up of dirt. In the long run, this can result in the wood becoming dull, damaged and needing to be replaced much sooner than you expected.       

You’d be surprised at just how much damage can be caused when you allow dirt and debris to accumulate, especially around entranceways and other areas in the home where there is high footfall. By the end of August you could be left with a series of scratches or gashes on your floors as kids are constantly running in and out, a single scratch on average can cost anywhere from £20-£100 to fix!

It's best to act now and avoid disaster. The advice – If you haven’t already been doing so, regularly deep clean your floors before damage can snowball and you’re left with some unsightly floors and a massive repair bill. 

To deep clean:  

1.) Start by brushing the floor and vacuuming in order to take up the top layer of dust. It’s important to follow the direction of the wood, this will allow you to catch as much gunk and grime as possible.   

If you're not cautious, loose dirt and debris may cause a lot of damage, especially around entrances and other places where there may be a lot of foot traffic. When trodden on and dragged across the floor, this material can easily leave stains and scratches on the wood.   

The summer comes with kids at home more so than usual and they will stress test your floors! Toys are getting dragged from the back garden, out the front and back through again, which can lead to the build-up of dirt at entryways becoming especially bad. If feasible, we'd advise cleaning and vacuuming the space every day to limit build-up.”   

2.) Using a microfibre pad to clean your floors rather than a traditional mop is hugely important. Traditional mops can sometimes scratch the wood making microfiber pads the better choice for deep cleaning. Your basic mop can also put far too much water onto the floor, which can lead to water damage and potentially over time, warping.   

This summer has been one of the wettest in recent memory, so inevitably there’s going to be lots of wet shoes and boots coming through your front door, this can lead to trails of standing water accumulating on surfaces throughout the home. If this water is allowed to gather on the surface, it may cause serious harm – In certain situations, it may even cause the floor the bend and warp. 

Be vigilant when it comes to wiping up wet patches, but we must emphasise, do not overclean the floor. Instead, keep a mop at your entryways to give the floor a quick wipe when needed and use mats for extra protection. If you keep cleaning the wood and adding more water, you run the danger of permanently warping the wood. If your floors are still wet several minutes after cleaning, you're using far too much water.  

It’s also important to remember that hardwood floors should never, ever be cleaned with steam. Steam mops are growing in popularity but the rapid changes in temperature and moisture will cause the wood to warp – Fixing warping isn’t cheap, depending on the severity of the issue you could be left with a bill anywhere from £500-£8500.

3.) It's important at this point to evaluate the condition of the floor and identify any problem areas that need extra attention. Any areas that have set in stains will need specific attention with specialist products. To find out the exact product to use you will need to first identify what caused the stain.    

“Things like rings left behind by cups, scratches and other damage can slowly build up if you’re not regularly cleaning. Taking the time to examine your floors may uncover more of these areas than you realized. Often putting in a bit of extra time, elbow grease and using your normal floor cleaner can get these stains up. For scratches, letting a paste of baking soda and olive oil to sit on them for 5-10 minutes helps reduces their visibility.”  

4.) The final mop down should be done with a Linseed oil soap. Linseed oil soap lifts dirt while leaving behind a layer of linseed oil that helps protect the wooden floors and gives them new life. It's important to remember to go with the grain of the wood and to regularly change the microfiber pad.   

“Here, less really is more and using a special product like Linseed oil soap can really revive the floor. Start by doing a test patch on an out of the way area to make sure it works with your floors finish. It's important to remember to go with the grain of the wood and to regularly change the pad itself. This helps the oil to settle into the grain and prevents dust building up on the microfiber pad and getting rubbed back into the wood.”   

Damage and dirt is too far gone – What now? 

If the issues aren’t too severe and you catch the issues in time, hiring a professional cleaning service could help bring your floors back to life.    

Professional cleaning can cost between £20 – £30 per square . Most British living rooms are usually somewhere around 200 square feet, so getting your floors professionally cleaned could cost upwards of £3500.  

It could also get to the point where you need to refinish your floor if it is looking particularly tired and discoloured.    

After the top layer has deteriorated to a certain degree, it may need to be refinished. Sanding down the floor and adding a fresh layer of lacquer can breathe new life into the wood. If you DIY this, it can work out cheaper than getting the floor professionally cleaned but will require a lot of time and effort.

Worst case scenario – The floors degrade to such a point where an entirely new floor is needed.   

On average, a new hardwood floor could cost anywhere from £30 to £45 per square feet, meaning that an entirely new floor for a 200 square feet room could potentially cost around £5000. If you properly maintain your floors from the outset, however, you won't have to deal with this issue and your pocket will thank you for it.

Martin O'Callaghan is a wood flooring expert and owner of Munster Hardwood Flooring

For more information visit https://munsterhardwoodflooring.ie/