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Hardwood Floors: Beautiful, But a Pain to Keep Clean

Hardwood Floors are beautiful to look at and expensive to install. But keeping them clean is not necessarily the easiest thing to do. Growing up in a house with hardwood floors, I know how hard it was for my Mom to keep the floors shiny, especially with four kids. With two boys and two girls constantly running in and out of the house with various forms of the "outside world" caked to our shoes, I believe my Mom finally just gave up. If she had followed even the basic rules for keeping a hardwood floor clean with the four of us tracking Mother Nature in on a daily basis, she wouldn't have had time for anything else.

Dirt and dust is your hardwood floor's worst enemy. Though microscopic in size, the minute granules scratch your hardwood floor's finish and over time transforms your mirror-finished floor into a floor more reminiscent of the floors of the log cabins inhabited long ago by our ancestors. Following are some tips to keep your investment shiny and new for years to come.

Though there are many manufacturers of hardwood floors to choose from, and they all have their own rules for keeping your floor clean and grit-free, there are some basic rules you can follow to keep your floors looking good.

For surface finishes:

Always use the manufacturer's recommended cleaning products. If the manufacturer is not known, use a generic cleaning hardwood floor cleaner.

When little Junior spills his soda on a daily basis, wipe it up immediately with a damp cloth.

For stubborn stains, lightly dampen a cloth with the manufacturer's recommended cleaner and apply directly to the stain. Do not use petroleum-based cleaners on water-based finishes.

And when the floor loses its luster and shine, it's time to recoat. Unless you yourself are a professional floor cleaner, hire someone.

For wax finishes:

Dry mop regularly with an untreated dust mop. Vacuum, sweep or dust mop regularly to remove grit from the floor.

Junior can spill his soda on waxed floor as easily as he can on a surface finish. Follow the same instructions.

To remove water spots, use a fine steel wool and a small amount of mineral spirits.

Floors should be cleaned, stripped and rewaxed once or twice a year depending on traffic.

Preventative maintenance for all finishes:

Floor protective pads on the bottoms of furniture. Scatter rugs at entrances will help trap the grit from shoes that is your hardwood floor's worst enemy. Sweep, vacuum or dust mop both the floor and rugs on a regular basis.

To put it simply, cleaning hardwood floors is not rocket science. It just requires a little effort on the consumer's part. Dirt, grime and dust, though small and almost naked to the human eye in most cases, are your hardwood floor's worst enemy. Keep these enemies of your floor cleaned on a regular basis and you will enjoy a lustrous, shiny floor for years to come.

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Allen Shaw is a successful author who provides tips and information on hardwood flooring and wood flooring in general.

"I am the news director at USA News Network and have been working as freelance writer for 2 years. I've been published in a few magazines, newspapers and websites and my specialty up to this point has been movie and music reviews."

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