Unless you adopt a strict no-shoes policy in your home, dirt will get tracked in and onto your hardwood floors. And even if the humans in the house take off their shoes at the door, your pets can’t do the same. Follow these simple steps to clean dirty floors, then learn a few easy tricks for keeping as much dirt as possible off hardwoods during the muddy spring season and year-round.
Sweep, Then Vacuum
Start the cleaning process by sweeping your hardwood floor with a high-quality broom with rubber bristles; these bristles prove less abrasive than straw, which can scratch the finish on your floors. Start at one end of the room and move backward, getting into every corner and as far under furniture and appliances as you can. Gather the dust and debris into a pile.
Use a vacuum without a beater bar to suck up the pile, then clean the floor again with the vacuum, paying special attention to gaps between boards. Sweep then vacuum at least once a week and spot clean dirty floors when accidents, or muddy footprints, happen.
Deep Clean Only as Necessary
If you regularly sweep, then vacuum your hardwood floors, only spot deep cleaning should be required. Use a professional cleaner made for hardwood floors and a soft cloth to clean up marks from shoes and toys. Clean sticky messes with a damp sponge or soft cloth. Whatever you do, do not use excessive water, as it can cause the boards to expand and splinter, and do not use wood soap, as it will dull the finish of your floors.
If you have laminate floors and not real hardwood, follow the cleaning directions provided by the manufacturer or installer.
Stop Dirt at the Door
Lay down a floor mat at each entry point in your home, both inside and out, and encourage everyone to wipe their feet. Choose a heavy-duty mat that can withstand the elements, such as rubber, for the outside. Opt for a natural-fiber floor mat for the inside; rubber-backed mats can lead to dirt trapped underneath scratching your hardwood floors. Shake the rugs outside when you clean your dirty floors each week.
Keep Your Pup’s Feet Clean
Before allowing Spot into the house, give his paws a quick cleaning with a towel or pre-moistened doggie wipes. Keep the towel or wipes in a basket by the door and make paw care part of his walks by cleaning him up outside before taking off his leash. If you live in an area that lends itself to muddy messes year-round, consider investing in a portable paw bath. These canisters have soft bristles inside that you dip each your dog’s paws into before letting him inside.
Provide Additional Protection
Prevent other types of damage to your hardwood floors by installing floor protectors on furniture, both heavy and light pieces, and by using window treatments to protect the floors from harsh sunlight during the day. Also, don’t forget to trim your pet’s nails regularly.
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