It may seem like your hardwood floors become covered in scratches and unsightly scuffs without you even noticing. Well, there's a good reason for that: hardwood is a delicate surface that's susceptible to damage even when you're careful. Certain cleaning methods can add to the issue as well, which makes maintenance even trickier. The only way to avoid these issues is to know what's causing them in the first place.

Ways You're Damaging Your Hardwood

Wearing Shoes Indoors

a woman in high heels on a hardwood floor

It might not seem like a big deal to duck back into the house to retrieve an item, but even those few steps can damage your hardwood. Not only can your shoes leave marks behind, but they can also track in dirt, which stains your floors. Pointed shoes like high heels or cleats are also to blame, as they can easily scuff a floor. It's best to leave your shoes at the door if you have hardwood at home.

Not Putting Down Carpets Or Mats

a white carpet on a hardwood floor

When you walk into a home with flawless hardwood, it can take your breath away. Rugs and mats may conceal the beauty of hardwood, but they also protect it from damage. That's not to say that you should put an area rug down in your living room, but you should protect high-traffic areas, such as entryways and hallways, in your home.

A simple mat or carpet strip in your entryway, especially near the door, will pick up dirt and take the brunt of foot traffic. However, you'll need to be careful when choosing a rug, because rug undersides can cause dulling or scratching of hardwood as well. Ask an expert at your local carpet store to help you find a mat that has good traction but won't scuff up your floor.

If you have hardwood in your kitchen, be sure to protect it from water droplets and spills by placing mats near the dishwasher and sink.

Not Clipping Your Pet's Nails

adorable beagle puppy walking on a hardwood floor

Your pet's long nails will definitely wreak havoc on your hardwood, and the only way to stop the destruction in its tracks is proper nail upkeep. Regularly clip your pet's nails to keep your hardwood protected and to keep your pet happy and comfortable.

Not Protecting Floors From Furniture

End table and chair legs will also damage your hardwood if you're not careful. Take care when you're rearranging furniture, and avoid dragging furniture across the floor. Consider adding felt pads to the bottoms of table and chair legs to ensure smoother moving and cleaner hardwood.

Using The Wrong Cleaning Methods

a person vacuuming a hardwood floor

A few easy ways to wreck your hardwood are to:

  • leave spills on the floor longer than you should
  • use the wrong cleaning products
  • clean hardwood with water
  • use the wrong vacuum nozzles when cleaning

Taking care of hardwood is an important job, and familiarizing yourself with the proper cleaning methods is just part of the process. To protect your floors, always remember to:

  • wipe up spills as soon as possible. Spills left untended will leak into the floorboards and produce mildew.
  • never use harsh chemicals on your hardwood. Avoid using ammonia and vinegar; ammonia will cause your boards to become dull and discolored, and vinegar might stain your hardwood. Additionally, steaming hardwood might cause the boards to peel, warp, or crack.
  • never use water when cleaning your hardwood. Use a vacuum or a simple broom and dustpan.
  • use the hardwood setting on your vacuum
  • clean the hardwood on a regular basis, or you may see more damage over time

How Can I Keep My Hardwood Looking Beautiful?

a mop on a hardwood floor

As we mentioned, water shouldn't come in contact with hardwood. The best way to clean your hardwood is using your standard broom and dustpan. You can also use a vacuum, but be sure to use the proper attachment. A floor expert can recommend the best cleaning methods for your particular brand of hardwood.

For deeper cleaning, you can use products like Pledge Floor Cleaner or Orange Glo. When you're using these products, though, don't drench the floor. Clean one small area at a time and only apply a small amount of product to your mop.

Remember, there are tougher kinds of hardwood out there, and if you purchase the sturdier kind, it won't show damage as fast as the others.

How Often Should I Clean My Hardwood Floors?

a person with a broom and dustpan cleaning hardwood

How often you should clean your floors really depends on the sort of cleaning you're doing. Wiping your boards down with a microfiber pad once every few days will help get rid of any dust particles that could cause damage later on. A weekly mopping with the appropriate product will pick up residue you may have missed and will also provide a deeper clean. Every four to six months, you should look into polishing your hardwood.

The kind of cleaning you do and how often you do it will also depend on foot traffic and the activities happening in your home (like moving or parties).

Maintaining hardwood is a tough job. A lot of things can cause unsightly scratches, and the issue only gets worse when you don't know what caused it. Be sure to clean your floors on a regular basis to keep particles from harming them, and keep away from chemicals that will strip your wood of its finish.

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