Hardwood flooring sets the style tone in a home. Deep rich cherry wood floors exude an essence of tradition while oak floors display a more casual setting, bamboo-flooring shows off your contemporary style. Regardless of the style of wood floors, they require regular cleaning and stain removal. Some stains are more difficult to remove, but with a little work and the right cleaners, restoring and maintaining the original beauty is possible.

General Hardwood Floor Cleaning

Sweep or vacuum your floors daily to remove little bits of dust and dirt that lead to surface scratches. The seemingly harmless and almost invisible pieces of dirt or dust become ground into the floor from walking on them and cause mars in the finish.

Twice per week or more depending on the traffic in your home, mop the floors. For minor surface dirt and pet hair, slightly dampen a mop and clean the entire floor. Immediately follow the damp mop with a dry mop to avoid water spots and dulling of the hardwood flooring finish. Never allow water to remain on a wood floor surface; water causes white stains and seeps in between floorboards causing swelling of the wood. Wood swelling leads to warping and twisting of floorboards.

Once a week mop your hardwood floors with a mixture of white vinegar and water to remove heavier layers of dirt. Add 1 cup of white vinegar per gallon of cool water. Immediately follow with a dry mop to absorb the excess moisture. Do not use hot water because it will cause wood swelling that leads to damage.

Tar Stain Removal

Scrape up as much of the tar as possible with a flexible putty knife. Do not use metal or any tool that will scratch the surface.

Rub a thick layer of butter or margarine over the tar stain with a rag or soft nylon scrubbing net. Continue to work the butter into the tar stain, working from the outside of the stain towards the middle until the stain disappears.

Pour flour over the area to absorb the grease left behind. Allow the flour to remain on the floor for one hour.

Sweep or vacuum the flour.

Wash the area with degreasing dish soap and a sponge, immediately dry with a clean soft rag.

Heel Marks

Rub the scuffmark with 0000 grade extra fine steel wool gently until the mark is gone.

Apply a light coat of hardwood paste wax with 0000 grade extra fine steel wool.

Water Marks

Mix four tbls. petroleum jelly with four tbls. baking soda and apply the mixture to the stain with a soft rag.

Rub the mixture into the stain. Rub in a circular pattern beginning at the outer edge of the stain and work towards the middle.

Allow it to sit on the stain for 10 minutes.

Wipe away with a clean, soft rag.

Grease Removal from Hardwood Floors

Wipe up excess grease from the surface.

Mix 1/2 cup nonsudsing ammonia with 1/2 cup of water in a spray bottle.

Mist the greasy area and allow it to sit for two to three minutes.

Wipe the area with a soft cloth and repeat if necessary.

Pet Urine Stain and Odor Removal on Wood Flooring

Find the source of the pet urine odor. Many times this stain is clearly visible, but if you can smell it and not see it, shine a black light onto the floor. The black light will cause the urine stain to glow. Use blackboard chalk to draw an outline around invisible stains.

Apply a 1/2 inch thick layer of baking soda over the entire stain.

Pour white vinegar over the baking soda. The vinegar and baking soda will react and begin foaming immediately.

Scrub the area with a scrub brush while the baking soda and vinegar are foaming. Continue to scrub the floor until the foaming action stops.

Wash the area with a damp towel or mop two to three times to avoid a hazy appearance from the baking soda residue. Dry the floor with a soft, cloth immediately.

Clean stains on hardwood floors as soon as an accident occurs to avoid difficult to remove stains. Some stains require several treatments to restore the floor to its original condition. General cleaning is best way to maintain hardwood floors and ensure a long lasting surface.