How to Use a Damp Cloth on a Sanded Wood Floor

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Churning up all that dust has helped to make your wood floors level and smooth, but even though the mess-making is finished, it's not quite time to move onto staining or sealing. To make sure your floors look like they've received the royal wood-refinishing treatment, clean off all the particles that have settled on the floor -- and everywhere else in the room, too. Before you decide to pull out the mop and bucket to clean up the mess, take a look at a few, simple techniques that will help to prepare the floors for your finish while protecting them from water damage at the same time.

Things You'll Need

  • Lint-free rags (such as cloth diapers)
  • Bucket
  • Dip the rag in a bucket of lukewarm water. You can use any type of lint-free rag, but a clean, cloth diaper works well. Wring out the cloth as thoroughly as possible. By the time you're finished wringing, the cloth should feel a damp, not wet. You do not want the exposed wood floors to absorb any water; the cloth should be just damp enough to allow the loose dust from sanding to cling to it.

  • Shake out the cloth to lay it flat and slide it along the floor, following the grain of the wood to avoid leaving any streak marks that could show through the finish. The rag should sweep across the floor; do not press down on the cloth. Cover an area of about 1- by 3-feet.

  • Wipe a dry cloth across the area, still following the wood grain, to remove any moisture. If the is wood is wet while it is exposed, the water will raise the wood grain.

  • Continue working across small sections of the floor, first sweeping away the dust with a damp rag and then drying it quickly with a dry one. When the damp rag gets dirty, dip it back into the water to clean it off and then wring it out thoroughly again. Replace the dry cloth with a fresh one if it starts to become damp.

Tips & Warnings

  • Once you've sanded the floor, vacuum up the mess with a soft-bristle attachment to suck up the majority of the dust and get into hard-to-reach spots, such as the edges of baseboard. Make sure you've cleaned up any dust mess on window ledges and on top of baseboard before cleaning up the rest of the mess with a damp cloth. If you leave this cleanup until after, more dust will fall on the floor. Make sure you have no dust in your hair or on your clothing when you're working on cleanup, too.
  • If you're finishing the floor with a water-based finish, cleaning the sanded floor with a rag dampened with water is fine. If you'll be using an oil-based finish, use mineral spirits instead of water.

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References

  • What Your Contractor Can't Tell You: The Essential Guide to Building and Renovating; Amy Johnston
  • Wood Flooring: A Complete Guide to Layout, Installation & Finishing; Charles Peterson
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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