They sure look sturdy and durable. Yet when it comes to cleaning, hardwood floors are one of the most delicate surfaces in your home. Harsh cleansers, steam, wax, vinegar, baking soda — so many of the things we use to clean and polish other home fixtures should never be used to clean wooden floors. Luckily, you're not restricted to cleaning your hardwoods with a toothbrush and water. You have plenty of easy and creative options for making your wooden floors gleam.
1. Remove Scuffs With a Tennis Ball
If you have a "no balls in the house" rule, it might be time to relax it just a bit. Fuzzy tennis balls can actually be used to remove stubborn scuffs on your floors. Grab a tennis ball and rub it back and forth over those scuffs until they disappear. Be sure to pick a new ball; the one the dog has been chewing on won't exactly help you make your home any cleaner.
2. Erase Scratches With a Walnut
A cleaning tip that also yields a snack for you? That's a win-win. When you spot a scratch on your hardwood floor, crack open a walnut and grab a big piece of shell. Rub the shell over the scratch and follow up by rubbing the area with your fingers, to work the shell's oil into the scratch. Buff the area with a microfiber cloth and reward your efforts with some walnut brownies.
3. Use Black Tea to Make Floors Shine
Maybe you turn to black tea to help you wake up in the morning or soothe a sore throat. This kitchen staple is just as beneficial for your floors as it is for your body. The tannins in black tea should give your hardwoods a warm glow. Steep a big batch of tea and use a microfiber mop or cloth to work the cooled tea all over the floors. Start with a small, inconspicuous spot to make sure the tea isn't too dark for your floors.
4. Lift Permanent Marker Stains With Alcohol
You can tell kids a thousand times that markers go on paper, not on floors. But when ink inevitably ends up on your floors anyway, the only thing that matters is getting it out quickly. Rubbing alcohol can help lift those ink stains from your wooden floors. Pour a little on a cotton round or microfiber cloth and gently rub to remove the ink, then wipe again with a damp cloth to remove any traces of alcohol.
5. Stock Up on Microfiber Cloths
Microfiber is your best friend when it comes to keeping wooden floors clean. Buy a multipack and use them for everything — cleaning up spills, sweeping dust away, even gently drying the floor after you've mopped with your homemade solution. These cloths won't scratch your hardwood. Throw them in the washing machine when you're done.
6. Don DIY Dusting Slippers
Listen, you work hard — there's no shame in being lazy every now and then. Laziness and cleanliness can actually go hand in hand when you create your own dusting slippers. They're available in stores, but it's also relatively easy to attach hook and loop fasteners (aka, Velcro) to your existing slippers, and attach microfiber cloths to the fasteners. Cruise around your home, drink in hand, secure in the knowledge that your floors are getting dusted without any extra effort from you.
7. Make Your Own Scented Cleaning Solution
Store-bought cleansers might get the job done, but they're loaded with chemicals. Instead, make a gentle but effective cleaning solution of your own using mild dishwashing or castile soap and water. Add just a few drops of your favorite essential oil to infuse the solution with a scent you love, without giving the floor an oily sheen.
8. Remove Dried Gum With Ice
What, are you living with animals? That's the only logical explanation when you find chewed gum stuck to your hardwoods. Deal with the culprit later — first, fill a bag with crushed ice and set it on the gum for a few minutes to harden it and make it easier to remove. Then use a butter knife to gently peel the gum from the floor without causing damage.
9. Make Use of Your Vacuum
Did you hear growing up that the vacuum should never be used on hardwood floors because it might cause scratches? That might have been true with old models, but vacuums have come a long way, baby. If you're fanatical about keeping your vacuum off the wooden floors, you could be missing out on a really effective way to keep your wood spotless. Look up the manufacturers' instructions for your model online to find out whether it's safe for use on hardwood.
10. Stain Floors That Show Marks
If you find yourself cleaning your hardwood floors every day, and they just never look clean, the problem could be with the floors themselves. A light finish may put an unnecessary spotlight on marks, stains and dust — you know, all the things that end up on all of our floors, no matter how clean we are. With some elbow grease and determination, you can even restain your floors yourself. It's an investment of time and money upfront, but a worthwhile one if you save daily cleaning time for years thereafter.