Myth #1-If your wood floor shines it must be clean
FALSE-When your wood floor is shiny it simply means that the surface is smooth. It does not necessarily mean it is clean. Light bounces off of smooth, flat floors, making them appear shiny. Dullness happens when the surface of your floor is uneven or has scratching. Some wood floor can be cleaned pristinely and still look dull due to its finish. Some wood floors that have been oiled but not cleaned can look extremely shiny.
Myth #2-Only use water when cleaning wood floors
False-Wood floors become dirty due to grit, dirt, and even body oil. All of these substances are not water soluble and will therefore not come off of your floors. In fact, the dirt and grime will be pushed into your floors which can scratch and darken the finish. Using a soap or detergent will make the oil, dirt, and grit float on top of the floor, making it easy to mop up.
Myth #3- For the safest floor cleaner, use vinegar.
FALSE-In the olden days, people used soaps from lye and fat. These soaps were very sticky and had a lot of alkaline. People discovered by adding vinegar to the soap, it would strip the soap and make it less alkaline. Modern day soaps are not hard to strip and have a low alkalinity making vinegar not very useful. Vinegar, can actually damage the polyurethane coating because of its alkaline. This can actually make your floor more susceptible to scratching. And, vinegar does not have the qualities to actually clean oil, dirt, or grime off of your flooring.
Myth #4 Wood floors should be treated with oil to nourish them
FALSE-Antique floors were finished with a wax coating. This allowed the escape of moisture and required them to need to be treated with oil. However, modern day flooring is sealed with something called polyurethane. Polyurethane is a very hard coating that is waterproof. Moisture cannot break through polyurethane. Therefore, using oils on polyurethane is completely useless. And can actually make your floors very slippery and dangerous.
Myth #5-Expensive cleaners do a better job
FALSE-These specialty cleaners have done a fantastic job at marketing to the common household that they are the very best way to clean and treat your floors. However, polyurethane can be easily cleaned by just about any floor soap on the market that has a neutral pH, quality detergent, and has absolutely no harsh solvents. A neutral pH is important because if the cleaner is too acidic or too alkalinity, it will soften the finish. A quality detergent is essential because it will force the dirt, grime, and grit to mix with the water and be mopped away. Harsh solvents can easily damage your wood floors. These harsh solvents can be found in degreasers and can actually cause the finish of your floors to soften and become more susceptible to damage.
An expensive, fancy wood floor cleaner may only make your wood floors smoother. They may only rinse the finish leaving it full of polymers to fill in scratches that leave your floor shiny not necessarily clean. So, next time you are tempted to purchase an expensive wood floor cleaner, simply buy a floor cleaner that is all-purpose and safe for your wood. You will be happy you did.
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