3 Easy Ways To Bring Some Shine Back Into Your Hardwood Floors

Durable and eye-catching hardwood floors can last an entire lifetime with the proper care and attention, and daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning routines will restore and maintain their signature shine. Hardwood surfaces can be made to sparkle with or without wax, or by using natural substances and regularly cleaning the surrounding areas. At the same time, the floors are vulnerable to harm from standing water and improper cleaning processes, per Grove Collaborative.

Deciduous trees with broad leaves are the primary source of the wood used in hardwood floors, according to Palo Duro Hardwoods. Oft-used examples include oak, pine, maple, cherry, walnut, mahogany, and ash. Use of the appropriate cleaner and cleaning tools are key to the wood's shininess and longevity. Preliminary surface preparation is important regardless of the chosen cleaning method. Remember that the goal is a hardwood floor with luster and without scratches — for it to be shiny, it must first be clean.

Use wax, oil, or polish

While sanding and refinishing the wood every 5 years is suggested for long-term maintenance, polishing and waxing can maintain and shine your hardwood in the short term. Bona recommends an application every 2 to 4 months to protect the floor and keep it shiny (always consult the manufacturer's instructions to determine if it is appropriate to use.) Using a microfiber dusting pad or mop every day, and vacuuming or spraying the floor weekly, should be standard to clean and maintain the shine. 

Waxing is a traditional approach, with beeswax and carnauba wax being common choices. The trend is now toward synthetic waxes, but according to ESB Flooring, they are less suitable for use on floors. Solid paste wax is applied by hand and is suitable for urethane-finished surfaces. Liquid wax is appropriate for unvarnished hardwood. Always apply wax in the direction of the hardwood's grain and buff before it completely soaks in. The downside of wax is that it's apt to collect dirt over time, which may remove the shiny finish. Therefore, it will need to be regularly reapplied to keep its shine. 

Use non-chemical cleaners

Really Cheap Floors recommends using some common household items for cleaning and shining hardwood floors, including a 50 – 50 mixture of vegetable oil and white vinegar. The acid in vinegar attacks grimy dirt and also has shining power. Lemon juice diluted with water is also able to shine hardwood and will impart a pleasing scent as a bonus, while a solution of olive oil, white vinegar, and water works well, too.

All American Flooring suggests mopping your hardwood floor with a well-mixed solution of distilled vinegar and water, making sure to follow a one-quarter cup to one-gallon ratio. Be aware that too much vinegar can be detrimental to the surface, and add a few drops of fragrant essential oil to counteract the pungency of the vinegar. The Maids recommends sticking to a tablespoon of dish soap mixed with a gallon of water — distilled is preferable to tap water to prevent streaks. Spray onto a discrete area (following the grain) and work backward to avoid over-watering or stepping on the cleaned surface. Allow to dry and buff to shine if necessary. 

Clean the rest of the house

Hardwood floors will remain dull unless the rest of the house is kept free of grit, dirt, and debris. Start with having a doormat and removing shoes before entering your home. Vacuum the baseboards and surrounding areas to rid them of dust bunnies and abrasive dirt. Prior to cleaning and shining the floor, it is imperative to move any furniture. To protect the surface of your floors, equip the furnishings with leg pads or sliders, suggests The Home Depot.

Never let water pool on your wood floor and clean all spills immediately to prevent spoiling the finish and doing permanent damage. Fresh stains can be absorbed by sprinkling salt or cornmeal on them, and Housewife How-Tos suggests rubbing a tennis ball or eraser on scuff marks or grease stains to remove them. When cleaning, pay particular attention to heavily trafficked areas, and maintain a regular routine of dusting and vacuuming — your shiny hardwood floor will be one of the first things people notice when they enter your home.