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Photo: Corbis

I'm a hardwood floors gal all the way. I love the rich colors and patterns that come from natural wood, and there's just something about a good game of sock hockey in the kitchen that gets me every time. Yet I'll admit --- it's sometimes tricky to clean hardwood floors. After all, how do you reach those cracks and crevices between the planks?

Turns out that if you follow a few ground rules, you'll have shiny, gleaming wood floors worthy of a palace. Ready for the tips, straight from our friends at ShelterPop?:

1. Sweep wood floors twice weekly with a soft, fine bristle broom. Avoid hard brooms as they may scratch the surface of your wood.
2. Vacuum twice monthly to remove dirt, sand and other small particles. Use a soft brush attachment to minimize any scratching from the vacuum's wheels.
3. Because water is one of a wood floor's worst enemies, get rid of water right away! Remove wet spills as soon as possible with soft towels or a wet/dry vacuum, then dry thoroughly. Be sure to dry cracks between the planks with a napkin-covered toothpick for heavily soiled areas.
4. Use a very well wrung-out, damp mop when mopping polyurethaned wood floors as excess water can seep into seams and ruin a wood floor.
5. Some floors may require periodic waxing and buffing. Get recommendations from your floor's manufacturer for the specific procedures for your floor, and be sure to avoid using harsh chemicals when cleaning.

Your clean hardwood floors will gleam in no time!



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