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The keys to a fabulous hardwood floor? Proper cleaning and regular maintenance. Here are the basics.

I love my wood floors. Well, I love looking at them and walking on them. But what I used to hate was cleaning and maintaining them. I'd put it off, but once dirt gets in good, it can dull the sheen and muddy up the crevices. So I've have devised some easy upkeep strategies over the years to ensure your hardwood floors remain just as stunning as the day you moved in.

Cleaning and Stain Removal

Sand and mud tracked in by your shoes can scuff and mar the surface of your floors. Just think about how sandpaper erodes the surface of wood; same concept. To prevent this, sweep often. Just a quick once over each day with a broom, a dust mop, or a static duster will remove surface dirt and prevent scratches and dulling.

Hardwood floors are bound to sustain scratches. Don't panic if you notice these blemishes; they're easy enough to fix, or at least conceal. Here are a variety of ways to conceal scratches in wood floors, and here are a few more wood scratch fixes. Here's my favorite: Try some shoe polish in a shade that closely matches the color of your floor. Use a soft cloth to buff it into the surface and then polish with a clean cloth. You'll never know the scratch was there!

Regular weekly cleaning is key to a gleaming wood floor. Add a quarter of a cup of white vinegar to a gallon of warm water and use the mixture and a well rung-out mop to clean the floors, taking care not to over-wet the wood. It's actually better to use a vinegar mixture than oil soap or other detergent cleaners, because over time the soap will leave a build-up on your wood.

running down stairsGetty Images

Maintenance and Prevention

Doorways, staircases, and hallways are notoriously high traffic areas.
To protect your floors from excess wear, use area rugs in high traffic spots, and install runners on stairs. Make sure that you use a good quality pad under the rugs to protect the floors from dirt that may sift down through the fibers. Rugs allow the beautiful wood to shine around the perimeter.

If you have expansive windows, realize that direct sunlight can fade and discolor wood floors. It's best to filter light in those areas with blinds, shades, curtains, or drapes. Another smart step is to make sure that your windows have a UV filter. You can apply a thin film to windows to achieve this protection. Or if you're in the market for new windows, keep an eye out for this feature.

Furniture can cause dents and gouges in your floors, whether it's being moved or sitting still. Put protective, self-adhesive felt pads on the feet of your furniture to prevent those gouges and dents. You can find big value packs of the little pads at your local home improvement store; they slide easily across wood floors without a lick of damage.

So, now that you know how easy it is to fix and maintain those floors, go ahead and live a little!


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