Cleaning hardwood floors with vinegar is definitely not the best approach. Installing hardwood flooring is typically an expensive proposition and you want to make sure that you take care of it so that it looks fantastic for many years to come. Thus it’s important to learn a few do’s and don’ts to protect your investment.
There are three basic enemies of polyurethane finished hardwood floors, vinegar is only one of them.
Wax, Oil or Perfumed Hardwood Floor Cleaners:
The largest misconception in the industry is that floor cleaners can restore a dull polyurethane finish to its original shine. This is just not true. It is possible to remove a layer of grime or whatever that has built up over time and reveal the original shiny finish if it is still in good shape. But proper hardwood floor cleaners are designed to leave NO residue on the floor, thus you can only work with what you have in the first place.
Any floor cleaner that suggests it “shines” your floor must be leaving behind an oil or wax. It looks great on the day of application but leads to future problems. It is difficult to remove and prevents the adhesion of new finishes if you do in fact get to a point that you want to refinish to your hardwood floor. It forces you into a labour-intensive waxed floor maintenance regime that your mother was always trying to get away from.
Water, Your Floor’s Worst Enemy!
Most floors today are factory finished. That means that the finish starts and stops at the edges of every board. In the dry seasons of the year your wood floor shrinks, leaving pathways between boards allowing water penetration. Thus it is highly recommended NOT to wet mop a floor and risk leaving a puddle of water sitting in these cracks that will cause your floor to swell and discolor. It is much better to use a terry cloth mop and spray a light mist of cleaner or water onto the mop or the floor.
Vinegar, To Do or Not?
And lastly should you use vinegar? Remember that cleaning a hardwood floor is all about cleaning NOT WOOD, but rather the chemical finish on the wood. You know by experience that anything acidic will etch chemical finishes. Now I’ll agree that vinegar is a very mild acid and floor finishes today are extremely tough, but when cleaning hardwood floor with vinegar, used weekly, over years of application it will leave microscopic surface scratches that cause the light to deflect in strange ways and reduce overall shine. If there are better “neutral” cleaning products available why take the chance?
Read more about the 7 essential maintenance issues on how to clean hardwood floors so that they stay looking beautiful for your lifetime.