How to Clean Unfinished Wood Floors

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Unfinished wood floors are a simple way of adding a quaint allure to your house while also saving the money you would spend on floor finishers. If the wood is made splinter-free and is well maintained, unfinished wood floors can last just as long as finished floors, if not longer.

How do you maintain an unfinished wood floor, though? How do you keep it healthy and durable? The main way to ensure its longevity is by cleaning it regularly and properly – which is often done incorrectly! The process is actually very simple and quick. Read on to find the correct means of cleaning your unfinished wood floors.

Preliminary Clean

Before getting into cleaning your unfinished wood floors, there are a few preliminaries that need to be performed to ensure that the primary cleaning runs smoothly and without any complications.

This mainly involves making sure that your floor is as free from dirt and dust as possible, as these can easily build up on unfinished floors. Treat your wooden floor at this stage just as you would with any floor, and tackle it with a dustpan and brush.

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You could even go a step further and bring in a cordless vacuum cleaner to pick up any dirt or dust you may have missed. However, make sure that your vacuum is suitable to be used on wooden floors.

It could be a good idea to do this preliminary cleaning stage regularly, even if you’re not planning on going all the way with cleaning the floor. Dirt and dust build up easily, so this would ensure that your wooden floor maintains its cleanliness.

It could also be a good idea to enforce a ‘no shoes’ policy for any rooms containing unfinished wooden floors to help make this task easier in the future.

Initial Mopping

For this initial basic mopping task, you do not have to go out of your way to buy a specific floor cleaner, as you most likely already have something suitable in your cleaning cupboard.

We recommend vinegar for this stage, mainly because it works exceptionally well on unfinished floors, but also because it’s very cheap and you’re bound to have it already. If you don’t have vinegar, Murphy’s Oil is the next best thing.

However, vinegar can quite easily be used irresponsibly and prove to be detrimental to your floors – be sure to only use half a cup of vinegar for every gallon of water used. You need to be very particular and accurate with these proportions, as the acidity in vinegar can totally ruin floors and further stain them if not diluted well enough.

It is also recommended at this stage to mop in the direction of the floorboards to avoid any ugly streaks when drying. Make sure that you get between the floorboard gaps too.

Remove Any Stains

If cleaned regularly enough, your floor may not require any additional cleaning stages. However, tougher stains can appear after neglecting your floor for just a few days, and you will need to introduce the following stages to bring the floor back to optimal cleanliness. However, never skip to this stage without first doing the preliminary cleaning.

The next stage involves getting rid of all the ugly stains that have built up on your floor over time. This is a very easy undertaking for finished floors. However, with unfinished floors, it can be very easy to use the wrong substances and damage your floor permanently.

For this stage, we recommend using trisodium phosphate because, again, it is an economical purchase and it in no way harms your unfinished wooden floors. This comes as a powder, and it is recommended to be used with a scrub brush. You should scrub it over the stains in question until they are removed.

For this stage, you could alternatively use a mineral spirit, which would produce almost as good results. Mineral spirits are great because they contain very few chemicals, rendering them totally safe to use on an unfinished floor. Use a dry rag when using a mineral spirit and try to rub in a circular motion to guarantee optimal results.

Drying the Floor

Once the stains are removed, it is of paramount importance to remove any residue that is left behind by the trisodium phosphate/mineral spirit. If left behind, these substances could end up damaging your wood or causing worse stains than the ones you set out to remove.

The best means of doing this is by mopping the floor with a fresh bucket of water. It is important to dry the floor thoroughly after doing this to avoid leaving behind any puddles or dampness, as an unfinished wood floor soaks up water very easily, which could result in warping, rotting, and uneven flooring.

Sanding Your Floor

If all else fails and the stains prevail, it’s time to bring in the sander. Although sanding may sound drastic, there is no risk of damaging the floor because there is no outer coating protecting the floor from damage, unlike finished floors.

A light sanding above the stain is all that is required, without putting too much pressure on the patch or sanding for longer than a couple of minutes. Keep an eye on the stain throughout to avoid over-sanding.

If you’re looking to maintain unfinished wood throughout your home or in a larger area, a sander is a worthwhile investment. Be sure to check out this guide for reliable information regarding sanding your unfinished wood properly.

Final Thoughts

Having read our step-by-step guide on how to clean unfinished wood floors, you are now definitely ready to maintain your unfinished flooring at a professional standard, which will guarantee that you are the envy of all who come to visit you.

To recap, be sure to give your floor a pre-clean to remove dust and dirt, mop with vinegar, scrub with trisodium phosphate or mineral spirits, clean with fresh water, dry the floor, and if all else fails, get the sander out!

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