Cleaning hardwood floors with vinegar is definitely not the best approach. Installing hardwood flooring is often an expensive proposition and you want to make sure you take care of it so it looks fantastic for many years to come. Therefore, it is important to learn some do’s and don’ts to protect your investment.
There are three basic enemies of polyurethane-finished hardwood floors, vinegar is just one of them.
Waxed, oiled, or scented hardwood floor cleaners:
The biggest misconception in the industry is that floor cleaners can restore a dull polyurethane finish to its original shine. This is simply not true. It’s possible to remove a layer of dirt or whatever has built up over time and reveal the original glossy finish if it’s still in good shape. But the right hardwood floor cleaners are designed to leave NO residue on the floor, so 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 it leads to future problems. It is difficult to remove and prevents the adhesion of new finishes if, in fact, you reach a point where you want to refinish your hardwood floor. It forces you into a labor-intensive waxed floor maintenance regimen that your mom was always trying to escape.
Water, the worst enemy of your soil!
Most flooring today is factory finished. That means the finish starts and ends at the edges of each board. In the dry seasons of the year, its wooden floor shrinks, leaving paths between the boards that allow water to penetrate. Therefore, it is strongly recommended NOT to wet mop a floor and risk leaving a puddle of water in these cracks which will cause your floor to swell and discolor. It’s much better to use a terry cloth mop and spray a light mist of cleaner or water on the mop or floor.
Vinegar, to do or not?
And lastly, should you use vinegar? Remember that cleaning a hardwood floor is about cleaning NOT WOOD, but the chemical finish on the wood. You know from experience that anything acidic will etch chemical finishes. Now I agree that vinegar is a very mild acid and today’s floor finishes are extremely hard, but when hardwood floors are cleaned with vinegar, used weekly, over years of application, it will leave microscopic scratches on the surface that cause light to bend in strange ways. and reduce overall brightness. If there are better “neutral” cleaning products available, why take the risk?
Read more about the 7 essential maintenance issues on how to clean hardwood floors to keep them looking beautiful for a lifetime.