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How to Clean an Unfinished Floor

Unfinished hardwood floors offer beautiful raw beauty, but they're not the easiest to clean. Products and methods that can work on finished hardwoods might destroy unfinished ones. It's important to thoroughly research how to clean unfinished hardwood floors before beginning as not to cause irreversible damage.

The processes will look different for which type of clearing your floors require, but we've got everything you need to know below!

Every Day Cleaning

  • Broom
  • Static dust mop
  • Vacuum cleaner

Cleaning your wood floor on a regular basis is critical to prevent dirt and dust from scratching or staining your unfinished hardwood. Regardless of how strict you are with obvious tracking of dirt into the house, it is inevitable that some will find it's way onto your hardwoods.

The best technique to keep your floor healthy is to establish and maintain a general cleaning schedule that can be followed weekly. This is a very important cleaning step or maintenance, that should not be overlooked. It will help to remove as much dust, filth, and trash from the floors as possible.

All you will need is a broom, vacuum cleaner, or a dusting mop. With a broom or dusting mop, you'll gently brush or move the mop along the floor to collect dust and debris to be tossed away. This everyday cleaning method is easy with the right tools, though it requires more manual labor than say a vacuum.

Choosing the right tools is important. Some types of brushes are better suited for unfinished wood than others. For a non-electric model, choose one with a soft-bristle or a static dust mop. Remember to glide and not push the dirt rather than using hard strokes and pushing.

The other option is a vacuum, which is easier to maneuver and will alleviate some of the burdens. Just make sure your vacuum has a dedicated hard floor setting. If not, the beater bar/brush roll might cause significant long-term harm to your untreated wood flooring.

Your flooring will fair better when mopping and liquids are used sparingly. Rather than introducing liquids as a weekly cleaning habit, spot clean when necessary and save liquid for deeper cleans every so often.

Deep Cleaning & Spot Cleaning Unfinished Wood Floors

Tools:

  • Trisodium Phosphate
  • Bristle Brush
  • Dry Towel

Wood that has not been treated is very absorbent, making it rather readily stained. That's why, before disinfecting it, you should take the time to remove any stains and dry your floors thoroughly.

To remove stains from unfinished wood, apply a little amount of trisodium phosphate to the stained area. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently clean the region, then rinse with water.

Wipe the wet area as soon as you're done with a dry towel, removing all of the moisture as quickly as possible to avoid causing the wood to warp and, eventually, destroy itself.

When it comes to deep cleaning, and especially when water is involved, careful preparation is essential. To get the best results, your flooring must be clean and dust-free BEFORE deep cleaning.

A last resort for tough stains? Sanding.

When nothing else has worked, sanding may be the solution. You should just sand for a few minutes over the stain.

Sanding in one area for too long is a common mistake that endangers your wood floor's longevity. After the stain has been removed, use a broom and dustpan or a vacuum cleaner designed for wooden floors to clean up the dust.

Best Cleaners for Unfinished Hardwood Floors

Vinegar

Everything you need for cleaning your unfinished floors can be found in your home! Vinegar is a great option that is easily accessible and tough on stains and problem areas. Vinegar is also an all-natural product and safe for use in the home.

You'll want to tinker with a solution that works best for your home, but many recipes recommend a gallon of water for every ½ cup of vinegar. If streaking is occurring, be sure you're mopping with the grain of the floorboards in long strokes.

The sour smell of vinegar is a deterrent for many, but rest assured, it will fade with time, but the fumes might be overwhelming. Buying odorless vinegar or adding a few drops of essential oil to the mixture is suggested by experts.

Murphy's Oil

Mineral Spirits is a petroleum-based liquid that's commonly used to remove paint from brushes and other equipment. When used as a cleaning agent, it can eliminate stains without harming your flooring. Apply the substance with either a soft pad or a lint-free cloth and massage it into the boards.

A combination of water and Murphy's Oil is another great option. To a half-gallon of warm water, add 1 Tbsp soap. Allow your floor to dry after rinsing it to prevent residue build-up.

Trisodium Phosphate

Trisodium Phosphate is a granular substance that can be found at virtually any hardware or home improvement store. To apply the compound, use a scrub brush to massage it into the stain and then rinse with warm water. To avoid permanent water damage, absorb any excess moisture.

As with any cleanser, do a spot test on your skin first before working in an obvious region. Instead of letting the floor dry naturally, use a clean cloth to hand dry each section. Also, be sure you practice all safety precautions according to your method's guidelines, especially chemicals.

Steps to Cleaning an Unfinished Wood Floor

Step One: Remove Any Debris

Taking time to deep clean is no use when you're spreading around dirt, dust, and debris on the surface. Be sure to do basic cleaning of your unfinished hardwood floor before doing anything more.

If this is just a routine clean, this is the only step you'll need to complete. You can do this by using a broom, static dust mop, or vacuum cleaner.

Step Two: Apply Mixture or Cleaning Solution

Whichever cleaning solution you decide to use, you'll want to use it sparingly and apply only to stains when necessary.

Your floor should not require a full covering of chemicals/cleaning agents, but, if a larger area is being cleaned, work quickly. Work the cleaning agent in quickly with a brush or cloth before rinsing with plain water.

Step Three: Dry Promptly

Any time you've introduced liquid to an unfinished hardwood, you will need to dry it as quickly as possible. Leaving water sitting for too long may result in irreversible damage.

The Biggest Cleaning Mistakes You Can Make on Your Unfinished Wood Floors

Finished and unfinished hardwood floors are very different, despite seeming like there's no big difference. Don't make the error of believing that because you know how to clean hardwood floors that have been treated, you also know how to clean hardwood flooring that hasn't. Here are some cleaning blunders you should never do if you want to keep your floors looking good.

1. Mopping with Excess Water

This is a typical approach to clean which may be utilized for a variety of issues, but it isn't appropriate on unfinished floors. Water on your floor can cause warping and damage. 

2. Using products for finished floors on unfinished floors.

Choose your products wisely. If a product claims to be particularly made to clean untreated wood floors, it's more likely that it isn't. Using the incorrect chemicals on your unfinished flooring has a high risk of causing permanent discoloration.

It is inadvisable to use chemical-based cleaners on your unfinished hardwood floors. Floor cleaners will harm your flooring irreversibly. Murphy's Oil Soap is a good option for one cleaner you may use.

3. Scrubbing with hard, wet bristled brushes or cleaning pads.

Unfinished flooring is extremely vulnerable to damage, erosion, and deformation since they have not been treated for the environmental wear and tear of modern living.

Whether you're cleaning up dirt and grime from your hardwood floors or gardening in general, digging into your flooring with a harsh, bristled instrument may actually cause the wood to be carved and shaved. In other words, you harm the wood.

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