Unsealed hardwood floors bring a rustic charm and natural beauty to any space, but they require special care and attention to keep them looking their best. Unlike their sealed counterparts, unsealed hardwood floors lack a protective barrier, making them more susceptible to everyday wear and tear damage. To ensure their longevity and preserve their original luster, it’s essential to follow proper maintenance techniques. In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of caring for unsealed hardwood floors, providing valuable tips and insights on keeping them in impeccable condition.
How to Take Care of Unsealed Hardwood Floors
You must know how to clean and prevent damage to care for your unsealed hardwood floors. To that end, here are a few tips on how to care for unsealed hardwood floors:
Cleaning Unsealed Hardwood Floors
Remove furniture and obstacles: It’s crucial to clear the area of furniture and any obstacles before cleaning. This allows easy access to the entire floor surface, ensuring a thorough cleaning process. It also allows for a more efficient cleaning process, as no hindrances or areas are left untouched.
Sweeping and vacuuming the floor: Sweeping or using a vacuum with a floor brush attachment eliminates dust, pet hair, crumbs, and other small particles. This step is crucial because when dirt and debris accumulate, they can act as abrasives and cause scratches or damage to the wood surface during the cleaning process.
Use a damp mop with a gentle hardwood floor cleaner: A damp mop or cloth lightly saturated with a hardwood floor cleaner designed for unsealed floors should be used. Using a gentle hardwood floor cleaner is important to avoid harsh chemicals that can strip the natural oils and finish of the wood. (For me, I use the “Bona PowerPlus,” which is a great option for cleaning unsealed hardwood floors.)
Avoid excessive water: When cleaning unsealed hardwood floors, it’s crucial to avoid excessive water and harsh cleaning chemicals. Unsealed floors lack the protective barrier of sealants, making them more vulnerable to moisture damage. Excessive water can seep into the wood, causing warping, swelling, and discoloration.
DIY Cleaning Method for Unsealed Hardwood Floor
Aside from using commercial floor cleaners on your unsealed hardwood floors, you can also try DIY cleaning methods. Here are some DIY cleaning methods:
Using Natural oils
Treating unsealed hardwood floors with natural oils is a great way to nourish and protect the wood while adding a subtle sheen to the surface. Follow these steps to effectively treat your unsealed hardwood floor:
Step 1: Prepare the floor by removing any furniture or obstacles.
Step 2: Clean the floor thoroughly using a broom or vacuum cleaner to remove loose dirt and debris.
Step 3: Choose a high-quality natural oil for hardwood floors, such as tung or linseed. I had much luck and efficiency using the “Winsor & Newton Linseed Oil.” Make sure the oil is specifically labeled for unsealed floors.
Step 4: Apply a small amount of natural oil onto a clean cloth or mop. Begin applying the oil in a thin, even layer, working in small floor sections.
Step 5: Allow the oil to penetrate the wood for 10 to 15 minutes.
Step 6: Using a clean, dry cloth, gently buff the surface to remove excess oil and achieve a uniform finish.
Step 7: Allow the floor to dry completely before moving furniture back into place.
Applying and cleaning with wax
Waxing is another effective method to clean, protect and enhance the appearance of unsealed hardwood floors. Here’s a step-by-step process for applying and cleaning with wax:
Step 1: Clear the area and thoroughly clean the floor with a broom or vacuum cleaner.
Step 2: Choose a wax product (Quick Shine Pure Floor Wax) specifically formulated for unsealed hardwood floors. Ensure it contains no harsh chemicals or additives that could damage the wood.
Step 3: Apply a thin, even layer of wax onto the floor using a clean cloth or mop. Work in small sections to ensure uniform coverage.
Step 4: Allow the wax to dry completely for 15 to 30 minutes.
Step 5: Once the wax is dry, use a clean, dry cloth or a floor buffer to gently buff the floor, bringing out its natural shine.
Applying and cleaning with vinegar
Vinegar is a natural and cost-effective cleaning solution for unsealed hardwood floors. Follow these steps to safely and effectively clean your unsealed hardwood floor with vinegar:
Step 1: Prepare a cleaning solution by mixing equal parts of white vinegar and warm water in a bucket or spray bottle.
Step 2: Like before, clear the floor area and sweep or vacuum the floor to remove loose dirt and debris.
Step 3: Dampen a clean mop or cloth with the vinegar and water solution, ensuring it’s not overly saturated.
Step 4: Gently mop the floor, working in small sections. Avoid using excess water that can seep into the wood and cause damage.
Step 5: For stubborn stains or dirt, apply a small amount of undiluted vinegar on a clean cloth and gently rub the affected area.
Step 6: Once the floor is cleaned, use a clean, dry cloth or mop to remove any residual moisture from the surface.
Once done, allow the floor to air dry completely before replacing furniture and objects.
Maintenance Tip for Unsealed Hardwood Floor
1. Placing door mats in high-traffic areas
By strategically placing doormats and rugs in high-traffic areas, you can reduce the amount of dirt, grit, and moisture that comes into contact with your unsealed hardwood floor. Doormats and rugs act as barriers, trapping dirt and preventing it from scratching or damaging the floor surface. Additionally, they help absorb moisture, which can cause warping or discoloration over time.
2. Using protective pads or coasters under furniture legs
To prevent scratches and dents on your unsealed hardwood floor, it’s important to use protective pads or coasters under the legs of furniture. These pads cushion and create a barrier between the furniture and the floor, minimizing the risk of permanent damage. Ensure the pads or coasters are made of a material that won’t scratch or leave marks on the wood.
3. Avoid high heels and sharp objects across the floor
Unsealed hardwood floors are susceptible to scratches and gouges caused by high heels, sharp objects, and heavy furniture dragged across the surface. It’s best to encourage family members and guests to remove high heels or use protective caps, avoid dropping or dragging sharp objects, and take care when moving heavy furniture. These precautions will help maintain the integrity and appearance of your unsealed hardwood floor.
4. Controlling humidity levels
Unsealed hardwood floors are sensitive to changes in humidity levels. Excess moisture can cause the wood to warp or expand, while low humidity can lead to shrinkage and gaps between the planks. To maintain the ideal humidity range (around 35-55%), use a humidifier or dehumidifier as needed, especially in dry or humid climates. Monitoring and controlling humidity levels will help prevent potential damage to your unsealed hardwood floor.
5. Trim pets’ nails
Pets’ nails can easily scratch and damage unsealed hardwood floors. Regularly trimming your pets’ nails helps minimize the risk of scratches and keeps their nails from catching on the wood. Consult a veterinarian or a professional groomer to learn the proper technique for safely trimming your pets’ nails to ensure their comfort and the protection of your unsealed hardwood floor.
6. Polishing or buffing the floor
Over time, unsealed hardwood floors can lose their luster and develop minor scratches or dull spots. Periodically polishing or buffing the floor can restore its natural shine and improve its overall appearance. Use a hardwood floor polish specifically designed for unsealed floors and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application. Buffing can be done using a clean, soft cloth or a floor buffer machine for larger areas.
FAQs: Cleaning & Maintaining Unsealed Wood Floors
Is Bona safe on unsealed wood floors?
Yes, Bona Cleaners are completely (100%) safe for your unsealed wood floors. However, it’s important to note that Bona Cleaners are specifically designed for sealed or finished wood floors. Unsealed wood floors are more vulnerable to moisture damage, so it’s best to avoid using any liquid cleaners, including Bona, on unsealed wood.
Can you steam mop unsealed wood floors?
No, it is not recommended to use a steam mop on unsealed wood floors. Steam mops generate heat and moisture, which can penetrate the wood and cause warping, cupping, or other forms of damage. Unsealed wood floors are more sensitive to moisture and should be cleaned using dry or damp methods, avoiding excessive water.
Can you wax unsealed wood floors?
Yes, you can wax unsealed wood floors. However, for the best results, it is recommended to wax flooring that has been previously treated with a penetrating wood sealer, lacquer, varnish, shellac, or oil. These finishes create a protective layer on the wood, and waxing can enhance their protective properties, providing a beautiful shine.
What is best to clean unsealed wood floors?
When it comes to cleaning unsealed wood floors, it’s important to avoid excessive moisture. Natural oils, floor wax, or vinegar can be used to clean unfinished wood floors. These substances can help remove dirt and grime without saturating the wood. Additionally, there are other cleaning and polishing products available, such as mineral spirits, tri-sodium phosphate, oil soaps, and chemical cleaners, that can be used with caution and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Taking care of unsealed hardwood floors may require extra effort, but their timeless elegance and natural beauty in your space make it all worthwhile. Regularly inspecting your unsealed hardwood floor for signs of damage or excessive wear is crucial to address issues promptly. Following these guidelines, you can protect your investment, enhance its durability, and enjoy the stunning appeal of unsealed hardwood floors for many years.