Q: One visitor asked, "I have a quick question on cleaning my hardwood floors. They look to be red oak, and were installed when the house was built in the 1950s. (I cannot tell what type of finish). They have been covered with carpet, carpet pad etc since 1976. When we removed the carpet when we purchased the home, the hardwood floors look like they just need to be cleaned thoroughly! (ONLY ABOUT 30YRS OF DIRT!) The other problem that we see is that little pieces of the carpet pad are stuck to the hardwood floors, and seem to have imprinted on the hardwood floors (I think it is more like they are noticeable because of all the dirt and dust on them, and if we could locate a good cleaner they would not need to be sanded. Please let me know your suggestion on a cleaner, and a utensil to clean w/. We have tried doing the regular dust mop, and that just moves dust around instead of cleaning it. We want to avoid sanding it if at all possible."
Put a couple of drops of water on a board and leave it for 10 minutes. If it leaves a spot, the floors are likely waxed. If that is the case, There is a product made by Dura Seal called Renovator, for cleaning and refurbishing old waxed floors. I recommended that to one lady who had such old floors that could not take another sanding. They looked pretty dark and dirty too. She used the Renovator product, and could not believe the difference it made. This can be purchased from Hardwood flooring distributors, such as Woodchuck Flooring Inc.
If this is a polyurethane/varnish type of finish, then you can purchase an approved polyurethane cleaner from them. You simply spray it on a mop-like tool (looks like a string mop except with a flat terry cloth pad) and wipe. The cleaner does a pretty good job of removing soil and other marks and leaves no residue. Also, an abrasives company has recently introduced a dust mop with a special towel that does a decent job, although I was less impressed with the price.
However, if you need some sanding work done, rumour on the street has it that I do a very good job, producing a finished product that stands up.
Related questions about wood floor maintenance and cleaning:
Cleaning and Maintenance
>Do you need to wax or clean hardwood with a buffer or electric polisher? What is the best cleaning product?
>Are the cleaning products we use making our new floors look dull and mottled? What can we use to get the shine back?
>Why should we not use "oil based cleaners" on our hardwood floors?
>What's the best cleaner for wood floors?
Care & Maintenance
>How do I care for my hardwood floor?
>Should padding be placed under our area rug?
>I put on three coats of polyurethane on my newly sanded and stained floor, do I need to wax it?
>How do I get my dull laminate floor to shine?
>How long should I wait to replace the furniture after the final coat on our floors?
>What can I put in between wide pine boards after installing so stuff won't fall in the cracks?
Humidity & Home Environment
>Is this true about new hardwood needing to settle?
>Preventing cracks in floor boards of harder species.
>Is cracking due to humidity?
>We have large cracks even in our master bath. Now after 3 months of humidity control & moisture on the insides of my windows the cracks are even worse. I can see the subfloor through some of them. Is moisture the only cause of these cracks or might there be some other causes we should consider, and what are the best ways to take care of this problem?
>How long would it take for the wood to respond to the increased moisture, and is is reasonable to expect the cracks to close completely? What is the recommended thing to fill these cracks? Wood putty, etc?
>How do we protect our floors from cold weather?
>Have you ever seen a change with your moisture meter on hardwood flooring in just one week?
>How do you prevent douglas fir from oxidizing and turning orange?