Can You Use Bleach on Hardwood Floors?

by Charlie
Can You Use Bleach on Hardwood Floors

If you have a hardwood floor with a bad stain on it, you might be wondering if you can use bleach to lift that stain out. Bleach is very effective at shifting some marks and stains, but it is also a harsh chemical that can leave big marks itself. It’s no surprise if you aren’t sure whether to put it on hardwood or not.

Can you use bleach on hardwood floors? It is not generally considered safe to use bleach on hardwood floors. Some hardwood floors will stand up to bleaching better than others, but on the whole, bleach is not a suitable substance for applying to the surface of hardwood. Sealed or unsealed, the wood may be damaged by the strong chemical.

Can You Put Bleach on a Hardwood Floor?

Putting bleach on a hardwood floor is not a good idea. Bleach will break down the chemicals used to seal the floor, and this means that both the bleach and other substances (such as water and dirt) can get into the wood and damage it. This could leave permanent marks, even if you sand down the floor.

Bleach is known for stripping the color out of things it comes into contact with, including clothing, hair, and surfaces. It is excellent for removing stains, but can also be damaging because of this. This is because it changes the chromophores that are responsible for producing color, disrupting their chemical bonds.

When the bonds are disrupted, the chromophores stop reflecting the visible portion of the light spectrum, making the color disappear. That’s why you can use bleach to remove stains. However, if you use bleach on the wrong surface, it will leave white or pale patches because it has removed the color you want to retain.

Putting bleach on a hardwood floor carries this risk. If the bleach breaks down the seal on the hardwood, it will get into the wood and start stripping the color out of it. This will leave pale marks. The bleach may also damage the wood, compromising and weakening its structures. Over time, this could result in your floor degrading.

Can You Put Bleach on an Unsealed Hardwood Floor?

Bleach certainly should not be used on an unsealed hardwood floor under any circumstances. Because the wood isn’t sealed, the bleach will be able to get straight into the grain, making the wood swell and breaking down the chromophores in it. This will leave large, ugly stains.

Unsealed hardwood floors are not designed to be bleached. There is a high risk that they will be damaged if you apply bleach to them, just as any kind of wood might be damaged by bleach. Additionally, you shouldn’t put water on unsealed hardwood floors, and bleach generally needs to be mixed with water.

If you clean a hardwood floor with bleach and water, you will quickly ruin the wood. The grain will swell, the color will be lost, and the floor will become rough and start to break down. Do not put bleach on an unsealed hardwood floor under any circumstances. If you accidentally spill bleach, clean it off immediately.

Which Kinds of Hardwood are Better at Handling Bleach?

Some kinds of hardwood are better able to keep their color even if you put bleach on them. It is still not recommended that you do this, but if you have a red oak, gum, beech, or ash floor, you may be able to safely bleach them. Always consult with your floor installers before doing this.

Some people are very keen to bleach their hardwood floors because this makes it very easy to clean and disinfect them. However, doing so can be very damaging, and might result in you ruining the floor. Unless you have been specifically told that your floor can safely be bleached, you should avoid doing this.

There are much gentler ways to clean and disinfect your hardwood floors, which we will cover in the next section.

How Should You Clean a Hardwood Floor?

Always defer to your installer’s instructions when it comes to choosing the right care for your floor. Unsealed hardwood floors need different care from sealed ones, and installations may vary. However, there are some general suggestions for how you can clean these floors.

You should regularly sweep and gently vacuum your hardwood floor to prevent the buildup of dust and dirt. Spills should be wiped up immediately, and you should use doormats to trap most of the dust and dirt in the doorways. Use small amounts of water and keep the floor as dry as possible.

Always aim to use soft tools on your hardwood floors so you minimize the risk of scratching the surface. Scratches look unsightly, and also allow dirt to get beneath the protective layer and into the wood. Soft brushes and clothes are the best choices. Never use anything abrasive.

It is okay to use water on a sealed hardwood floor, but you should use minimal amounts. Standing water on the wood can cause it to swell and this will cause warping and stains. Wring the mop out thoroughly before putting it on the floor, and clean up any drips with a dry cloth. Don’t leave the floor wet.

It is not recommended that you use a steam cleaner on a hardwood floor, because these may destroy the finish. Once the finish has been peeled away, there is a greater risk that the floorboards will be damaged.

You should avoid using any harsh chemicals on the floor too. That includes things like bleach, white spirit, lighter fluid, or other solvents. These may interact with the floor’s finish and ruin it, and can also cause misting or stains on the floor. Follow the guidance provided by your floor’s installations team.

Final Thoughts

You should never apply bleach to a hardwood floor, because there is a high risk that this will damage it. Instead, use regular sweeping, vacuuming, and damp mopping to keep the floor clean and maintain its surface. Wipe up spills and don’t leave water standing on the floor for longer than necessary.

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