Knowing how to take care of your hardwood floors properly will ensure that you get the best possible use out of them. Given how expensive hardwood can be, this is certainly something that most people are keen to achieve. That means you need to understand how to clean and maintain the floors properly.
Cleaning can be a big question mark for many individuals when it comes to dealing with hardwood. We all know that it’s sensitive to chemicals and water, so you’ve got to be pretty careful. However, you’ll likely want to mop it at least occasionally, and you may be unsure about whether to use hot water or cold water.
Should you use hot or cold water to mop hardwood floors? You should use cool water on your hardwood floor – not too cold, but certainly not hot. Hot water will cause your hardwood to swell and may make it warp, resulting in cracks or splitting. It can also dull its shine and will strip off protective layers, such as wax, which will destroy the floor in the long term.
Is Cold Water Best for Mopping Hardwood Floors?
First, let’s acknowledge that you should be using minimal amounts of water (regardless of the temperature) on a hardwood floor. Wood soaks up water and then swells, warps, and twists. Too much water will ruin your hardwood. However, if you are going to mop your floor or wipe it with a damp sponge, you should use cold or cool water.
Make sure you have thoroughly wrung out your mop or the cloth before you put it on your hardwood floor. If the cloth is too wet, there’s a risk that it will damage the floor no matter what temperature the water is. However, cold water is less likely to damage the floor than hot water.
Cold water can also make some kinds of cleaners work better, and it moves more slowly than hot water, because the molecules don’t move around as fast as they do in water that’s hot. That, perhaps surprisingly, makes it more effective at cleaning, because it is more thorough and will pick up more dirt.
Since you only mop your hardwood floors occasionally, you want to use the most effective method, and cold water is thought to be preferable to hot. It’s also a great way to save on bills, because you won’t need to heat the water in order to mop.
It is worth noting that it usually takes longer to mop with cold water than with hot water, and you might find grease is harder to tackle. However, your hardwood floor probably isn’t greasy, and the extra time is worth it to protect your floors.
How Should You Use Cold Water to Mop Hardwood Floors?
As mentioned above, minimizing the amount of water you put on the floor is key. You should start by cleaning the floor using a brush, or a vacuum with a soft-bristled attachment. Suck up all debris and grime before you dip your mop into the water. Wring the mop out thoroughly, and then lightly swab across the whole floor.
Work from one side to the other, and allow the floor to dry before walking on it if possible. If you accidentally get too much water on any part of the wood, make sure you quickly dry it off using a clean towel. This will prevent it from soaking into the wood and damaging it.
Don’t mop the floor twice, but instead leave it to fully dry. If necessary, open a window or turn on a dehumidifier to help clear any ambient moisture and ensure that the floor dries out completely.
Does Cold Water Disinfect the Floor?
Cold water is great for cleaning, but it won’t disinfect your hardwood floors. If you wish to kill germs while mopping, you will need a disinfectant of some sort. The safest is generally thought to be white vinegar, although you need to dilute it before putting it on your hardwood.
White vinegar is quite acidic and it will damage the floor if you don’t water it down. Put about ½ cup of white vinegar in a gallon of cool water and then use this to mop the floor. The acidity should kill germs and bacteria.
It is a good idea to test the vinegar solution on an inconspicuous part of your floor before you start, however. Vinegar does interact with some kinds of floor polish and you need to check that it won’t leave a stain before you start using it.
Remember that in general, you don’t need to disinfect your floors. Cleaning them will usually be sufficient, and you should only do occasional deep cleans using vinegar.
Again, if you notice any liquid pooling on the floor when using vinegar to mop, use a dry towel to clean it up promptly. You never want to leave moisture standing on your hardwood floors, as it will destroy them.
Can You Use Cold Water with Cleaning Chemicals?
A lot of people don’t realize that using hot water can stop certain chemicals from working as well as they should. It denatures them and reduces their effectiveness. Many manufacturers recommend mopping with cold water for this reason.
However, it should be noted that this depends on the chemical you want to use. Some are designed to be activated by heat, and they should say so on the bottle. If the cleaner doesn’t say you should use it with hot water, it is likely best to use cold, or to contact the manufacturer for more information.
Many people think that hot water will increase the power of the cleaners they are using, but this isn’t necessarily the case. It does have some excellent cleaning properties itself and is good at tackling grease, but it isn’t necessarily a better option for mixing with chemicals.
You should generally use cool or cold water to mop your hardwood floors. Extreme temperatures on either side of the scale will damage the wood, causing it to retract or expand, and potentially resulting in warping. Cool water is much less likely to do any damage, although you should still minimize how much you use.