Expecting guests can be the most gratifying but stressful time of the year. Cooking, cleaning and tidying can take up a huge amount of your time, as you want your home to be as warm, welcoming and festive as possible. However, there’s one part of your home that may get overlooked this Christmas, and that’s your floor. Real wooden floors are highly durable and low-maintenance, but every now and then, they need some TLC. So, without further ado, put aside the baster, stop faffing in the spare room, and give your flooring the time it deserves.
Adrian Lee, founder of FlooringSupplies.co.uk, is a firm believer in keeping wooden floors looking beautiful. “Real wood flooring is an investment – and as such, should be treated as one,” he says. “Ideally, your floor should not attract much dirt in the first place. You should never walk on it with shoes or really grubby socks, but if it’s looking tired, here’s how to perk your floor up.”
Clean up your act: “Start by getting rid of accumulated dirt and dust, but be careful. The type of floor that you have will dictate how you clean. Start by sweeping the whole floor with a soft-bristled broom, right from corner to corner, then use a nozzle attachment on your vacuum cleaner to reach dirt in difficult places. If you have an unsealed floor (i.e. a floor with a waxed finish), don’t mop it using huge amounts of water, as the wood will swell. Dip your mop in warm water (add a touch of white vinegar if you’re really worried about grime), wring 90% of it out, and wipe away. Sealed floors (those with a varnished finish) can be mopped liberally, but avoid using too much water to give your floor a ‘brilliant clean’. It’ll take ages to dry, and sealed wood isn’t completely immune to the damaging effects of water. Less is more.”
Wax lyrical: “Firstly, unless you’re harbouring some kind of grudge, don’t wax sealed floors. Your guests (and anyone else unlucky enough to walk on it) will go flying. Unsealed floors can have a small amount of wax polish added, but use it sparingly. Remember that the wax feeds and protects the floor, and shouldn’t be used to mask stains. If your floor is already looking sticky and dull as a result of over-waxing, you may have to remove old wax and start afresh. A cloth dipped in white spirit will loosen old wax, which can then be wiped away with balls of crumpled newspaper. You can remove superficial scuff marks from wooden floors by rubbing them gently with a pencil rubber.”
The pain of stains: “Sometimes you’ll come across marks that neither warm water nor a rubber can budge. In this instance, you may need to purchase an oil soap. These can be found in most DIY shops, and they’re not expensive, but always test any new products on an inconspicuous corner of your flooring to check they don’t alter the colour of the wood.”
Finishing touches: “The natural colour of your wood can be restored by wiping the surface of your flooring with a soft cloth impregnated with lemon oil. Don’t forget to use small amounts as excess oil will result in a slippery floor, and the smell of the lemon can be fairly overpowering.”
Wait it out: “Always let recently-cleaned and waxed floors ‘rest’ for a couple of days before you let people walk on them. This gives the floor a chance to absorb any products you’ve administered and gives you the opportunity to see if the smells of products you’ve used have been too overpowering. If you find this is the case, don’t panic – just rub a barely-damp mop over the surface of the floor to get rid of excess oils or waxes.”