Sweeping is quick and easy, and helps remove embedded debris the others miss.

Routinely vacuum with a soft brush attachment.
Care and maintenance of wood flooring generally falls under the following categories. First, the kind of maintenance– routine or major renovation. Second, the type of finish– site applied surface finish; seal and wax finish; or a factory applied finish. Routine Maintenance – Protect, Sweep, Dust Mop and Vacuum For any wood flooring product, routine maintenance starts with keeping the “sand paper off the floor.” Sandpaper is what is used to take finish off flooring when refinishing. Walked in dirt, grit, and grime can abrade the flooring just like sand paper. Use rugs or mats that can collect the dirt at all building entrances both inside and outside. It goes without saying to shake and wash the mats and rugs as necessary.

The mats won’t get all the dirt and grit, so it is necessary to sweep and vacuum the floors regularly. Sweeping can dislodge embedded grit that a vacuum sometimes misses. So sweep first then dust mop and vacuum. When dust mopping, you can quickly get up the fine grit and debris in the open areas. Use no treatment on the dust mop or a treatment that has no silicon content and leaves no residue to contaminate the finish. When vacuuming, use an attachment with a soft brush, not with a beater bar such as those found on an upright. Also, the edges of area rugs are good traps for dirt and debris. So roll the edge of the rug back and vacuum along the exposed perimeter.

A waxed finish is routinely buffed after vacuuming with a polishing pad.
This is the basis of routine maintenance for all wood floors. Note, wet or damp mopping the floor IS NOT included, not even with a surface finished floor, and of course never with a wax finish. Wet/damp mopping is not to be routine, it is only for special occasions such as when spills occur, the pet has an accident, the boot mud got past the entry rug. For the special event, wetting the floor with appropriate cleaner followed by direct drying is recommended. The moisture should not dry on its own.

Check along the edge of area rugs for hidden dirt.
The easiest maintenance directive can be for factory-finished products. That is, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. These manufacturers warrant the product along with the finish under certain conditions of installation and care. All factory-finished wood flooring should have installation instructions included in the packaging. Included with these instructions will be recommendations on care of the product. Common sense, isn’t it? But the care sheet never gets to the consuming customer. If you are a distributor or contractor, follow up with the builder, development office, or homeowner and provide the manufacturers’ care instructions.

Treating a dust mop can contaminate the finish.
What is the appropriate cleaner? Manufacturers recommended products. If you don’t know the manufacturer, then use or recommend a product recommended by a finish manufacturer of a similar finish. This requires contacting an area supplier or distributor to the wood flooring trade. The following are some materials that should definitely not be used. Ammonia is too harsh and can discolor the wood; vinegar is an acid that can etch the finish and create dulling; liquid polishes have a wax type material which shines and leaves a contaminating film on the flooring; most household cleaners have strong detergents that may harm the finish and or leave a residue or contaminant behind; dishwashing detergent will leave a residue (check the top of the bottle); and any product marketed with a mop and a bucket will require too much water. In the case of new items with a combination reservoir spray and mop, check with a finish manufacturer. Some imply routine mopping; again, mopping wood flooring should not be routine.

For kitchen floors, spray the cleaner on a terry pad and wipe the floor.
Kitchen and eating areas are the only areas that may require routine cleaning with a wetting solution. A terry cloth type pad dampened by spraying with the recommended cleaner and wiped over the floor is appropriate. Most of these type cleaners have an alcohol cleaner and water solution or a surfactant, which will leave no residue. These solutions wet and lift the grease and other materials off the flooring, allowing them to be wiped up. The major problem with wetting the flooring is that the water is absorbed by the wood fibers where scratches are present; the fibers expand and slowly erode the finish at the scratch. When wetting the floor, always follow by drying with a towel. The common perception is that a waxed finished floor requires a lot of maintenance. This is not so; however, a waxed finished floor does require one additional step for routine maintenance than was mentioned for the surface finish; that is to buff the flooring, after cleaning. Buffing maintains the shine or luster of the floor. Use a low speed buffer (100 rpms or so) with a soft polishing brush, wool felt pad, or white polishing pad. Note that applying wax is NOT routine. Applying wax like mopping and is only for the special condition, that is when the buffing process does not raise a shine. What not to use with waxed flooring: any cleaner with water or even plain water, as it will cause white spots in the wax and dull the wax prematurely; and acrylic waxes, which require ammonia for removal, which will damage the wax finish. If white spots do occur, rub the spot with fine (0 or 00) steel wool along the grain to remove the spot, apply a spot of wax and buff the area.

Shake and clean the outside mat regularly, and don't forget to shake or wash the area rug inside the doorway.
Major Renovation For surface site-finished flooring, when traffic patterns dull and scratches are general, but before the finish has worn to bare wood, screening and applying a new coating of finish is the next step for maintenance. When re-coating a floor, the entire area must be coated, not just the traffic lane. The next step for flooring with significant abuse such as deep scratches and finish worn to bare wood is to refinish, that is to sand to bare wood and apply new finish. Factory-finished flooring requires a call to the manufacturer since the type of finish determines the procedures required to re-coat or even refinish the flooring. Some may require use of a chemical system, and some may require a particular screening process. In any event, adding a new coating to the factory finished flooring will void the warranty. For a wax finish, just waxing the traffic area and buffing may be all that is necessary. The next step with a waxed floor is to wax the entire floor. A further step for grimy flooring is to renew with a solvent and a scrubbing pad, typically #1 or #2 steel wool, followed by waxing. Remember, for waxed finishes use a carnauba type wax with petroleum solvents designating for wood flooring on the container. The product can be a paste wax or a liquid wax. Apply paste wax sparingly with a rag, a glob about the size of a golf ball put in an old cotton sock and rubbed over the floor. Too much wax will easily scuff. Let the wax dry after application and buff with a polishing pad or brush. Using a wool felt pad generates heat to melt and drive the wax deeper in the wood and creates a rich luster.

Shake and clean the outside mat regularly, and don't forget to shake or wash the area rug inside the doorway.
Apply the liquid type and buff while wet until dry with a polishing pad. Follow by buffing with the felt pad. A newly waxed floor will generally show some scuffing until the repeated routine buffing removes excess wax. Don’t add wax to remove scuffs, instead buff the floor. Other issues of concern regarding maintenance: check all items that come into contact with the floors. Check shoes for instance. Worn heels with protruding nails will excessively scratch the flooring, and high heels with worn heel caps showing the supporting rod will dent the flooring. Furniture legs should have felt glides attached which distributes the weight and protect from denting and scratching when the object is moved. The felt should also be occasionally cleaned and replaced as necessary. Chairs with rollers should have a protective pad for rolling or the roller should be large enough to distribute weight and not dent. Children’s toys with rollers should be checked as a source of dents and scratches. Pets with sharp nails can certainly cause scratches as well be a source of water spots on the floors. Keep their nails trimmed and make sure their resting pad is large enough to protect the floor.

For a new or recently finished floor, give the consumer instructions from the manufacturer on proper maintenance along with the recommended cleaner. Advise them to protect floors from abuse by collecting dirt and debris before it reaches the flooring; to check all items that come into contact with the flooring for scratch and dent producers; and to clean by sweeping, dust mopping and vacuuming routinely.