It’s not hard to keep hardwood floors looking great.

We all love the natural beauty of hardwood floors. But how do we keep them looking beautiful year after year, without going through a costly refinishing process?

Well, fellow Clean Geeks, let’s start with cleaning. Avoid those fancy cleaners or special products. Don’t buy into the advertising hype of these products. The simple solution is to use the world’s most versatile, gentle and environmentally friendly cleaner – white vinegar. Is there anything it can’t do?

But before you wash, vacuum or dust mop. Rubbing dirt into your floors is never a good idea. So start by treating your dust mop with a dusting agent to turn it into a dust, dirt and pet hair magnet. If you vacuum, make sure you switch the machine to the hardwood floor setting. You don’t want the beater brush to scratch up the floors.

Now, we’re ready to really clean up with the vinegar. Add one cup to a gallon of water. Immerse the mop into the solution and wring it out until it’s damp-dry. Then, mop in the direction of the floorboards.

If you feel the need to dial up the floor’s shine, steep a bag of tea in 2 cups of water. Once it cools to room temperature, soak a clean cloth in the solution. Wring it out and wipe the floor. The tannic acid in the tea helps bring wood to a shine. I recommend drying the surface with a dry cloth if you do this.

So now that your floors look beautiful, how should you deal with a scratch? I’ve never tried this, but find a crayon that’s the color of your floor. Rub it on the scratch. Then grab your blow dryer, turn it on high and heat the colored-in scratch. Once the area cools, take a soft cloth and buff the area.

Here are some other ways to keep hardwood floors looking great:

  • Leave your shoes at the door on mats or rugs, especially in winter
  • Clip your pet’s claws regularly
  • Protect floors from the sun. Curtains, blinds or shutters help prevent fading
  • In winter months, use a humidifier to help prevent cracks or gaps

So, I’d love to hear your ideas on keeping hardwood floors looking good.