Cleaning & Restoration Association News

Wood Floor Cleaning Systems Make the Grade

July 12, 2001
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Adding wood floor cleaning to your services menu will increase your customer base, and your bottom line!

The popularity of hard surface floors in residential homes continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing down. One of the most popular hard surfaces being installed is wood.

As these floors age, they will need refinishing. In years past, this process meant resanding, staining and sealing/finishing. Most customers don’t like their home full of sanding dust that takes weeks to clean up, nor do they like the duration or price associated with the refinishing process.

Complete refinishing can be very expensive. Most homeowners aren’t aware of the methods or the manufacturers who make wood floor cleaning systems that allow hard floor maintenance technicians to refinish floors without sanding.

Considering the increase of wood flooring used in homes today, and the fact that most of the “modern” wood floors are at the age where they need to be cleaned, ask yourself if you should consider adding wood floor cleaning to the list of services you offer. Wood floors are going to be around for a long time to come. If you don’t clean them for your customers, then who will? Your competitor!

The Fear Factor

Some people believe that you shouldn’t attempt to clean wood floors unless you’re an expert. The considerable number of wood types is enough to make any floor care professional think twice about cleaning them.

Knowing the specific type of wood you are cleaning is a good idea, but it’s not vital. The most important thing to know is what is on the floor. Over time, you will be expected to know the different types of wood, their characteristics, and how they respond to cleaning. Libraries, retailers, floor re-finishers, installers, wood floor covering associations, cabinet makers, schools, seminars and even the Internet are good sources for learning more about wood.

Why is it so important to know what is on the floor? It’s important because you will be cleaning the sealant and protectant applied to the floor, and not the floor itself. Manufacturers and installers use permanent sealers/finishes to seal and protect floors from wear, soiling, moisture, scratching, oils, greases and other damaging substances. Water-borne or water-based urethanes, oil modified solvent base urethane or polyurethane, and catalyzed finishes are examples of permanent finishes.

It doesn’t matter if the floor is a factory made prefinished engineered floor with a backed-on UV finish, or a solid wood floor that was sanded, stained and sealed/finished on location. As long as there is an adequate amount of protection on the floor, you can clean it with one of the many cleanings system available today. Check with your local supplier to see which system they have available.

These systems are similar to the light- or top-scrub, and recoat procedure used to maintain VCT in that it requires much of the same equipment and supplies, and the procedures are similar.

Most systems use the following equipment, chemicals and procedures: Equipment; broom; dust mop; dustpan; trashcan liners to dispose of the debris; standard 175-floor machine with pad driver; appropriate pad; appropriate mop head; mop handle and holder; mop bucket and wringer; edge-cleaning tool with appropriate pad; appropriate scrapers and or scrubbies; scratch and dent repair kit; track-off mat; and safety signs, cones and/or tape.

Note: The system used and their specifications will determine the appropriate pad, mop head, scrapers and scrubbies to use. Always follow manufacturer recommendations and instructions.


The cleaning system you use and the manufacturer’s directions will dictate which chemical product you use. However, most of these chemicals are generally neutral floor cleaners formulated for wood.


The following are general procedures most systems employ: sweep and dust mop the floor; repair scratches and gouges; apply cleaning solution per manufacturer directions; clean with 175-RPM machine and special pad; remove cleaning solution; and apply finish.

To avoid any errors, check the manufacturers directions for specific instructions.


After recently attending two different seminars/schools, I found that cleaning today’s wood floor products are not difficult to clean. However, I still recommend seeking professional training before venturing out and cleaning wood floors.

Check with your local supplier for upcoming schools, or give me a call. There is a lot of potential here—the market is wide open. With a little training, you too can be a professional wood floor cleaner.

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