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Cleaning of

Wooden Flooring

In Europe, beech, oak and maple are frequently used for floor coverings, while mahogany, teak and pine are very popular in Asia.

Wooden floors are considered to be especially warm underfoot. They have good insulation properties and low heat conductivity. They are highly elastic, because walking on it is less of a strain on the feet than on hard floors. With a suitable underlay (e. g. insulating screed) it is also possible to achieve good sound insulation and deaden the noise of footsteps.

Wood has its advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, it looks varied and interesting and is easy to work. Its biggest disadvantage is that it swells and shrinks under the impact of moisture. Unless suitably treated, it can only be joined in small segments. This results in a large number of joins across which the changes in shape are spread, rendering them scarcely visible.

Wooden floors can be left untreated or, depending on the location and degree of wear and tear, stained, waxed, impregnated with oil, polished, varnished or sealed. Since wooden floors are very sensitive to moisture, no polymer dispersions or self-shine emulsions should be used for initial care of unsealed wooden floors. Instead, use hard waxes that are applied in the form of liquid or hot wax. To achieve a good conditioning film, first coat the floor with liquid wax before applying hot wax with a specially designed appliance and then buffing it up.

As little water as possible should be used when cleaning wooden floors. On no account must they be drenched. Before starting maintenance cleaning, deep cleaning, freshening up or polishing, remove all dust, sand and other dirt from the floor because of its abrasive effect. This is best done with a powerful dry vacuum equipped with a parquet nozzle.

Traditional methods for cleaningwooden floors:

  1. Sweeping by using a sweeping compound, wax sweeping chips are suitable for all wooden floors. This method is good for smaller areas or areas where there is a lot of furniture.
  2. Polishing and vacuum polishing are good for restoring shine to waxed floors. In vacuum polishing, fine dirt and dust is picked up simultaneously. Waxes are very easy to polish, so vacuum polishing can be carried out with single-disc machines (300rpm or more) with an additional suction unit and equipped with a polishing brush or pad.
  3. Damp wiping binds dust as moist or specially treated cleaning textiles (wet wiping gauze, wet wiping sleeve) remove loose fine dirt (dust, fluff).
  4. Intensive treatment with a fast single-disc machine (approximately 1,100rpm) and a soft pad is suitable for floors with a conditioning film. This technique is used to remove stubborn dirt such as heel marks or footmarks.The remains of worn conditioning film are replenished by spraying on a suitable care agent, and any remaining conditioning film is renovated.
  5. Wet Cleaning by hand using cleaning textiles for removing stubborn dirt such as drink stains or street grime is a one-step method, i. e. the floor is cleaned in a single pass with a well wrung-out cleaning textile (mop, wiping sleeve, floor cloth). Any remaining liquid is left to dry out. To prevent wood floor from turning grey if this method is used, the cleaning textile should be changed frequently, that is every 10 to 30sqm, depending on the degree of soiling. This method is suitable only for sealed floors.

Alternative Cleaning Methods

An efficient, rational and fast method is to use a scrubber-drier with a roller scrubber. Two roller brushes or pads rotating in opposite directions make strong, even contact pressure (up to 260 g/sq cm) across their entire working width at a speed of up to 1,100 rpm, which can be regulated in steps depending on the machine. This excellent floor contact enables the machine to extract dirt efficiently from the wood and restore the shine to the floor. The scrubber-drier damp wipes or wet wipes as part of a single operation. It can also be used for buffing or local treatment with soft, white or yellow polishing brushes or pads.

Deep & Maintenance Cleaning

Both cleaning procedures should only be applied in the one-step method, preferably using a scrubber with roller brushes, which are much better at penetrating unevenness in the structure of the wood and extracting dirt. Depending on the type of hardness of wood, the scrubber should be fitted with red, standard brushes or white, soft polishing brushes. For deep cleaning, it is advisable to use an alkaline floor deep cleaning agent in a 3% to 5% solution. For maintenance cleaning, very good results can be achieved with a wiping conditioner in a 0.5% to 3% solution, depending on how dirty the floor is. Pass over the soiled area swiftly and use only a small amount of cleaning solution. A few seconds after the cleaning solution is put, the machine’s suction beam reliably vacuums it up again, thus preventing the wooden flooring from becoming too wet. It is important to vacuum as thoroughly as possible. Residual water should not remain on the floor.

Freshening / Polishing

Slight scratches, heel or footmarks can be removed easily with a spray cleaner. The cleaner is sprayed mainly on the streaks and then, depending on the surface structure, buffed with soft, white brushes or yellow pad rollers or horsehair brushes, producing an even shine.


Gerd Heidrich, Kärcher, Primary publication
in “rationell reinigen” magazine / Germany

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