Carolyn Forte, Director of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Department, shared these words of warning.
1. Vacuuming with a rotating brush
Your vac’s rotating brush can be very abrasive to wood floors. Turn off the brush roll or use a floor brush attachment instead. But make sure you vacuum often — gritty dirt and dust particles can scratch your floor when they sit for too long.
2. Wet-cleaning too often
Unless your wood floors get tons of foot traffic, you don’t need to wet-clean them more than every one to two months. Instead, keep your wood floors well-vacuumed (see number one) and spot-clean as needed.
3. Drenching the floor with cleaner
Today’s wood flooring finishes are much more resistant to water than ones in the past, but that doesn’t mean you should flood your floors with cleaning solution. When it’s time to wet-clean, tackle small areas at a time with a damp, not wet, mop or cloth and dry them promptly.
4. Using steam willy-nilly
Exercise caution when using steam cleaners. If your floor has a wax finish or if its finish is old and worn, skip the steam. For other finishes, make sure the floor is intact before breaking out the steamer. Use the lightest level of steam your appliance offers and keep it moving across the floor, not stationary in any one spot too long.
5. Choosing the wrong rug pad
Rubber-backed mats or rubber mesh pads can dull your floor’s shine, and even cause discoloration. To protect your floor, use a combination felt and rubber pad to keep your area rugs in place.
6. Letting them sunbathe
Sun exposure can change the color of wood flooring. Keep the blinds or shades drawn when the sun is at its strongest to limit discoloring and drying out the wood’s finish.
7. Not using caution with sharp objects
You probably know that wood floors and sharp objects don’t mix, but there are two often-forgotten perpetrators: your pets’ claws and high-heeled shoes. Solve this problem by keeping your pets’ nails trimmed, and leaving your shoes at the door.
This article originally appeared on GoodHousekeeping.com.