10 Quick Remedies for Your Wood Floors Biggest Enemies | Reader's Digest

10 Quick Remedies for Your Wood Floor’s Biggest Enemies

Here are a few secret weapons that will help you remove pesky messes and stains from your wood floor.

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1. Chewing Gum

Any finish: Cool gum with an ice-filled plastic bag until it is brittle enough to crumble; then remove with a plastic scraper.

2. Crayon or Candle Wax

Wax or penetrating stain finish: Put a brown paper bag over the crayon or wax, and heat with an iron until the bag absorbs the stain.

Shellac, varnish, or polyurethane finish: Use a cleaner designed for hardwood floor finishes.

3. Dark Spots and Ink Stains

Wax or penetrating stain finish: Treat like water stains. If they remain, soak with bleach or vinegar for an hour. Wipe with a damp cloth, then wipe dry. Sand lightly with fine sandpaper. Stain to match original color. Apply wax with a cloth.

Shellac, varnish, or polyurethane finish: Use a cleaner designed for hardwood floor finishes.

4. Dried Milk or Food Stains

Wax or penetrating stain finish: Rub gently with a damp cloth. Rub dry; then apply wax.

Shellac, varnish, or polyurethane finish: Use a cleaner designed for hardwood floor finishes.

5. Grease and Oil Stains

Wax or penetrating stain finish: Saturate a cotton cloth with hydrogen peroxide and place it over the stain. Saturate a second cotton cloth with ammonia and put it on top of the first. Repeat if necessary. Let dry; then buff with a cloth.

Shellac, varnish, or polyurethane finish: Use a cleaner designed for hardwood floor finishes.

6. Heel Scuffs

Wax or penetrating stain finish: Apply a small amount of wax with fine steel wool; rub in and buff with a cloth.

Shellac, varnish, or polyurethane finish: Use a cleaner designed for hardwood floor finishes.

7. Mold or Mildew

Wax or penetrating stain finish: Apply a cleaner designed for wood.

Shellac, varnish, or polyurethane finish: Use a cleaner designed for hardwood floor finishes. Sand and refinish areas where the mold or mildew is beneath the surface.

8. Scratches

Wax or penetrating stain finish: Apply wax.

Polyurethane finish: Fix with a touch-up kit made for urethane finishes and sold at flooring stores.

Shellac or varnish finish: Fix with a hardwood floor finish restorer.

9. Water Stains or White Spots

Wax or penetrating stain finish: Rub with 000 steel wool dipped in wax. If the stain or spot remains, sand with fine sandpaper. Follow up with 00 steel wool dipped in mineral spirits. When mineral spirits evaporate, stain to match original color. Apply wax and buff.

Shellac, varnish, or polyurethane finish: Use a cleaner designed for hardwood floor finishes.

10. Wax Buildup

Wax or penetrating stain finish: Remove the old wax with a stripper made for wax. (Do not use furniture stripper.) Remove residue with a cloth and fine steel wool. Let dry, then wax and machine buff.

Shellac, varnish, or polyurethane finish: Don’t wax these finishes. It can make the floor dangerously slippery and interfere with subsequent finishes. If you have used it, take it off with a commercial wax remover.