Monday, March 8, 2010

Elbow grease

I've been spending part of the weekend scrubbing hideous old wax and dirt off our hardwood floors.

A while back, our housecleaner mopped our floors with Mop n' Glo. It's a wax, and it shouldn't have been used on our hardwood floors, which already have a finish. The wax hardened to a malleable stickiness, and trapped dirt. Subsequent moppings trapped more dirt. The floors looked hideous, and even if you mopped again with soapy water, it didn't make a difference. So I searched the internet and read things from other people who'd had the same problem.

The only way to get Mop n' Glo off wood floors is to dissolve it with a gentle solvent, and scrub it off. Board by board. After some experiments with vinegar, soapy ammonia, and Windex, I settled on Windex as the best choice.

Tools - Spray bottle of Windex. Sponge with a scrubbing surface. Bucket of clean warm watter. Roll of paper towels.

Spray a small area about 1' square with Windex. Wait about 3-5 minutes. Take the sponge and start scrubbing. If the wax has dissolved enough, it will peel away almost like dead skin. Rinse the sponge in the water, and wipe down the wood with the soft side of the sponge. Then wipe away the wax residue with a paper towel. Sometimes the wax is stubborn, so you have to spray again.

Now, do that again, for every square foot of your floor.

Between Saturday and Sunday, I cleaned about 80 square feet - which is a little under half of my kitchen floor. And there's the entire living room to go.

My wrists and shoulders ache and my fingertips are all pruney. To be fair, though, it took a while to experiment with the right technique. Once I figured it out, it went a lot faster. I think I'm going to rent a bunch of movies and spend an entire day on the living room floor.

It sure makes a difference, though, doesn't it?



No way. Get a machine to help you out with this. I know you can rent things.

I have stone floors and use the Oreck Orbiter. I can recommend it without hesitation.

Oreck may have a scrubber pad to attach to the Orbiter that would help.

Good luck.

Queenly Things said...

It makes a huge difference.And it will look lovely when it's finished and you will feel so virtuous. But damn, that's a lot of work.

mo.stoneskin said...

Our floor needs doing.

Seeing as you're in the mood...?

g said...

The reason you have to work small bits at a time by hand is that if you don't wipe it clean after you peel it up, the slurry of dissolved wax will adhere to the boards again. So I don't think a machine will work.

But I'll never let wax touch my floors again.

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

When we first moved into our house it was 5 years old and the hardwood floors looked great, but I was told to use the wrong thing on them. So, I ended up in the same shape as you did. After almost going crazy over these floors and trying so many different husband bought a kit and stripped them and put a satin finish instead of high gloss. I love them, but they can be a chore!


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Oh my goodness--that is a lot of work.

Once a year I scrub my laminate floors by hand--probably 400 square feet because a lot of it is covered by rugs--and that is backbreaking. And I'm only trying to get regular dirt off--not sticky wax.

I'm with Maybelline--there's got to be a better way!

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Embrace your inner Tom Sawyer, and put an ad in the paper- "Personal Trainer, In-Home Workouts", and have gullible folks pay you for the privilege of performing this task.

cactus petunia said...

You are a brave woman!

Life with Kaishon said...

Your floors are AMAZING. I can not even imagine how time consuming that is. I am not a fan of whatever is in swiffer wet jet for wood floors. It has turned our entry way into a mess! I need to start scrubbing just like you.