You shouldn't have much trouble keeping your bamboo flooring clean because most products are shipped with a rock-hard finish that resists scuffs, scratches and stains. Virtually every hardwood flooring dealer that sells bamboo agrees with the Bamboo Flooring Company that the most important thing you need to do is keep the floor clear of dust and debris that can scratch the finish when ground underfoot. That requires little more than sweeping or vacuuming on a weekly basis or, for high-traffic areas, a daily basis. An important caveat is that your vacuum cleaner must have a soft floor attachment — do not use a beater bar.
How to Keep Your Bamboo Floor Clean
You'll actually make less work for yourself in the long run by sweeping your bamboo floor more often. There's no problem doing this with a regular-bristle broom, but choose a soft-bristle broom instead of one with hard bristles, which can grind in dirt and cause microscratches that mar the finish. Even better, consider investing in a washable microfiber mop, which actually picks up the dust rather than pushing it around and can be cleaned in the washing machine.
Bamboo doesn't like to get wet, so it's important to soak up spills with a dry cloth or paper towel as soon as they occur. You can spritz a small amount of water on the floor to make it easier to remove surface grime that you can't sweep away but remove this immediately with a soft cloth or a damp mop, not a wet mop. If you need a stronger cleaner, use a pH-neutral hardwood-floor cleaner. Cali Bamboo and other dealers recommend Bona Pro Hardwood Floor Cleaner.
What Not to Do
When you clean your bamboo flooring, you're cleaning the finish, not the actual bamboo, and alkaline and acidic cleaners as well as most solvents will turn most finishes dull. Before you use a commercial cleaning product, check the label, and if it contains any of the following, choose another floor cleaner:
- Mineral spirits
- Paint thinner
Similarly, to protect the finish, avoid abrasive cleaners like scouring powder or abrasive cleaning implements such as steel wool. If you need to remove hardened glue or dried paint and you can't scrape it off with a plastic putty knife, try softening it with a hair dryer and then scraping or use a soft cloth and Titebond adhesive remover or a similar product to rub it off.
Never use a wet mop because it can force water through the gaps between boards, and the water can seep into the flooring from underneath, causing warping or gapping. A steam mop is like a wet mop on steroids, so it's even more important to avoid using one on bamboo flooring. When mopping is required, wring out the mop thoroughly before you use it.
Don't use oil soap, polish or wax. Oil soap and polish are great for cleaning and buffing wood furniture, but they leave a residue on super-hard floor finishes that dulls the sheen and that you ultimately have to remove, which isn't an easy job. The same is true for wax, which can actually make hard finishes dangerously slippery, and if you should happen to use a wax product that contains silicone, it will cause major headaches if you ever have to sand and refinish the floor.
Tips to Help Keep Your Bamboo Flooring Beautiful
An effective way to protect your bamboo flooring would be to cover it with carpeting, but who wants to do that and hide the flooring altogether? A less-extreme alternative is to place rugs on the most high-traffic areas, especially near doorways. If you do this, use rugs with breathable mesh or grid backings — not solid rubber or vinyl, which can cause damage to the finish — and rotate the rugs periodically to avoid creating shadows.
Prevent scratches by removing the round metal knobs on the bottom of furniture legs and replacing them with felt floor protectors. Keep your pets' nails trimmed, and if adopting a shoes-off policy in the house is too radical an idea, at least try to remember to clean your shoes before coming indoors to avoid tracking grit that can get ground into the finish.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.