Polyurethan is a wood coating that is very durable and tough. It offers a plastic-like coating to wood surfaces.
Polyurethane is ideal to use on high traffic areas like flooring and cabinetry as it is impenetrable by a lot of substances.
It is important to remember that when you are cleaning polyurethane, you are cleaning the coating, not the actual wood itself, which is why you need to use the right cleaning products that are safe for the coating; otherwise, it can be damaged.
What is the right way to clean polyurethane? Let’s go through that!
How To Clean Polyurethane?
For cleaning polyurethane with stubborn stains, you can use rubbing alcohol dipped into a dry, soft cloth and dry over the surface. Polyurethane can be cleaned with mild dish soap and water as long as you don’t soak it. Vinegar can be used on oil-based coatings for stubborn grease and grime but only use it sparingly, and it must be diluted white vinegar.
What Is Polyurethane?
It doesn’t matter where you live or what you do for work chances are you would have come across polyurethane products quite often, and you probably didn’t even know it.
Many people already have several polyurethane products in their cupboards, and the reason for that is the fact that polyurethane is actually a very diverse form of resin in the synthetic form.
This is found easily on the market in many different products around the globe. Polyurethane is made from two chemicals known as urethane and polymers.
Polymers are connected to the urethane groups that then create a solution that can take on many different forms.
The polymer compound is able to create a durable, safe and stable product that many people use each and every day.
The good thing about polyurethane is they are heat resistant and don’t melt when they get heated up.
The heat resistance is the feature that makes them good for things prone to heat, like cars and appliances.
Now a polyurethane coating or varnish, as some like to call it, is basically just a liquid plastic that creates a finish on wood surfaces that can protect the wood and really bring out the grain of the wood.
You can get polyurethane in both oil and water-based, and which one you choose will be determined on what the surface is going to be used for.
If you want a fast dry, and easy application, then water-based is the option to choose.
The water-based polyurethane offers toxicity and fewer odors, but it isn’t as chemical and heat resistant as oil-based.
Now with oil-based, this is more durable and works better for applications on kitchen benchtops, dining tables, and kitchen cabinets.
It has a longer drying time and needs plenty of ventilation. Oil-based is also known to leave a yellow hue when it is dry.
Testing The Finish
Before you carry out any cleaning or go off to buy the right products to clean polyurethane, you first need to ensure that the finish on what you are cleaning is actually polyurethane.
There are many products out there that can actually mimic polyurethane but can become damaged if you clean with products meant for polyurethane surfaces.
To test, you can use linseed oil and just rub some into the coating.
If the oil beads up, then you have a hard finish surface and not that of an oil-based one.
You can also rub some acetone into a spot you cannot see, like at the back or inside a drawer, and rub in a circular motion.
If the coating starts to dissolve or become really sticky, then it is not polyurethan as poly will repel the acetone, and it will bead up like a drop of water.
How To Clean Polyurethane Floors
When it comes to cleaning polyurethane floors, you need to make sure that you first remove all the debris from the surface.
An electrostatic broom is fantastic for this, and it works well to pick up dirt and dust just like a magnet.
There is no need to clean the area a few times, so it becomes more time-efficient.
You can also use a vacuum cleaner as long as it has bristles that are long enough, so you are not dragging the metal along the floor.
If you find areas where the dust won’t come away with a vacuum or broom, you might need to use an electrostatic dusting cloth as they are often better at removing the dust than vacuum cleaners.
Now onto the stain. You can use a regular mop or opt for a nylon mop but ensure you choose a floor cleaner that is water-based has neutral pH, and is designed for hardwood flooring.
If your floor is extra dirty with a few stains here and there, you can add some baking soda to the cleaning water, which can help to loosen the grime.
Make sure you follow the instructions when adding your cleaning; not using enough won’t clean your floor properly, and using too much can damage your floor, leaving it sticky and streaky.
Polyurethane only needs mild cleaners.
All you need to do now is to soak the mop in the cleaning solution and wring it out before you go ahead and start mopping.
You don’t want to walk on the floor until it has had time to dry and footprints will become visible and, when dried, will leave an outline.
Buff Your Polyurethane Floor For Shining Results
You don’t have to buff your floors, but it can be tempting to do it as we all love a gleaming, shiny floor.
All you need to shine your floor is to grab an absorbent cloth that is clean and mix up a cleaning solution wither lemon juice diluted with water, or you can use the water taken from two tea bags soaking in boiled water.
When your water is lukewarm, you can dip the microfiber cloth in it, remove excess water and then buff over your floor; if you have a large floor area, you can buy mops for this job to make it easier.
How To Keep Your Polyurethane Flooring In Good Condition
Sometimes if you are in a hurry or are not in the mood for cleaning your flooring, you might stray away from the right cleaning method or use the wrong products.
It is important when maintaining the appearance and the condition of the flooring that you clean them when you have the time to give them TLC and the right products.
If not, you can damage the floor’s coating and damage the wood underneath.
If there is damage or deep scratches in your polyurethane coating, you don’t want to wash the floor; instead, you need to refinish the floor asap; otherwise, if water seeps into the unprotected wood, it can cause wood rot and mold growth.
It is also a good idea to use rubber protectors underneath the furniture, especially the ones like dining chairs that are being moved in and out all the time.
Ensure that you sweep up often as tiny rocks and dirt can cause scratches on the polyurethane if they are dragged around underneath our feet.
Polyurethane is a great floor finish that is durable, but like most things, it does wear out eventually, and it will need more than just a clean to get the luster back.
When it comes to refinishing your floors, it can be a hard job, but did you know you can actually restore your polyurethane flooring by just wiping it over with a finish restoring product.
This doesn’t take long and can restore your floors until you are ready to completely restore where you need to sand back, clean, stain, and then varnish.
Can I Clean My Polyurethane Floors With Windex For Added Shine?
Yes, you certainly can. The only thing to remember here is you need to use the Windex that is ammonia-free.
Ammonia-free Windex is safe to use on polyurethane flooring and can be used for the long term.
This solution will help to get your flooring clean and not leave streaks and cloudy appearances.
Using a spray mop is a good idea as you can then mist the Windex on without stretching down.
This can be used on tiles also, so no matter what flooring you have, you only need to finish with one product.
Using Commercial Cleaners
Bona Hardwood Cleaner is a good floor cleaner that works well with polyurethane floors.
The bottles have a splash-less feature and a wide handle so you can control them easily.
For polyurethane floors, you want a residue-free cleaner, and that is just what this cleaner does, along with fast drying effects and the ability to bring out the natural beauty and shine of the floor.
Polycare cleaner is also another good cleaner for poly flooring. It is safe for all coated floors, and it is formulated to clean without leaving streaks or soapy hazes.
This cleaner is suitable for both oil and water-based solvents, which is great if you are unsure which you have.
Polycare has a light scent with a unique detergent formula which allows for effective cleaning without the need to rinse.
Does Polyurethane Mean Waterproof?
If something is coated in polyurethane, it does not mean it is waterproof, but it does become water-resistant.
Polyurethane gives hardwood an extra coating of protection. While it can prevent water absorption due to its ability to repel water, it does not make anything waterproof.
You do need to remember if you are not sure how long the polyurethane has been on an object, either refinish it or be careful when using water.
Polyurethane offers only a thin layer, and if it has worn down or there are holes, it can allow the water to penetrate through the wood which will cause the wood to expand and create weak points.
This will allow for things like drawers and doors to not shut properly.
It is recommended that flooring and furniture have three coats of poly added which allows for more wood protection as the poly layer is more cohesive and thicker.
Avoid Using Waxes On Polyurethane Flooring
It is important that you don’t use waxes on your flooring.
These will promise to add luster and sheen to your flooring, but wax actually degrades the polyurethane, so it will be soaking in water and needing to be refinished sooner than you thought.
If you want your floor extra shining and gleaming, then you need to opt for refinishing them; this is the only safe way with the best results that will last.
It is important that you look after your polyurethane floor, so you don’t have to keep re-finishing it all the time.
Your beautiful floors will stay durable and looking like new when they are cleaned the right way.
We all love homemade products which are eco-friendly and can be made from ingredients from your pantry, sure, but sometimes certain surfaces just cannot handle acidity ingredients like citric acid and vinegar.
Always check with your local flooring specialist before you go ahead and use any homemade cleaning solutions.
Once cleaned, put your feet up and relax, have a cuppa, and enjoy your nice clean floors.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Clean Polyurethane
Is Steam Cleaning Ok For Poly Hardwood Floors?
Steam cleaning is too hot for polyurethane, and it will strip the shine right off your poly floors. Even when mop cleaning uses warm water but never use boiling water.
Do I Need A Special Cloth To Clean Polyurethane?
The best cloth to use when cleaning or drying polyurethane is a microfiber cloth. These cloths attract debris and dirt and are soft enough they don’t scratch the surface.