Hardwood floors are hands down, the most popular flooring choice from the very beginning. With time many new flooring options like acrylic flooring, laminate flooring, and vinyl flooring have been introduced, but they have severely failed in superseding the hardwood ones.
With their elegance, high-end aesthetics, and charm, hardwood floors never go out of style. They are classic, timeless, always in trend, and provide warmth and texture to your home.
Many people forgo it because of its high installation cost, but they fail to realize its long-term efficiency. Once you invest the money, these floors withstand more wear and tear, stand the test of time, and last for a lifetime or even more if properly maintained. They instantly uplift the decor of your house without much effort.
And if you think they are easy on the eyes and meant only for decor purposes, you are highly mistaken. They have health benefits too. They facilitate healthier indoor air quality.
Unlike other flooring options and carpets, they do not trap dust, dirt, and allergens. They also provide a bit of warmth in the house.
Hardwood floors are also known to improve acoustics. They reduce hollow sounds or vibrations that often occur with other flooring options. Whether you are a music lover or highly prone to allergies, or want an ageless beauty in your house, Hardwood Floors will happily serve all your purposes.
What Causes White Spots on Hardwood Floors
With great things come great challenges, and the Hardwood floor is no exception to this saying. White spots are one of the most common problems faced by homeowners. They ruin the floor’s appearance by causing discoloration, fading. They can also cause a waste of money if not taken care of properly.
Check out the reasons for white spots.
Water is the main enemy of hardwood floors. Whether it is water, perfume, syrups, juice, alcohol, or pet urine, if left on the floor for a prolonged period, it causes white spots.
Heat is another significant cause. If you leave hot items like iron, cups, pans, etc., on the floor for an extended period, it leads to their direct contact with the surface of the floor and it results in white patches.
Usage of wrong floor cleaning products or incorrect cleaning techniques can also lead to white spots. Not all floor cleaners are favorable on all kinds of hardwood floors.
You need to consider several factors while determining the correct cleaner, like surface finishes of your hardwood floors, wax tolerance, etc.
The underlying mechanism
There is a protective coating over hardwood floors. The layer can be in various types of finishes.
One of the most common surface finishes is of urethane or polyurethane. They don’t allow the moisture or water to sit on the floor for a more extended period, making it water-resistant and durable. But with time, the protective coating starts to wear off, making the floor susceptible to the stains.
Heat and moisture, as mentioned, are the top causes for the white spots. What happens is that after keeping any hot item on the floor, heat opens up the pores present on the wood surface, and the moisture present there due to evaporation enters into the pores. As the surface cools down, pores close, trapping the moisture inside. The trapped moisture distorts the appearance of the floor, causing discoloration and white spots.
Methods to Remove White Spots on Hardwood Floors
Light scraping using sandpaper
For new white spots, light scraping with the abrasive and sandpaper can remove the white stain. You can also use a plastic scraper. Avoid using a metal scraper as it may lead to scratches.
Hydrogen peroxide is one of the most effective treatments for white spots.
- Take a small amount of it in a cup.
- Dip cotton balls, sponge, or soft microfiber cloth into it.
- Wring it slightly and place it on the white spot.
- Leave it there for a few minutes allowing the hydrogen peroxide solution to soak in the wood.
- Wipe any excess amount of solution and allow it to dry.
Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent bleach and disinfectant. It is safe for children or pets. Not only it effectively removes the white spots, but it also sanitizes the floor.
Mineral or alcohol spirits
These are also helpful in removing the white patches.
But be careful while using mineral spirits or alcohol, as if used in large amounts, these can lead to severe discoloration. It is advisable to use it in spray bottles and test it first over any small area.
- Apply a tiny amount of alcohol to the spot.
- Allow it to settle and gently scrub the area.
- Wipe any excess amount and pat it dry.
Using mayonnaise to remove stain might sound weird to most of you, but it is a terrific remedy for white spots. Mayonnaise is a mixture of oil, lemon juice, and vinegar, all of which are very active removers.
- Take a generous amount of Mayonnaise.
- Spread it properly over the white spot and cover it completely.
- Let it sit for half an hour, or extensive stains, you can leave it overnight.
- After that, wipe it off and dry it using a cotton towel.
Right commercial floor cleaners can also be used to remove the spots.
To decide the appropriate floor cleaner, you need first to determine the surface finish.
For that, you can put a couple of drops of water in an unnoticeable place. If white spots appear within 10 minutes of adding water drops, then it is wax finish.
For wax finish hardwood floors, you have little freedom to use various kinds of wax or oil-based floor cleaners.
For urethane coated floors, you need to be extra careful. You can’t use regular wax-based floor cleaners. Use a cleaner developed specifically for those floors. Read the instructions and ingredients present on the cleaner carefully.
Vinegar is a natural cleaning agent. You can use vinegar along with olive oil or rubbing alcohol.
It is advisable to use white vinegar as it is safer. Rubbing alcohol is also known as isopropyl alcohol, But don’t confuse it with denatured alcohol. Denatured alcohol is harmful and is never used for cleaning purposes.
- Add a slight amount of mixture on the white spot and leave it for a few minutes.
- Gently scrub the spot using a soft microfiber cloth and then instantly dry it.
A mixture of salt and olive oil also does wonders in eliminating white patches.
- Create a paste of salt and olive oil and apply it over the white spot.
- Leave it for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Gently Scrub the spot and then wipe it off and pat dry.
Baking soda is an alkaline powder and is known to be effective in removing stains.
- Mix it with a little amount of water and apply it on the spot.
- Gently scrub the area.
Be careful while scrubbing as baking soda is abrasive, and more scraping can cause scratches on the floor.
Like baking soda, toothpaste is also an alkaline compound that reacts with stains and causes them to fade.
It is advisable to use a white, non-gel toothpaste as a gel toothpaste contains ingredients that render it ineffective in removing stains.
Toothpaste also contains baking soda, but you can mix toothpaste with a small baking soda for better results for severe stains.
- Leave the paste on the stains for around half an hour.
- Gently scrub the area and wipe it off with a cotton towel.
Along with olive oil, other oils like lemon oil can also be helpful.
Put the oil on steel wool and scrub the area which contains the spot.
Scrubbing with steel wool can remove the finish, but don’t worry; the oil added helps polish the removed finish.
After that, apply wax paste and buff the area.
But be careful; this method is not suitable for wax-prohibited finishes.
There is a famous saying that poison bites poison. This counter-intuitive method of applying heat is sometimes very effective in removing white spots. As we have already discussed, white spots are mainly caused by pores’ opening due to heat and moisture trapped inside. So, when we apply heat, the pores reopen and allow the trapped moisture to dry or evaporate.
- Use an iron keep by keeping the knob on the lowest and dry heat level.
- Always keep an old towel to cover the stain. You can sprinkle a few drops of water on it to avoid overheating.
- Apply iron only over the cloth and move it regularly to prevent overheating.
You can also use a hairdryer at its lowest level. Keep the dryer directly over the white spot and allow hot air on it.
Sanding and refinishing the floors
If the above-given methods fail to remove the notorious white spot, you must resort to the final option, refinishing your floors.
- First, clean the surface to remove any dirt or dust.
- Remove old finish
This is the most time consuming and tiresome process. You can remove the old finish by using sandpaper or chemical strippers.
Chemical strippers are the fastest and easiest method to remove the old finishes. They come in various forms like liquid, gels, and sprays.
You have to take certain precautions while using chemical strippers. Ensure proper ventilation, use rubber gloves, and eye protection while stripping.
Apply the chemical strippers over the stain and wait for the time given on the instruction manual.
- After that, use a scraper or sandpaper to remove the finish.
You have to use sandpaper even after using chemical strippers.
Use power sandpaper to remove most of the finish. After most of the finish is removed, settle to medium and then fine grade sandpaper.
- Apply Sealant: This step is entirely optional. It helps the floor to absorb the stain or wax evenly.
- Stain or paint: Select the color of paint you want on your floors.
Use a paintbrush, apply a generous coating of stain over the removed finish, let it dry for a few seconds, and then apply another coat.
Ensure that you apply a clear coat to avoid an uneven or grainy texture.
Leave the floor undisturbed for 24 hours.
How to Prevent White Spots on Hardwood Floors
Do you know what is easier than removing the spots? Preventing them from happening in the first place!
Spots and stains on your precious flooring are certainly an eyesore. So, use the given precautions to avoid the problem to a large extent:
- Always use coasters or heat mats before placing any hot items. Avoid direct interaction of hot stuff with the surface.
- If water is spilled, wipe it off immediately.
- Avoid using a wet mop because moisture left on the floor for a long period is the primary cause of white spots.
- Always use a soft or slightly damp cloth. Avoid using abrasive materials.
- Clean the floor regularly, especially the corners and under furniture areas, because those areas are more prone to having spots.
- Keep furniture pads beneath the legs of furniture to prevent scratches, which can also look like white stains.
- Not all hardwood floors can be cleaned with wax paste. Always keep in mind the type of finish your floor has and use the cleaners accordingly.
- Never use wax-based or oil-based cleaners for a urethane finish.
White spots can take place even after utmost prevention and maintenance. After all, you can’t always restrict your children from spilling water or milk or control your pets whenever and where they urinate. So, these problems are bound to happen. Don’t worry; the problem isn’t unsolvable. Use the right method with the proper techniques, and you can have your floor as good as the new.
But if you cannot remove the stains by yourself, don’t hesitate to ask for a professional’s service. It is better to spend some money and have your floor repaired than to damage it with the wrong method permanently.