I’m an interior designer so I visit lots of homes. Broadly, my customers are one of two types. The first group wants their furniture and floor surfaces to be as low-maintenance as possible. The other group enjoys being surrounded by natural wooden surfaces and is happy to do what it takes to be able to appreciate them.
I have one foot in each camp, you could say. In my own home, I’m happy to make an effort to enjoy the natural surface of the wood. In my summer house, I prefer having to do as little work as possible. For both scenarios, it is important that wood is cleaned using the right kind of soap. If your floor is soap- or oil-treated, the soap you use must not have a degreasing effect. The soap should both clean the wood and treat its surface, so it can resist grime and be easy to keep clean.
In the following article, I will tell you a little about the plus and minus points I have encountered with soap-, oil- and lacquer-treated floors.
A soap-treated floor has a characteristic matte, natural look that is an excellent match for the Scandinavian style. I have solid Douglas wood floors in bedrooms, the living and dining rooms and in the kitchen. They used to be oil-treated, but I have now chosen to go with soap treatment. Did I regret my choice? Not in the least. Cleaning is a little more difficult, but the advantage is that I can now wash my floors to be absolutely clean.
I wash the floors with WOCA Natural Soap and use multiple mops that have been soaked in clean soapy water. Instead of rinsing a mop, I swap them around so I’m always working with clean water. In the kitchen and other vulnerable areas, I leave the soapy water to soak for a couple of minutes. I then wipe back and forth in the direction of the wood with a white pad, finishing off with a wrung-out mop with clean soapy water. Washing this way allows me to keep the wooden floors clean and they just get better and better looking. When the floor needs a full deep clean, I use WOCA Intensive Wood Cleaner. I then retreat the floor with Natural Soap, diluted 1:10. This means that my floor never ends up looking desperate for a sanding.
I have a large bedroom with an oil-treated solid wood floor. I clean the floor with Natural Soap and, now that I know about WOCA Oil Refreshing Soap, I use this to clean the floor every fourth wash.
A couple of times a year I give it some WOCA Oil Care, which I apply with a cotton cloth or wool pad. It doesn’t take very long, so mostly it is a question of remembering to do it. Because I hadn't given my floor the right treatments right from the start, there are tiny holes in the surface in a few places, where dirt can get underneath the oil. I’m therefore going to deep clean the wood with Intensive Wood Cleaner and then polish it with WOCA Maintenance Oil to reseal the surface of the floor.
I could easily see myself choosing an oil-treated floor again, but I would have to have a reminder in my planner to alternate between Natural Soap and Oil Refreshing Soap, and to use Oil Care a couple of times a year.
With the right care, and it doesn’t take all that much time, you can have a great-looking oil-treated floor for many years.
Tina Dalbøge has had an oil-treated wooden floor and would be happy to choose one again, now that she knows to alternate Natural Soap with Oil Refreshing Soap every four washes. She also uses Oil Care on the floor a couple of times a year. It’s no extra trouble. All you have to do is remember to use it. With the right care, an oil-treated floor will be attractive and stylish for many years.
My husband and I have purchased a lovely summer house, where we have had a lacquered wooden floor fitted. The house will be in use all year round and we will be loaning it to friends and family, so surfaces should be as easy to work with as possible.
The floor will be cleaned with WOCA Master Cleaner and I will use multiple mops that I will swap round as I clean. I will put a note in my planner once a year to remind me to wash the floor with Intensive Wood Cleaner to remove soap residue. It will then be treated with WOCA Master Care, applied with a wool pad to cover any scratches in the lacquer. This will keep the floor looking great for many years, with absolute minimum maintenance.
Please bear in mind that Master Cleaner has degreasing properties. You should therefore not use it on oil- or soap-treated surfaces.