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I clean for a couple that has wooden floors and 2 very large dogs that track in and out all day long. I only clean there once a week and the dirt from the dogs' paws is bad. Everything I have tried makes the floor look as if I just smeared the dirt around. I do vacuum before mopping. What can I use to make this floor shine and make this couple happy?
I'd start with the simple things like check the mop - maybe request a new one if the old one is worn or very soiled. Change the mop water very frequently. Use something like ammonia or vinegar to cut through the dirt without leaving a residue. When I want to give my floors a really good clean I go over them with the large traditional cotton mop and wringer bucket with very hot water and cloudy ammonia or bleach, (not sure how the bleach would go on wood floors though?!), then, as I finish each section of about 6 square feet I finish off with a Sabco mop with the toweling pad. This gets the floors spotless and they dry in a few minutes.
I would use a mix of 1 part vinegar to two parts water for the floor after you vaccuum/sweep. I know it isn't the most pleasant thing, but to really get my floors clean I use a rag and hand mop them on my knees. I think it cleans much better than a mop. I also like Murphy's oil for my hard wood floor.
We live in a very dusty/muddy place and use wood floor cleaner from Bellawood. You can purchase a cleaning kit online from Bellawood for $25. The cleaner is soy based and works.
We've tried most of the other products listed and also a Swiffer. The only product we found to work is made by Zep Commercial, it's called Hardwood & Laminate cleaner. Spray it on and wipe with a cloth or paper towel and what's left dries quickly. The only ingredient mentioned was glycol ethers. I got it at Home Depot and their site, www.zepcommercial.com, lists other stores.
You really need to try Earth Friendly Product Floor Kleener for hardwood floors. If you're cleaning for a family with pets you run the risk of putting toxins on the floors which the dogs will absorbe into their pads. This is a completely eco-friendly product that has a citrus smell and really works