A high PH cleaner (more alkaline like soaps and harsh detergents) are really good at dissolving grease and dirt, but this higher PH will, in time, dull the floor finish. They will harm your skin also. Cleaners that are PH neutral are available at most cleaning supply houses but they are formulated for washing vinyl floors that have been waxed with an acrylic polish without harming the wax. That’s how mild those cleaners are. The Cleaning Center carries a product that is specially formulated for wood finishes.
Wood Wash is one of these. It’s safe to use on new floor finishes and is biodegradable. It comes in a concentrated formula and you can make a gallon of floor cleaner for about 70 cents. I like to use distilled water for dilution because it avoids any hard water streaks and brings my cost to only $2.50 per gallon of cleaner. I like to vacuum my floors thoroughly first, then I get down on my hands and knees and spray the cleaner on an area that’s easy to reach. I use one rag to clean the floor and keep a drier rag handy to buff the floor dry. I get a super clean streakless floor that way, and the gallon of cleaner lasts a long time.
You can also mop this solution on a well-finished floor. Damp mopping is a method where by you wet the mop slightly ( dip it in the bucket and wring out almost dry). Go over the floor twice, once to dissolve the dirt and after rinsing the mop and ringing it, give it one more mop pass to remove the gunk. If you have a prefinished floor it would be a good idea to buff the floor dry with a towel or buffer.
That brings us to one important issue. What special considerations should one make when cleaning prefinished floors? The first two cleaning methods I described so far are OK for a prefinished floor that has a conversion film finish on it. This is a finish that is quite resistant to water, but because the wood has not been coated on site, any further wet mopping will send water down between the boards and damage the wood. Some contractors will install a prefinished floor, and then apply one
or two more coats of a cross linking finish, to seal up these seams. This would be the rare case, so unless you know that this has been done, never wet mop your prefinished floor. Just damp mop and buff dry.