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Wood Care

Problems and Solutions

Most wood floor problems can be avoided through proper maintenance and cleaning with a gentle wood cleaner like Murphy* Oil Soap. However, some situations require a bit more attention.

NOTE: Before trying any cleaning or repair tip on any wood floor, first test an out-of-the-way section of wood flooring, such as a corner or a spot behind a door. It's the best way to ensure that you won't be damage the wood floor or its finish.

  • Scratches and small worn areas on wood floors

    Solution: First, try a simple cleaning with Murphy* Oil Soap. Wipe the spot dry and buff with a clean, dry cloth.

    If the wood flooring is damaged, first determine whether the scratches or stains are in the wood or in the topcoat finish.

    If the scratches or stains are in the outer coating of the wood (the finish), your floor has a surface finish. Usually, this is a urethane finish. Repair urethane scratches with a touch-up kit made for urethane finishes. These are generally available at any hardware store.

    On waxed floors, scratches and small worn areas can often be hidden by applying a small amount of wax with fine steel wool. Apply wax in the direction of the wood grain. Rub wax in gently, until the color blends with the surrounding floor.

    Afterwards, clean area with Murphy* Oil Soap. Wipe the spot dry and buff with a clean, dry cloth.

  • Wax buildup on improperly cared for floors

    Solution: Remove the old wax with Murphy* Oil Soap. Several applications and some elbow-grease may be required. Then make sure that the proper finish is intact, to preserve the life of the wood, and re-wax as appropriate. If in doubt, consult a wood care professional.

  • Rubber heel marks on a wood floor

    Solution: Many rubber heel marks may be removed with a common pencil eraser. For more stubborn marks, try cleaning with Murphy* Oil Soap. Wipe the spot dry and buff with a clean, dry cloth.

  • Grease and smoke buildup has created a hard film on your wood, which resists dusting and dulls the finish

    Solution: For stains on top of the finish, simply wash surfaces thoroughly with Murphy* Oil Soap, according to label directions. Repeat as necessary to remove film and prevent buildup.

  • Ammonia has been used as a wood floor cleaner and has damaged or dulled your wood floor

    Solution: If ammonia has not been heavily diluted in water, it will dull or bleach your wood floor due to its acidic pH. You will need to sand and re-stain the wood to restore it to its original color.

  • Cigarette burns on wood floors or wood furniture

    Solution: Most common burns can be treated with a touch-up kit made for urethane finishes. Rub with sandpaper, stain and refinish. For burns that reach deep into the wood, individual plank or parquet boards may need to be replaced. Wax floors may be cleaned with fine steel wool and sandpaper, cleaned with Murphy* Oil Soap, dried and re-waxed.

  • Alcoholic beverage stains on wood

    Solution: Rub the stain with a cloth dampened with Murphy* Oil Soap and warm water. If the stain persists, rub it with a different cloth, dampened with denatured alcohol. As always, be careful not to penetrate your floor's finish.

  • Chewing gum, crayon stains on wood

    Solution: First, apply a plastic bag of ice covered with a cloth, then scrape off any loose material with a sharpened blade and be careful not to scratch the wood's finish.

    Non-loose crayon marks on the floor or wood furniture are often easily removed with Murphy* Oil Soap. Wipe the spot dry and buff with a clean, dry cloth.

  • Grease stain on wood

    Solution: As soon as possible after spilling grease on wooden furniture or a wood floor, place an ice cube or very cold water on the grease spot. The cold will harden the grease, allowing you to scrape it off with a knife. Afterwards, excess grease can be sopped up by ironing a rag or piece of cloth over the grease spot. Clean the area with Murphy* Oil Soap. Wipe the spot dry and polish.

  • Ink stains on a wood floor or wood furniture

    Solution: Rub the ink stain with a cloth dampened with warm water and Murphy* Oil Soap. Wipe the spot dry and polish. (Note: if the floor is not hard-surfaced, Murphy's recommends using a commercial ink remover from a hardware store or drug store. Follow the instructions on the package.)

  • Oil stains on wood

    Solution: Remove as much liquid oil as possible with paper towels. Then place a cloth saturated with hydrogen peroxide on the stain. (Note: If you use too much peroxide, it can bleach the wood, requiring a re-staining of the floor.) Be sure to wipe the area dry and wash with Murphy* Oil Soap.

  • Blood stains on a wood floor

    Solution: Mop or wipe with cold water. If the stain persists, try adding a small amount of Murphy* Oil Soap to the cold water. Wipe the spot dry and polish.

  • Urine stains on a wood floor

    Solution: First, try to save the floor's finish, by rubbing the stain with a hot, damp cloth and Murphy* Oil Soap. Place a cloth saturated with hydrogen peroxide on the stain. (Note: if you use too much peroxide, it can bleach the wood and require the floor to be re-stained.) If this doesn't work, the top layer of the floor may need to be removed by scraping or power sanding. Contact a wood professional for best results.

  • Paint or varnish stains on wood

    Solution: Rub the paint or varnish stain lightly with a cloth dampened in a formulated paint remover. But be careful — read the manufacturer's directions to avoid damage to your floor or furniture's surface finish.

  • Nail polish stains on wood

    Solution: Nail polish will bind with many finishes, making it difficult to remove without also removing the finish. The trick is to remove the stain without removing all the layers of surface finish. Try Murphy* Oil Soap and plastic scouring pads. Stubborn stains may be approached by rubbing gently with fine steel wool and Murphy* Oil Soap.

    Afterwards, rinse and dry the area. If floor finish or wax has been removed in that area, you may need to recoat with appropriate finish or wax.

  • Shoe polish stains on wood

    Solution: Many stains will come off easily with Murphy* Oil Soap and warm water. Others may benefit from an additional but gentle rub with a plastic scrubbing pad, or fine steel wool. As always, be careful not to remove the finish.

    After removing a stain, rinse the area with Murphy* Oil Soap. Wipe the spot dry and polish. If floor finish has been removed in that area, recoat with appropriate finish or wax.

  • Dried milk and food stains

    Solution: Work from the outer edge toward the center of the stain. Often, dried material may be removed with a sharpened blade, such as a razor blade. Take care not to scratch the surface. Rub the spot with a cloth slightly dampened with Murphy* Oil Soap. Then go over the spot with a soft dry cloth. You may need to re-wax this portion of the floor and buff to restore the original shine.

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