Prevent Damage to Hardwood Floors:  Shame  On Consumer Reports

Prevent Damage to Hardwood Floors: Shame On Consumer Reports

Damage to Wood Floors

If you want to get people’s attention, just tell them you are going to save them money.  But sometimes, money saving advice can have some serious long-term downsides and eliminate any savings.  An article in ShopSmart magazine is a good case in point.

ShopSmart is a publication of the Consumer Reports Foundation.  They tend to be more proactive about advising consumers how and where to spend their money, based on testing and comparisons of products.  In their April 2013 issue, they claim that household cleaning products can be expensive and offer ways to cut back.  Then they do something I found very amateurish.  They advocate preventing damage to hardwood floors and reducing your costs by concocting your own “home brew” of cleaning products.  That’s bad enough but when I saw where they picked up the recipes for the cleaning products, the Internet, I was stunned.  Red flags, sirens and railroad crossing bells!

Prevent Damage to Hardwood Floors: Making It Worse

Damaged Floor by Vinegar image

Damaged Floor by Vinegar

In my opinion, where this article screws up royally is they totally ignore what these concoctions do to the surface being cleaned. Sure, vinegar/water or ammonia/water will cut grease but what happens to the surface being cleaned?  Brillo pads are good cleaners but there is a reason you don’t use them to wash your car; they will destroy the paint job.  And there is a reason most responsible manufacturers of cleaning products don’t add vinegar to their products and are very careful about adding ammonia.  They know that they can damage some surfaces being cleaned.  This point is totally absent from the DIY fanatics on the Internet.  Their cavalier attitude reflects their obsession with saving money and that produces amateurish (and often disastrous) results.

The most serious damage I am seeing to wood floors these days is from well-intentioned homeowners following this poor advice and failing to prevent damage to hardwood floors.  When vinegar or ammonia comes in contact with most wood floors, the damage is deep, serious and quick.  In the photo, you see the results of vinegar/water combo and it is very costly.


That damage is to the wood, not the finish and can only be removed by a total sand/finish.  That homeowner may have saved a few dollars by mixing their own brew but paid over $1200 in sanding and repair costs.  Where is the savings in that formula?  Plus, they had to live with a floor that looked like it was a petri dish harboring some fungus.

What makes this conversation even more trivial is the money saving idea of making your own cleaner.  I use a wood floor cleaner made by a well-known coatings manufacturer.  One gallon (a little over $20) will last me a year.  That’s less than $2.00 per month.  The April issue of ShopSmart magazine cost me over $5.00, more than twice as much.  If this is what we can expect from ShopSmart, I see an immediate savings of $3.00 per month.  Shame on you Consumer Reports – we expect better of you.


  1. Moises Harps says:

    You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will go along with with your website.

  2. hi-ya, primary blog on right here :). Thnx