How to Dry Hardwood Floors Fast (Plus Tips on Removing Mold and Mildew)

How to dry hardwood floors fast

Hardwood floors can be elegant. Of all the flooring options open to you, it has several unique properties that make it a very practical option. You get to clean it quickly; it can resist stains (this is good, especially if kids are living in the house), and lots more.

Good as they may be, hardwood floors are not entirely without their challenges.

One major challenge users have with it includes vulnerability to water damage. This comes in the form of Leaky roofs, busted pipes, overflowed toilets, and other unwanted spilled water sources.

When hardwood is soaked with water, you should remove it as soon as possible.

The longer the wood stays saturated, the more damage it will incur. Make sure to have these tools on hand and know the process, especially if you live in a flood-prone area.

Following these steps immediately after experiencing spills will help ensure your hardwood floors dry correctly and maintain their look and functionality. To start with, here are some essential tools in drying hardwood quickly.

Tools in drying hardwood fast

  1. Mops: Microfiber mops are excellent options because these are highly absorbent.
  2. Water pump: This is useful when the volume of water is very high.
  3. Brush and light detergent: This combo will help remove molds and mildew.
  4. Large fan: An industrial fan will speed up the drying process.
  5. Dehumidifier: It will help remove excess moisture under the floor.

How long does it take for wooden floors to dry?

The length of time depends on factors such as the volume of water, the specific type of wood used for the flooring, the materials used for cleaning, and other factors that determine how long it takes for wooden floors to dry.

However, a wooden floor should be dry within 24 hours if the conditions are favorable. Make sure to follow the steps highlighted below for the best results.

Steps on how to dry wood fast

1. Take off all floor coverings.

The first step is to get as much access to the hardwood as possible. If there are wet rugs, mats, furniture, or carpeting, please remove these items immediately to speed up the process.

You can clean these items separately, but the focus now should be on the hardwood surface as it will deteriorate if water continues to seep through.

I have a separate article about carpet cleaning, so check it out on how to properly clean it.

2. Remove visible water immediately.

Water is a viscous substance. When it gets on a surface, it starts to look for means to sink into it.

You won’t be able to dry water that has gone underneath the floors. So, begin draining the visible water on your floors immediately. If the flooding is too much for mops to handle you may need to use a water pump.

You can rent a water pump from hardware stores if it is too expensive to buy one for single-use.

If you want to use a water pump, set it up in standing water and run a hose to another area, like outside, where the water can drain. In no time, the volume goes down to a minimal level.

3. Scrub the surface thoroughly.

Once the excess water is gone, you’ll need to scrub the hardwood surface with a mild detergent to disinfect.

This step is essential to ensure that dirt and contaminants do not seep through the wood’s pores, which could cause further damage.

Use a wet/dry shop vacuum to remove any excess water. To ensure that the surface is dry, use a microfiber mop to complete the task.

4. Dehumidify for 24 hours

Due to the presence of pores in a partially damaged wood, water can still linger deep within the fibers even after mopping it. To resolve this, you’ll need to set up a dehumidifier in the center of the room. Leave it at a maximum setting for at least a full day.

5. Use fans to speed up the drying cycle

While going through the dehumidification process, make sure you set up several large fans in the room to run on full blast. Also, make sure the fans point toward the floor. If your home is equipped with a heater, it will also help speed up the drying process.

The steady flow of air will help the dehumidifier work more efficiently. Therefore, it makes sense to ensure cross ventilation within the room.

6. Look out for mold and mildew.

In an environment where you are trying to get water out, moisture will likely start settling on surfaces.

Moisture will bring about the growth of mold on the floor and other areas of the home over time.

Mold and mildew possess a considerable health risk that you don’t want to deal with. Therefore, make sure to scrub the entire floor if you see any suspicious spots.

7. Check for Moisture

After doing steps 1 to 6, the last step is to check for any moisture remaining. For this step, you’ll need a specialized tool for the task – a moisture testing meter.

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If the reading is positive, leave the dehumidifier until it yields a negative result.

How to remove mold and mildew from hardwood floors?

Another side effect of water accumulation on hardwood floors is the formation of mold and mildew. If these aren’t removed, it could potentially spread and damage not just hardwood, but also other parts of the home. It also has adverse effects on our health like stuffy nose and wheezing.

There are several methods to remove mold and mildew, depending on the severity. These DIY techniques will work for small patches of growth that isn’t so severe. That is why it is essential to check for these spots ASAP before it deteriorates into something worst where it’ll need expensive professional work.

Before using any of these DIY solutions, please test it in an inconspicuous location to see if it causes any discoloration.

Also, make sure to have proper ventilation (leave windows open if possible) and aerate the room so that you don’t inhale spores and aerating eliminates excess moisture.

Prepare these safety items to protect the eyes and hands:

  1. Rubber gloves
  2. Face mask (surgical or N95)
  3. Goggles

Method 1: Using Vinegar + Dishwashing Soap + Water

What you’ll need:

  1. White vinegar
  2. Paper towels (a paper towel is the preferred option since mold can transfer to cloth)
  3. Vacuum cleaner
  4. Spray bottle
  5. Sponge (optional)
  6. Mild dishwashing soap (optional)

Steps:

  1. If the area is dusty, please use a vacuum cleaner to remove any loose dirt.
  2. Add a quarter cup of distilled white vinegar to a cup of water and a few drops of dishwashing soap. Pour this mixture into a spray bottle. If dishwashing soap is not available, stick with the vinegar and water solution.
  3. Mist the moldy area with the mixture.
  4. Wipe the residue using a paper towel because vinegar can damage hardwood.
  5. Just in case the mold is still present, use a sponge to scrub the surface.
  6. Repeat steps 1 to 5 on all moldy areas.
  7. Vacuum the area once again to remove any debris.

Make sure to dispose of the paper towels immediately to a trash container outside the home, so it doesn’t spread to the other parts of the house.

Method 2: Non-Chlorine Bleach Solution + Water

This is a more potent solution than the first one. Use an N95 or a P100 respirator if you opt for this method as the fumes coming from the bleach may cause nausea.

What you’ll need:

  1. Non-chlorine bleach solution
  2. Spray bottle
  3. Paper towel
  4. N95 mask or P100 respirator
  5. Vacuum cleaner

Steps:

  1. Mix one part of non-chlorine bleach to ten parts water in a spray bottle. Shake well.
  2. Mist this solution onto the moldy areas and leave it for around ten minutes. Don’t leave the chlorine solution for an extended period as it will damage the surface.
  3. Use a paper towel to wipe the solution off the hardwood surface and dispose of it as soon as possible.
  4. If there is surface dust or paper towel residue, clean it with a vacuum cleaner.

Method 3: Mold and Mildew Cleaner

Another option if you don’t mind spending a little extra is using a mold and mildew cleaner. It is more expensive than the two methods above, but it’s an ideal option if you don’t want to deal with the toxic fumes of Chlorine.

Make sure to choose a product that is safe to use on a wooden surface. Most of the good brands are safe on a myriad of surfaces, so please read the label carefully.

What you’ll need:

  1. Mold and Mildew Cleaner
  2. Paper towel

Steps:

  1. Please read the label carefully for the waiting time. For example, the RMR-86 Mold and Mildew Remover recommends a waiting time of just 15 seconds.
  2. Mist moldy areas with the mold and mildew cleaner.
  3. Wait for 15 seconds (refer to product label for the correct waiting time if you’re using a different brand) before wiping the cleaner residue off with a paper towel.
  4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 on all affected areas.
  5. Dispose of the used paper towel ASAP.
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Method 4: Sanding Method

So far, the methods we’ve looked into works best for removing surface mold and mildew. If any of these do not work, it means that the mold has permeated into the wood fibers.

One technique to test if mold and mildew have gone deeper is using a screwdriver. Gently press the screwdriver on the moldy area. If the surface feels soft, this confirms that the mold has penetrated the surface. You’ll need to do a more invasive approach using sandpaper.

Since you’ll be sanding the surface, please wear protective gear like an N95 face mask or a P100 respirator, rubber gloves, and goggles.

What you’ll need:

  1. 100 and 220 grit sandpaper
  2. Goggles
  3. Rubber gloves
  4. Vacuum cleaner
  5. N95 Mask or P100 respirator
  6. Bleach
  7. Spray bottle
  8. Microfiber towel
  9. Vacuum cleaner
  10. Painters brush
  11. Wood finish
  12. Polyurethane finish (optional)

Steps:

  1. Mix one part non-chlorine bleach solution into ten parts of water in a spray bottle. Set aside.
  2. Use a fan or heater to dry the surface thoroughly.
  3. Open the windows to ensure that the air circulates to provide proper ventilation.
  4. Sand the affected areas first using a 100 grit sandpaper then follow it up with a 220 grit sandpaper.
  5. Periodically mist the area you’re sanding with using the non-chlorine bleach solution you’ve prepped earlier to kill any live molds.
  6. Repeat steps 1 to 5 on other moldy areas.
  7. Use a microfiber towel and vacuum cleaner to remove any excess wood residue from sanding. This will be prep for the last step.
  8. Apply the wood finish on the sanded areas using a paintbrush. There are a lot of options for wood finishes, choose one that will match the finish of the hardwood. For an even finish, you may need to apply it to the entire area. For extra protection, apply polyurethane finish to seal the surface.

Tips for preventing water accumulation

Drying a flooded wood floor comes at a cost. To this end, you must prevent situations like this from coming up again. The following tips can be helpful

  • A rug should be placed in front of the door to avoid an external influx of water.
  • Check the plumbing for leaks that may cause water buildup onto the wood floor.
  • Glued on hardwood floors must be maintained periodically.
  • Only use quality cleaning materials specifically for tidying up hardwood floors.
  • Don’t use a soaked rag or mop when mopping. A damp mop head will suffice.