Are there wood floors in your house? How about wood doors, paneling, casing, crown molding or chair rails?

Wood needs to be cared for in order to keep it clean and to give it a long life. So here are some tips on how to do so:If the wood is vertical, such as casings around doors or paneling, vacuuming is the easiest way to remove surface dirt. Pollutants that stick to the surface such as smoke are best removed by rubbing the surface gently with a soft damp cloth. That cloth can be dampened with either water or with commercial furniture cleaner.

But before using any commercial cleaner, be sure to check with the manufacturer of the wood product being cleaned to assure that it will not be harmed by water. Most commercial cleaners are water-based, and most woods in the home will accept a little bit of moisture.

Other cleaners, however, are oil-based. Precautions should be taken: They are flammable. When you have finished using an oil-based product, take the extra precaution of rinsing the rags in water.

Any cleaner that contains silicone is going to give a smooth finish, but it will inhibit many future refinishing possibilities, even after the original coating has been stripped. The silicone tends to grip the wood and refuse to let go completely.

Lemon-based cleaners will give a nice shine, but fingerprints left on any wood surface cleaned with them will be more noticeable. The shine also has a tendency to smudge. And, most important, it contains kerosene, a substance that can be harmful to some finishes and to most people.

Whenever waxing wood use only a thin layer of wax; a thick coat will not dry evenly and leave a spotty finish. For waxing a wood floor, hard waterproof wax is recommended, while a soft wax is recommended for wall panels.

A few closing tips: Dust wood weekly; wipe spills immediately; do not place metal objects on wood surfaces and do not place heated objects on wood surfaces.