Hardwood Floor Cleaners & Tips
Here are several different recipes for mixing up your own cleaners for hardwood flooring, just a few simple ingredients are all that’s needed. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way, you just need enough liquid to dampen the mop (or cloth) and scrub away.
If you’re happy to damp mop with straight water, try adding about 10 drops of essential oil per gallon of water for extra cleaning muscle. Some suggestions: lavender, tea tree oil, pine or eucalyptus oil will add antiseptic qualities.
You’ll also find tips on this page for removing scuff marks, how to test for wax (and remove it), a few DIY polish recipes and a scratch repair method that may surprise you.
Getting Started: Sweep or vacuum surface to remove as much dirt and dust as possible.
- When using one of the recipes below, damp mop only. Saturating the floor with liquid may cause spotting or warping of the surface. You can either lightly spray one section at a time or lightly spray the mop head.
- Scrub in the direction of the grain of the wood to grab and remove as much of the dirt as possible.
- Wipe dry with a soft cloth after washing.
Mix 1 gallon warm water with your choice of the ingredients below…
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1 TBS castille soap
- 1 cup white household vinegar (*Is it safe to use? See notes below)
- 1/4 cup borax
- 1/2 teaspoon mild dish detergent (liquid)
- 1 cup vinegar
- 10 drops peppermint essential oil
- 1/8 cup mild liquid dish soap
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 1 TBS Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap
- 1/8 cup vinegar
- 1/4 cup brewed black tea
Steep 1 bag of tea in 2 cups of boiling water and leave until it comes to room temperature. Remove tea bag and soak cloth in liquid, wring out then wipe floor clean. Dry with a soft cloth. The tannic acid in the tea will help bring wood to a shine.
For Oil-Finish: Damp mop with straight water after first cleaning with the recipe below.
- 1 TBS rubbing alcohol
- 2/3 cup hot water
*Is vinegar safe to use? Isn’t it too acidic for hardwood?
If you poured a bottle of vinegar directly on the floor and allowed it to sit, it would most likely damage the surface. However, in the mixtures above it is well diluted and only used as a damp mop (meaning excess liquid is squeezed out). Vinegar is an excellent household cleaner and brings a lot of muscle to the job. If you’re concerned about the effects it may have on the finish over the long-term, consider doing a clear water rinse after wiping floor with a mixture that has vinegar as an ingredient (then wipe dry as usual).
Removing Scuff Marks
- Keep a spray bottle with a mixture of 50/50 vinegar, water and about 15 drops of essential oil of your choosing.
- Sprinkle scuffs with baking soda then spray solution, let fizz for a few seconds.
- Scrub marks until they are removed then dry with a soft towel.
Wax Testing & Removal
- Wet your fingers with water then flick into a corner of the floor where there’s not much traffic. If there’s wax on the surface, the floor will turn white under the water beads (may take a half hour or so to turn white).
To Remove Wax:
- Scrub the surface with mineral spirits using a household sponge with a nylon scrubby side. Wipe dry with a soft cloth as wax is dissolved. Repeat process a second time if needed.
Wash surface as usual and dry thoroughly. Using one of the mixes below, apply polish to surface then wipe dry with a soft cotton towel.
- Mix equal parts olive oil and white household vinegar.
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil (or olive oil)
- 2 TBS cider vinegar
- 3 TBS vodka
- 1 TBS olive oil mixed with 1 tsp lemon juice. Apply to a clean, dry mop and treat floors after cleaning.
Quick Tip: You can also spray commercial furniture polish onto the mop head and then wipe over surface.
- Rub a crayon that is the same color as the flooring into the scratch, filling the space as full of the wax as you can.
- To seal in place, heat with a hair dryer to soften the wax, allow to cool for a few seconds then buff with a soft cloth.