Homemade Natural Wood Floor Cleaner and Cleaning Tips

Updated on September 27, 2016
ChristinS profile image

Christin is a simple living, frugal, DIY enthusiast who loves showing others how to live their best by embracing simplicity.

Learn to clean wood floors naturally and safely and prevent waxy buildup
Learn to clean wood floors naturally and safely and prevent waxy buildup | Source

Hardwood floors can be so beautiful. They add character and charm to a home, but if you have kids or pets, hardwood floors can become a test of patience and endurance. I have fought many battles with wood floors of all types over the years. For a long time I cleaned houses professionally, and believe me I've seen all kinds of hardwood issues.

One of the biggest problems with wood floors are the commercial cleaning products. They all advertise “streak free shines” and “protection”. Many people use products like these, believing they are protecting their floor from stains, scuffs, and other wear and tear. In reality, what they are doing is coating their floor with a very difficult to remove wax and chemicals. Over time, floors become cloudy and dull. People grow frustrated, because no matter how much they clean, the floors always look streaked, dull, dingy or show every footprint.

Often, people will try many different products, expecting a new one to undo the damage of the previous one. This only compounds the problems, adding chemicals and residues from many sources.

Do you have wood floors that never seem to come clean? Have you used commercial products on them routinely? Chances are you have a buildup of residue that needs to be removed. If you are lucky, my recipes and techniques will restore your floor. If the problem has gone on for too long, the floor will have to be stripped and refinished – a very expensive proposition.

**Disclaimer**

Use the advice contained herein at your own risk. Often, cleaning hardwood floors with anything other than the manufacturers suggested cleaning products can void your warranty. When in doubt refer to your floor manufacturers instructions.

If however, you have an older floor, or a floor not under warranty you may want to spot test to see how these techniques work for you. I will not be held liable for any further mess you make of your floor! This hub is for informational purposes only. What worked for me may not work for you – proceed with caution and always spot test in an inconspicuous area first!

Stop Using Commercial Wood Floor Cleaning Products

Do you use commercial floor cleaners? If so, STOP. It doesn't matter what they are or what they say, eventually they all will leave a build-up. If you have hardwood floors, you really do not need to mop the whole floor that often. Run a dust mop over it daily, clean up spills right away if they occur, and then run a damp mop with distilled water only once a week or as needed over the whole floor.

I use a terrycloth mop cover and spritz on plain distilled water. Once a month, you can clean with a homemade wood cleaner that will shine and spruce up the floor without leaving a buildup or residue.

Homemade Wood Cleaner

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp rubbing alcohol (optional – for shine)
  • Distilled water
  • 5 – 10 drops essential oil

In a spray bottle combine all ingredients. Water should be distilled to prevent hard water spots and streaks. Essential oils are optional but can be used for fragrance and for extra cleaning. I love clary sage or citrus oils for woodwork. A combination of the two is also very clean smelling and lovely.

Homemade cleaning products are safer for your family and easier on your wallet.
Homemade cleaning products are safer for your family and easier on your wallet. | Source

Removing Streaks and Buildup from Wood Floors

Do you have stubborn streaks every time you mop? Does your floor appear cloudy and it never seems to get better? Do you worry your floor is ruined? If so, chances are you have used a product that has built up on top of the wood, or heaven forbid, leeched into the clear coat on the floor and left a waxy buildup behind.

I had a friend at one point who used a “mop and shine” type product on her wood floors. What a nightmare. At first she did it because her floors were dingy and she wanted them to shine again. Initially, it worked, but then the floors started to look dull again, so she continued to use the waxy product. Eventually it stopped working and left behind a tacky, streaky, filmy residue. Every time she mopped after that the floor was sticky when it dried.

She didn't have the money to strip and wax the floor professionally and she was distraught, fearing her floors were ruined for good. At this point, she had nothing to lose, so we decided to try anything and everything to save her floor. We did ultimately, but the process took many, many hours and several weeks.

Here is what we did. **Before trying - see disclaimer above!**

Step One - Loosen the waxy buildup from the wood floor

Spray a small area of the floor with an ammonia based glass cleaner. Allow it to sit for no more than five minutes and then use a rag to wipe it up. NEVER soak the floor with anything. Spray on evenly and lightly. This will start to loosen the build up and you'll see flaky stuff start to appear as you wipe it away.

Step Two - Remove the buildup

Use distilled water in a steam mop (I love my Oreck steam mop) and steam that section of the floor. The steam will not harm the floor and will help further loosen the waxy buildup. Steam mops are ideal for cleaning wood floors – you never have to worry about buildup and they sanitize while cleaning beautifully.

Repeat steps one and two if necessary if there is excessive buildup.

Step Three - Clean Up and Restore Shine to Wood Floors

In a spray bottle combine ½ cup white vinegar, distilled water (must be distilled to keep from getting hard water spots) and 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol. Shake vigorously, lightly spray the same section of floor and wipe with a lint-free towel. Allow the floor to dry and see how it looks. If it is still streaky, use the steam mop on it again.

At this point, the floor should be clear when it dries without a lot of streaks and it should no longer feel sticky when it dries. If it does, you may need to repeat the process over again. In worst case scenarios, it may not work fully and you may need to have a professional cleaning service come in.

You Will Love Cleaning with Steam!

It is a bit of an investment at around $140, but the Oreck Steam-it mop is fantastic for many reasons.

  • You can use any cover you want - it has clips so make your own or get the ones with elastic that slip on. No more expensive covers! I use bar towels you can purchase cheap in bulk.
  • It has many attachments and a large enough tank you can mop steadily for 35 minutes without stopping. Clean grout, furniture, floors and nearly any other hard surface.
  • Has a nice, long cord
  • Durable!
  • Uses only distilled water - pays for itself. No filters to change like other brands.

The only downside to this mop is if you use the attachments to clean overhead; it can be a bit heavy. For the floor though, it glides very easily and is very easy to use.

Maintaining Wood Floors

Once you get the buildup off your floors, never go back to commercial products – even the ones that claim to be natural etc. because they all leave buildup over time. Mix a fresh batch of the wood cleaner or simply use a steam mop for a clean, streak-free shine.

You may find your floors will start to get dingy again, this is due to oils in the feet that work into the floor. Once your floor is thoroughly cleaned, you may want to consider a clear coat, especially if you are barefoot all the time on the floor, have kids, or pets. This can protect the floor from claw marks, dirt, scuffs, and oil from skin.

Periodically, a quick rinse with glass cleaner or the vinegar/alcohol cleaner can help remove residues and restore shine, but it should be used very sparingly. No matter what you use, you should never, ever soak a wood floor. Damp, lightly wet, but never soaked. This is another reason I love, love, love my steam mop. It cleans and dries very quickly! This ensures water doesn't soak down into the wood and ruin it.

Share Your Thoughts...

Do you use commercial wood cleaning products?

See results

Questions & Answers

  • Could I use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar to clean my wooden floors?

    I would spot test it first to make sure as ACV is more acidic. I would probably not use it.

© 2013 Christin Sander

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • ChristinS profile imageAUTHOR

      Christin Sander 

      13 months ago from Midwest

      You can try it, but if it's that ground in probably not. You may need to use a professional cleaner or sand/refinish.

    • profile image

      Maureen 

      13 months ago

      I have a wooden floor with a fine grain in it. The dirt has got into the grain in the most walked on areas and I am unable to remove it. Will the vinegar solution get this out.

    • ChristinS profile imageAUTHOR

      Christin Sander 

      3 years ago from Midwest

      If you look in the paint section at local hardware stores, the sometimes have a filler for gouges that is colored - it may help a bit, but if the gouges are too severe, not really you'll have to cover with a rug or place the sliders under the chair legs that prevent scuffing.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 

      3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      what about chairs that had create stump marks on the wooden floor? ANy method to revive the color?

    • ChristinS profile imageAUTHOR

      Christin Sander 

      4 years ago from Midwest

      thanks claude glad you found it useful!

    • claudedog1234 profile image

      Jason Smith 

      4 years ago from Bastrop, Texas

      This is a very useful hub, this will sure help out around our home.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      An interesting hub on taking care of wood floors I learned lots here and now know what my floor needs the most, care and care, not scrubbing and destroying the shine. A simple and useful hub,

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this useful tip.

    • ChristinS profile imageAUTHOR

      Christin Sander 

      4 years ago from Midwest

      Agreed Lee Tea, vinegar def not every time, only once a month or less and very diluted when you need to cut through oils or dirt to bring the shine back up. Otherwise distilled water or steam is all you need. :)

    • ChristinS profile imageAUTHOR

      Christin Sander 

      4 years ago from Midwest

      Flourish You should try the technique I used. The lady whose floor it was had years worth of mop and glow type product on her wood floor, a lot of layers it was bad. It took a lot of time, but it worked. It was def. less expensive than stripping and sanding. If it doesn't work, you've got nothing to lose if you plan to strip and sand it anyway.

    • Lee Tea profile image

      Lee Tea 

      4 years ago from Erie, PA

      You had me at "essential oils" lol ;) well, and vinegar...

      I only have 1 room with a hardwood floor in my house, and it's my bedroom which is mostly covered in bed. I used just a drop of simple green in a bucket of water to clean it last time, wasn't sure what vinegar would do to the wood. I had tried a vinegar dusting recipe on my piano and could see it was harsh on the wood :(

      Great informative and useful hub. Voted these things and up. Sage and citrus...ahhh, gets me everytime!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 years ago from USA

      Good advice for taking care of what is an investment these days. I made the mistake of using a waxy product which did the job but it looks like I've shellacked it on, and over time it's built up. I'm going to have to pay to have the thing stripped and sanded. Next go-around I will be doing this right, as you advise.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://dengarden.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)