How to Clean Wood Floors and Make Them Gorgeous Again in 7 Steps

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Go back in your mind to the home where you grew up. What kind of floors did you have?

In my childhood home, we had carpet and linoleum. It was simple to keep them clean. You mopped the linoleum floor once a week with Mr. Clean and warm water.

The carpeted floors you vacuumed a few times a week and had them routinely cleaned a few times per year.

However, as I became older, I soon realized hardwood floors were an easier option when you have kids and pets in the home.

There are no yearly cleanings involved in keeping your floors looking good. You need only follow a few simple steps to keep hardwood floors clean.

If you have hardwood floors throughout your home too, you’ll be interested in knowing how I successfully clean my hardwood floors with ease and on a shoestring budget.

How to Clean Wood Floors Materials Needed

  • Mop bucket
  • Mop
  • Broom
  • Tea bags (2)
  • Vinegar (1/4 cup)
  • Crayon
  • Mayonnaise
  • Basket for shoes

1. Sweep the Floors

I’m going to burst a massive bubble right out of the gate, I keep a clean home, but I’m far from Martha Stewart.

Meaning, my home is cleaned weekly, but I’m not scrubbing my floors on my hands and knees daily. I follow a basic cleaning routine to make sure I keep as much dirt off of my floor as possible throughout the week.

I do this by vacuuming my wood floors (when I’ve pulled the vacuum cleaner out of the closet), or I use a basic broom and sweep up any dirt my kids, dogs, or husband manage to drag through the door.

This keeps us from grinding more dirt into the wood as we walk all over it. It also keeps me happy feeling like my floors are clean on a daily basis.

2. Put the Vinegar to Work

Vinegar is a fantastic cleaning accessory to keep around your home. It’s all natural, inexpensive, and you can even make it yourself.

I use vinegar to clean my wood floors because it’s gentle, natural, and it fits into my budget. You begin the process by filling a bucket with warm water.

Place ¼ cup of vinegar in the large mop bucket which now has warm water in it. You can add more or less to the water based on your preference.

Next, dip your mop into the mop bucket and be sure to wring it thoroughly. Water left standing on wood floors is what ruins the floors.

When your mop has been drained of as much water as possible, touch it. It should feel slightly damp but far from wet. This will ensure you don’t apply too much water to your floor.

After you feel confident your mop isn’t overly drenched, begin running it over your wood floors. You can rewet the mop as needed throughout this process.

Be sure you wring your mop out thoroughly each time. When you’ve mopped your entire area, you’ll need to go over your floors with a dry towel.

This step is to ensure no water is left standing on the wood floors. When you’ve run a dry towel over your floors, and you know your wood floors are dry you can move on to the next step.

3. Hot Tea, Anyone?

Tea bags have an incredible amount of uses. You might not have considered using them to clean your wood floors before, though.

When I’ve finished cleaning my wood floors with vinegar, I’ll go over them with a tea mixture to add shine back to the floors.

You begin by placing boiling water in your mop bucket. Be sure to dump your vinegar mixture out before beginning this step.

You’ll add two tea bags to your mop bucket until your water begins to turn to hot tea.

When this happens, dip your mop into the bucket and wring it out thoroughly until it’s only damp.

From there, run the mop over the entire wood area you want to clean. I like this step because my floors get washed a second time, and I love for things to shine after I clean them.

After you’ve finished mopping your floors with the tea water, go over the mopped area with a dry cloth. This will ensure no water is left standing on your wood floors.

When your floors are dried in their entirety, move on to the next step in the cleaning process.

4. Make the Scratches Vanish

Wood floors are known for developing scratches. Our new house has pine wood floors in them. I’ll admit it; my floors drive me nuts.

As pretty as they are when cleaned, pine is a soft wood. Floors made of soft wood will dent and scratch much easier than other floors.

Let me remind you, I live in a house with three rambunctious boys, a large husband, and a big dog. I’ve become great at ridding and disguising scratches on these pine floors.

Which is why this step is included in the cleaning process for wood floors. I can’t be the only mom out there who faces this battle, right?

After your floors have been cleaned and shined thoroughly, your next move is to rid them of any nasty scratches which could have come about from furniture sliding across the floor, shoes leaving marks in your wood, or even a dog’s toenails leaving their mark. (Yes, I’ve had this happen too!)

If you have a small scratch on your floor which is surface level, it’s a good idea to find a crayon to match the color of your wood floor.

You rub the crayon over the scratch on the wood floor and use a dry towel to buff the crayon off again. This will push the crayon into the scratch and remove the rest of the crayon from your clean floors.

If you have scratches which go further than the surface, don’t worry. I have a solution for this type of scratch too.

5. Remove the Dents

I learned about pine floors the hard way. It was our first week in our new home, and my mom had come to town to help.

We were sitting in my living room, and she said, “Jennifer, this piece of furniture absolutely needs to go there.”

Naturally, she points to the other side of the room. This furniture was heavy (and neither of us thinking about the wood floors being soft) we decided to glide this piece of furniture across the middle of my living room floor.

When I saw what we’d done, I was stunned, but I quickly remembered an old trick I had learned. When you have a scratch, coat it with oil, and it will get rid of it.

I had also learned a while back; mayonnaise works well in the place of oil in recipes and this particular cleaning trick.

I smeared mayonnaise all along the scratch in the floor, and it diminished its appearance significantly.

When cleaning your wood floors, if you find a scratch which a crayon won’t touch because of how deep it is, consider rubbing oil or mayonnaise on the scratch and wiping it away with a dry towel.

Depending upon the depth of the scratch, it might need multiple applications.

6. Protect the Floors

Next, you need to protect your floors to keep more scratches from developing. This will save you work in the long run.

You do this by placing floor protectors under your furniture and by placing doormats on the inside and outside of each door of your home.

In my home, I’ve also added a boot cleaner to encourage my guys to clean their shoes before wiping mud and grime all over my pretty doormats.

If you have people in your home who usually come to the door with filthy feet, a boot cleaner might be a nice addition to your porches as well.

7. Stop the Dirt

Finally, it’s a good idea to stop wearing shoes in your home to protect your wood floors. The more people walk on the wood floors with dirty shoes, the more the dirt gets shoved into the cracks of your floors.

With this in mind, consider adding a shoe basket to your door with a friendly sign letting guests (and those in your home with dirty feet) drop their shoes at the door.

This will keep shoes piled at your doors all of the time, but will also prevent dirt from being tracked throughout your home.

I don’t have enough room at my front door currently and haven’t covered my front porch yet to be able to add this basket.

But as soon as my porch is covered, the shoe basket will be on my front porch, ready to collect shoes and protect my poor wood floors from the dirt we manage to track in and out of our home via the bottoms of our feet.

Well, you now know how to clean, shine, remove scratches, and protect your wood floors. I hope this will help you to maintain cleaner floors without breaking your budget.

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