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Update: Washing Hardwood Floors with Vinegar

I’ve been washing my hardwood floors with vinegar and water for a couple months now.  Sometimes with a bucket and sometimes with a mop (I like the Rubbermaid Reveal mop).  My preferred method (for results, not knees) is the getting down on my hands and knees method.    (You can see my original post here, if you are interested.)  I am not a fan of the ‘just pickled’ smell that my house has after washing the floors, so I took to the comments and tried adding a little essential oils to my water/vinegar solution.  No vinegar smell before, during or after the floor washing – yay!
It’s super simple, here’s what you’ll need…..
  • I use a bucket of clean, plain water (for rinsing the dirty cloths during floor washing)
  • a bucket with hot water and vinegar (I use the ratio of 1/2 cup white vinegar to 1 gallon of warm/hot water)
  • a drop or two of essential oils added to the water/vinegar solution - I like this brand and I use a combination of lemon and orange or lemon and clove
  • microfiber cloths – I use three or four as I wash the floors – for drying and when the cloths get dirty
 It’s been almost 2 months since I posted about this method – anyone trying it out?

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Comments

  1. Hi Becky, I have been using vinegar for a few months now on my bamboo floors and I love it. Very effective getting out food spills and stains (I have two girls under 4 yo). I prefer the hands and knees method … One hand wiping with the vinegar, the other drying it up….like the karate kid ‘wipe on, wipe off’!! The vinegar here (australia) isn’t too bad so I dont mind the smell but might try adding some oils to it. I don’t dilute.. Just straight vinegar in a spray bottle.

  2. Great tip! I will definitely do this.

  3. If you’ve got a pet cat, be wary about using essential oils on the floor. It’s quite toxic for them. The cannot metabolise certain components of the oil and it can build up and prove fatal.

    Considera hydrosol instead.

    • Paul, Thanks sooo much for the tip about cats. We have two and they are sensitive to everything.
      Becky, Great tips! Thanks so much for this site.

  4. I have actually been cleaning hardwood floors for vinegar and water solution for a year or more and I really like it. I don’t mind the smell, it goes away right after it dries in about 5 minutes.

    Vinegar is really good for tons of household cleaning, I add it to laundry and bathrooms and all sorts of rooms. It’s cheap and works better than anything I have found.

    I also use the Rubbermaid mop, I don’t LOVE it, but it’s the best I’ve found so I keep using it. The mop with vinegar and water is the only system I have that cleans hardwood well. I would recommend this to anyone. My cousin uses a Norwex system with good results too.

  5. I wash my floors with the two bare feet and two microcloths method. Wet your microcloths and put one under each foot and wash with your feet. Better than a mop but not as tough on your knees as the hands and knees method.

  6. WOW I love this post. When we moved in our new home 7 years ago we asked the place where we got our hardwood flooring from what to use on our floors. They gave us 2 options BONO floor cleaner(which is very expencive) or vinegar water. I chose the vinegar option & have used it exclucively since. The smell goes away real quick. I have started using other options for cleaning w/ vinegar in the past few months. Baking soda is also another great cleaner. I usually use a mop simply because I have bad knees & a bad back & it cleans great. Use one that you can wash the mop head after a couple uses. also just found your blog & enjoying it:)

  7. I’m going to have to try this. When we first moved into our house we mistakenly used Orange Glo {HUGE mistake}as our floors still have orange glo grime on them despite using BONO floor cleaner for the last 3 years! I’ll have to try vinegar and water on my hands and knees to see if it works. Thanks for the tip!

  8. I know it probably works amazing but i dont know if i could stand the smell of vinegar. How long does the smell stay? I use this http://jessica230918.blogspot.com/2012/08/five-cleaning-products-everyone-should_27.html?m=0

  9. I use lemon vinegar. Just slice a lemon into a quart jar of vinegar and steep in the windowsill (or whereever) until the lemon loses it’s color and the vinegar is pale yellow. Strain lemon peel out and use lemon vinegar in place of “regular” vinegar in natural cleaning. (I’m guessing you could do this with any citrus fruit?!) There’s a slight vinegar smell, but if you add a few drops of lemon essential oil, it’s super fabulous!!!

  10. This is how my mom has always cleaned her floors, all hard surface floors not just hardwood. I grew up with it and when I got into my own home thought it would be fun to buy cleaners… Now I know why mom stuck with vinegar and water. I have never thought that the smell lingered once it was dry. Then again, although I don’t measure, I don’t think I use quite that much vinegar per gallon. I don’t have hardwood only tile and vinyl but I do NOT rinse after washing with vinegar water. Great Page!

  11. Can you use this on laminate hard wood flooring?

  12. Hardwood floors provide lots of benefits to house owners and homemakers. Apart from the aesthetic value, this type of flooring is durable and eco-friendly. And it can last for a long time, as long as it is properly maintained and cleaned. Another tip to make hardwood floors clean is vacuuming it regularly. Dirt, grit, and sand can cause damage on the material and reduce the longevity of the wood. And to avoid scratches, don’t use a beater vacuum brush.

  13. Finally, an issue that I am passionate about. I have looked for information of this caliber for the last several hours. Your site is greatly appreciated.

    tile

  14. I would love to know the brand of the buckets you have pictured. they look great!

  15. Caitlin says:

    Hi, I appreciate this tip & just got finished using vinegar water filled in my swiffer wet jet instead of the solution they provide. Now that it is dry, the floors have what seems to be whiteish streaks instead of being shiny. Would you happen to know why or have any solutions for this? Maybe from the swiffer pad? Any help would be great! I have company coming in a few days = )

    • Hi Caitlin!
      I’m guessing you have hard water and might need to use distilled water if you are mixing up a solution.
      Hope this helps!
      xo, Becky

  16. Great blog. Thank you! With multiple dogs in residence, I can vouch for the facecloths under the feet method, with hands & knees for the corners and edges. Swiffer cleaning solution has been correlated with heart murmurs in puppies. As a breeder of Tibetan Terriers, I want the most inert and natural approach to everything, when I have a pregnant dog in the house. Straight hot water with essential oil of lavender has been my fave to date — but vinegar is great as a rinse after bathing your dog and my floor guy raves about using a solution of it for regular floor care. I’m going to try it. And I’m going to add a few drops of essential oil to the solution. Thank you for all the info!

  17. I used Rejuvenate on my engineered wood floors and now I can’t get the streaks out. help!!! This product is awful.

    • Wash them a couple times and the streaks should leave – I think that Rejuvenate is water-based so it should eventually wear off. Sorry!
      xo, Becky

  18. hey I just finished cleaning my floor with vinegar and water (before I got on line today). I used a mop and glo product that left my hardwood looking awful. how can I get the “wax” buildup off my hardwood. I am so upset that I put this on my floors.

  19. Hi Becky, thanks for the great tip. I’ve used 2 different solution today in different areas, Dettol floor cleaner for my kids rooms and this new vinegar solution for my kitchen, dining & family areas. I added a few drops of tea tree oil. You can guess which solution leave the floors sticky. I’ll be sure to use the vinegar for cleaning my home, but I still have to finish off with the newly bought Dettol. Thank you.

  20. I l ove the idea of adding essential oils. I am trying it right now! Thank you!

  21. I wonder how this method would work on tile or lanolium floors. We don’t have hardwoods here- mostly carpet with a few areas of tile or vinyl flooring.

    As far as mops go, I found I like the Casabella microfiber “magnet” mop. I tried a few of their mops over the years and found this to the most dependable since the pads can be washed.

  22. I have bamboo floors and have tried the vinegar method only to find that it leaves streaks and a slight film on top, not a gleaming shine. I have also tried just hot water and this also leaves streaks. I would get down on my hands and use a mibrofibre cloth but have a very large area. My family do not wear shoes inside the house and sweaty feet and socks leave horrible imprints so that my floor always looks dirty and full of foot prints. Any solution to help keep my floors shining would be seriously appreciated.

    • Have you tried Bona floor wash? That might work better on the bamboo for you. Or you could try distilled water instead of tap water – that could be leaving the streaks!
      xo, Becky

    • Fern Jeffries says:

      I have the same problem. Engineered bamboo flooring (Trillium) with high gloss finish that always looks streaky. I have tried Bona with minimal improvement. Any other suggestions? I’m at my wits end. The Trillium folks are of no help. Neither is Home Depot where I purchased the flooring.

  23. I just had a mahogany floor put down.I have been researching how to mop it.a lot of people people said vinegar
    and water was the best.but there has been the few that says absolutely do not use it.Can you tell me why?

    • It depends on the type of flooring you have – I would ask find out what the flooring company or person that installed your floors recommends. If you use something other than what they recommend during the ‘warranty’ period you might void your warranty. That said, in my research and use, water and vinegar – with the correct ratio – is the best method on floors that it can be used on. (Waxed wood floors are a no-no)
      xo, Becky

  24. Jacqueline Ryan says:

    The man that installed my manufactured wood floor said to call his wife on how to clean the floor. She told me to use straight white vinegar in a spray bottle, no water. Is this ok or will it damage the floor,

    • I would not apply straight vinegar to wood floors – it’s too acidic on its own.
      xo, Becky

      • Jacqueline Ryan says:

        Thanks I will start using the white vinegar and water solution. The woman also said to use Apple cider vinegar if you wanted the floor to shine. What do you think about that ?

        • Personally, I’d stick to the white vinegar but you could try the apple and see what you think.
          xo, Becky

  25. Brittany says:

    Can I use this on laminate wood floors?

  26. Kendra G says:

    What a great post! I have been using vinegar and water on my floors and many other hard surfaces in our home for years and love the results. Although the vinegar smell no longer bothers me (it goes away once dry) I have recently started adding essential oils to my cleaning solutions and really enjoy the lingering scent they leave behind. My favorites are lavender, lemon grass, mint, and tea tree (especially for the added cleansing properties)! It’s great to see people choosing natural solutions rather than chemicals. Happy cleaning everyone :)

  27. O.k. I have hard wood dark cherry brazilian floors. The problem is every time I clean there are prints five min later from my kids feet or my dog. I am looking for solutions that keep the floor looking clean between weekly washes. Something that won’t show the footprints. Any suggestions? I wish we would have gone with a lighter floor but we can’t change that. :)

    • The only recommendation I have is to wear socks or slippers to keep the foot prints down a little bit – sorry!
      xo, Becky

  28. I have been quite a bit of research about the best way to clean hardwoods as we are moving to a house that has them throughout. I have found several sources that say not to use vinegar to clean them as they eat away at the finish, even if it’s diluted with water.

    I found this post very helpful – http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/reader-tip-the-best-way-to-cle-60991. Just an FYI.

    • It’s definitely a controversial subject, but I love how vinegar cleans hardwoods – the ratio to water is crucial. Great tips – thank you!

  29. Stacy Giddes says:

    Will this vinegar and water solution remove any odors (cig smoke, dog, cat,etc.) trapped in the wood?

  30. I use fantastic and Murphys oil soap. Spray the stain with fantastic and leave for about a minute then pour Murphys oil soap on it and wipe them together on the spot. Works wonders on animal pee stains. :)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] come around to washing my floors with vinegar and water.  You can read more about my technique in this post.  I prefer a steam mop for tile (bathrooms) and vinyl (mudroom and laundry room).  I use the [...]

  2. [...] at the other end of your mop will ensure that you get your floors extra clean.  {Here’s my favorite technique for washing my hardwood [...]

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