How to clean wood floors after removing carpets

Updated February 21, 2017

Finding a hardwood floor beneath carpet is a dream to some homeowners, yet the condition of the floor may be a nightmare. You will likely encounter dried adhesives, hundreds of staples, tack strip and accumulated dust. Cleaning the wood floor requires time and various procedures. Once completed, you may still need to refinish the floor. However, a few tips and tricks will leave your floor in the best condition possible without refinishing the wood.

Prior to cleaning the floor, remove all tack strip and staples.

Vacuum the entire area to remove dust, dirt and small remnants of carpet padding.

Remove dried adhesives, such as tar glue, from the floor. Follow the directions on commercial chemical strippers to remove the adhesive. If you scrape it, use caution to avoid scratching the wood floor. If you want to avoid chemical strippers, use a heat gun to lift the adhesive. You can also lay towels over the adhesive and pour boiling water over the towels to lift the glue.

Vacuum all remains of removed adhesive. When using the boiling water method, use a shop vacuum to remove the liquid waste.

Scrub the floor with Murphy Oil Soap diluted in 1 gallon of warm water

Dry any excess water on the floor with towels to avoid water damage. Allow the floor to dry completely.

Pour equal parts of water and white distilled vinegar in a spray bottle.

Spray the diluted vinegar on the floor and buff it with a dust mop or dry mop. Work on one section at a time, buffing in a circular motion.

Steep three to six black tea bags in a pot of boiling water. Allow the liquid to cool.

Working on one section at a time, wipe the black tea over the wood with a clean rag. Use a separate dry rag to wipe the tea from the floor as you work. The black tea enhances the look of the wood grains and leaves a clean sheen.

If the floor condition remains poor, sand the floor and refinish it with polyurethane.


Add 5 drops of Sweet Orange essential oil to soapy water for added scent and cleaning power. Only use black tea on wood floors, other types--such as green and herbal--do not have the same effect.


Use caution when removing adhesive. Glues used in older homes may contain asbestos.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum
  • Chemical stripper or heat gun (optional)
  • Murphy Oil Soap
  • Towels
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Dust mop or dry mop
  • Black tea bags
  • Rags
  • Sander (optional)
  • Polyurethane (optional)
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