How to Clean & Shine Old Wood Floors

Written by penny porter Google
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How to Clean & Shine Old Wood Floors
Bring your old wood floors back to life with these cleaning and shining tips. (texture of a natural wood image by Sergey Galushko from

While carpeting provides a soft floor covering that absorbs many noises and prevents echoes, many homeowners remove carpets in older homes to discover old wood floors beneath. In these instances, many homeowners hope to clean and shine the old wood floors and bring them back to life. Before rushing out to buy any wood floor cleaning product, however, understand the differences between hardwood floors of the modern age and those placed in most homes built prior to the 1970s.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Broom
  • Dust pan
  • Vacuum
  • Vacuum hose attachments
  • Wood soap
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Scrub brush
  • Vegetable oil
  • White vinegar
  • Lint-free cotton cloth
  • Wax applicator (optional)
  • Polyurethane coating (optional)

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Sweep the entire wood floor surface with a nylon or natural straw broom. Use small strokes to collect more of the dirt stuck between wood planks and inside the grooves of the wood. Collect the removed dust and dirt in a dustpan or sweep it out a nearby door. Sweep the floor several more times until you no longer collect a pile of dirt to sweep out the door or into dustpan.

  2. 2

    Vacuum old wood floor to help collect any dust and dirt trapped in the wood grain or between planks. Use a brush vacuum hose attachment to disturb any dust and dirt trapped in the grain or between planks by brushing the attachment across the floor while the vacuum is on to collect the debris. Vacuum dirt and dust trapped around the edges of the room and around obstacles--such as heating registers and radiator valves that protrude through the floor--with a narrow or pointed hose attachment.

  3. 3

    Locate any stained areas of the floor and determine the sources of the stain. Rub a wet cotton swab over the stain and look for a coloured residue on the cotton swab that may indicate the origin of the stain if you cannot determine the stain's source.

  4. 4

    Treat the stained areas of the floor with the appropriate cleaning product for both the stain and the floor. Select cleaning products to treat the stain without damaging the wood.

  5. 5

    Mix a solution of wood soap with water in a bucket. Dilute the wood soap appropriately using package directions for the amount of water used. Wood soap has an oil base that soaks into the wood floor to help the wood repel water and prevent the wood from cracking as it dries out.

  6. 6

    Scrub the wood soap solution into the wood floor using a hand-held or broom-handled scrub brush. Follow the grain of the wood to prevent disturbing the wood and causing scratches in the wood surface.

  7. 7

    Allow the wood floor to dry after cleaning before proceeding to shine the floor. Drying may take an entire day depending on the humidity inside your home. Use a dehumidifier to speed drying time and prevent water damage.

  8. 8

    Create a mixture of equal parts vegetable oil and white vinegar; pour mixture into a spray bottle. Spray the solution over the wood floor and rub it in with a lint-free cotton cloth or wax applicator tool. Buff the floor--one small area at a time--until it shines.

Tips and warnings

  • If your old hardwood floor does not have a protective coating, you may consider applying a coat of clear or lightly stained polyurethane.

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