How to Clean Hardwood Floors

Cleaning hardwood floors is one of the simplest chores in the world. Go over them whenever needed with a soft broom, and every couple of weeks, vacuum them with the soft brush attachment. Should you spill something on the floor, clean it up immediately with a damp mop. Aside from a rotary tiller running at full speed, the most dangerous enemy of a hardwood floor is water or any other kind of liquid that’s allowed to soak into the wood.

Natural wood can be protected against this kind of damage by giving it a coat of polyurethane clear finish, but it’s still best to keep liquids off the floor. Only when a floor is properly sealed in this way should you consider following up vacuuming with damp mopping the entire floor. If you don’t like the shiny finish of polyurethane, use a penetrating seal, which consists of wax or oil finishes that penetrate the wood and protect from within. Applying a floor wax is one more possibility to protect the surface.

Shoes Off!

A high percentage of grime found on floors is carried in from outside on shoes. So a good way to limit the amount of cleaning you need to do is limit the amount of grunge that finds its way to the floor. Use area rugs, throw rugs, and runners over high traffic areas. You might also consider adopting the Asian habit of having people remove their shoes before stepping inside. Of course, the considerate host provides slippers and an area by the door where shoes are stashed.

Hardwood Floor Cleaning and Care

No matter what preventive measures you take, however, or how often you vacuum, there are times when a damp mop just won’t do the job; cutting through grease, removing odors, mildew, or wax buildup. On those occasions, add some white vinegar to the mop water.

The most common and difficult to solve problem regarding hard wood floors is accidental staining with substances like coffee, wine, juice, or ink. Here again, if the floor has been sealed, cleaning up the stain may entail nothing more than picking it up with a dampened rag or paper towel. But you may have to rub the area with a nylon rubbing pad to remove scuff marks and use mineral spirits to remove crayon smears. Commercial products will help in removing paint spills and chewing gum.


Stains that go deep into the finish must be attacked more aggressively. Cleaning suggestions for various types of deep stains:

  • Blood: Sponge it with cold water, if it’s extra tough then sponge it with a solution of ammonia and cold water.
  • Dye: Rub with a cloth dampened with a 1:3 solution of bleach and water. Do not soak the area.
  • Liquor: Rub with a cloth dampened with warm water and detergent; alternate rubbing with a cloth dampened with denatured alcohol.
  • Grease: After causing the grease to congeal by applying a bag of frozen peas, scrape it off with a knife. Remove any residue by putting a rag on it and carefully ironing the rag.
  • Crayon marks: If mineral spirits doesn’t do the trick, try applying tooth paste and rubbing with a dry cloth.
  • Fruit: Warm water and detergent should work; if not, rub it with a solution of water and oxalic acid.
  • Nail polish: Detergent solution, scouring powder, water, and a plastic mesh pad.
  • Ink: If warm water and detergent doesn’t work, try a commercial ink remover.
  • Lipstick: Detergent and warm water; use light pressure with a plastic scouring pad if it’s a tough stain.
  • Scuffs: Use a pencil eraser on them. If stubborn, rub gently with 000 fine steel wool and the type of liquid wax usually used on the floor. Mr. Clean magic erasers work wonders on these.


  • Oil: Soak up as much as you can with newspaper or paper towels. Cover for five minutes with a cloth saturated with a dry cleaning fluid. Then wipe dry and clean with a detergent.
  • Shoe Polish: Rub gently with ultra-fine steel wool.
  • Tar: Place bags of frozen peas on it to freeze it and make it brittle. Then scrape it off with a plastic spatula. A light stain may remain, which can be removed with dry cleaning solvent.
  • Pet Urine: Immediately rub with a hot, damp cloth and scouring powder. A 1:10 solution of bleach and water can be used on old stubborn stains, but always rinse well with rags dampened with clean water. Take care not to get the solution below the finish; this will discolor the wood.

After removing any stain, rinse the area thoroughly with a damp cloth, dry completely, and, if the floor finish has been removed in that area, recoat with appropriate finish or wax.

It’s recommended a professional floor finisher be called to handle rust stains, dark spots, or stains that cover an extensive area. Sometimes the best response to a stain is to refinish the entire floor.


  1. I clean houses professionally. I was told that Windex diluted in a bucket of water and damp mop works well and keeps the shine. I have been trying this and so far it seems to be working. I just need to know if long term will harm the floor (shine).

  2. I use a Swiffer Wet Jet. They actually make the bottle of cleaning liquid for hardwood floors only. It works wonderfully. I do it about once a month.

  3. I have owned my home for 18 months and my floor is starting to get a buildup. I have always used the Swiffer Wet Jet wood floor solution. Once you mop it, let dry, then walk across the floor, it will leave prints and smudges across the surface. Any idea how to fix my smudgy, filmy buildup?

  4. Jake the snake says:

    I use the Swiffer Wet Jet to pre-clean and then I finish it off with a mix of baking soda and cold water on a soft sponge to give it a nice clean shine. I have been doing this with the same trick on the same floors for 12 years and they still look beautiful. :]

  5. To get rid of scuff marks, try using a tennis ball and a broom handle. Make a cut in the tennis ball just big enough to screw the broom handle in to it. Then, go back and forth over the scuff. All the black scuff comes off on the ball.

  6. I need a tip; how can I keep the footprints off the floor? I’ve used everything; the minute we walk on them, it’s there!

  7. Sandy, I have the same problem. I have never found a solution. I have Brazilian cherry, which is dark, and I wish I had gone lighter.

  8. I have inside dogs and sometimes they have accidents inside. I have used Muphy’s Oil, Orange Glo, Swiffer for hardwoods, and I have used Bruce Cleaner, but I’m not sure which Bruce Cleaner is the best. Also, which mop is the best to use? Can you use any kind of scrub brush?

  9. I have really pretty wood floors that are original and I only use the Holloway House floor cleaner, Quick Shine, and I never have any trouble with smudges. They are just sparkling clean!

  10. I have brand new floors and have been doing a lot of research on cleaning them. All of the professional floor people, if you will, have told me to stay away from wet jets and Murphy Oil Soap, as there are too many chemicals, oils, something or other. Anyways, over time they build up on the floors and damage them. Most places recommended BONA products, or the dry Swiffers.

  11. I really like the Bona hardwood floor cleaner. I was told by two different hardwood companies and installers that Swiffer and Murphy Oil Soap actually damage your hardwood floor finish over time so I would not recommend using those particular cleaners. The Bona cleaner is really nice and quick to use.

  12. I have black dots on the floor in the wood; how do I get rid of them?

  13. I have used Pledge hardwood floor cleaner on my floor and now have a dull gray haze on my floor. I have re-mopped using vinegar and water to remove the residue with no luck. Please give me some tips to fix my floor.

  14. Unfortunately, I have used the Pledge cleaner and the Bruce cleaner on the floors and now they have the grayish residue that Ti speaks about in her inquiry. I see that Ti tried the vinegar recipe and it didn’t work. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to remove that gray look and make the wood shine again?

  15. First of all, you need to know how your hardwood floor was finished. Not all hardwood floors are finished with polyurethane. Mine was finished with a waterborne finish. If you have a waterborne or the epoxy finish, you can not and must not use anything that has oil in it. It will dull the finish and your floors will have to be sanded and refinished to recover. The hardwood floor cleaner by Magnus Anderson is pH neutral, cleans all finished wood floors, is water-based, non-toxic and leaves no dulling residue. It is also very easy to use – spray a little on and wipe if off with the Magnus Anderson floor pad (which is washable). Please note that you cannot use this product if you have waxed the floors. You can get the product online or look up Magnus Anderson in your phone book. Also note that you may think this product is expensive, but it’s not. It lasts a very long time and is really easy to use. One spray bottle (32 oz.) lasts me over a year. you’ll know if you’re putting down too much because the floor pad will drag, rather than pull smoothly. I have all hardwood floors in my house except the kitchen and bathrooms and would recommend this product highly to anyone who has hardwood floors.

  16. A friend has been using a mix of vinegar and water, no soap, since installing her floor last year. I can attest: no footprints as I have and no deterioration or discoloration to the shine. I will be trying the same and will let you know personally.

  17. I have been having problems with footprints on the hardwood floors. Even when wearing socks prints will appear. I have tried the vinegar and water and that seems to help some. Any other suggestions on what to use to keep footprints from showing up on hardwood floors?

  18. Caroline says:

    My hardwood floor is not in very good shape. What is the best way to clean it an possibly restore shine?

  19. Adrienne says:

    I clean my hardwood floors regularly, but they always seem dirty. I have tried Swiffers and Murphy Oil Soap, and when we walked on them with white socks, they are still filthy. I don’t know what I can use to deep clean the floor so that they do not feel and look dull and dirty.

  20. I am so glad that someone else has problems with footprints on dark hardwood! It’s a constant battle keeping it mark-free. I have used Swiffer wet but it does leave a film. I use a hot [so it evaporates quick] damp cloth weekly, but it doesn’t really remove the foot film. I am going to try a bit of vinegar with the hot water.

  21. I have maple hardwood floors and one day it got black marks from shoes. I tried the Magic Eraser; it cleaned the marks, but it left some marks that you can see from far away when the sunlight goes directly onto the floor. What do I can do? Do I have to refinished the entire floor?

  22. Sadly, a bottle of dark, concentrated detergent leaked on my hardwood floors. I’ve tried blotting with a light cloth, but it’s starting to strip away the finish. Any suggestions?

  23. I mistakenly used a couple different cleaners on my hardwood floors. Now it appears dull and smudgy in parts. I can’t remove this film.

  24. Melissa says:


    I’m new to this website and have the same problem as you with the white sock issue. Any chance you could share what feedback you received? I’m dying to reach a conclusion to this ongoing issue. Thanks!

  25. Adrienne says:

    I have purchased the BONA products and they work good. But my socks are still dirty. So, I still have not found the perfect solution.

  26. Melissa says:

    OK. Thanks for letting me know. I guess we’ll just have to trudge on with wearing indoor slippers and save our socks for the next house that has carpet. :0) I appreciate the feedback, Adrienne. Good luck to you.

  27. The dirt that is ground into the flooring can be difficult to remove. Even though the surface appears to be clean, the floors need to be deep cleaned to really get all of the dirt out. One cleaner that has worked well is Method floor cleaner. Apply following the guidelines on the package. A second option is to utilize a steam mop. These mops use steam to loosen and remove the ground-in dirt. The steam also dries quickly, so there is no concern about water setting on the surface. Beware of cleaners that leave a residue on the floor. This residue attracts dirt and collects it much faster – leading to more dirty socks. Hope this helps and good luck!

  28. Method Floor Cleaner is designed to be used regularly on the floor. Whether you clean your floors weekly or a couple of times a week, this cleaner is safe to use. This product does not leave a residue (if used in appropriate amounts), which is when footprints become most visible. It has helped keep footprints away, but it’s important not to use too much or the residue will lead to footprints developing. Hope this helps! Good luck.

  29. My housekeeper picked up a green bottle (same color as my Mohawk hardwood floor cleaner), and cleaned all my hardwood flooring. I noticed a horrible film and footprints galore. I asked what she used and she pulled out the bottle of Simple Green, which my husband uses to remove mildew on the outside of the house. Now, I’m trying to find something to remove this awful film. Every footprint shows. You can even tell what brand of tennis shoe someone wears by the print left on the floor! I’ve used ammonia & water, but to no avail. Any suggestions? I’m heartbroken, as I had worked hard to get my floors gorgeous. Help!!!

  30. There always seems to be a gummy residue on the floor from the chairs, no matter what kind of protectors I use on the bottom of the chairs. Also, what do I do about small scratches on the floor from the chairs where the protector failed to make contact with them?


  31. Adrienne & Melissa: I am so glad you mentioned about your socks being dirty after cleaning. My nine-month-old baby gets dirt spots on top of her tiny feet – even after I’ve damp mopped my finished wood floors. I feel so bad, but even cleaning my floors daily doesn’t seem to help. Does anyone know of a baby-safe cleaner that will finally get my floors clean so our feet don’t get dirty?

  32. I clean my floors all the time. I have scrubbed them with orange cleaner and it has taken some black dirt off, but soon after it gets black. I sweep everyday; when we walk around the house in socks, they turn black. I used a wipe that had hand sanitizer on it to wipe a little spill and it took off so much black film. My floor looked brighter after I did a small area. Is it safe to use something with alcohol in it, because it sure worked better than anything else I’ve used.

  33. Terry,

    I have the same problem with the gray dull residue from different products.
    Anyone know how to get back to the original shine?

  34. What should the ratio of baking soda to water be?

  35. I have unsealed dark walnut (walnut colored) hardwood floors and a cleaning person used products that dulled the floor. The floors are 70 years old. I also have three large dogs that carry in a good bit of dirt. My floors never seem clean. My new maid has been using this high performance sealer-finish that is some sort of pure thermoplastic copolymer. At first, my floors looked wonderful, but now after six cleaning visits later, my floors have horrible scratches from the dogs that I never noticed before. I think that there is a great deal of build up on the floors now. What can I do to remove the build up without removing the dark walnut finish? I am most grateful for any suggestions. I really want to be able to give them a good deep cleaning and restore their luster. I don’t need high shine, just a nice deep color. Thanks so much, Tracy

  36. Hi Monica,

    The baking soda mixture does not need to be strong. Typically, about one cup of baking soda with one gallon of water is sufficient for most cleaning purposes.

  37. I read through all 38 comments today trying to find the solution to the build-up on my hardwood floors. Tried Windex; did not work. We live in a house that’s approximately 15-20 years old so I had my doubts. I had been using Murphy Oil Soap and now know why they looked dull. I found and highly recommend ZEP a professional strength hardwood and laminate floor cleaner that I found at Home Depot. The clerk recommended it. It costs less than $5.00 and is worth $50.00. Yes, I got down on my hands and knees to clean my kitchen, but it was extremely dull and dirty. For the rest of the house I used a flat mop with the removable cover to apply it. The whole house looks wonderful and the floors look richer and cleaner than they have in a long time. It cannot be used on oil finished wood floors and floors that require waxing. It CAN be used on varnish, acrylic and polyurethane-finished wood and laminate floors, baseboards, cabinet doors and crown molding. I sound like I’m a rep. of the company, but I’m not. Just someone who highly recommends it.

  38. I have a awful residue on my floor. Nothing will work and every time you walk, you can see footprints – HELP!

  39. Is the Haan Steam Cleaning System good for wood floors?

  40. I think there is some Oops residue on the hardwood floors. Any ideas as to how to put the shine back on?

  41. I am very frustrated with the footprints on my floor.

    I feel like I am a slave to my floor; I clean it a few times a week and the footprints look awful. We have a new home and putting in the hardwood was the biggest mistake we made. Anybody have some help?


  42. Just Swiffer mopped my 3/4″ cherry wood floors. Terrible. When they dried, there was a haze everywhere. I realized that there is some kind of oil in their product. What cuts oil? Dish soap. I used two little squirts mixed with hot water. Put my mop in, wrung it out really good. Went over the floors 15 minutes after I Swifter them… Dried with a bath towel and presto – they look just like they did when we installed them, and no haze!

  43. Probably my fault for not knowing better, but my cleaning lady has been wet mop cleaning my floors with a bucket of water/pine-sol and a string mop. Same that she uses on the tile.
    Obviously when it dries, there are water spots all over. We have very dark hardwood floors. I don’t know how they are treated, just know we spent over $5K on them. Guess I should have asked.

    Anyway, any ideas what to use to clean from here on out? I need to get the water spots off, and would like to start cleaning them properly. Cleaning lady comes in three days… I need to give her an alternative solution.

    Thanks in advance!

  44. Try what I did. A couple drops of dish soap in hot water. Very damp mop and dry with a towel right away. Just put your feet and slide around drying the floors. I get a good workout; clean floors, and a tighter butt.

  45. My house was built around 1950 and I’ve lived in it for a little over three years now. I’ve never taken up the carpet before, but glad that I did last night because I found hardwood floors underneath and the carpet was not put down with glue. It will take some cleaning up and I’m doing it in patches. I’m just glad that I found this link when looking for how to clean them the best way. :)

  46. Whew! I’m relieved to know I’m not the only person with the Pledge problem. I tried a cleaning/stripping product by Bruce that did not work at all. After reading everyone’s posts I tried the baking soda and water recommendation, and it seemed to be working but required A LOT of elbow grease (the baking soda & water recommendation is a hands & knees job and I have two stories of streaky/hazy/filmy mess to undo). So I decided to call SC Johnson, the makers of the Pledge stuff, and they are well aware of this problem. Here’s what they told me to do:

    – mix 1 cup of ammonia, 1/4 cup of a non-chlorine all purpose cleaner (they recommended one of theirs of course, Arm & Hammer I think), and 1/2 gallon of cool water. Use cool water to keep the ammonia odor down.

    They said to use a fresh mop free of any other cleaning products and apply the ammonia mixture in 1’X1′ sections. The mixture shouldn’t be left on the floor for more than a few seconds. Wipe it up and rinse with clean water. Change the mop water out frequently.

    I haven’t tried this yet… I’m off to Walmart now to get the ingredients. Wish me luck!! Will post an update.

  47. I too was a victim of the film residue left by Orange Glo, Pledge, Murphy Oil Soap, etc. Mineral spirits or paint thinner would not remove the film these so called hard wood floor cleaners left behind. After reading several posts from others, I thought I would try Windex. Wow!! It did a fantastic job! Takes a bit of elbow grease, but well worth it, trust me. I sprayed it on a section of three boards wide and let it soak about a minute. Wiped it up with a microfiber cloth, then dried the area with a clean microfiber cloth. Floors look like new again!

    Going to pick up some Bona wood floor cleaner tomorrow and see how it does. Not sure what effect continued use of Windex will have on the wood finish. So if your floors have a film buildup, get you some Windex and a bottle of Aleve. My legs and arms are sore today, but I have shiny, beautiful floors. Well worth it…

  48. I really need to clean my hardwood floors. My fear is leaving a soap or cleaner residue. What should I use that is commonly found in the Washington D.C. area?

  49. Be careful with using a Magic Eraser to clean your wood floor. I did it, and it took the finish off. Those Magic Erasers are very powerful.

  50. Janet,
    Same here on everything you said about your floors. Three years old and looks like something has been sprayed on them and turned a dull gray. I have tried many things in small spots and nothing so far has worked. If you find an answer, I sure would love to know. My floors are a dark walnut stain and look awful. If I had it to go over… CARPET… lol!

  51. We have a log cabin with light-colored pine floors throughout. We were told (and have faithfully followed the directions) to use white vinegar and water. To spot clean, I keep a spray bottle handy. When we mop, I mix it in a bucket. Use the cleaner and then IMMEDIATELY DRY the floor with a clean soft cloth. Any kind of liquid spills are the worst enemy of your wood floors. Our floors are about four years old and look like brand new. We instituted the no shoes policy (with a few exceptions) and I bought a good quality dust mop, which I use frequently to prevent the sand and dirt from ruining the finish.

  52. For my hardwoods, I never use a chemical cleaner; very hot water to mop and have a wet vac set up with a plastic hardwood floor cleaner tool to vacuum it dry. Occasionally, I will add a small amount of bleach to deodorize and disinfect. I have two dogs, and with a central vacuum installed and this cleaning method, my floors stay very clean. I have also used a steam mop, which works great on hardwoods; you will use no chemicals, again, and be amazed how your floors feel walking barefoot on them after steaming. Everyone in the house should wear socks or slippers because oil from your feet is transferred to the flooring, carpet or hardwood, and this is what attracts the dirt and dust that show up as footprints etc. This is how carpet wears: the dirt attracts sand and similar debris to the carpet, which ends up at the bottom, and walking on it after that causes cuts to the fibers and the carpets shed the cut fibers, which leaves a worn path. Most soaps leave a residue that attracts more dirt than you leave with feet. A wet vac and clean hot water is what most cleaning companies use for flooring. Some oils and stains can be spot treated, but putting soap on a carpet or hardwood is not a good idea. Be cautious not to leave water standing, which will soak in. I use a lot of water on mine with a sprayer and/or mop, then vacuum it up. You will be amazed how dirty the water will be when you are done. It may take a few cleanings to get the previous buildup off of your floors. Steam cleaning would be the fastest way to remove that, plus it sanitizes for dogs and kids. Btw, Bruce cleaner is almost identical to Windex.
    Another thing you should do is hose off your driveway, sidewalks, porch, all paths leading to your house. I vacuum my porch along with the house. If you live on a city street, use the hose to rinse out to the street. Any dirt or asphalt debris will wash along your curbs and be deposited in the front of your driveway. Your car tires pick it up and take it all the way to the garage, where it gets tracked into your house. If you notice dark stains or a noticeable path on lighter carpet, use a wet vac and plain hot water run from a hose to liberally saturate; spray a small area at a time, followed immediately by being vacuumed up. Make sure you vacuum until the carpet feels damp, not wet. This method works on upholstery also, and once you get the feel of cleaning this way, your floors will stay much cleaner and the time it takes to clean is greatly reduced. I am installing 2″ PVC pipe in my house to make an outlet for my wet vac, which will be operating much quieter in the garage. Already have a tankless hot water heater, which gives me instant hot water, which eliminated mop buckets. Hope this helped!

  53. Belvedere says:

    I used to use Clorox to bleach my wood floors clean; it worked, but it stripped off the shiny finish. I used Turtle Wax and rented a floor buffer to put the shine back in and it worked like a charm. Now, I like to use some chrome polish every other week to give it a spectacular finish; it’s quite slippery now, but the mirror-like shine is very impressive!

  54. Thanks for the recommendation on Zep Hardwood & Laminate Floor Cleaner. We have laminate floor in our primary traffic areas (probably about 800 or more sq. ft. of our home has laminate flooring) and we have four male dogs that occasionally decide to mark their spot near a couch leg, table leg, etc. We were told ‘no warranty’ if you use a mop bucket of water to clean it and to never use a Swiffer steamer on these floors (or no warranty). So, we have two things now that we use… the Swiffer moist pad and dry pads, which does not put much moisture on the floor. When our dogs have a urine spill (grin), we immediately soak it up with a paper towel, dry it, and put a light spray of Zep and wipe it with a paper towel after applied (or use the dry Swiffer mop pad) on it and it is working great. Thanks for the tip on Zep Hardwood & Laminate Floor Cleaner…. it leaves no spots and floor looks great after used.

  55. Oh, and I forgot to mention in my first post on this forum… we were also told to never use any chemical cleaners, as well as never use one of the steamer cleaning machines (eg, Swiffer steam cleaner) on our laminate flooring or the warranty is null and void. The non-steamer Swiffer mop has moist pads and dry pads that you can use on the same mop head. So, now we use the Swiffer (non-steamer) two pad choices and the Zep when there is a spot to clean in the interim. Seems to work great without damaging the laminate flooring.

  56. I just had bamboo floors installed and the installer left footprints from his shoes all over them. I have vacuumed, wet Swiffered and rubbed hard with a microfiber cloth and Pledge dust wax. Sounds like I compounded the problem. I so wish I had read these comments before I chose my floors. I was under the impression that hardwood was easy care for!

  57. I’ve cleaned my 85-year-old red oak floors that have recently been refinished with Bona products. In the past, I tried Murphy and water, vinegar and water, and then I tried Orange Glo. DO NOT use any Orange Glo products, they will make your floor finish dull and waxy with a film that will attract dirt and make it feel sticky.

    To remove the other products and restore the wood to its new clean feel, I mixed ammonia (1-2 capfuls) to a gallon hot water and used a microfiber damp cloth wiping in circular motion, then dry with towels until dry. Keep in mind, you are removing dull film, so this is slow, but the results will be wonderful.

    Test an area and feel the smooth clean surface. For my house, my whole first floor is wood, so this took two hours. But, its shine and smoothness came back. Now I only use the Bona products and put a dry towel on mop head and just work it in. I’ve never had the film or dullness appear again. I will never make that mistake again. Also, if you have a cleaning service, make sure to tell them never to use anything other than that as they could ruin all your hard work in just a couple of minutes.

  58. I used Mop & Glo and Murphy Oil Soap on my hardwood floors until I read that it’s bad for your floors. Just the other day, I used vinegar and water to clean them. After I was done and the floors were dry, they were really cloudy and felt so gross – like kind of sticky and sandy-feeling. It felt and looked like I didn’t even clean them. Does anyone know why and what can I do to prevent this? Thank you!

  59. I had the exact same problem! I had used Pledge commercial wood floor cleaner, which left a great shine, but then, I switched back to Bona and had a horrible residue. I tried everything. Then, I called a wood floor distributer and she gave me the solution. I used a microfiber cloth and denatured alcohol, which you can buy at a local hardware store. I got on my hands and knees and cleaned each plank of wood. I could not believe it! It just cut right through the residue. Now, my floors are back to their beautiful natural color and shine again. I think this will work for you too!

  60. Gray film: I called Mop & Glo and they told me to do an ammonia/water solution. I did 1-part ammonia to 3-parts water. Let it set for three minutes, then wiped up with a bath towel. It worked. As I dried it with a towel, I saw a glazed substance accumulating. Be sure to make it very wet, despite hardwood recommendations. Let it set the full 3-5 minutes without letting it dry. Most importantly, wipe it up. It won’t just disappear with mopping alone. It has to be removed. I only used this product once, so if you are dealing with removing several applications, you may have to repeat. It was a bit of a task, but worth it. I am only using Bona from here on out.

    BTW: I am not the Laura from above with the older house. My house is four years old and we have pre-finished hardwood floors.

  61. I have beautiful hardwood floors, which we laid a few years ago. I love them and yes, they do need a little TLC. Because I have pets and the floor is also in an area of our home where we enter daily, I purchased a nice industrial dust mop to remove surface hair and dust regularly, but when it comes to cleaning, a good once-over with a vac brush attachment works great to get down in the cracks and crevices. Then, once a month or so, a steam vac (mine is the Shark with a microfiber washable pad ) does a great job; no dirty socks and a shine like it was just laid. Be sure the cleaning pad is freshly washed and there are no chemicals on it; just the steam and you should be a happy camper. Oh, and by doors that you use for entry, be sure you have a rubber-backed rug to remove shoes and the moisture won’t leak through (I use a restaurant-grade rug; they stay in place and last forever). We live in the snow belt of Pa. and deal with all kinds of weather. Good Luck; hope it helps.

  62. My new house has all hardwood floors (Brazilian cherry) except in the kitchen and bathrooms. The installer recommended, “plain water with a little bit of white vinegar, simple as that!” (his words). I have followed his advice and I’m happy with results, been doing it for 10 months now.

    After reading all of your posts, I’m a little worried about the footprints, since my floors are dark like some of you that have that problem. I find this forum very helpful, hopefully I’ll never have problems with my beautiful floor (fingers crossed), but if I ever do, I know where to turn.

    Good luck to all of you!

  63. I only use distilled water on my hardwood floors. I buy a large jug and keep refilling a spray bottle. I use a Vileda mop head that can be used for dry or wet cleaning (the reusable, washable kind). Every six months or so, I use the vinegar/water treatment, followed by a cleaner my hard wood floor company provided (to rehydrate the wood).
    For the person who has gummy residue from the chair pads, I use Goo Gone…works like a charm, followed by a spritz of distilled water to clean away the Goo Gone residue.

  64. Thanks to Orange Glo, it looks like I will be on my hands and knees for three hours. However, I hear the results of the ammonia sol. will be well worth my time. Thought I would have to replace my $9000 floors because they got so dull.

  65. House cleaning wonder says:

    I installed pre-finished Brazilian cherry floors two years ago. I regularly go over them with a Valeda dry microfiber mop to pick up loose dust and dog hair. About every two weeks, I will wipe it down with a damp rag using only water. I wring out as much water as possible, and the floor is dry in 20 seconds or less, kind of like wiping a table top. I never use detergents, floor cleaners, or Windex. These products always leave a residue.

  66. Anyone ever try Skin So Soft on hardwood floors?

  67. My floors are shiny, but how do I get the dirt out of the cracks?

  68. Most will probably cringe, but we had floors installed and put down wax. Now there is a horrible film and it always looks dusty. We tried Orange Glo Refinisher and Murphy Oil Soap. The only thing to take it up that I have found is a green scrubby and a half and half mix of warm water and vinegar. I scrub a section and immediately wipe it up with a rag. Any wax buildup left will get in the cracks and start it all over again. It is painstaking, but it has worked.

  69. I used to use Swiffer on my hardwood floor until I recently found this amazing mop, called DynaMop. It is the original design of a spin mop; there are 300+ copies of cheap spin mops, made in China and they break all the time, but after some research online, I found the original one. I was surprised that they didn’t sell it on Amazon, but only the fake ones are sold on Amazon, and the reviews are bad. People complained about the weak handle, so I didn’t buy it from there. The real spin mop has a spinning mechanism so the mop is not damp at all when you mop. In fact, it could be really close to dry. And the spin head also cleans the mop, getting rid of all dirt on the mop very well. I use it to clean my kitchen almost everyday. I love it. I’m going to add some white vinegar to my moping water and maybe some baking soda like you guys suggested. I want my floor to shine!

  70. Hard wood in comparison to tile: When I clean hardwood floors with water and “floor-friendly, all purpose” cleaner like Pine Sol, and then I wipe the floor with a paper towel, the towel is black, like I haven’t even mopped the floor, and my socks turn black. It didn’t do that with tile floors, so I know it won’t work to just keep scrubbing. I will try vinegar and stuff, but can you ever get rid of that? Does anyone else have that problem? Funny, once it dries it gets better, but do hardwood floors always need to dry first to be clean?

  71. My wood floor is very slippery in spots. How can I safely rough the spots up?

  72. We put a tung oil finish on the floors that liquids just bead up on; that helps. The vinegar and water solution is an old and trusted recipe for everything from floors to counters, windows, etc. Combining vinegar with baking soda will remove dirt like magic; just rinse it afterwards with clean water. A dust mop is gentler and more effective than a broom. We also bought an Oreck random orbital buffer to replace the vacuum when we finally got rid of the carpet and laid the wood floors. It’s a home-sized version of the professional tool. Polishing floors on your hands and knees takes too darn long. It works on tile and stone too, and you change the wheel to suit your purpose. As someone said earlier, you first need to know what your floor is finished with! If you don’t, be sure to test on a small patch in a closet or somewhere out of sight until you figure out what you are working with. What ever made me think I’d like carpet?

  73. My hardwood is driving me crazy! We have mopped with ammonia water. It is new construction, but it just always looks hazy or cloudy, like a film is over it. If you walk across the floor it shows footprints, like the print lifted the film! Help!

  74. Solution: Pledge spray from the can that is used for cleaning granite counter-tops, wood furniture, etc. But be careful; the floor becomes EXTREMELY slippery. I have dark Brazilian cherry and have tried many cleaners. Even though all my friends have been using and recommending Murphy Oil Soap, it has been a nightmare for me – everything leaves a white film residue. The only thing that helps to bring the floor back to the brand new shine look is the Pledge. I keep trying new products and end up on my knees with paper towels and the spray-can of Pledge to fix the problem. It stays beautiful for weeks; no footprints, nothing. Just so, so slippery.

  75. I use a Haan steam cleaner on my hardwood floors, which was recommended to me by the man who sold me the hardwood. But I don’t like that it doesn’t “smell” clean when I’m finished, so I have been spraying the floors with Mr. Clean before I go over them with the steamer. It seems as if it leaves a residue, because there are footprints everywhere (dark oak pre-finished hardwood). I’m going to try the vinegar and water solution, but will the whole house smell like vinegar when I’m done?

  76. We just moved into a new house and have hardwoods in the breakfast nook. I have a two-and-a-half year old that can not keep his food on the table. When he does spill his food, we clean it up right away. Unfortunately, right under his chair, the floor has a film and has become sticky when we step there. What can I do to get rid of this film and stickiness? It is driving me crazy.

  77. Chrissy says:

    I cleaned someone’s house and switched floor cleaner products because I thought something looked better, and I left a film on their floor. Everyone seems to have different results in this forum so I guess it really does depend on the floor finish, but I don’t know what to do. I am so embarrassed and feel so awful. I have never seen this issue with my own hardwood. I seriously hope I did not ruin their floor. And I have been using a Magic Eraser mop and I read that is NOT recommended. Ugh.

  78. I put Astonish flawless wood floor polish on my walnut floor. It went on streaky and I can’t get it off. I have tried mopping with washing liquid in water, but am afraid to use anything strong in case it takes the finish off. It’s pretty ugly-looking at the moment.

  79. I have Mulligan engineered hardwood floors. I have always washed with a very damp, wet cloth. Can wet Swiffers be used, or not? Will they leave a film on the floor, or foot prints, or become sticky?

  80. My fiance and I are getting ready to move into a home that was built in the 1950’s, and I have read through all of the comments here and I don’t know if any will help us. They had carpet on the floors, and I don’t know when they ripped up the carpet, but they did, and now the floor is disgusting and leaves a heavy, black, dusty residue on our feet. We have been over there priming the walls, and walked around barefoot so as not to track the primer, and ended up with disgustingly dirty feet. Does anyone out there have any recommendations for how I should go about cleaning the floors? We have a month until we are moving in, and I’d like to get started on it so when we move in our stuff won’t get dirty and nasty. Help! I know the stuff on the floors can’t be good for us to breathe in!

  81. I used Swiffer wet jet hardwood floor cleaner, and will never use it again. It has dulled my floors and streaked them horribly. Use a little soap diluted in water, and do it by hand. Swiffer is a bad product and I’m mad how they sell it and recommend it, then ruined my floors.

  82. Jessica says:

    I just mistakenly used Pledge Floor Care on my dark hardwood floors. It looked OK, until I went to move my furniture back into place after it was dry. I am now left with extremely visible footprints everywhere. Wish I would have read this beforehand. Now I’m off to use the vinegar/water solution to get rid of this horrible stuff. The bottle of Pledge is already in the trash.

  83. Our experience is the same as many above. We have lived in a newly constructed house for a year and a half, and have engineered dark wood floors. We have used recommended cleaners Bruce, Bona, and Zep, but for months have had a hazy film on the floors. I did use the shark steamer on it once, but even right after we clean it you can see the haze, and if you walk across it, it leaves footprints. They look terrible. We have tried the vinegar/water and ammonia/water. Is there anything else anybody has tried that has worked?

    We have tile in the kitchen, and noticed that after we cleaned it with the wet jet yesterday, it was sticky. We were wondering if we are tracking something from the kitchen that is causing the film on the floor? We are so frustrated that we are thinking of covering the floors with laminate!

  84. I sweep, Swiffer, and mop every single day (I wish I was exaggerating), and even with that, when I wipe a wet paper towel across the floor, it still comes up dirty. I have used everything; Pine-Sol, bleach, Murphy Oil Soap, Windex, just hot water, and I even got a steam mop, but nothing seems to make them perfectly clean. I have bought new mops, and gotten down on my hands and knees with wet clothes. I am at a loss, and I am worried about my kids running around on dirty floors. Please help!

  85. I have hardwood floors, and when I mop them, it leaves streaks on the floor. What’s the best way to clean them so I won’t have the streaks anymore? Thank you for your time and help.

  86. A previous owner used double-faced tape to hold down runners on my hardwood floors. What can I use to safely remove the adhesive?

  87. Thank you for all the suggestions on how to clean a hardwood floor. We removed the carpet in the dining room and have decided to keep it carpetless. We have hardwood floor there and now I just want to keep it clean and shining. I am going to first try the white vinegar and water to clean. Will keep you all posted to see if that really works. Thank you.

  88. I have just moved into a place with hardwood floors with a polyurethane finish throughout the house and they were disgusting! I’ve tried numerous products and couldn’t get the floor clean enough or get the gross film off. So, I did some research and tried the vinegar-water method. It picked up some dirt, which I was ecstatic about. My floors were definitely feeling better, but had little to no shine. I then tried Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner and they are looking great. Easy to use and I really recommend the product. No streaks either, and my socks have been able to stay white (so long as you maintain it and sweep/vacuum/mop). Hope I was of help.

  89. Investing in a steam mop and using it, only, will help tremendously. You’ll still need to wipe the corners with a wet cloth occasionally, as the mop won’t get into corners 100%. Just use the steam from the mop – no cleaners.

  90. I understand wanting clean floors – but really people, your kids aren’t going to die from having dirty socks. Don’t they ever go outside where the dirt came from in the first place?

  91. Every time I walk across my hardwood floors, it leaves footprints. What can I use that will not leave footprints and leave the floor shiny? Please help!

  92. We have Kahrs hardwood floors in our house. At the time they were installed, probably 20 years ago, they were manufactured in Sweden. Not sure where they’re manufactured today. The previous homeowner always used a cleaning service/maids. They used Murphy Oil Soap and various other products on the floors. The floors looked pretty bad – always looked dirty and had a film on them.
    I called the manufacturer’s 800-number. A very helpful representative told me to use only Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner. She said it takes some work, initially. Get on your hands and knees, and scrub using the Bona Floor Cleaner and a soft rag. It may take two applications – ours did. I was sore for a week!! Then, just vacuum often and use the Bona with their mop applicator weekly or whatever. It worked. The floors look great.

  93. Debbie says:

    Does anyone know how to clean hardwood floors that have been under carpet for over 20 years? The finish seems to be gone and there is dirt embedded in it from the old carpet and worn-out padding. I’m trying to avoid sanding and refinishing the whole thing since it’s in six rooms of my house and I don’t have the extra $$ right now. Thanks.

  94. I have a problem with footprints and a film on dark hardwood flooring. Please help and advise.

  95. I just used Swiffer Wet Jet “Shine” solution on my sealed original hardwoods and it left an awful white powdery haze…I immediately wiped the floor down by hand with a wet microfiber cloth to no avail. I then applied Orange Glo (which I only use once a year) and it made it worse. I’ve always had good results with Swiffer (hardwood formula) and the Orange Glo in general and was dismayed (and exhausted) by this unfortunate development! I then used hot water with a tiny bit of Dawn and again; gross streaks and marks! I tried Windex on a spot and again, nothing. Last try was two capfuls of ammonia in hot water…wet microfiber in circular motion in sections and immediate drying with soft cloth…I did NOT let it air-dry…FINALLY success and my floors are back to “normal”…not any shinier as they have been under pretty tough use for the last ten years when they were last stripped and finished, but at least the ugly haze was gone!! And they do feel clean and smooth. I am moving on next to an ugly email to Swiffer…jerks.

  96. I use Pledge Wood Magic, and honestly, if I could take a picture of my floors, you would think it’s magic. I vacuum twice a week and mop once a fortnight. Also, at our other house, I melted a bit of bees wax and applied it to my floors and gave it a good polish where it was dull and it worked like a dream! I’ve never had a problem with Pledge and our current house was built in the ’60s.

  97. I have a light solid bamboo wood flooring and I contacted the manufacturer on how to clean it. My wood has a polyurethane finish and they recommended using a solution of alcohol diluted with water. One part alcohol to two parts water. Before this, I had tried several different cleaning products which left a hazy film. The alcohol mixture took the residue away and restored the natural shine. The best way to avoid streaks is to dry it as you go.

  98. I recently bought the Pledge floor cleaner and the first time I used it, the floors looked great. I used it a second time and noticed that everywhere we or the dogs walked left footprints. We have an 80-year-old home with original pine wood floors that have been refinished and sealed. I just tried the dish soap and water and it worked great. No more dull film or footprints!

  99. Try Scott’s liquid gold. No more footprints!!!

  100. I read all the comments, however, before reading this blog I applied the Shark Floor Cleaner followed by the Shark polish. That was a big mistake; my floor turned a milky color. There was this plastic film on the floor I then proceeded to use a plastic utensil to scrape it off. This was a lot of work, but it came off. Now I am so confused as to what to use to clean my floors.

  101. Thinkpink says:

    I too used a floor cleaner/polish that left a gross film on my hardwoods that I could literally see. I also could see foot prints. I tried many things, but to no avail. I used warm water with alcohol and got on my hands and knees and wiped on the solution, then dried with a towel. Thank goodness it worked! I will only use Bona cleaner from now on. Learned my lesson.

  102. How do I remove the drips of Spackle that we found on our new hardwood floors?

  103. I have gum embedded and stuck to a hardwood floor. It’s been there a few years. Do I need to get a professional to remove it or, I’ve read, will icing the gum remove it?

  104. I used the last bit of Bona hardwood floor polish and it left a gray film. It may have been because it was the last of it and it was too concentrated, so it was like a paste. I tried to get it off immediately by mopping it with warm water, I tried water with a cleaner, I tried a water & vinegar solution; nothing worked. I was so upset because my floors always had a natural shine after a damp mop with plain water. I wish I had never used the Bona product. Anyway, I was finally able to get the film off. I used 2 cups of hot water with 2 cups of ammonia and after hours of scrubbing with a terry cloth towel in small sections at a time, I was able to remove it.

  105. Used Bona hardwood floor polish on my dark wood floors and have a milky haze in large areas. Have used a Shark steam cleaner several times and can not remove white cloud. Please help…

  106. Hi. I’m in the same boat as most of you; I have the dark oak stained hardwood, which initially had a shiny clear coat on it. After using different products, that dull white film is still there. I must try and clean them everyday…going crazy. Clean socks leave a print. New mop head leaves residue streaks. Tried water and vinegar, Bona, etc. HELP!

  107. I have hardwood floors original from 1965; they where refinished 12 years ago. I dust mop dry a few times a month and have only used white vinegar and warm water. The floors are hazy, not slick. I’ve tried Windex and a microfiber cloth to pull the haze off. It seems to work, but this will be a huge Cinderella-floor-cleaning kinda job. Why did the vinegar and water leave a film?

  108. Melanie,
    One of the most likely reason that the vinegar/water mix would leave a haze is if you have hard water. Try either using a bottle of distilled water or spring water instead when cleaning, or boiling a pot of water to use for cleaning and scooping out the lime particles.
    Another option is that the mop wasn’t cleaned thoroughly between cleanings and a residue built up on the mop, which was then deposited back onto the floor during later cleanings.
    Source: wikiHow – How to Soften Hard Water

  109. I have oak hardwood floors in my downstairs for 12 years without a problem. I would use a dry Swifer, then vacuum, then mop with Windex; after it dried, I would I would use Orange Glo. No black marks, no haze, just shiny floors. Then, I became ill and hired a cleaning person for three months. When I cancelled the cleaning service, I noticed my floors did not look clean to me, so I decided to use Orange Glo cleaner, which was the worst mistake I could have made. All that Orange Glo cleaner dissolved into a ugly white mess on the oak floor. I tried most of the suggestions on the internet: ammonia, hot water, Windex; the more I tried, the more the melted wax spread. All those years, I had been putting wax on a polyurethane finished hardwood floor and did not know it because Orange Glo does not list it’s ingredients on the bottle— you really have to search for it on the Dwight and Church web site.

  110. I was told by the company that polyurethayned our wooden floors not to use any chemicals, and that the best method of cleaning wooden floors is 2 caps of metholated Spirits in a bucket of hot water; this has been excellent! However, our new cleaners used BLEACH and water, which left a dull residue and I could see the mop marks. The only way I could get rid of this was hand washing every board with hot water with a microfibre cloth and drying it with clean dry towels. The result, back to their lovely shiny finish with no residue!

  111. I use ammonia (lemon) on my hardwood floors straight from the bottle. Dilute it if it’s too strong for you. My floors look brand new with a nice shine. I have Bruce floors and started using ammonia after the “Bruce Cleaner Buildup”. Pour and mop with Swiffer pads. I get a lot of compliments about my “shiny” floor.

  112. I dropped a bottle of Windex onto my dark bamboo flooring. I wiped it up with a towel and it took the finish off the boards leaving them dull. Any suggestions to help get the finish back?

  113. The dull residue left from cleaning is due to dirt that has built up in the gaps between boards. The Bona mopping system, or similar, simply removes some of the dirt in the gaps and smears it around. Unless you remove the dirt or dried mud collected in the gaps (i.e. deep clean) you’ll just continually smear it around leaving a dull haze on your wood floor. Using soapy water and scrubbing with a grout brush works, but you must be careful not to let the water sit too long on the floor, else it will soak into the wood. Probably best to loosen the dirt by carefully running an angle pick down the grooves then vacuuming up the loose material. It’s a lot of work, but must be done periodically.

  114. I had scratches in the floor of the new house that I just bought. I looked online and found that lemon juice and oil will help to make the scratches disappear… Now, I have really dark lines where the scratches where! HELP!

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