How to Clean Unsealed Wood Floors


Eileen asked: How do I clean an old (50+ years) hardwood floor that no longer has a seal? I will eventually have the floor professionally done, but until that time, I would like to clean it and make it look decent. It looks very dry.

Cleaning unsealed floors can be challenging because the wood will soak up the moisture that is applied. Because of this, all cleaning products should be used sparingly and applied in the smallest amounts possible.

You Will Need:

  • Mop
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Cloths or rags
  • Broom

Steps to Clean the Floor:

  1. Begin by sweeping the floor thoroughly to remove as much dirt and dust as possible. The Swiffer sweeper may help to pick up bits of dust and dirt that can get caught in the wood’s grain.
  2. Fill the bucket with warm water and add a small amount of vinegar (1/4 cup per gallon of water).
  3. To apply the cleaner to the floor, a mop or a cloth can be used. Regardless of which one is used, ensure that it is thoroughly rung out to prevent dampening the wood any more than necessary.
  4. If the floor gets too wet, follow the mop with a dry cloth to absorb any remaining water.
  5. Allow the floor to dry completely.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Waxes can be applied to the surface to protect the wood, but are only recommended if the wood will not be sealed. These waxes can be time consuming to remove once applied.
  • If the plan is to seal or refinish the floors in the future, avoid any commercial cleaning products that will leave a residue on the surface.
  • Mineral spirits can also be used to wipe down the floor. Follow with a clean cloth to remove any excess liquid.
  • Protect the floors with area rugs and runners to prevent future dirt build up.


  1. Kathy says:

    If water with vinegar can be used on unsealed floors, as long as drying is quick, why wouldn’t a steam cleaner work better than a mop?

  2. Best timber flooring says:

    You can use less mineral spirits; put it in a spray bottle to make it easier or warm water with a little vinegar in it.┬áIf you use the water and vinegar mixture, make sure you dry the floor as you go; you don’t want water to sit on the floor too long. Since they are unsealed, I’d use a non-water based wax to finish the floor once it has been cleaned.

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